Most parents envision a problem free pregnancy and a healthy full term baby, however, when babies are born early, or with serious medical issues, parents can experience significant grief, trauma and distress.
Research has shown that up to 70 % of NICU mothers experience postpartum depression, and approximately 40 % of parents with a baby in the NICU can develop post-traumatic stress disorder.
Often times, mothers can blame themselves for not being able to bring their baby to full term. Please know that it is not your fault. If you experienced a traumatic birth, it can affect you in ways that you may not even realize. Many families find that while the NICU environment is a supportive one, it can be very frightening as well. You are in a state of crisis and it may seem like you are living a “bad dream” over and over again. Your mind is racing all over the place with lots of fears and questions, all while trying to stay focused on your baby’s progress.
Some common things that may happen are: you become hyper vigilant, have obsessive thoughts, excessive worries and heightened anxiety. This may be your protection mechanism centered around keeping your baby safe after leaving the hospital. I understand firsthand how difficult this experience can be.
During the NICU stay, some parents may encounter feelings of depression, anxiety, insomnia, numbness, and anger. Often times, these symptoms do not disappear when your baby goes home. You may feel isolated after leaving the hospital where your baby’s nurses and doctors offered a lot of guidance and support, and going home with a new baby who was pre-term may feel daunting.
My personal experience with Pre-term labor, and my experience with having my baby in the NICU has proven to me that moms need to be cared for and nurtured as much as possible during this difficult and fragile time.
It is my personal goal to help moms and dads recover and heal from this traumatic experience, so that they can begin to focus on parenting their baby and feel well again.
Please reach out if you are a parent of a NICU baby or have a medically fragile baby. I am here to support you as much as possible and help you navigate this experience the best I can.