“I don’t care what the gender is, as long as my baby is healthy.” How many times have you heard a mum-to-be utter these words? If you are pregnant, chances are you’ve uttered them yourself, as well. Naturally, you’re taking every precaution that you possibly can to ensure your baby’s proper development: eating right, getting a moderate amount of exercise, refraining from excess caffeine and alcohol consumption, and sticking to your prenatal medical appointment schedule.
But what if your infant does suffer a birth injury or a birth defect? How will you cope? We’ve collected some tips and advice from mums just like you who are dealing with the aftermath of a birth injury.
First and Foremost: Don’t Panic
A birth injury is not the end of the world. In many cases, your baby will grow up to be healthy and strong. Physical issues and developmental challenges can be overcome. There are some remarkable stories of children who have triumphed over adversity, so try to keep from panicking, sinking into despair or hopelessness, or being overly pessimistic.
Take Things One Day at a Time
It can be hard, especially if you are a new parent, not to look far ahead into the future and worry about all of the hurdles that lie ahead. That’s true even for parents of perfectly healthy children. However, it’s important to take life with a newborn one day at a time.
Celebrate the successes of each day: a nice long nap, a breastfeeding session that bonds you together, the cozy feeling of being with family. Living in the moment like this can help you live in a state of gratitude rather than one of anxiety and worry.
We live in an amazing time; using the internet, it’s easy to research just about any health problem, birth defect, or other condition from the comfort of your sitting room. However, watch out for Dr. Google Syndrome: with a wealth of resources at your fingertips, it can sometimes be difficult to suss out what’s good information and what should be taken with several grains of salt.
Ask your pediatrician for some good websites to start with, and always look for articles that are backed up with plenty of scientific resources. National and international organizations, like the NHS, the WHO, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S., are always trustworthy, so start there if you’re at a loss.
Connect to Other Parents
Another fantastic aspect of our Internet age is that we can now connect to other parents the world over who are grappling with the same issues. This is especially helpful if your child’s disease or birth defect is rare. There might not be many parents in your area who understand what you are going through, but you can always log on to a forum or chat room and get support, 24/7
Consider Pursuing Legal Compensation
If the birth defect or injury occurred because of the medical error of an obstetrician or other medical professional who was attendant at your delivery, you might be entitled to compensation.
It might not seem polite to be overly litigious, but the fact of the matter is that caring for a child with a birth injury is expensive. Taking legal action can help stave some of the costs associated with physical therapy sessions, surgeries, medications, and wages lost tending to those critical tasks. In addition, there is a chance that you could receive compensation for your emotional pain and suffering.
Infertility is also something you need to consider. “Some birth injuries can also hurt your personal health, and even decrease your chances of having a healthy pregnancy in the future,” says the Conceive Health fertility clinic in Kitchener, ON. “Start by having a candid conversation with your doctor about your future chances of pregnancy, and then take further action with a fertility specialist.”
Remember to Take Care of Yourself!
People — and parents in particular — tend to view selflessness as a virtue. But that’s not always the best approach. It’s vital to practice self-care on a regular basis, to ensure that you are strong enough to care for your child and help support your partner.
Take time to do things that help you stay emotionally and physically healthy. Spend time alone, with friends, and one-on-one with your partner. Recruit others to babysit. If your child is seriously disabled, there are options for respite care to give you a break. You deserve it — and it will help you to be a better advocate for your child in the long run.