Coming to terms with having a premature baby

Many parents struggle to come to terms with the fact their baby has come early or is needing to spend time on the neonatal unit. Feelings of failure that your body has failed you and them, and that it is your fault your baby is needing medical help are all normal feelings that mothers feel, and it is important to remember it is not your fault. There is nothing you could have done or said that would have prevented it from happening.

Make sure you speak to your partner, family, friends and health professionals such as midwives or GPs, or neonatal staff about how you are feeling.

Try to make sure you are involved in as much of your baby’s ‘cares’ as you can. It may be difficult if your baby is in intensive care, but sitting and talking to your baby, holding their hand or foot are all things which will benefit your baby. Other things you can do to care for your baby include feeding, nappy changing, washing and expressing breast milk (if possible). If you are unable to express milk (for whatever reason), be sure that the unit will help you find a milk suited to your baby.

The neonatal staff will support you through your time on the unit, and health professionals and support groups are usually available in the community once you leave.

As time passes or if you feel how your feeling is spiralling out of control, it is vital that you speak to a health professional, who can help you get extra support if required through counselling, support services or medication.

by Michelle, mum to Joshua, Alexa and Nathan

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