If you are struggling to cope after the birth of your premature baby, it’s important to ask for help if you need it.
Some parents find the strain of coping after premature birth so overwhelming that they find it difficult to cope with day-to-day life. If this happens, it’s important that you talk to a health professional as soon as possible, as there are treatments available that can really help.
When anxiety gets out of hand
Anxiety is a sense of worry or agitation. It is normal to experience anxiety in stressful situations, and each person has a different ‘normal’ level of anxiety. However, if your anxiety levels become much higher than you are used to, or if anxiety is affecting your daily life, you may benefit from professional support. Anxiety may also accompany depression or another condition.
Symptoms of anxiety include:
- feeling shaky, sweaty or tense
- having a pounding heart or palpitations
- panic attacks or a fear of heart attack or collapse
- difficulty with breathing
- a feeling of loss of control or impending doom.
Feeling anxious is normal after premature birth
Heightened anxiety is common among new parents – and very understandable when you consider the extreme change, high levels of stress and lack of sleep – particularly if your baby is unwell.
Simple steps to reduce anxiety
Not all anxiety needs treatment, and once you recognise that you are particularly anxious, some simple lifestyle changes may help, such as:
- reducing caffeine
- getting enough sleep
- taking more time out for yourself.
When you need to seek help after premature birth
If you feel that you are much more anxious than usual, or that your anxiety is having a big impact on your daily life, do go to your GP, as it may be easily treatable.
Find out more about treatment for anxiety and depression.
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Published April 2012, next review April 2015
Augner C (2011) Associations of subjective sleep quality with depression score, anxiety, physical symptoms and sleep onset latency in students, Central European Journal of Public Health, Vol 19, No 2, p115-7
Matthey S (2004) Detection and treatment of postnatal depression (perinatal depression or anxiety, Current Opinion in Psychiatry, Vol 17, No 1, p21-29