A premature birth, like any birth, involves many emotions. Your emotions might fluctuate from shock to grief, sadness to hope, panic to guilt, and from anger to love and joy. However, any positive feelings can be easily masked by fear and concern for your baby.
Many describe the journey of premature labor and subsequent birth as a roller coaster ride. Regardless, roller coaster rides always come to an end, and through love and support your ride can have a positive result.
A mother’s story
Brandy Jones delivered a son named Colton 11 weeks early. At 29 weeks gestation he weighed 2 lbs. 4oz and was 15 1/4 inches long.
This is Brandy’s story:
I was so ill and had to be monitored so closely that he was three days old before I got to see him. Then I was only able to touch him.
Helpful tips for coping:
- Allow enough time to deal with your emotions
- Ask for help
- Spend quality time with your baby
- Allow others to spend time with your baby so you can take a break
- Stay informed about the care of your baby so that you feel secure and confident
- Seek comfort from family members
- Make a scrapbook, take pictures, and chart your baby’s progress
- Talk to someone with a similar experience
- Call the NICU anytime, even at odd hours
One mother’s suggestion for coping:
“Seek the face of the LORD, pray for His strength and grace from Him, listen to the doctors and nurses, work together with them toward the common goal of delivering you and your baby safely, and cry if you have to; I believe it’s o.k., hormones and all that.”-Alma Arredondo delivered 5 weeks early by emergency cesarean due to preeclampsia.
Helpful tips for family members and close friends
As a family member or close friend, you might find that you are not only dealing with your own emotions about the premature birth, but also the emotions of the parents of the baby. Here are some tips to help get you through this time:
- Offer your assistance – Ask if you can help with simple chores such as going to the grocery store, doing the laundry, feeding the pets or running errands.
- Visit – Take time to visit the NICU and offer to stay with the baby while mom or dad takes a break.
- Listen – Sometimes you can’t find words to describe your feelings. Simply listening to the parents can be very helpful.
- Bring a gift – A gift is always positive and will likely bring a smile to a face
Where you can get more support
The March of Dimes provides information and support for those coping with a premature birth. The March of Dimes Share is an online community serving NICU families where they can share their story and meet other NICU families.
Preemies: The Essential Guide for Parents of Premature Babies by Dana Wechsler Linden
Compiled using information from the following source:
March of Dimes, http:// www.marchofdimes.com