Bernadette Melnyk gives advice for mothers who feel guilty after delivering a premature babies.
I think it’s really important, if you do feel guilty about the birth of that preemie, to talk about it to someone who is very sympathetic to the situation. So many times women do get depressed after they deliver a premature baby and if you don’t reach out and get help and talk to somebody about your depressed feelings, your anxiety feelings, those emotions are going to spill over and affect your baby in some way, shape or form. So just being able to talk about the fact that you are sad, that you are worried, that you are stressed and anxious – I think it’s a really terrific thing. We also have developed a wonderful program for parents of premature babies called COPE, creating opportunities for parent empowerment, and that is a series of DVDs with educational information that prepares parents for what to expect of their premature baby, how to read their baby’s cues, when their baby is stressed, when their baby is upset, and not only just how to read the cues but how to respond to the baby when they are in certain states. For example, a lot of parents, because a baby is very neurologically immature when they are born prematurely, a lot of parents want some response from the baby so they tend to overstimulate premature babies. And when they are overstimulating the babies, the babies turn away from the parents. The parents feel like they are not being a good parent to their baby, but it’s simply because their neurological system is really immature and they are getting overstressed way too early. So in our program we actually teach parents about all the awake states that premature babies have and when is the best time to interact with those babies, when they are ready to receive the stimulation from the parents. Parents can obtain COPE through our website. We have a website called ‘Cope for Hope’ – www.copeforhope.com and there is information on the website about the COPE program. There’s a beautiful workbook that comes with the DVDs that has educational information in it as well as workbook activities that parents can actually put the educational information that they are reading and hearing about through the DVDs, actually put that into practice when interacting with their infants.