Being a father with a child in the NICU is a frightening experience. You may not acknowledge all your concerns, but dad’s need to feel like they are helping their partner and being part of the NICU process. That doesn’t always happen, so supporting your partner during your baby’s NICU stay is essential for your own mental health.
Feeling Left Out
Many dads feel left out while their child is in the NICU. Everyone is focused on your infant and the mom. NICU staff don’t mean to make you feel left out, but speak up and ask how you can help to support your partner and their care.
Communication is Vital
Keeping the lines of communication open with your partner during this time is essential. You are both anxious about having a premature baby, and you need to share your feelings with each other. Open up and don’t be afraid to share your feelings with her.
Share the Load
There is an insurmountable list of to do’s, especially if you have other children. Do whatever you can to lighten your partner’s load.
- Take care of the home front if needed like taking children to school, doing the laundry, meal prep.
- Give her some time off to be with the kids at home, and you spend the day at the NICU.
- Ask what specifically you can do to help. You might be surprised.
Take Care of Yourself
Eating well, getting enough sleep, and finding time to exercise are all important ways to keep your strength and peace of mind intact. You can’t be a help to anyone if you get run down.
At the same time, encourage your partner to eat healthy and get enough rest so she can maintain her strength both physically and emotionally.
Stay in the Loop
It is up to you to ask questions of the NICU staff. Find out as much as you can about what happened while you were at work or at home. Stay up to date on the progress of your newborn infant.
Listen carefully when the doctor is there so you become a second source of information to share with your wife. Being on the same page with her will reduce her own stress.
Develop “Hands On” Care
Don’t shy away from holding your infant, touching them, or staying close. Infants need a father’s love and affection just as much as their mother’s. This will also demonstrate your support in caring for your newborn.
If you find you are stressed and cannot cope, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Contact Fairfax Neonatal Associates, PC if you have any questions or concerns while your child is in the NICU.