"What others may not realise is that Neil, David and I have our own expectations of each other based on love and knowledge of our needs as mother, father and child." (Cochrane GM and Wilshire ER (Eds) (1989), Parents with disabilities, Oxford Health Authority, Oxford UK p.52).
Love and knowledge of each otherís needs is very important and a supportive family makes a big difference to settling at home with a new baby.
"Once at home, I needed a lot of support from my partner and extended family. I donít think I could have managed without them." (Aileen, a mum with a chronic pain condition).
For all new parents, there come new challenges and responsibilities. Parents with disabilities will be able to manage many of the new responsibilities themselves, even if it may take a bit longer than someone else. For those parenting tasks that are difficult, they will need extra support from partners and community service providers for either short or extended periods.
If a partner does not have a disability, society tends to expect them to carry much of the additional workload when the baby arrives home. Partners may come home tired from a busy job and have to do the grocery shopping, take the baby to the doctor, keep house and help with night feeds, bathing and nappy changing. They may need to take time off work to assist and may feel that they never get a break. It is important that both parents get a break occasionally and receive the community support they require especially in the early years of parenting.
Parents with disabilities share many experiences in common with other parents. They also need time out from parenting for themselves and to enjoy their own relationship.
Issues Faced by Parents with a Disability: