Whether it’s breast or bottle, feeding a baby when you are visually impaired or blind comes with challenges! And I have had to tackle most of them.
Let’s start with bottles; since that’s what I did. For a variety of reasons, I was unable to breast-feed my son. The main reason being, my body wouldn’t produce enough milk. So after a six week struggle, I learned how to feed my boy with a bottle while being legally blind. I had to deal with the “every mommy” issues with bottle feeding. Such as, finding the right formula, finding the right bottles, and making sure I have the right nipples on hand. Not to mention the overwhelming guilt most moms feel when they find out they are unable to breast-feed. As a mom with a vision problem, this made me feel doubly betrayed by my body. First, I knew I couldn’t see everything my son was going to do. Secondly, my body was unable to give him the nutrients I wanted him to have. Let’s just say it was a rough six weeks.
My number one tip for blind and visually impaired mom’s: make sure your hands are clean before feeding. If you are like me, you use your hands to navigate through many situations. I recommend using gentle soap and less abrasive hand sanitizers. You will be washing your hands a lot as a mom, and you don’t want your hands to crack. I personally prefer the babyganics brand of hand wash and sanitizer. I like the organic brands because my hands are near my babies mouths so much.
My second tip: get bottles that are accessible to you. There are bottles that come with raised measurement marks. There are bottles that come with dark measurement marks. And there are bottles that come with both. My favorite are the Dr. Browns bottles. And now they come in the wider nipple variety, which I find nice for breast-feeding and bottle feeding; less nipple confusion. They have dark spots for the ounces, and they are also slightly raised to where I can feel the ounce spots. They also have the metrics measurements, but I use ounces.
I have also had somebody use a permanent marker to outline where the water needed to go. This works for a little while, but when your baby needs to eat more at a feeding, you have to add a Second line and possibly get confused. Also, I found that the line fades with washing.
My third tip: be prepared ahead of time. If you can, have someone fill the bottles for you. You can either do just water and add the formula as needed, or make complete bottles. The first option is nicer because you don’t have to heat the bottle, or at last as much. However, if you have trouble measuring out the formula, option two is the way to go. You will have to refrigerate bottles and it will take longer to heat them up, but you will be sure that your baby is getting exactly what they need. I have done both. And the second way is nice when you are measuring for an odd number of ounces and have to figure out what half a scoop is.
All right, I think this is going to have to be a “to be continued.” This has gone longer than I thought it would!
~ Lindsay Gomez