Updated October 2013

Looking after yourself while your premature baby is in hospital

Feeling overwhelmed

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
  • diarrhoea
  • difficulty with breathing
  • headaches
  • 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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Sources

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

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Anxiety/Pages/Symptoms.aspx

Matthey S (2004) Detection and treatment of postnatal depression (perinatal depression or anxiety, Current Opinion in Psychiatry, Vol 17, No 1, p21-29

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On this page

When anxiety gets out of hand

Symptoms of anxiety include

Feeling anxious is normal after premature birth

Simple steps to reduce anxiety

When you need to seek help after premature birth



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Feedback on health information

The staff would say: “Why don’t you come and meet Jody? She was a 24 weeker, like yours.” I’d think: “I don’t want to see them.” That was offering me hope, and I wasn’t sure I could allow myself to feel hope.’

DEBBIE

‘Try to remember that eventually the things that feel so huge won’t matter so much. Try to rest as much as you can, and talk if you need to.’

DEBBIE