0-1 YEAR OLD
How do you manage the guilt that your baby was born prematurely? You shouldn’t even think that it’s your fault, says DR RICHARD C. WOOLFSON. Learn how you can overcome it instead.
Your baby was born prematurely and you think it’s your fault. But this is why you should stop blaming yourself.
Even though your premature baby is now doing well, you still feel very guilty for his “early arrival”. It pains you whenever you remember those difcult and stressful days in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit when he almost didn’t make it.
To ease the guilt, you’ve been giving him nothing but the best, such as feeding him organic food, buying him the most expensive toys and giving him your undivided attention every minute of the day.
But you don’t have to feel this way. Here are 10 suggestions to help you to get over it:
Stop blaming yourself
In almost half of all premature births, the cause is unknown. So unless you were reckless with your health and care during the pregnancy, you really shouldn’t blame yourself.
Listen to the doctors
They have explained many times that your preemie’s early arrival was not your fault and beyond your control. Instead of rejecting their professional medical comments, accept that you didn’t do anything wrong during the pregnancy.
Talk to other parents
Chances are, other mums and dads of preemies get locked into a guilt-syndrome, too – you’re not the only parent to feel this way. You’ll nd it reassuring to learn that they eventually overcame this intense form of self-blame.
Enjoy your interaction with Baby
Rather than concentrating on your faults (real or imagined), just relax and enjoy your little one’s company. He loves you, he thinks you are the best mum ever, and he would be very annoyed if he knew you felt guilty about the way you are bringing him up.
Recognise your strengths
For instance, you’re good at getting him to nish his feed, or you can soothe him when he is upset. Give yourself a pat on the back for all the things you get right with your little one.
Delight in your baby’s progress
One of the best antidotes to any form of parent guilt is awareness of the wonderful progress he makes. For instance, he babbles more today than last week, or his crawling is stronger than previously. This is irrefutable evidence that you are getting it right.
Share your feelings
Explain to your husband that you can’t help blaming yourself for your baby’s premature birth. Talking about your concerns, doubts and anxieties will ease the inner turmoil you are experiencing right now.
His support will help.
Be realistic about yourself
It’s only natural that you have self-doubts. Every parent feels like that sometimes; some more often than others. Avoid the easy mistake of imagining everything that goes wrong with your baby is always your fault.
Look forward, not back
Think positively about the wonderful future that lies ahead for your child. Take delight in his new achievements that emerge every day, and imagine what he’ll be like in a week, in a month and in a year. He has so much potential, and so many terric experiences in front of him.
Talk to your doctor
Will your second child be born prematurely, as well? Your rst childbirth may have rocked your condence and enthusiasm about expanding your family, for fear the same could happen the next time. Don’t keep these fears locked inside. Discuss this with your gynaecologist and follow her advice.
Stop blaming yourself for his premature birth. Accept that you didn’t do anything wrong during the pregnancy.