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How Dads Cope When Baby Is in the NICU

Although men do not experience pregnancy physically, they still may find themselves dealing with similar emotions such as anger, frustration, denial, fear, helplessness, guilt and depression. These are all the result of your baby’s early entry into the world.

Anger and Frustration – You probably feel an initial anger at the doctor for not being able to fix the situation or anger at the hospital staff who may be subjecting your baby to extensive testing. Some men even feel angry at their partner because she is so absorbed in her needs and the needs of the baby.

Guilt – Fathers may feel guily for not taking on more responsibilities during the pregnancy.

Worry and Fear – These are expected and the best that anyone can do is to rationalize the fears and make sure you have done all you can do. The fear of what will happen is an unknown and parenting a preemie is filled with unknowns.

Helplessness – A feeling of helplessness and a loss of control are the most difficult emotions for men to overcome. Men are raised to be providers and protectors. They feel it is their responsibility to keep their families safe from harm. A pre-term birth takes away the ability to protect.

Depression – Recognize that just because this is not going the way you and the baby’s mother envisioned, it does not mean that you will not experience the same joys every parent having a full-term baby will experience. Those joys just may be on a different schedule.

Men often lack the emotional support that most women get from friends and relatives but the lack of emotional release can negatively affect performance in all others areas of your life. Men should find a way to release emotions, take breaks when they feel overwhelmed and never say no when people offer to help.

p>Preemie Parents: Recovering from Baby’s Premature Birth. Lisa McDermott-Perez, et al. Copyright© (2007) by Lisa McDermott-Perez. Reproduced with persmission of ABC-CLIO, LLC.

Perinatal mood disorders are treatable. But first you have to ask for help.

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Last Modified: Thursday, 12-Jul-12 11:44:48