An article in Today suggests that parents of premature babies may suffer some lasting symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
“I expected it to be joyful but… you’re asking me to celebrate what was really for me the worst day of my life,” said Kelli Kelley.
She isn't alone. According to the March of Dimes, one in ten babies born in the U.S. is born prematurely and is admitted to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).
Born by emergency C-section at 24 weeks, Kelley's son weighed just one-and-a-half pounds and spent the first four months of his life in a NICU.
“Your life changes overnight. You’re now the parent of a medically fragile child and you don’t know what the future holds,” Kelley said. “I didn’t really allow myself to completely bond with him until I held him, and that was at six weeks.”
Doctors warned that he may suffer lasting mental and physical complications. That was thirteen years ago, yet she admits she is still somewhat paranoid about her son's health.
The effects of having a preterm birth can trigger "fear, anxiety, grief, depression, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, and social withdrawal"—classic symptoms of PTSD, according to a study published in the journal BMC Pregnancy Childbirth.
And these effects frequently last months after the birth, giving parents a tendency to both overprotect and overreact, like these parents who kept their babies under quarantine.
The article claims affected parents can even be haunted by memories or set off by certain sounds that remind them of their ordeal.
Can you relate? Tips to protect your premature baby.