Hesperian Health Guides

Chapter 12: Caring for your baby

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HealthWiki > A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities > Chapter 12: Caring for your baby

a group of disabled women and their children.

The constant attention and care a new baby needs can be very tiring and frustrating. Almost all mothers rely on family, friends, neighbors, child-care workers, and teachers to help.

Some women with disabilities will learn quickly to take care of a baby. But if your disability means you need help with your daily work, you will probably also need help caring for the daily needs of your baby. Newborn babies need to be fed and changed often. So do not get discouraged if you need to ask for help. All new mothers get assistance if they can to help with the baby.

a one-armed woman speaking while holding a baby in her lap.
My baby knows I’m his mother. He doesn’t even notice I have a disability.

No matter how much help you may need, you are still your baby’s mother. Allowing someone to help you care for your baby does not make you any less of a mother. Even when you ask another person to be your eyes, ears, arms, or legs, you are the one deciding about how to meet your baby’s needs, her safety, and her well-being. That is what a mother does. Keeping the baby close to you, day and night, so she can see your face, hear your voice, and feel and smell your body, will assure that your baby knows who her mother is—you!

Building a relationship for life

The relationship a baby develops with her mother or main caregiver affects the baby’s physical and emotional development. As a close relationship is formed, a baby learns to find security in it and it will be easier for the baby to form new relationships with other people later on. While other family members can help you look after the baby, it is important for you to be recognized as the main caregiver so you can form this deep bond with your baby.