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
- 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.