There is great joy in welcoming a newborn baby in the family and everybody looks forward to when he or she will finally arrive. However, when the baby arrives earlier than anticipated, the new parents may feel overwhelmed. They may also face mental difficulties as they try to come to terms with their baby’s health and well being.
Most parents of preemie babies report having feelings of shock, anger, guilt, helplessness, confusion, shock and being out of control just to name a few. Being in the neonatal unit does not make things easier. As you see your baby with all those tubes hooked to machines can make you feel worse. Most of the mental conditions that affect preemie parents are post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and postnatal depression.
What you should know and do when feeling mentally overwhelmed by a premature birth
#1. You are not alone in this journey
What makes a difficult situation in life worse is when we think that whatever we are going through is only unique to us. Always remember that whatever you are going through there are probably many other people going through the same or even worse. Getting in a support group with other parents who are going through or who have experienced a premature birth will be of great help both morally and mentally.
Read Also: Can Premature Birth Be Prevented?
#2. Do not keep your feelings to yourself
Whatever feelings you might have kindly share them with your loved ones. It is okay to not be and feel okay. Having a newborn healthy baby is overwhelming and so you can expect much more when having a preemie baby who is still in the neonatal care unit. Do not feel ashamed or guilty when talking about your mental health needs.
#3. Seek medical or professional help
If the situation is not improving, talk to the nurses in your neonatal unit. They have handled many such cases and they can give you the best help that you need at the moment. However, if there are no such forums in your unit, seek professional or medical help from your health care provider.
#4. Take care of yourself
In order to deal with mental challenges that come with a premature birth, it is paramount to first of all know what is deteriorating the situation. It could be lack of sleep, or lack of nutrients in your body due to poor feeding. Ensure that you deliberately take time to rest and have enough sleep. Also eat healthy food regularly and take lots of fluids to give your body enough energy and nutrients to function properly.
In addition, consider doing some exercises like taking a walk in your neighborhood or in your favorite park. Meditation and breathing exercises in a cool place with lots of fresh air can also help in eliminating stress.
#5. Take some time off
Some parents would want to spend every passing moment with their baby in the neonatal unit. However, some may find this very challenging and mentally overwhelming. At this point, it is okay to just take some time off. As parents, do not feel guilty or irresponsible since there are qualified nurses who will be taking great care of your baby. Use this time to enjoy an activity that brings peace and calmness to your mind. Once you get relaxed and back to your normal self, you can resume seeing your baby albeit with more strength and full of positive energy.
Well, these are some of the things you can do to take care of your mental health as parents of a preemie baby. We at Zuri’s Baby Corner can only wish you a short stay at the neonatal unit so that you can go back home and have your full happy life back. Isn’t it?