When you’re expecting a baby, your life is filled with excitement as well as a little anxiety and uncertainty, especially if this is your first child. Parenting can be tough, and caring for a young baby can be draining, especially during those first few weeks. Parents with disabilities may face additional challenges, and the excitement of expecting a baby may be replaced by a feeling of being overwhelmed.
If you’re already anxious about your new baby, realize that you aren’t alone. All parents experience fear and anxiety, and having a baby is a major life change for anyone. Plenty of people with disabilities also have babies and are wonderful parents. Taking some time to do some planning can help you to prepare for your new baby’s arrival so that you feel ready for the big day.
Plan for a Healthy Pregnancy
Take steps to ensure a healthy pregnancy. Women need to prioritize their health while they’re pregnant, and this means drinking plenty of water and avoiding too much caffeine. A healthy, well-balanced diet can give pregnant women the nutrition that they need, and prenatal vitamins can also contribute to the baby’s health. Additionally, it’s important for women to get plenty of sleep.
Women should be sure to attend all of their regular appointments with their doctor and discuss any concerns with him or her. If you are a pregnant woman who has a disability that may affect your pregnancy or the birth, address this early on in the process with your doctor so that you can both make a plan to ensure a healthy pregnancy. You can also ask your doctor about local resources that may be available to you, such as free education classes on pregnancy and birthing, community programs for expectant or new parents, and more.
Start Planning for How the Household Will Change
Your new baby’s arrival will mean significant changes for your household, so plan ahead of time to determine how you’ll meet these changes. Consider the following questions as you plan:
Will you or your partner need to take time off of work, and when will you need to request that time off with your employers? Will one parent act as the primary caregiver and stay home with the baby long-term? If not, who will provide care? How will you and your partner handle housework once the baby has arrived? Would a schedule help? Will family or friends be staying with you to help with the baby? If so, when and for how long can you expect that help?
As you make plans for how to cope with the changes your household will see, you may get a sense of whether you will need to rely on some additional help. Hiring a caregiver can help to make the transition to life with your baby easier. Alternatively, hiring someone to help with housework, cleaning, or even who can do some grocery store runs for you can make a difference in your stress and energy levels. If you suspect that you will need to hire help, start that process early on so that you have time to thoroughly screen applicants and find someone who is the perfect fit.
Save Up for Related Expenses
Try to start saving up for baby-related expenses as early on as possible. In addition to the standard baby supplies, you may wish to purchase some items that make it easier to parent with a disability. For instance, grab bars in the bathroom can offer support when bathing the baby, and baby video monitors that flash to alert you of noise may be helpful for a parent with a hearing impairment. If you can identify these items early on, you can add them to your baby registry.
There are plenty of products designed to empower parents with mobility restrictions. Adaptive strollers with wheelchairs allow you to attach the stroller to the front of your wheelchair for better control and accessibility. Wheelchair-accessible cribs can be operated via remote control, allowing you to adjust the crib height and roll your wheelchair underneath the crib once it’s lifted. Parents who have restricted movement can use ring slings to safely and securely carry and transport babies.
To save for these purchases and other baby expenses, set up a household budget. Start by setting a goal amount that you want to save for the baby expenses, then determine when you need to meet that goal and how much you’ll need to set aside each month. It can help to track and modify your expenses so that you can cut back in the areas where you’re overspending, allowing you to come in within your budget and contribute more to your savings. Put your savings into a separate account so that you don’t dip into the funds by accident.
Plenty of parents with disabilities welcome babies every day, and many other parents care for children with disabilities. While your disability may affect some aspects of your life with your new baby, planning ahead can help to make the transition easier for your whole family.
Image credit: https://pixabay.com/photos/baby-hand-infant-child-father-2416718/