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Disability History Month 2020

18 November - 20 December 2020

In preparation for Disability History Month this year Facilitator and EDI Lead Lisa Mansour sent out a call for photos and stories because there were surprisingly few available online. We love to include content from our service users and colleagues. If you have a disability (including hidden disabilities) or chronic disease and you’d like to share your pictures/stories to help us better represent our wonderfully diverse community, please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Disability History Month runs from 18th November to 23rd December 2020. We posted throughout the month to raise awareness of health inequities and solutions. 

Image of scales. Text: definition of disability from the Equality Act 2010

The barriers to breastfeeding for parents with disability are complex and manifold. You can read more on this page from the Hospital Infant Feeding Network and this page from the Breastfeeding Network

There is a distinct lack of information, understanding, adequate support, and representation for breast/chestfeeding parents with disabilities and chronic illness. Person-centred, timely and knowledgeable support should be the rule, not the exception

Being able to support all lactating parents to breastfeed/chest feed/breast milk feed in a comfortable, efficient and sustainable way is essential to our work at OBS. Listening and responding to each family’s unique needs helps us to find solutions with them. Sling libraries, run by trained and experienced Baby Wearing Consultants, can be a great resource for mothers with physical disabilities which impact feeding in the early weeks and beyond. You can contact the Oxford Sling Library for more information locally; other sling libraries exist around the country.

Image: a mother with foreshortened arms smiles down at her breastfeeding baby. Text: I wish I had had access to specific advice about breastfeeding support tailored to me as a mum with a disability before I gave birth.

December 3rd is the International Day of People with Disabilities. This year BBC published this account of being a disabled parent by Nina Tame, a counsellor and disability mentor.

There are so many precious moments in a breastfeeding relationship, however we communicate. Resources on breastfeeding and parenting as a Deaf person include:

This video from the Deaf Breastfeeding Project

Deaf Parenting's page on pregnancy and birth

Disability, Pregnancy & Parenthood's page on being a deaf parent with hearing children

Image: a mum wearing hearing aids breastfeeding her toddler. Text: “As a deaf person breastfeeding is a wonderful, non-verbal way of communicating with ease with my child”

As a society, we’re not very good at spotting or supporting neurodiversity. Parents with autism (diagnosed or undiagnosed) may find it really hard to ask for and get appropriate support and the particular vulnerability we all share as new mothers or lactating parents can leave those with sensory and/or communication challenges isolated and overwhelmed. Support services like OBS must be truly accessible and helpful to all who need them.

Find out more here:

BfN's page on breastfeeding with a disability

The Taking Control: ADHD Podcast episode on parenting

ADDept's resources for parenting with ADD & ADHD

The National Autistic Society's online training modules (not free)

Image: four pairs of mothers and children. Text: “It’s about seeing each mother and baby as an individual sentient being with needs and wants which are valid and deserve to be respected”

Experiences of support (or the lack of it) may stay with mothers and lactating parents for many years. Feelings of failure and guilt knock confidence and disempower new parents, especially if they feel they did something wrong. Communication (even if it’s the same thing over and over again) is key to supporting Neurodiverse parents as they find their feet.

Find out more here:

BfN breastfeeding supporter Katrona Templeton's blog on breastfeeding with a disability

Mouth of Mums blog post on breastfeeding with a sensory processing disorder

Image: a mum sitting on a bench with her child in her lap. Text: “Communication is key…neurodiverse mothers often feel shamed or stupid for not understanding something either through auditory processing issues or phrasing.. and we might need to be reassured about the same thing over and over and over again”

There’s no sugar-coating this issue: learning disabled parents often don’t get to parent their children. Supporting, empowering and nurturing these families in a timely, appropriate and skilful way is an ideal that many aren’t lucky enough to experience.

At OBS we work hard to ensure that all families in need of our services can access them and that where possible we can make a difference.

This image below used with the kind permission of the wonderful Mind The Gap Theatre Company and was originally created as part of the Daughters of Fortune research project in collaboration with Royal Holloway University of London. Read more about the research project (including cost free training materials). 

Image: a silhouette of mother holding her baby. Text: “If we get the right support from the beginning, we’ll get to keep our kids”

11 January 2021