143: NICU Experience for Babies and Parents
We know that a NICU stay makes for a difficult postpartum period, but what are the profound and long-lasting effects from this experience? In today’s show, we’re taking a close look at the experience of parents AND babies who go through a stay in the NICU. My guest brings a wealth of information based on her personal and professional experience.
Dr. Mara Stein is a clinical psychologist in private practice who specializes in the emotional aspects of coping with crisis around pregnancy, parenting and medical crisis, child development, and relationship-based developmentally-supportive care to babies and their families. She’s a Certified EMDR therapist, EMDRIA Approved Consultant, and an EMDRIA Approved Trainer for the Insitute for Creative Mindfulness. She’s certified in other modalities, like Emotion-Focused Family and Couple Therapy, is a Gottman Certified Therapist, and continues to pursue training in Clinical Hypnosis and Ego-State therapies. She brings a wealth of clinical expertise and insight along with all she has learned interviewing families around the world for her two books, her EMDR Basic Trainings, and her advanced practice workshops. All of this is grounded in her personal experience and perinatal journey, which began 25 years ago and took her through infertility, twin pregnancy, prolonged hospital bedrest, the NICU, and nearly 23 years of raising NICU graduates. We’re diving into the babies’ experience in the NICU and the interplay that may occur with their parents.
- How Mara’s specialty came about from her personal journey when she realized that resources were lacking in this area for parents’ emotional needs
- How she found a worldwide online support group for parents of preemies, which became the foundation of her work
- How she became passionate about writing and teaching about perinatal trauma
- Her EMDR work and training over the last 16 years
- The range of conditions and ages of NICU babies
- How NICU departments vary around the world in how they operate
- Factors that interrupt a baby’s natural pattern in traditional NICU, with the environment, lights, sounds, etc.
- The long-term effects of a NICU stay
- The sensory mismatch for babies, with sounds, lights, and interruptions
- How a developmentally-supportive NICU differs from traditional NICU
- Why moms feel like they need to “stay out of the way”
- How parent feel disoriented in many ways
- How overstimulation and stress affect a NICU baby
- How parents navigate their connection to their baby
- Why it’s hard to attune to a NICU baby, and a parent’s hesitation may be misinterpreted as lack of attachment
- The first time Mara felt like her NICU baby’s mother
- The mental health of parents, and how they can work through and heal
- Why parents ask, “Who is like me?” and “Where are the others?”
- Transitions and processes for parents
- The healing, so parents see themselves as whole human beings
- Why parents need to see the combination of disarray and competence
- The necessity of developmentally-supportive help to parents to see their baby as whole
- The empowering message to parents to nourish them and help them recover and develop
- Why the post-traumatic moments and grief do NOT invalidate your experiences as a NICU parent
Parenting Your Premature Baby and Child: The Emotional Journey by Deborah L. Davis, Ph.D. and Mara Tesler Stein, Psy.D.
Intensive Parenting: Surviving the Emotional Journey through the NICU by Deborah L. Davis, Ph.D and Mara Tesler Stein, PsyD
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