Parenting with A Disability – Good Support Makes All the Difference

Jennifer Dawson

TThere are over 4 million U.S. parents with disabilities with children under the age of 18. Nonetheless, many adults who live with a disability may not feel confident in becoming a parent themselves. However, surrounding yourself with a strong, solid support system will make the transition to parenthood easier, and it will also be a major asset throughout pregnancy. Here's what you need to know about the value of a strong support network if you're expecting.

Parental Support System

Why a support system is a must-have

Becoming a parent is often regarded to be a stressful event—in fact, 40% of women feel overwhelmed, anxious and depressed in the weeks following the baby's arrival, according to one survey by Orlando Health. However, becoming a parent can be especially stressful when it comes to managing your own disability and needs at the same time.

Having a strong and well-anchored support system to lean on when times get tough (as well as on a regular basis) is a fundamental must-have when it comes to your mental health and facing the daily stresses that comes with parenthood. As a matter of fact, studies show that having a network of social support has numerous benefits involved, including promoting good mental health and improving the ability to cope with stressful situations.

Finding support online

Many prospective parents with a disability find support in the numerous online resources on both pregnancy and parenting, which can help in preparation for the baby's arrival. When it comes to helpful resources, the Disabled Parenting Project is one example which gives parents (as well as parents to be) with disabilities access to a wide variety of information such as research, as well as an online community that contains advice, conversation and more.

However, becoming informed on basic yet important aspects of pregnancy that may require special attention is beneficial as well—such as understanding what you can and cannot eat while pregnant. Learning about this in advance will allow you to make certain changes as soon as possible, such as limiting your coffee intake and cutting dangerous foods out of your diet altogether. 

Finding Parental Support Online

Surrounding yourself with a variety of people

It's important to take into account that a support system often includes many different people. In addition to your partner, family and friends will likely play a major role in navigating pregnancy and parenthood.

Leaning on them for advice, emotional support, comfort and help in times of need will surely make a world of difference in making the transition to parenthood easier and can be achieved via regular contact (phone calls, visits, outings, etc.). However, there are also other forms of social groups that are worth looking into, such as a local religious community, a social group for parents (such as a mommy and me group) or even an organized support group for those with disabilities, which is particularly useful when it comes to increasing your chances of finding those who may be experiencing the same challenges as you.

In addition to getting help from your partner, family and close friends when it comes to babysitting or helping out with chores around the house, having additional forms of help may be something to consider as well after the baby arrives. This will become a great help in ensuring that both your needs and the baby's are met on a daily basis, whether it be temporary or long term. Depending on your situation, specialized personal care assistance, daycare or even a live-in nanny could become an asset in making the successful transition to parenthood with a disability.

Becoming a parent is an exciting life event for anyone, but those who may experience a disability may face additional challenges that require special attention when it comes to making a smooth transition into parenthood. With the support of family and friends, as well as that of additional resources, you'll be able to make the transition to parenthood much smoother.

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