World Prematurity Day 2019: How Fathers Can Take Care of Wife and Preemie
You need to comfort and support your baby and your partner and realize that you're making a difference. Remember, the father can connect with the newborn from the very beginning.
Premature Baby In The Maternity Of Holy Family Hospital In Bethlehem. (Photo By BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images)
As a father, you are the first point of contact for the doctors after the birth of your baby. You are the first to learn about your premature baby’s condition and inform your partner, friends and family about the same.
The father can connect with the newborn from the very beginning. It has been found that men experience a surge in "bonding" hormones around the time their children are born. The earlier you hold your premature baby and engage in her care, the more likely you're to feel satisfaction, affection and love for your baby. No wonder why they say, it’s an evolutionary response to turn men into dads!
You're a vital member of the team at the Neonatal, Intensive Care Unit, that's working to make your baby stronger. Being a NICU dad can be difficult but that’s when you need to step up and do all the things proactively. You need to comfort and support your baby and your partner and realize that you're making a difference. The more time you spend in the NICU, the better it is for your child’s development.
Remember to take kangaroo care which is a simple act of spending a lot of time with your baby, wherein you maintain a constant skin to skin contact and constant communication with them. It is important to talk to the preemie as it aids in the development of their cognitive faculties. Know that your baby recognizes your voice and touch. According to American Academy of Pediatrics, skin-to-skin or kangaroo contact improves infant’s respiratory patterns and increases the rate of infant’s ideal weight gain.
It is important to being hands on with the daily care. You want to be involved in feeding, changing nappies or settling your baby which helps create one-on-one time with your baby.
Premature babies can get stressed easily and signs such as heart rate and oxygen levels are an indication of the same. You can always check with the nurse on what you can do.
Amidst all this, it’s normal and understandable to feel lost or stretched between responsibilities at home which includes looking after other children, hospital and work. Your needs can sometimes get forgotten too, with family and hospital staff focusing on your premature baby and your partner.
You may be undergoing a plethora of emotions; sometimes anxiety and fear and other times overwhelming love and pride. You and your partner may experience the same feelings but not always at the same time. Key is to be patient and to reassure her, help with the demand of pumping milk and praise her for her efforts.
It therefore becomes important to take some time out to spend with your partner. Couples therapy is a way to go about it. Couples should make it a point to spend time with each other as it not only strengthens their bond but also helps the baby to become accustomed to both the parents. If you’re in the NICU, it can also help your partner feel more confident about the situation. Your support can be of encouragement to her, for her wellbeing and mental health.
(Dr Preeti Gangan, IBCLC certified consultant, Pediatrician)
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