When a woman gets pregnant her main aim in life is to ensure the best for her baby. She will do everything possible so that her child is healthy. I had a smooth pregnancy and I was an over-cautious would be mother as I did not want anything to go wrong. I ate healthy food, did everything my doctor suggested, ate everything I was told to eat and exercised regularly once I got the permission to do so. I attended birthing classes to know how to handle labor pains and how to take care of my baby.
In spite of everything going right, at 34 weeks, the baby stopped moving and I had to have an emergency c section. This is the worst nightmare for parents. When in their heads they think they have 4-6 weeks before the baby will arrive, in a matter of few hours they have their baby. This is a very stressful time for a parent as they take time to come out of the shock and they have to part with the baby as he or she will need to be monitored in the NICU.
In such stressful times, there are some unreasonable questions and comments you hear, which add to the stress you are going through. We all need to respect a mother and her situation. No mother will voluntarily walk in a hospital at 34 weeks and say please get this thing out. Trust me, she will never do that. Not everyone means bad, but their insensitive comments to hurt the new parents. Out of my experience, here are some things which you must avoid talking about to a mother or father of a preemie.
You are Lucky
People often say that the mother was lucky as she did not have to go through the toughest part of her pregnancy, the last month and of course, the labor pains. People feel they are being supportive but this offends a new mother. A mother will never risk her baby’s health to save herself from the pains and the hardships of the last month. If a mother is given a choice, she will carry the baby till the right time, even if that means more than the 40 weeks. A mother’s love is the purest form of selfless love.
Sleep till They Keep the Baby
A mother whose baby has been taken away as soon she gave birth to, can never get sleep. She is a worried mother. I remember the medicines and the anesthesia made me drowsy, but I got up several times at night and we both were up at 6 so that he could go and see the baby. I remember I called all doctors to remove the catheter so that I could go and see and hold my princess. I had waited for her for so long and now that she was here, she was not with me. This was devastating. Sleep was the last thing on my mind, and little did I know, this would be the case for the next few months.
Is Your Baby Normal
This is the worst fear of a parent of a preemie. When my doctor told me we had to go in for a c section, my only question to her will my baby be ok? She assured me that nothing will be wrong. It is known that preterm babies are at a higher risk of developmental problems. Do not talk about this to a parent who for sure will always be stressed about this and cannot do anything except praying and hoping.
You are Hyper
Taking care of a new born is anyway a very difficult task, and when the new born is a preemie you need to be more careful. A premature baby should not be exposed to germs at all. The reason my doctor gave me was that their immunity system is not well developed yet and an infection can cause complications. Our pediatrician said we need to be extra careful and keep her away from any possibility of an infection. Do not ask the parents to expose the baby to germs to make her stronger. Even if you feel they are being hyper, it is for a reason. Let them be.
She is a Big baby
A preemie baby is one who is born before 37 weeks of pregnancy. This has nothing to do with the weight. It is a good thing if the baby has the right weight. There are far more complications involved if the baby is underweight. The parents are relieved about this and saying this will not be appreciated.
Not a Real mom
This is one thing not only mothers of a preemie hear but all mothers who go through a c section hear. Just because she did not bear pains does not make her less of a mother. She let the doctor cut layers and went through a tough recovery to ensure her baby was fine. How does this make her less of a mother or as they say not a ‘real’ mom?
Breast is best
A mother after a c section has problems feeding and when the baby arrives early this becomes more difficult. Many times, mothers of NICU babies are able to breastfeed but sometimes, like me, they are not able to. Do not remind her about breast feeding and its importance. She knows it. But she also knows more than breast is best, fed is best. The baby’s health is more important rather than right or wrong.
This is Common in Your Country/Society
Women from a lower income bracket or women abroad are said to have normal deliveries because they work harder. Is it a mother’s fault she is where she is? As per statistics, one out 8 new born babies in the USA are preemie. So how is India different from there? This is the worst thing you can say to a mother of a preemie. She is anyways very guilty of not able to keep her child for longer. The worst thing she hears is that it was her fault. All emergency c secs happen due to a medical reason and it in no way is the mother’s fault.
Your Child is Slow
A preemie baby till the age of 5 is known to do things as per the adjusted age and not their real age. This means what a full-term baby will do at 5 months they might do at 6 months, if they were born at 36 weeks. They all come to the same level gradually. Telling a mother how her child is not reaching milestones as per the norms and is slow, is very rude. Each child anyway is known to be different and they all do things at their own pace. Never make a mom feel sad about her child. She is proud of her little one, and let her be. “Their first step may have taken a little longer than others, but the journey to get there, made it that much more victorious”
Apart from this, there are several other things which people say. Many do not realize they are being insensitive but they also do not know what the parents are going through emotionally. Be in their place, and you will know their plight. If you cannot make them better, stay quiet. All they need is your love and support and your blessings for the health of their baby. And for the mothers, ignore what people say. Enjoy the moment.
Remember, “Being the parent of a preemie means you are extra special. After all, God does not pick anybody to witness a miracle”