Guest post by Ashley Taylor from DisabledParents.org
Moms with Disabilities are still just Moms
Society used to view women with disabilities as incapable of motherhood with all of its physical demands. These days, disabled women are flipping that stereotype on its head, proving that all women, especially with the help of some extra preparation and special resources, are able to provide functional and loving homes for their children.
If you are disabled and expecting a child -- congratulations! Welcome to the Moms’ Club -- one full of women, each comprised of their own strengths and weaknesses, who are daily overcoming the stress and exhaustion, as well as basking in the joy and boundless love, that come with motherhood. There is no perfect parent. While you may sport some unique challenges, you are as capable as anyone of raising a happy, healthy baby.
Disabled mothers most often report feelings of helplessness stemmed from physical barriers that may prevent their total involvement in their child’s care or their ability to closely bond with their child. Avoid these frustrations by preparing your nest to be accessible to your needs prior to the arrival of your baby.
Preparing your home
Examine your home for the following qualities of an accessible space:
- Ensure that your address is easily visible from the street and in dark or inclement weather for emergency personnel be able to quickly locate your house when summoned.
- Provide at least one entrance into your home that is wheelchair/walker accessible. Check for dangerous cracks in the pavement where wheels could catch and consider replacing any stairs with a ramp.
- Clear enough space to move easily throughout your home. Rid yourself of clutter and unsteady furniture currently creating obstacles, and instead, evenly spaced and anchor sturdy pieces to the floor for enhanced maneuverability and help with balance. Install expandable hinges on doorways to add space, which is often needed to get a wheelchair, a baby being held and extra gear, such as a backpack or diaper bag, through a door.
- Further decrease the risk of falling by installing either motion-sensor lights or doubles of light control panels on opposite ends of hallways or other areas untouched by natural light. Also consider replacing slippery floors with a skid-resistant material, such as linoleum or vinyl.
- Create seated-accessible workspaces in your kitchen by installing a folding table secured to the wall to safely bear weight, lowering the main sink and choosing a stove with front controls to prevent reaching across an open flame.
Preparing your mind
Take the opportunity before your baby’s arrival to read educational materials about motherhood with a disability and what to expect during the early life of your baby. Sign up for community birthing and parenting classes in which you can learn and practice useful adaptation skills.
You may also benefit from joining a support group for disabled parents for the emotional support of a group with similar struggles. Confide in your doctor or in a trusted friend if you ever feel overwhelmed or anxious beyond your usual coping abilities.
Baby products have advanced to assist parents with disabilities. The following may be useful to you:
- Side-opening crib: If you are confined to a wheelchair, these cribs will make it easier to reach and lift your baby.
- Velcro-fastening baby shoes, bibs, diaper bags, etc.: If your mobility limitations manifest themselves in your hands, these products help simply by eliminating difficult laces or snaps.
- Fall detector: A watch worn around the wrist with a movement sensor that triggers a community alarm to call for help if you fall.
A mom with a disability is still just a mom. You are imperfect and come with your own strengths, weaknesses and unique hurdles to overcome, but are perfectly capable of loving, nurturing and providing for the needs of your baby.
Ashley Taylor is a freelance writer, photographer, and advocate for people with disabilities. She created DisabledParents.org to provide information and resources to other parents with disabilities. When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.
Photo Credit: Pixabay