Baby's First Year · Emotional Health · Parenting

Are you blaming yourself for the premature birth of your baby?

Newborn baby in incubator

You’ve done all the textbook things you’re supposed to do during your pregnancy – you ate healthy food, exercised, attended prenatal programs, and had regular visits with your health care provider.  Yet here you are…sitting in a neonatal intensive care unit gazing through an incubator at your tiny two-pound baby born at 28 weeks.  Where did it go wrong?  What did I do?

These are all feelings that parents who give birth too early often experience.  In fact, increasing evidence shows that mothers of preterm infants (born before 37 weeks) experience a higher rate of postpartum depression and anxiety compared to mothers who deliver full-term infants.

Having a preterm baby in the hospital for a length of time can result in:

  • relationship stress between parents
  • worry and fear of not bonding with baby
  • self-blame
  • feeling tired from spending days and nights in a hospital with your baby
  • child care stress for those with older children
  • feelings of loss around a healthy full-term pregnancy or baby.


Parents of premature babies need a lot of TLC so be sure to reach out to others for support. 
Here are some tips:

  • learn what to expect around the growth and development of your baby – they will have different milestones than a full term baby
  • check with your doctor for support programs in your area
  • accept help from family members and friends, especially around offers of food and day-to-day help
  • sleep when you can
  • connect with other parents of premature babies through on-line chats or groups in your community
  • talk to someone you trust like your doctor if you are feeling depressed/anxious or e-Chat/call Toronto Public Health at (416) 338-7600.

For more information about depression and anxiety visit www.toronto.ca/health/ppd.

 

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