Premature Birth and Your Emotions

A premature birth is accompanied with many emotions. You may experience shock then grief, sadness then hope, panic then guilt, and even anger. Through it all you feel love and joy as well. The positive feelings, however, can be easily masked by fear and worry for your baby. Many describe the journey of premature labor and birth as a roller coaster. Despite the truth of this statement, roller coaster rides do end, and through love and support you can survive the ride.

A mother’s story

Brandy Jones delivered 11 weeks early a son named Colton. At 29 weeks gestation he weighed 2 lbs 4oz and was 15 1/4 inches long. This is Brandy’s story:

I was so ill and had to be monitored so closely that he was three days old before I got to see him. Then I was only able to touch him. 

Helpful tips for coping:

  • Allow some time to deal with your emotions
  • Ask for assistance
  • Spend quality time with your baby
  • Allow others to spend time with your baby so you can take some time off for yourself
  • Stay informed about the care of your baby so that you feel comfortable and confident
  • Seek comfort from family members
  • Make a scrapbook, take pictures, and chart your baby’s progress
  • Find someone to talk with that has experienced the same thing
  • Call the NICU anytime, even if it is 3am and you are up pumping breastmilk for your baby

One mother’s suggestion for coping:

“Seek the face of the LORD, pray for His strength and grace from Him, listen to the doctors and nurses, work together with them toward the common goal of delivering you and your baby safely, and cry if you have to; I believe it’s o.k., hormones and all that.”-Alma Arredondo delivered 5 weeks early by emergency cesarean due to preeclampsia.

Helpful tips for family members and close friends

As a family member or close friend, you might find that you are not only dealing with your own emotions about the premature birth, but also the emotions of the mother and father. Knowing what to do can be challenging. Here are some helpful tips to get you through this time.

  • Offer your assistance – Ask if you can help with simple chores such as going to the grocery store, doing the laundry, feeding the pets or running errands
  • Visit – Take time to visit the NICU and offer to stay with the baby while mom or dad takes a break
  • Listen – Sometimes there are no words to describe feelings and simply listening to the parents is very helpful
  • Bring a gift – A gift will always bring a smile to a face

Where you can get more support

The March of Dimes provides information and support for those coping with a premature birth. The March of Dimes Share is an online community serving NICU families where they can share their story and meet other NICU families.

Recommended Reading:

Preemies: The Essential Guide for Parents of Premature Babies by Dana Wechsler Linden

Last Updated: 09/2008

Compiled using information from the following source:

March of Dimes, http://

American Pregnancy Association,

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