If your baby has had a stay on the unit it is likely to have been a stressful experience at times. You will probably have been really looking forward to having your baby home. It might have felt like the day would never arrive! It can feel a bit strange to begin with and may not be quite as you expected.
After a stressful time it is not unusual to feel a bit down and worried when you first get home. It can feel a big responsibility and hard to get used to, not having the unit staff there to reassure you.
Give yourselves some time to settle into family life, it is normal for it to take a little while.
When you have a baby needing extra care there are lots of professionals to support you in hospital and at home. They will work together to make sure your discharge home goes as smoothly as possible.
Different health professionals will be involved in the care of your baby and in supporting you and your family. There is a lot of support available both on the unit and once you get home. There is always someone to ask for advice and help, so please don’t keep any worries or questions to yourself.
You might have found out during pregnancy that your baby would need extra care when they were born, or it might have come as a complete shock. Whatever the case for you and your family it is unlikely to have been how you pictured the early days with your baby.
There may be things that you missed out on as a result like;
You may not have been able to have the birth you hoped for and you will very probably have not been able to come home as soon as you had hoped. It is normal to feel sad and disappointed about this and to wish things had been different.
What Can I DO?
Talk to family and friends about this, especially if you know people who have been through a similar experience, or you can join our online parenting community.
You may have had times when you felt scared during labour and delivery or whilst your baby was receiving extra care. Both Parents can have experienced this or one of you. This can be difficult to deal with. It is common for these memories to play on your mind especially to begin with.
Usually over time these bad memories fade.
Where Can I Get Further Support?
It is important to get support if you continue to suffer from;
Speak to your GP, health visitor or call Just One Number to talk to a professional about how you are feeling. There are treatments to help you recover from difficult experiences.
Sometimes parents tell us it takes longer to feel that strong bond with their baby after a stay on the neonatal unit. This is quite normal after a stressful and worrying start to your parenting journey. Try not to worry - it can sometimes take a bit of time.
Like all important relationships sometimes it might need some extra help to get back on track.
If you feel worried about your bond with your baby talk to your health visitor, or call Just One Number.
Please don’t struggle on your own with these feelings, they are not uncommon and there is help to make it better for you and your family.
Parent Experience Video
Take a look at this video which a parent has filmed to share her experience of accessing support.
Whatever your personal experience has been, losing a baby is a very sad and difficult time for all the family. From the moment you know a baby is on its way it is natural to imagine the important relationship you will share with them.
When a baby dies from miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death your grief and sadness about the loss of your child can feel overwhelming. It is sometimes hard for others to understand how you feel and it can feel very lonely.
You may find you and your partner grieve in different ways and at different times from each other. You may have other children who need support to understand what has happened.
You don’t have to cope with this experience on your own. There is support available to help you deal with the grief of baby loss, take a look at some of the links below for details of organisations which offer support.
You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.
Qwell provides free, safe and anonymous mental wellbeing support for adults in Norfolk and Waveney from a professional team of qualified counsellors.
The Hamlet Centre provides nurture groups for babies and families who have spent time on the Neonatal Unit. They cover a range of topics that will be useful to you like weaning and baby massage as well as giving you the chance to talk with other families who have had a similar experience to you. The service is available to families living in Norfolk and Waveney.
'All Things NICU Norfolk' Facebook group - A support group for anyone connected to NICU, including parents and professionals. The group shares information about development and promotes local groups and fundraising.
Early Childhood and Family Service supports all Norfolk families with children under 5 years.
To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum below.