A NICU stay can be emotionally draining. It’s important during this time to take care of your health and well-being. The following tips can help you deal with your baby’s up and downs. Remember, you need to take care of yourself.
- Vent your frustrations. Whether it’s to a friend, the social worker, chaplain or a counselor. Your health is extremely important for you and your baby.
- Celebrate when you can. But also, give yourself permission to cry and feel overwhelmed. Try not to compare your baby’s situation with others. Your baby is a unique little person.
- Connect with other NICU parents. Meeting other parents in a similar situation can be very helpful.
- Take photos of your baby. Ask nurses or caregivers to take family photos.
- Keep a journal. Writing or typing about your NICU journey as it happens can be very therapeutic.
- Accept support. Even when they just don’t seem to understand how you feel.
- Take notes. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. Be prepared to ask questions.
- Make memories. Have your baby’s footprints taken as soon as your baby is stable enough to tolerate it. Ask your nurse to help with this beautiful keepsake.
Professional Emotional Support
A NICU stay can be emotional. You may benefit from seeing a professional counselor if:
- You think it may help you feel better.
- Your ability to cope with the situation is not improving and you feel stuck.
- You continue to find no joy in other parts of your life.
- You have trouble with your relationship with your partner or others close to you.
Likewise, it is important to speak with a professional counselor if:
- You feel prolonged numbness or detachment.
- You continue to feel detached from your baby.
- You have trouble getting out of bed or starting your day.
- You feel unable to cope or manage your other responsibilities.
- You think about harming yourself or others.
Your doctor or the hospital social worker can help you figure out if counseling would be right for you as well as help you find a qualified counselor in your community. Texas Health Resources offers a wide variety of behavioral health resources.
Postpartum Depression Support
Postpartum depression affects women in different ways. It’s important to understand that depression isn’t your fault or an attitude – you can’t just “snap out of it.” The most important thing to do is take a step back and allow yourself some time to adjust. Your doctor or the hospital social worker can help you figure out if medication or counseling would be right for you as well as help you find resources in your community. Learn more about postpartum depression.
If you or someone around you is concerned that a new mom might be dealing with postpartum depression, call your doctor right away. Do not wait. If you are having thoughts or feelings of harming yourself, others or your baby, call 9-1-1.