Before I cut to the chase and tell you what you should be working on to get ready for parenthood, I’m going to share the reality of the matter. Brace yourself! No matter what great, amazing, and profound advice I give you here today, you’re never going to be fully prepared. “What”, you say?!? Yes, it’s true, no matter how hard you try you’ll never be completely ready for parenthood. Sorry to burst your bubble, but parenthood comes with a lot of the unexpected and requires plenty of graceful flexibility. So while we’re going to talk about ways you can get your life and your home ready for your baby when you have a disability, it’s also important to remember there’ll be things you can’t prepare for. And, that’s perfectly okay!
So while I’ve given you an out to know that you’ll not be able to anticipate it all, let’s focus on where you can make some important preparations. When you’re living with a disability, parenting may require a little of your extra creative ingenuity, but there’s also plenty of great resources for disabled parents to help you along the way. Either way, homespun or specifically-designed products, you’ll need to start now to think about a few things that will help you bring your newborn treasure home to a healthy and safe environment.
Let’s focus on two major things that will undoubtedly make you better prepared.
1) Emotional And Physical Wellness
If mommy isn’t healthy, she can’t keep baby healthy. This might harken you back to a past plane trip. The flight attendant kindly stands up and reminds you that in the event of an emergency, your oxygen mask will deploy. Your tendency is to put that oxygen mask on your child, but you can’t. First you have to place it on yourself, and then, and only then, can you place the mask on your child. Well parenting is similar. If you haven’t taken care of your emotional and physical wellness, it will be hard for you to take care of your child.
This includes things, like
- Getting enough rest - According to The Sleep Health Institute, pregnancy affects your sleep in a number of different ways throughout the three trimesters of your pregnancy.
- Eating a healthy, energy-boosting diet - Good nutrition is critical for a healthy baby both before conception and during conception, as your baby will require rich nutrients from your body’s reserves.
- Practice yoga to increase your mindfulness and help with relaxation - Plenty of research suggests that prenatal yoga has many health benefits.
- Adding some aerobic activity to improve your heart health - The American Heart Association reports there are health benefits to physical fitness routines when pregnant.
2) Getting Ready On The Home Front
With a disability, preparing your home for a child will require a little extra care, so this, like your wellness, is a good thing to get started on now. You won’t just be handling the extensive home checklist for babyproofing your house, but you’ll also need to make some extra considerations. Let’s look at some.
If you’re in a wheelchair, for example, there are some things you’ll need to consider to help make the home more accessible for baby and you.
- Build a ramp to replace steps into your home.
- Install expandable hinges on essential doorways like the nursery.
- Lower the door knob of any rooms you’ll be going in and out frequently, such as the laundry and nursery, and don’t forget the bathroom.
- Consider products like floor cribs and adjustable high chairs.
If you have other mobility issues, there’s also some important things to consider.
- Add support bars for riskier areas you may be forced to move about in now.
- Make sure stair handrails are secure.
- Install a skid resistant flooring surface.
The most important piece of advice I can give you is to research and prepare the best you can, while always keeping in mind you’ll face the unexpected. The joys of parenthood aren’t only complete with the smooth sailing moments, but plenty of laughs and treasured memories will come from a time when you had to execute Plan B, instead. Breath, relax, and enjoy the process.
About the Author
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.