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Getting Baby-Ready as a Mum with a Physical Disability

Getting ready for your baby is an overwhelming stage for any parent-to-be, but is exacerbated when you have to factor in a disability, at least in my experience.

So, first step – take a deep breath in, hold and exhale slowly. I know how terrifying this is.

No-one knows your own limitations better than you do, and that often means that you’re your own worse critic. With my first child, it was all uncharted territory and as someone that relies on structure and knowledge to manage my anxiety, I was at a complete loss. There was no-one I knew that had a disability and managed to parent without physical support intervention by either third parties or relatives. Because I am so physically capable, I didn’t qualify for support and I wanted to prove (like everything else in my life) that I could find a way to do it all myself. There were many people that doubted I could be a mum without someone else to do the physical things for me. I wanted to defy this expectation.

I tried looking for other resources and stories, but I couldn’t find anything relatable to me. One thing I knew would help me was to plan and organise my space before the baby came. I needed to know once I got home from hospital everything would be ready for me, then I could just make alterations as I went. The biggest thing I did learn was keep everything as simple as possible. With my physical limitations, I knew I’d have to be seated to do most things, so first thing we did was to buy me a suitable chair. It had to be a chair I could get in and out of easily and was wide enough for me to hold the baby, but secure enough to still use the armrests to keep my arm propped up under the baby’s weight. From there I organised everything else around that chair. It would have to be where I fed, changed and put the baby down to play.

I got a moveable baby portable bassinet that was the right height for my chair and it became my everything. I would use it as a support prop to grab when getting the baby to and from the bedroom. I could then put baby in there and push it over to my chair. From there, I could store everything I needed in it, change baby and use it to move them around the house as needed.

In the early days, a maternity pillow was a lifeline for both my children. It helped prop them up safely so I could use both hands and avoid arm fatigue.

I made sure to get playmats that had attached inter-crossing top bars, not just because objects hanging above them stimulates the baby, but so I could drag the playmat around to where I was going. I’m lucky that my living room is attached to my kitchen, so bottle making is close at hand, but if I needed to be in a part of the kitchen where I couldn’t see the children, I dragged the playmat in there with me.

My balance is my biggest hindrance and as such, I could only carry my baby in one arm. So, I made sure to place a chest of drawers close to the bedroom door, so if walking with the baby to or from the cot, I could stop and lean against the drawers to readjust baby’s position or rest.

I didn’t bother with change tables or high chairs because I knew I’d never be able to get the baby into them by myself, let alone use them. Instead, I used the bassinet as a change table and got some travel floor high chairs. They’re perfect once the baby can sit up. I can sit on the floor and lift baby in, then feed them.

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The last, most important thing was picking the right pram for my physical requirements. My advice, go and try a bunch of them out to see what works for you. I took the car I’d be using and made sure I could get the pram I picked in one handed. Because of my balance, I have to hold onto the side of the boot and then lift the folded pram in with the other. This meant, I needed one that was light and easy to get up and down. I also can’t push a pram from behind, I have to push from the end, with baby facing me, so I need one that would allow this, even once the baby was bigger.

To be truly baby ready, you need to sit down and have a good think about what you want to be able to do, where you believe you’ll struggle and how you might be able to get around it. Trust me, there’s always a way. Don’t listen to doubters, listen to your body and remember, babies are very adaptable and tougher than you think. Do your research and reach out for help and you’ll be fine.

Deaire Pecora

Author: Deaire Pecora

Brand Ambassador for disAbility Maternity Care


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