Posts Tagged ‘Parents’

Staying positive in the NICU

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Passing the time while your baby is in the NICUHaving a baby in the NICU is stressful. Very stressful. When a baby is born prematurely, the roller coaster ride of the NICU experience is emotionally, physically and mentally taxing for parents.

Premature birth is the birth of a baby before 37 weeks of pregnancy. One in 10 babies is born prematurely, or 15 million babies globally! Of these babies, one million will die. Babies who survive often have lifelong health problems such as cerebral palsy, vision and hearing loss, intellectual disabilities and learning problems. Just knowing these statistics provokes anxiety and worry in parents. If you are a parent with a baby in the NICU, observing the ups and downs of your baby’s progress day to day can be heart wrenching and particularly wearing.

Depression more common in the NICU

Studies have shown that “in the month after delivery, parents of preemies are significantly more depressed and anxious than parents of term babies,” according to Linden, Paroli and Doron MD in the book Preemies – The Essential Guide for Parents of Premature Babies, 2nd Edition. The authors report that “Besides depression and anxiety, they (parents) were more apt to feel hostile, guilty, and incompetent at parenting and to isolate themselves socially…An early delivery is itself so scary that even many parents of healthy preemies react with shock and anxiety.” Given the stress associated with seeing your baby in the hospital, and the ups and downs of slow progress – it is not hard to imagine that depression is seen more often in parents of preemies than in parents of children born at term.

Baby blues and postpartum depression

Many new mothers experience the “postpartum blues” or the “baby blues.” Baby blues are feelings of sadness you may have three to five days after having a baby. These feelings most likely are caused by all the hormones in your body right after pregnancy. You may feel sad or cranky, and you may cry a lot. By about 10 days after the baby’s birth, the baby blues should go away. If they don’t, tell your health care provider who will determine if you may have postpartum depression (PPD), which lasts longer and is more serious than baby blues.

Signs of PPD include feeling tired all the time, having no interest in your usual activities, gaining or losing weight, changing your eating habits, having trouble sleeping or concentrating, and thinking about suicide or death. If you have five or more of these signs and they last for two weeks or longer, you may have PPD. Sometimes mothers of preemies develop postpartum depression as a result of the severe stress and anxiety experienced by having a premature baby. Even fathers of preemies can become depressed.

What can help?

There are many ways to feel better. Treatments for depression may include all or some of the following: healthy eating, regular sleep and exercise, talking with friends, family or a professional counselor/therapist, lowering your stress by taking time to relax and avoiding alcohol. In addition, your health care provider may give you medication specifically designed to help with depression.

Talking to other parents who have gone through the NICU journey can be very helpful. The parents on the March of Dimes’ online community, Share Your Story, “talk” to one another and share their experiences. It is a comforting and supportive community, where all NICU families are welcomed.

When will you feel better?

The length of time a parent feels down, anxious or depressed can vary, and may depend on the health of your baby, and the length of NICU stay. But usually, parents of preemies begin to feel more balanced as their baby grows, and “by the end of the baby’s first year, their psychological distress, on average, has been found to be similar to those of mothers of term babies” according to the Preemies book. But, each baby and NICU stay is unique, so each parent’s journey to feeling better is unique.

Bottom line

Having a baby in the NICU is extraordinarily stressful and difficult. You need to take care of yourself in order to be able to take care of your baby. It is important to be aware of the signs or symptoms of depression and to speak with your health care provider if you have any concerns at all.

The sooner you seek help, the sooner you will feel better.


Note: This post is part of the weekly series Delays and disabilities – how to get help for your child. It was started in January 2013 and appears every Wednesday. While on News Moms Need, select “Help for your child” on the menu on the right side to view all of the blog posts to date. You can also view the Table of Contents of prior posts.

Updated October 2015.

We’re born to appreciate parents!

Friday, May 31st, 2013

boc-fathers-day-55-1134-vert1The March of Dimes imbornto campaign is intended to engage with parents around Mother’s Day and Father’s Day since our quest for “stronger, healthier babies” truly begins with the most important people in babies’ lives – parents! Through our history, our support of parents has been an understated but crucial aspect of addressing the medical and public health problems that have been the focus of our mission. Only a parent can measure most profoundly the personal effects of illness and disability on a child. Our emphasis today on healthy pregnancy and healthy babies implicitly involves parents in our most important objectives. After all, this concern is at the basis of providing “News Moms Need.”

Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are special occasions to honor one’s parents. In the 1950s the March of Dimes recognized Mother’s Day by selecting an annual “Polio Mother of the Year.” But the hoopla surrounding such publicity skirts the momentous fact that the conquest of polio was achieved by millions of women (and men) who joined “Mothers March,” the most successful fund-raiser of those years. “Mothers March on Polio” soon became “Mothers March on Birth Defects,” and the volunteer moms and dads behind these efforts were as much responsible for improving children’s health as the creators of vaccines and the leaders in perinatal breakthroughs. This is but one reason why we laud the contributions of mothers and fathers today.

From Virginia Apgar’s 1972 book of advice to new parents, Is My Baby All Right?, to our decades-long involvement in supporting families undergoing the traumatic experience of a NICU hospitalization, the March of Dimes has appreciated the role of parents in children’s health. Our current push for creating transdisciplinary centers for research on premature birth runs parallel to our propensity for collaboration and team-building, and the role of parents in these endeavors is just as fundamental to the overarching social goals of improving children’s health.

In 1955, the National Father’s Day Committee selected March of Dimes President Basil O’Connor as “Father of the Year.” In the wake of the success of the polio vaccine created with March of Dimes funds by Dr. Jonas Salk, his selection may seem to us all-too-obvious in retrospect. His daughters, Sheelagh O’Connor and Bettyann Culver, attended a recognition luncheon, and the requisite photographs were taken. Among the many letters of congratulations that O’Connor received, one close business contact wrote, “You are a good father, and you are an exceptionally good citizen and good friend.” It is in this spirit of warm appreciation that the March of Dimes pays tribute to mothers and fathers. Hats off to all moms and dads!

Being parents of a preemie

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

2011-ambassador-family1The post today is from our wonderful new National Ambassador Family parents.

Anxious, fearful, worried, exhausted, hopeful, disappointed – these are just some of the countless words that describe what it is like to be the parent of a premature baby. When you find out that you are pregnant, the excitement never allows you to register the what-ifs, but what-if? What if you were the mother of a baby who was born at 26 weeks? What if your child had to be in the hospital for five months? What if things just didn’t turn out the way that you expected? The answer – you deal with it the best you can. Life doesn’t promise us the easy road or the best circumstances so when the unthinkable or the undesirable happens, you find inner strength and you fight your way through it. My husband and I had a daughter at 26 weeks weighing only 2lbs 1 oz who had a hospital stay in the NICU for roughly five months. I will never forget the devastation I felt when I had to leave my little girl in the hospital day after day.

Today our beautiful Lauren is a vibrant 6 year-old.  She still deals with some health problems because of her early birth, but I know things could have been very different. If it wasn’t for March of Dimes funded research, education and treatments, Lauren might not be here today. We were also blessed with two healthy children thanks in part to information provided by our doctors and the March of Dimes.

We want to make sure that other parents don’t have to go through the heartache of having a child born too early or sick. That is why we volunteer out time with the March of Dimes. We are honored and thrilled to have been selected as the 2011 National Ambassador Family for the March of Dimes, which we are more than grateful to be. What a gift it will be to serve the March of Dimes nationally and share with other parents who understand the journey of being parents of a preemie. We hope to encourage and offer comfort to other parents who have been touched by Prematurity and to raise awareness of this important cause.

Love and Hugs
Densel and Nikki Fleming

Single parents may do as well as two

Monday, September 14th, 2009

39167252_thbAccording to Claire Kamp Dush, an assistant professor of human development and family science at Ohio State, family stability (regardless of whether it’s a one or two parent household) may help a child succeed in school and life. Her findings appear in “Marriage and Family: Perspectives and Complexities,” a recently published book that she co-edited.

She looked at information gathered from nearly 5,000 households nationwide during two long-term periods over three decades. While many past studies show an advantage for children growing up in married households, Kamp Dush notes those did not distinguish between family structure and family stability. “Our results suggest that the key for many children is growing up in a stable household, where they don’t go through divorce or other changes in the family, whether that is in a single-parent home or a married home,” Kamp Dush said.

Lindsay wrote a post about the stress of being a single parent. Click here to read her tips for coping.

Food shopping on a budget, part 2

Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Continuing our previous post on food shopping on a budget, consider these helpful tips when visiting the supermarket.

At the grocery store
•  Be sure to include milk, eggs and cheese.  These core commodities provide essential nutrients for a balanced diet.  Aim for low fat milk and cheese for an even healthier choice. Make your milk, eggs and cheese purchase based on how quickly your family goes through these items.

•  Don’t skimp on vegetables.  Vegetables that are precut, prewashed and prepackaged can be more expensive than buying them whole and handling the chopping and the washing yourself.  Frozen veggies are a great low-cost option and can be stored for a long time in your freezer.

•  Fruit can be a healthy snack so it’s important to try and include it in your shopping.  For the best deals, be sure to buy fruits that are in season.  Canned fruits are another good budget option if they come packed in their own juice and have no added sugar.

•  Visit your local farmers’ markets.  They often have better prices on produce than grocery stores, and you can end up buying the best quality of produce for a lower cost.

•  Pay attention to the unit price of food. This figure usually appears on the store shelves directly next to the item’s price.  The unit price breaks down the cost of food by ounce or unit.  Therefore, it can help you determine the better bargain between similar products sold in different sizes.

•  Have a meatless meal now and then.  Meat is the most expensive item in the grocery store, so eating it every night can be pricey.  Try eating a vegetable lasagna or bean salad.

•  If you find a good deal on an item your family eats regularly, consider buying extra to take advantage of the sale, but without going over your budget.  If it’s a perishable item such as produce, make a larger meal than you normally need and freeze the leftovers for future meals.