Having a baby with a birth defect is stressful, as is having a baby in the NICU. This can exacerbate postpartum reactions or “baby blues” that some women experience naturally after birth74. Reach out to friends and family members for support, and consider speaking to the hospital social worker as well. If you are experiencing signs of anxiety or depression such as fatigue, hopelessness, loss of interest in activities, irritability, or extended periods of crying, or a profound sense of loss, consider seeing a therapist for additional support. It is common to experience depression when you have a child in the NICU75. If it persists once your baby is home and healthy, you may have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)76. Studies show that amongst NICU parents, mothers have a prevalence of PTSD ranging from 15%-53% and fathers have a prevalence of 8-33%77. If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide or harming others, call 911 immediately.

Studies show that peer-to-peer support can greatly reduce stress, depression, and PTSD41,77, 78. As always, we at Avery’s Angels are here to be your angels….to sign up for support please email [email protected].

41. http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/10/8/3465

74. http://www.marchofdimes.com/baby/becoming-a-parent-in-the-nicu.aspx

75. http://www.pediatrix.com/workfiles/medicalaffairs/D2_depression.pdf

76. http://handtohold.org/resources/helpful-articles/understanding-ptsd-when-the-stress-of-the-nicu-persists/

77. http://www.hmhb.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Webinar10.pdf

78. http://www.paediatricsandchildhealthjournal.co.uk/article/S1751-7222(07)00345-9/abstract

Written by Kayte Thomas, MSW, LCSW-A. Medical Liaison, 2010-2015