Becoming a new parent can sometimes be overwhelming enough on its own, but when your baby is admitted to the NICU immediately following birth, it can be difficult to cope with the idea that your newborn is facing a serious health condition.
NICU staff will often provide support to you and your partner during this difficult time, but there are also things you can do outside of the hospital to help you focus, cope, and prepare for your role as a new parent when your baby is released from the NICU.
How to feel more confident as a parent
- Remind yourself that feelings of anxiety are natural for all parents of babies in the NICU. If you are feeling anxious, you are not alone. All parents of babies in the NICU may feel nervous, stressed, and anxious about their child’s condition.
- Keep in mind that feelings of awkwardness and hesitation are normal in the beginning. It usually takes a little bit of time for all new parents to feel fully comfortable with their babies.
- Ask for help when it comes to holding and taking care of your baby. NICU nurses and staff understand that you may lack the skills and practice required of taking care of a newborn and will provide you with any help and support you may need.
How to cope healthily with the NICU
- Establish a daily routine. Depending on how long your baby stays in the NICU, you may be required to fulfill other obligations outside of the hospital. A routine can help you find the balance you need to help you cope with your baby’s stay in the NICU. Make time for exercise, meals, work, family, and friends during this critical time.
- Allow yourself to feel emotional. Seeing your baby in the NICU can make you feel overwhelmed, sad, frustrated, and stressed, but allowing yourself to accept and express these feelings is a healthy way of coping.
- Accept support from friends and family members. If you are a person who sometimes has difficulty with accepting help and support from others, allow yourself to let friends and family members know how they can help out while your baby is in the NICU, even if it’s by doing something small.
- Connect with other parents who have babies in the NICU. Sharing your stories and experiences with other new parents in the NICU is a great way to feel less alone and to receive indirect support for your situation.
- Embrace your spirituality. Having your baby admitted to the NICU is a major life event that may be made easier by connecting with your spiritual side. Practice prayer or meditation, or speak to someone from your religious or spiritual organization who can help you through this difficult time.
Keep in mind that when your baby is admitted to the NICU, any strong emotions and feelings you may have are most likely normal and expected. If you are having difficulty coping with your baby’s stay in the NICU, please consider seeking professional counseling and support.
Seek professional help immediately if you experience feelings of numbness or detachment from the situation or from your baby, if you have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, or if you are considering hurting yourself or another. In most cases, a NICU staff member can help you get the support you need if you feel completely helpless and need additional reassurance.
Shawnee Mission Medical Center now has a Level III NICU with private single-family rooms in which you and your partner can relax and learn to adjust as new parents. To begin planning your birth experience, contact Shawnee Mission Medical Center today and learn more about our maternity program.