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Tips for motherhood from a wheelchair

By Katherine  |  19 Dec 2017 12:00:00

KP trike pic

spinal injury in my late twenties, resulted in me becoming a permanent independent wheelchair user.  One of my first thoughts (and my husband's) was whether I would be able to still have children.  The answer was thankfully yes!

They say it takes five years to fully adjust to living with a spinal injury and becoming a wheelchair user, which I think is a fair estimation.  Hence, it took me a few years to feel ready to have children.  In my mid thirties I fell pregnant with my daughter, which plunged us into a new era in our lives.

As expectant parents, we did try to get involved in a few classes and prenatal groups, some of which were helpful but  there were no classes available for an expectant mother in a wheelchair.

Before the baby was born, we worked through the practical issues of how I would get her in and out of the cot, how I would carry her, how and where I would change her, how I would bath her and get her on and off the floor and how I would get her in and out of the car.  We manged to resolve all of the issues with a bit of extra thought and research.  As a paraplegic, having the strength and balance to pick up a baby is a difficult issue and of course the safety of the baby is paramount.

Equipment:

  • We found a drop-sided cot which worked well and enabled me to lift her out fairly easily.
  • A student study desk became our baby changing unit, which I could get underneath and had a cupboard at the side. This worked perfectly until she was out of nappies.
  • To carry her I found a moon shaped nursing pillow which supported her whist she was tiny and stopped her slipping off my lap.
  • As she got bigger, I then created my own 'hack' belt, out of an old bum bag which I would strap her onto my lap with, this was adjustable and so lasted for a few years and it was what I used to secure her on my lap when we were out and about.
  • A  kiddy harness (without the reins) was great for me to be able to hoist her off the floor  until she was able to climb up onto my lap. She also spent alot of time in dungarees!
  • Getting her in and out of the bath was quite a challenge as she was just like a slippery bar of soap. Initially I bathed her in the sink and then progressed to a plastic bath that was suspended over the main bath which worked really well.  Then, once she could stand up and assist it made life much easier.
  • To get her in and out of the car, we found a standard pushchair that had an integral infant car seat so I was able to strap her into the car seat in the house, wheel her out to the car which was a bit hit and miss (literally) to begin with but I soon perfected my driving skills. I then detached the car seat from the pram and hoisted it across into the car and with a bit of stretching managed to secure the belt straps.

She was a very happy baby, always ready with a smile.  There is something though, about babies liking to be up high!  I always found it hard to comfort her from a sitting position when she had colic or was tired; she would not easily settle but the moment my husband came home from work and lifted her up higher she would go quiet and look at me as if to say -' see, this is what I wanted!' (Grrr!!)

From an really early age , even before she could talk, she learnt to keep a clear path for me through her toys.  When we went out, she never ran off and always stayed close to me and she never threw a tantrum while we were out shopping on our own; it was almost like she had a sixth sense of awareness which I know other disabled mothers have experienced with their children.

She was a very happy baby, always ready with a smile.  There is something though, about babies liking to be up high!  I always found it hard to comfort her from a sitting position when she had colic or was tired; she would not easily settle but the moment my husband came home from work and lifted her up higher she would go quiet and look at me as if to say -' see, this is what I wanted!' (Grrr!!)

From an really early age , even before she could talk, she learnt to keep a clear path for me through her toys.  When we went out, she never ran off and always stayed close to me and she never threw a tantrum while we were out shopping on our own; it was almost like she had a sixth sense of awareness which I know other disabled mothers have experienced with their children.

We have made some wonderful friends, who were always ready to help when we were out and about and my daughter's young friends always accepted the wheelchair, without batting an eyelid.

My daughter is now a teenager so the challenges are very different but having a baby was such an amazing experience and I hope my tips will help other expectant mothers. However everyone finds their own way to do things and I think that this is all part of the wonderful journey.

Posted by Katherine, designed2enable

 

 

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