You had a premature or sick baby
Most parents envision having an uneventful pregnancy and a healthy, full-term baby. However, sometimes babies are born early, or with serious medical issues. When this happens, you as parents may be feeling many different things. For instance, you may experience significant grief, trauma and distress.
You are stressed and tired of the NICU
NICU experiences can be long, frightening, and emotionally taxing for new parents. Research shows that up to 70 percent of NICU mothers experience postpartum depression. The truth is that your experience may be traumatizing. In fact, around 40 percent of parents with a baby in the NICU may meet the official criteria for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many more parents have symptoms of post-traumatic distress, including nightmares, flashbacks, panic, or hypervigilance. Over time, NICU parents may develop depression, anxiety, insomnia, numbness, or anger.
The stress doesn’t always end when you bring your preemie baby home
Importantly, for many parents, these symptoms and emotions do not disappear when their baby comes home. As it turns out, you may still feel the effects even months later! In fact, feelings of isolation may increase after leaving the hospital. When your child was still in the hospital, there were nurses, social workers, and hospital volunteers who may have provided necessary support. Coping with a traumatic experience, and attempting to parent an infant, may feel terrifying and overwhelming.
Signs You May Need Counseling
As a parent of a preemie or sick baby, you may have struggled with some of these complex feelings and concerns.
- Worries about how to successfully attach or bond with your baby
- Not feeling “connected” to your baby
- Anxiety about taking care of a baby with significant medical needs
- Mourning the loss of a healthy, full-term baby
- Feeling prolonged numbness, detachment, sadness or anger
- Being unable to experience happiness or joy in other parts of your life
- Experiencing flashbacks, nightmares or disturbing memories of you baby’s NICU experience
- Having trouble with your relationship with your partner or others close to you
- Feeling unable to cope or manage your other responsibilities
Counseling can help you cope with your emotions as a NICU parent
If you can relate to these feelings and worries, I want you to know that I am here to help. I have both personal experience with a premature delivery and NICU stay, and extensive professional experience working with parents of preemies and medically fragile babies. I am specially trained to treat trauma, postpartum distress, and the other problems associated with having a premature or sick baby. Using a variety of therapeutic tools and approaches, I help moms and dads recover and heal from this traumatic experience so that they can focus on parenting and feel well again. I would welcome the opportunity to work with you on your path towards restoration.
How Counseling Helps Parents of NICU or Sick Babies
Every parent who has a premature or sick baby experiences their own unique journey and therapy sessions are designed to meet your specific needs. I will support you and meet you wherever you are in your journey. Some common issues we may address when you come to counseling after having a premature or sick baby include:
- Bonding and forming a strong attachment with your baby
- Communicating and connecting with you partner and other family members
- Working through your grief, sadness and other emotions
- Exploring your fears and anxiety about parenting a baby/child with special needs
- Healing and feeling better, physically and emotionally
- Treating symptoms of trauma and post-traumatic stress
- Caring for other children and responsibilities during this time
- Planning for the future
Begin Preemie Baby & NICU Support in Lafayette, CA
When your new baby has spent time in the NICU or had other health problems, it’s natural to worry. Sometimes it’s hard to even connect with your child. In fact, the impact of your child’s rough start in life can have a long lasting impact on your relationship with your baby or your own mental health. If you would like to work through your fears, grief, sadness or other emotions, counseling can help. NICU parents or parents whose baby had any sort of scary physical health scare experience a wide range of emotions. A therapist can help you process all of those feelings-the fear, love, anxiety, disappointment, excitement and more.
After counseling, you can feel better, sleep well again, heal, and begin to enjoy life and motherhood again. As a skilled therapist for mothers of NICU babies and preemies, I can help you recover, plan for the future and thrive! If you have questions or would like to start NICU or premature baby support in the Berkeley & Oakland, CA area, please contact my counseling office. In my Lafayette, CA counseling clinic, it is my goal is to make motherhood as fulfilling and enjoyable as possible!
Other Services Offered at Nicole Kangas Counseling
In addition to providing support for moms of NICU and premature babies, I offer a variety of individual counseling services. Most of my counseling services are focused around women’s mental health. I want to help every woman thrive. Please contact me for wellness coaching, individual therapy, support groups for new moms & pregnant women, and couple’s and marriage counseling. I offer individual counseling for women including EMDR trauma treatment, counseling for childbirth concerns, infertility, and perinatal loss.