After working with children with disabilities for many years, Lee Ann and I have learned many things about families. For example, we know that that working with families is the best way of making positive, lasting changes for children with disabilities. We've also learned that sometimes families need additional support too. But who cares for the caregivers?
When a woman becomes pregnant, she needs a great deal of support to understand the changes occurring in her body, how to help keep herself and her baby healthy, and how to make the transition to parenthood as smooth as possible. Of course, obstetricians and midwives provide tremendous support at this time. But who else supports new mothers?
As an occupational therapist (OT), my job is to help people do the things they want and need to do in their daily lives. These daily activities, called occupations, might be as simple as hooking a bra with one hand after developing pregnancy-related tendonitis, or they may be more challenging like meal planning after an unexpected diagnosis of gestational diabetes or an emergency c-section. OTs support people in developing and maintaining life roles, like parent, partner, and employee. Occupational therapists help people establish and maintain routines that support their daily lives, such as incorporating exercise and self-care into schedule when you have a colicky baby.
Occupational therapy has a wide scope of practice. OTs with specific interests may have continuing education in certain areas, such as pelvic health, but others, like environmental modifications, are a part of the general occupational therapy education. Some areas where OTs may serve maternal health are: