BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED PARENTS

 

Embarking on the journey into motherhood as a blind or visually impaired mum, I know you will have the same concerns as all parents, but there will be particular challenges too, from dealing with other people’s reactions and worries, (“How will you cope?”), to planning a birth where you feel secure and supported, and tackling the practical tasks of caring for your new baby which may mean doing things differently from the norm. You may also have concerns about your baby inheriting a genetic eye condition, as well as thinking ahead to how you will manage getting out and about independently with your precious new bundle, and how things will work once he or she is bigger and on the move! Your family and friends may not fully appreciate the challenges you face, or they may be unsure how you will manage some of the basics, such as feeding and changing.

I have two close friends who are themselves blind, one of whom has 2 children. As a doula, I have under-taken training on supporting visually impaired parents, with Gemma Edwards, a blind mum and antenatal teacher,  who specialises in supporting visually impaired mums and who is also founder of Blind Mums Connect.

If you decide to hire me as your birth doula, I will be bringing a real life understanding of the barriers VI parents face, as well as practical tips for baby-care and feeding, so that together we can find ways of doing everything which work for you as an individual.

We will get together at least twice antenatally, so before your baby is born, we can organise all the equipment you will need and practice using anything which is new to you, such as carseat and buggy, or scales for making up bottles. Together we will discuss your wishes for the birth, so that everything goes as smoothly as possible on the day and you feel confident about where to have your baby, who else to have with you, the type of birth you want, and your options for pain relief. If you like, I can also come along with you to antenatal appointments, and make sure you have access to written information leaflets, and point you to accessible information online if necessary.

If you are having your baby in hospital, I can help enable you to feel as safe and independent as possible during your stay on the unit. The labour room can be a daunting place for a VI mum, and I can help ensure that you don’t have to worry about being in an unfamiliar place, moving about easily, getting food and drinks, allowing you to concentrate fully on the business of birthing your baby. I will also be there to support your partner, which will be particularly helpful if he is VI too. I am not there to replace any other birth partners you may have, but to enhance the experience for all of you.

If you prefer to stay at home to have your baby or consider the option, the environment will present far fewer challenges, and there are many things I can help with. Home birth has many advantages for VI mums – you have more control over everything, you can keep moving about easily, keep yourself occupied, not worry about tripping over equipment,not having your labour regularly interrupted as staff walk in and out, you can find your own way to the loo! As your doula, I will be there as a familiar presence, to keep you company, offering support to suit you, supporting your partner too, making tea and snacks to keep your energy levels up, fill the birth pool should you want a water birth, help keep you feeling comfortable, secure and peaceful.

Unlike your midwives, I won’t need to rush off shortly after your baby arrives, but will stay with you until you feel happy about being left with your new bundle. I can support you with feeding and first nappy changes, and leave you in peace together once you feel confident. I can even stay one or two nights by special arrangement.

Whether you choose hospital or home birth I look forward to meeting you.

I now teach Antenatal classes for you and your partner with Gemma, tailored very specifically to your needs. These courses are available monthly and as they are always held one couple at a time please call to book:

Lisa - Jane 07775 440515 or Gemma 07776 444738­

 

If women lose the right to say where and how they birth their children, then they will have lost something that's as dear to life as breathing.

Ami McKay