June 2020 – After the NICU

After the NICU – June 2020
By Jenny R. McCormick

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can happen to anyone who has experienced a traumatic situation and the NICU is definitely traumatic. If you are experiencing PTSD, you are not alone. You are not being dramatic; you have been through a terrifying situation.

  • Get help: It is important to speak up and reach out to a professional. Just as you would go to your primary physician for relief of a physical ailment, it is equally important to seek out a professional to help you sort through your trauma. Learning about PTSD will help you understand your feelings and how to effectively deal with them.
  • Eat a balanced diet: A good diet plan can work wonders for people who experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Health experts believe that symptoms of PTSD can be controlled and reduced, and a good diet is extremely important in management of the condition.
  • Exercise: Regular exercise has a number of benefits. It can contribute to many positive physical health outcomes. In addition to physical health outcomes, regular exercise can also have a positive impact on your mental health by reducing anxiety and depression. Given the benefits of exercise, as well as the numerous mental and physical health problems experienced by people with PTSD, a regular exercise regimen may have a number of advantages for you if you have PTSD. https://preemie.us/PTSDexercise
  • Practice self-care: It is not selfish to take care of YOU first. It is essential for preemie parents who have just been through the trauma of the NICU and are probably still going through it at home. Taking time for self-care can mean being a better parent, a better partner and in general – take you from feeling like you’re surviving to thriving.
  • Coping with stress: Keep track of the ways stress enters your life, though not completely unavoidable, it is possible to cope with it. Some ways include:
    • Deep breathing
    • Self-soothing
    • Expressive writing
    • Distraction
    • Yoga
    • Tai Chi
    • Walking/jogging
  • Support Groups: Remember that you are not alone. Many parents have experienced preterm birth and though your stories are different, there are some very real similarities. Find a community who understands by experience. The Preemie Inspire Network is a great resource for parents searching for support. https://www.inspire.com/groups/preemie/