By Joanna Karpasea-Jones
Issue 145, November/December 2007
- Birth at home so that everything you need is right there and you don't have to struggle with inaccessible hospital facilities. If you have to be in the hospital for some reason, ask for a private room with an en suite shower so you can wash. I insisted on this for my second and third births; it's the hospital's duty to provide facilities you can actually use.
- Try birthing on all fours; it's relatively pain-free if you have difficulty moving your legs.
- Use a sling to carry the baby for the first few months, if possible. If not, buy a pram that you can position to face you, so that the baby can look at you as you walk. Make sure it's lightweight so you don't need help adjusting it.
- Travel System strollers are good because the car seat is lightweight and fits easily into the stroller frame.
- Move your baby around the house by holding him on your lap and bottom-shuffling from room to room. It's easy, once you get the hang of it. Moses baskets are also good for carrying him during the first few months.
- Bathe your baby in a baby bath on the floor so that you don't have to stand. It's safer, especially if you have balance problems. When the baby is a few months old, you can use a toddler seat in the bath to hold her upright.
- Change his diaper on the floor so he doesn't roll off anywhere. Public baby-changing rooms are not necessarily accessible to disabled mums, so always carry a soft padded mat you can put on the floor.
- Choose a crib with a side you can lower completely, so that you can pick up your baby. (I've found travel cots impossible to use.) Or consider cosleeping so that your baby is right there when she needs something.
- Make sure your high chair has a tray that can be completely removed; this will make it easier to put your baby in it. Sit on a chair opposite the high chair while you do this, as it makes it easier to lift him. Or buy a high chair that can be converted into a low chair, so you can sit him in it without lifting.
- Breastfeed. It's much easier than bottle feeding for a mobility-impaired parent. You don't have to struggle carrying around bags of bottles and formula.
- Hire a taxi driver to lift your baby into the shopping cart when out shopping—they're useful for more than just driving! (Shop staff may refuse to help because they aren't insured.) Alternatively, go to small, locally run businesses where the staffs are often more friendly and willing to help than those of chain stores.
- Toddlers are easier to look after than newborns because they can support their own body weight, making them easier to bathe, and can move around by themselves—which should greatly improve your life as a disabled mum. However, because your toddler will be able to move faster than you, it's important to keep her strapped into her pram when you're out and about, until she's old enough to understand the danger of cars.
- Get a toddler car seat that's lightweight.
- Enlist a friend to be mother's helper at mum-and-toddler groups and during other outings—if the baby falls over and hurts herself, the helper is there to pick her up and carry her to you immediately.
—Joanna Karpasea-Jones Read the article: Daring Dis-abled Parenting
In 1997, Joanna Karpasea-Jones set up the Vaccination Awareness Network UK, a pro-choice organization for parents concerned about vaccination issues. She is the author of the books Vaccination: Everything You Should Know About Your Child's Jabs and More, and Breast Milk: A Natural Immunisation, both from Exposure Publishing. She is partner to Andy, who runs a homeschooling group, and the mother of four daughters—Jacinta (11), Jerrica (10), Lucia (7), and Alicia (5)—and a baby son, Yanny (6 weeks).
Photo provided by the author.