As more studies are being conducted the medical community is verifying what most any preemie parent could have told you already – witnessing your child’s experience in the NICU can trigger post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD.) Unfortunately too many parents and care givers have been unaware of the increased risk for PTSD through a high risk pregnancy, birth, and/or NICU stay.
I’m assisting with the creation of a program to help doulas better know how to serve families through losses, premature arrivals, and pregnancies after a past loss. My contribution will be focused on those whose babies will spend time in the NICU, and I’m gathering some articles now that I found personally helpful as a NICU parent. I’m also excited to be speaking with NICU professionals to learn more about how hospitals in our area support families through these experiences. I’m grateful to know that there are wonderful, compassionate caregivers such as the nurse overseeing the bereavement program where I took the Perinatal Loss Sensitivity Training.
While this is a heartbreaking topic to learn about, it’s so crucial that we as doulas consider this reality. With more than half a million babies born premature in the US each year, this touches all of our lives. Whether you have a client who experiences a premature arrival or they are expecting after a prior preterm birth, these parents need extra special care. Your efforts as a doula can play a crucial role in helping these parents cope with an overwhelming situation.
Important links for doulas or NICU parents to read:
Image is our son born at 23 weeks gestation weighing 22 ounces. This is the first time his father was able to touch him. We spent 109 days in the NICU and 13 days in the PICU. Thanks to attentive caregivers and friends we were able to recognize the symptoms of PTSD and seek treatment.