Parenting with disabilities: Prepare your home and finances for a new baby

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When you have lived your life with a disability, you know that sometimes doing the simple things (taking a vacation, using public transportation, etc..) take a bit more time and preparation to accommodate your needs. Knowing that about the simple things, it’s no surprise that the big things -- like child rearing-- need even more planning.

 

The truth is, everyone should put in some thought and preparations to their home and finances before having a child, but sometimes bundles of joy surprise us out of nowhere. Whether you are planning for the long haul or only have a few months before your due date, those of us living with disabilities should go over the following things to help prepare for parenthood.

 

There are many ways to become a parent and no one way is the “right” way. Any time a family accepts a child into the home, it is a cause for celebration. For the sake of this particular article, we are going to focus on families that are going to go through childbirth rather than adoption. Adoption is a wonderful process that helps families that are reproductively challenged find children that need homes. However, it is also time-consuming, demanding and deserves its own article focusing on such preparations.

 

Finding the Right OB/GYN

 

Choosing the right obstetrician/gynecologist to assist you through your birthing journey requires a lot of gut instinct. The mother needs to feel like the doctor has the right expertise and will be calm and collected in the delivery room when the time comes. Furthermore, finding a doctor you like now means you won’t have to find another one if and when you decide to have a second baby. As a person living with a disability, it may behoove you to find an OB/GYN that has experiencing working with patients that share your particular handicap. Talking to your current physicians and friends who have both disabilities and children about their recommendations can give you some good leads.

 

Other things to check:

 

  • Know their policies including birthing attendance, hours of operation and their preferences regarding emergency calls.
  • Research past employers or alma mater information to get a better sense of the doctor’s experience.
  • Consider how far the hospital and office are from your home. Are you able to get there and back with ease?

 

Finances and Saving

Parents living with disabilities often face more economic disadvantages -- among others -- compared to parents without a handicap. Raising a child is not cheap. According to a report released by the Department of Agriculture, the cost of raising a child through the age of 17 is $233,610 in the United States. Finances are unpredictable, and we can’t always control when we need to tap into savings. However, having those savings ready and waiting can be a lifesaver if the unfortunate happens.

 

Use the following techniques to help build a nest egg for your family.

 

  • Put aside living expenses to cover what you’ll need while on maternity/paternity leave.
  • Consider selling an automobile and becoming a one-car family. Remember: in addition to the money you’ll get from selling your vehicle, you will also save in gas, insurance and repairs.
  • Cut unnecessary expenditures like cable.
  • Take advantage of the gig economy to make a bit of extra money in your free time leading up to the due date.
  • Start buying things second hand. Used baby clothes are particularly economical considering infants grow out of their things in a matter of weeks.

 

Preparing Your Home

 

Your home should already be renovated to accommodate your specific needs associated with a disability. However, when you are juggling a baby and groceries, suddenly just “handicap accessible” isn’t enough anymore. You may want to do some additional modifications for more maneuverability around the home.

 

  • Install grab bars in the tubs and showers to help with getting up and down when bathing children.
  • Stow away tripping hazards such as ottomans, coffee tables and decorations that are situated closer to the ground.
  • Add non-slip mats under rugs and carpets.
  • Label the children’s food and things that may trigger allergies with textured tape or braille labels.
  • Place safety ramps over steps and stairs to make them easier to navigate.

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All future parents should make preparations for their children, but parents living with disabilities need to plan with their particular needs in mind. Finding an OB/GYN with experience dealing with your handicap can help if problems arise down the road. Parents with disabilities face many economic disadvantages, so starting an aggressive savings plan now can help give your family something to fall back on. Finally, while your home probably has accessibility renovations, there are probably a few more modifications that can be made to make day-to-day parenting easier for those that live with a disability.