Sunday 17th November was World Prematurity Day. A baby is considered to be preterm or premature if born before 37 weeks gestation.
Each year 15 million babies are born prematurely worldwide and about 25,000 of these babies are born in Australia.
Currently, up to 50% of Victorian preterm infants suffer from one or more developmental difficulties in early childhood.
Premature birth can be associated with multiple traumatic experiences for both mum and baby, which means that parents are at an increased risk of poor coping, anxiety and depression.
Practical tips for Parents of Premmies: How to help yourself, or someone you love
- An expressing kit that you can take with you wherever you go will become invaluable. Find an insulated bag and include: electric or hand pump, sterile containers, shields, valves and tubing for pump, hand sanitiser, labels and a pen
- Create positive moments at any opportunity – celebrate every small milestone with photos, cards, video footage, even a cake! Some of these might be baby’s milestones, but remember some might be yours (e.g., two whole days without crying is worth celebrating!)
- If you don’t understand what a medical professional has told you, keep asking again until you understand and have over-learned that information. If your brain is too weary and tired to retain very much, then keep a notebook to write everything down, or ask the doctor or nurse if you can record what they just said on your phone.
- Most importantly, learn to stop blaming yourself and let go of the guilt
Working with a Psychologist can assist with:
- Processing feelings of loss of control, trauma and grief
- Learning to ease feelings of anxiety, fear and guilt
- Adjusting to unexpected outcomes
- Easing constant worry and ‘milestone checking’
- Assist with bonding, fears about ‘breaking’ your tiny baby
- Parenting coaching and support to enhance infant development
It also forces you to make the commitment to spend at least 1 hour a week looking after yourself, and your own well-being!