Dr. Melnyk discusses how women can cope with the guilt they might feel after a premature delivery.
I think it’s really important, if you do feel guilty about the birth of that preemie, to talk about it to someone who is very sympathetic to the situation. So many times women do get depressed after they deliver a premature baby and if you don’t reach out and get help and talk to somebody about your depressed feelings, your anxiety feelings, those emotions are going to spill over and affect your baby in some way, shape or form.
So just being able to talk about the fact that you are sad, that you are worried, that you are stressed and anxious – I think it’s a really terrific thing. We also have developed a wonderful program for parents of premature babies called COPE, creating opportunities for parent empowerment, and that is a series of DVDs with educational information that prepares parents for what to expect of their premature baby, how to read their baby’s cues, when their baby is stressed, when their baby is upset, and not only just how to read the cues but how to respond to the baby when they are in certain states.
For example, a lot of parents, because a baby is very neurologically immature when they are born prematurely, a lot of parents want some response from the baby so they tend to overstimulate premature babies. And when they are overstimulating the babies, the babies turn away from the parents. The parents feel like they are not being a good parent to their baby, but it’s simply because their neurological system is really immature and they are getting overstressed way too early.
So in our program we actually teach parents about all the awake states that premature babies have and when is the best time to interact with those babies, when they are ready to receive the stimulation from the parents.
Parents can obtain COPE through our website. We have a website called ‘Cope for Hope’ – www.copeforhope.com and there is information on the website about the COPE program. There’s a beautiful workbook that comes with the DVDs that has educational information in it as well as workbook activities that parents can actually put the educational information that they are reading and hearing about through the DVDs, actually put that into practice when interacting with their infants.
About Dr. Melnyk, Ph.D., R.N.:
Dr. Bernadette Mazurek Melnyk, Ph.D., R.N., is Dean and Distinguished Foundation Professor in Nursing at the Arizona State University College of Nursing & Health Innovation. She is noted for her dedication to improving the health of children and teens, educational and research innovation, interdisciplinary healthcare, and evidence-based practice to deliver quality patient outcomes.
Dr. Melnyk earned a Bachelor of Nursing Science degree from the West Virginia University School of Nursing, a Master’s of Science in nursing with a specialization in nursing care of children as a pediatric nurse practitioner from the University of Pittsburgh, and a Ph.D. in clinical nursing research from the University of Rochester (New York). She also has completed her post-master’s certificate as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.