How to Prepare for Bringing Home a Disabled Newborn Baby
Bringing home your special needs newborn baby will certainly be a daunting prospect. For some support and advice for getting it right, read on…
‘All babies need and deserve a big welcome whatever struggles they may have ahead. Noone can prophecy the future of any child and no parent needs to be made to feel their child is less valuable than others’.
Micheline Mason – ‘Dear Parents’ (2008)
Bringing home a newborn baby is a difficult time for any parent, and new challenges arise altogether when your baby has special needs. The welcome from the medical world, family and friends is likely to be complicated by feelings of pity, shame, fear and negativity. Most parents of disabled children what the same hopeful and joyful welcome as everyone else! The cards, the balloon, the cake…
Once over the welcome challenge there are other practical matters to consider. As daunting as this prospect might be, there are ways to alleviate the pressure. Organising your house, making it safe, and seeking the support of and advice of other parents of disabled children who have been there already, support organisation and community networks alongside earl years advisers and professionals will prepare you for the return home with your newborn baby.
It’s also important to understand what the legal definition of special needs is, so you know which specific measures to put in place, and the level of support you are entitled to. Sometimes, these impairments arise as a result of injuries during childbirth, and a legal claim can be made to cover the costs of medical treatment and expected future expenses.
This post will provide you with all the information you need to prepare for bringing home a disabled newborn baby. It’ll also guide you through the sort of legal help you might be entitled to. So, if you’re in this position, and feel like you need some guidance, don’t go anywhere…
Organising Your House for a Disabled Newborn Baby
The first step in preparing to bring home a child with special needs is making sure your house is clean, safe and ready for your baby to live in. Some ideas for making this possible include:
Keeping Your House Clean for a Disabled Newborn Baby
It’s very easy for the cleanliness of your home to fall into disarray whilst looking after a newborn baby. So, it’s important to deep clean your house before your due date. Here are a few tips to help you get your house ready for your new arrival:
- Don’t wear shoes in the house: this is a great way to ensure that no stray dirt enters the house and messes up your new incubator. So, whether it be yourself, or your guests, try to ensure everybody removes their shoes as they enter.
- Protect your hands: embarking on a deep clean involves handling harsh chemicals, and pregnancy has been found to exacerbate sensitive skin. With this in mind, make sure to wear rubber gloves, and wash your hands regularly with moisturising hand soap.
- Open your windows: improving the air quality of your home is essential for a newborn baby. Make sure to open the windows to keep the dust from hanging in the air, and ensure that enough fresh air enters your home to keep it ventilated and clean.
- Delegate to friends and family: don’t put too much strain on yourself by taking sole ownership of the cleaning. Ask family members and friends to get involved to ensure you get enough rest, and are ready for the big day.
Making Your Home Safe for Your Disabled Newborn Baby
Baby-proofing is also an important step in preparing your home for a newborn. It’s obviously too early for your baby to crawl around and get themselves into danger, but it’s still possible for other dangers to arise. Here is a quick checklist to cross off before you bring your new baby into the home:
- Install a UL listed carbon monoxide detector on every floor of your house, especially if you use any oil or gas fuelled appliances and have an adjoined garage. If you have detectors already in place, make sure to check the batteries and test they are working correctly.
- Stock up your medicine cabinet and buy a first-aid kit so you have everything you need if worst comes to worst.
- Place non-slip pads under rugs that are on hardwood or tile floors, to prevent them slipping out underneath you whilst you’re holding your baby.
- Cover all sharp edges with padding to prevent any nasty bumps and scrapes.
- Secure dressers and bookshelves to the wall, and make sure there aren’t any heavy objects that could topple over.
- Position the crib away from other furniture, especially from hanging wall decorations and cords.
Get Support from Special Needs Professionals
That’s the safety tips out of the way. Now it’s time to give you an overview of the types of support you can apply for to help alleviate the pressure of raising a newborn baby with special needs. There are several places you can turn to for help:
Your local council can provide you with help for your disabled child in the following ways:
- Short break service: this is exactly what it says on the tin. A public service where your disabled child can get involved in a club or activity, giving you, as parents, some much needed respite.
- Care at home: if you feel you need childcare to help you during this period, you can go to your local council’s Family Information Service to see what they have available. You can also ask them for more specialist care that your child may need for their specific disability.
- Financial help: if your child requires services from the council, you can arrange for a direct payment from them so you can personally arrange the services you need. You may also be eligible for Child Tax Credit or Disability Living Allowance for children.
Under the Children Act 1989, your local council is obligated to provide these services. Some of them are free of charge but others require some level of monetary contribution to the council.
GPs provide free developmental examinations in the weeks after you’ve given birth, and public health nurses are available to monitor the development of your newborn baby. So, there’s no need to worry about the health of your newborn baby in hospital, as you’ll be in safe hands.
On top of these medical examinations, your baby might also be eligible for the following services:
- An assessment of need, which will provide you with a list of the medical services you can receive.
- A medical card or GP visit card, which makes certain health services free of charge. However, this is subject to a means test, unless you are already receiving Domiciliary Care Allowance for the child.
- Waived hospital charges for treatment that would usually cost money, even without a medical card, for a child up to six weeks of age.
- Community care services, including public health nurses, social workers, home help, chiropody, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, respite care and day care.
It isn’t only the government who can help you raise a child with special needs. There are a tonne of charities out there eager to help you down this road. They offer a whole range of services which I couldn’t possibly hope to list all here, so I’ll name a few well known charities that you need to be aware of:
- Newlife: Provides much needed equipment for disabled children through campaigning and fundraising.
- Family Fund: Provides grants for families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people.
It’s not always the case that the disability of your child was a predisposed genetic condition. Often, it can be the fault of the medical professionals entrusted with the birth of your child. Injuries during childbirth are incredibly tragic, and the pressure of raising a child with special needs as a result of these injuries can be alleviated through compensation.
Claims for birth injury can result in compensation for transport costs, accommodation, future medical treatments, physical therapy and care. They can even help pay for the modifications to your home that were mentioned earlier in this post. It’s a good idea to research all the above services in detail before the birth of your child, so you know what support is available to you before bringing home your newborn baby.
Fight for inclusion
Next up – make sure your child has mainstream education with the right support! Start building allies and locating the school place as soon as you can.
So What’s the Key Takeaway From This?
In this article, we’ve covered everything you need to know when it comes to preparing your house for a disabled newborn baby. We’ve also talked about putting your support network in place to make sure you are secure for the early days and months of the child’s life.
Keeping your house clean will help you keep it that way during your first few months at home with your newborn baby, and removing hazards will keep it safe and sound. For those who aren’t financially secure, there are almost too many places to turn, with local council schemes, charities, free medical care and the opportunity to receive legal compensation for all your baby’s future needs.
Do you have any experience birthing a special needs baby? If so, I’d love to hear what your biggest fears were, how you dealt with them, and any tips you might have. I’m sure your advice could really help any worrying parents out there.
‘If you have a disabled baby you can be happy about it’ – Jackie Downer OBE