Bonding With your Hospitalized Baby

Obstetrician Gynecologist Lauren D. Hyman discusses the feeling of devastation that can occur when a mother is separated from their child after delivery, and how this feeling can be overcome
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Bonding With your Hospitalized Baby

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- When the baby does not stay with you after delivery, it can be very devastating. It's not what you anticipated, it's not what you expected. And you have to get used to the idea that the baby might be separated from you. Now this can be only for a couple hours, like in the case of a c-section, or for days, weeks or even months in the case of a severely premature baby. The important thing to remember is that the baby and you will be bonding while you're visiting together, and once the baby is back in your arms, and your relationship will be just as strong, as if the baby was with you from the onset. There are some things you can do to make the transition a little bit easier. If the baby is gonna be separated from you for more than a few hours, you can have the nurses take pictures of the baby, or your partner or yourself can take pictures of the baby, and you can put these pictures on your hospital bed, you can actually tape the pictures to the side of your bed, so you can feel the baby's presence with you. You can also take pictures of yourself, your partner, and the baby's siblings and put the pictures up on the baby's bassinet, facing in towards the baby, if this is allowed by the NICU, so that the baby can feel your presence with him or her. Another thing you can do is pump, providing colostrum and later breast milk for your baby, is wonderful for not only your baby's health, but for you so you can feel like you are actively participating in your baby's recovery, in your baby's growth, in helping your baby get stronger. If you're unable to breasfeed or to pump, that's okay too, but if you can, it's a wonderful way to encourage bonding, and to give you something active to do to participate in this process of your baby's recovery. The last thing that I recommend, and this was told to me by a friend who had a baby at 25 weeks, a baby who stayed in the NICU for three months, is to keep a journal. A journal is a way that you can record your thoughts, your feelings, and what's going on with your baby. It doesn't have to be an obligation, you can write in it just whenever you feel like. But when you do want to put something down on paper either for that moment or to look back at later, a journal's a great way to do this. Also, when things get a little bit scary, or dicey, or you feel like it's two steps forward, and one step back, you can look at your journal and really see how far your baby has come since it first began its stay in the NICU. As hard as it is to be separated from your baby, know that it is done so that your baby can come home to you when it's absolutely safe and healthy. Definitely accept support of your family and your friends during this difficult time, visit your baby whenever you're able to, and remember even though it may seem difficult, you can use this opportunity to get your sleep, get your rest, and prepare for your baby's homecoming. And you can do all these things knowing that when your baby does come home, your bonding with the baby is going to be just as strong as if your baby never left your side. My friends, my patients, who've had babies who've stayed in the NICU for days, weeks and even months are just as close to their children as the ones who brought their baby home after two days in the hospital.


Obstetrician Gynecologist Lauren D. Hyman discusses the feeling of devastation that can occur when a mother is separated from their child after delivery, and how this feeling can be overcome

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Lauren D. Hyman, MD

Obstetrician Gynecologist

Dr. Lauren Hyman is a board-certified obstetrician gynecologist. After receiving her ScB from Brown University and her medical degree from Yale University, Dr. Hyman returned to Southern California where she has been in private practice in the West Hills area for fifteen years. She can be seen weekly on Hallmark Channelʼs Home and Family Pregnancy Series and is a contributing writer on mom.me. She lives with her husband and two children in Los Angeles.

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