No one imagines the NICU as part of the picture when bringing a baby into the world. If you’ve had to navigate this isolating place of alarms and uncertainty you know it requires tremendous courage, energy and strength that can be draining for the strongest of people. Parents whose children are cared for in the NICU often experience psychological distress, loss and trauma which can impact their overall functioning, parenting abilities and can negatively impact infant-parent bonding and attachment.
These are among the myriad of complicated emotions and relationship challenges parents may experience.
For many parents, these emotions don’t resolve once baby comes home and many parents report having continued difficulty coping after discharge.
Leaving the hospital although a relief in many ways can be quite isolating for parents who have grown accustomed to the support of a team of providers. Parenting while experiencing unresolved grief, and trauma is difficult. These symptoms can occur at various times and may linger under the surface for weeks, months and even years down the line with long-term effects on physical and emotional well-being. Clear evidence exists that psychological support for parents of pre-mature and medically challenged babies is highly effective in reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression and strengthens parent-child attachment. Taking steps toward healing takes courage.