For Parents on NICU Trauma May Last
This recent article in the New York Times is right on the money. I don't think the results of the study come as any surprise to those of us who spent more than our fair share of time in the NICU.
One interesting part of the study noted that:
Some hospitals pair parents of premature babies in intensive care with those who have been through the experience. One study found that 16 weeks after childbirth, mothers who were matched with NICU veterans had less anxiety and depression, and felt they had more social support, than mothers in a control group.
Which begs the question then, why do so many NICUs lack a parent support group? There are many NICU parents who spent weeks or months in the NICU with their children who would be more than willing to volunteer for a support group, yet there seems to be resistance by the hospitals to parent support groups.
When a baby enters the NICU, the NICU gets more than one patient. It gets the baby and the baby's parent(s). The NICU staff is well trained to care for the baby and they do that admirably. But who is there to care for and support the parent(s)? While the NICU staff can guide the parents through the medical aspects of life in the NICU and lend a shoulder to lean on, only a veteran parent can really know what the new parents are experiencing.
So why would any hospital resist having a NICU parent support group?