Managing the impact of admission

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Many parents find the admission to a neonatal unit difficult, overwhelming or distressing. They can be anxious for their baby, themselves and their developing relationship. They might also be concerned about wider family, especially siblings. Many parents struggle to make sense of what is happening, to understand their own emotional reaction and to connect with their baby.

Babies can also be stressed by the neonatal environment and need support to be soothed.

Who can help

Neonatal psychological therapists (such as psychotherapists and clinical psychologists) work closely with the rest of the team to support babies, families and their relationships. They do this through conversations at the cotside and in therapy rooms. They use evidence-based therapies to help people manage the admission and support their children. They can also support parents experiencing mental health difficulties, but you don’t have to have a mental health difficulty to chat with a psychological professional. Often people are doing fine, but still find it helpful to talk things through or check out something they are concerned about.

The evidence tells us that families who are better supported emotionally, are better able to relate to their infant, manage feeding, be discharged sooner and manage better at home.

Neonatal Psychological practitioners also support staff through training, reflective practice, debriefs and 1:1 support.
Sometimes people worry about seeing a psychological professional. Parents can be concerned that people will think they are not coping or are mad. This isn’t the case. We all need someone to talk to, rant at, cry with, laugh with, and someone with whom they can explore and make sense of the neonatal world. Seeing a psychological professional can be really helpful, and actually helps you better able to manage and support your baby, build your relationship and help them to grow. Sometimes parents meet them for just one session, other times parents see the psychological professional for months. Both (and anything in between!) is fine.

Resources for you

Please download our posters
Emotional Health on the the Neonatal Unit
What do neonatal psychological professionals do?
Emotional Health on the the Neonatal Unit
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