10 ways to deal with guilt of having premature baby

By Dr Richard C. Woolfson   — January 20, 2020
  • 1 / 11

    Even though your premature baby is now doing well, you still feel very guilty for her “early arrival”. It pains you whenever you remember those difficult and stressful days in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit when she almost didn’t make it.

    To ease the guilt, you’ve been giving her nothing but the best, such as feeding her organic food, buying her the most expensive toys and giving her your undivided attention every minute of the day.

    But you don’t have to feel this way. Here are 10 suggestions to help you to get over it:

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  • Stop blaming yourself
    2 / 11 Stop blaming yourself

    In almost half of all premature births, the cause is unknown. So unless you were reckless with your health and care during the pregnancy, you really shouldn’t blame yourself.

    Related: $250,000 medical bill: British couple in Singapore crowdfunding to take premature baby home

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  • Listen to the doctors
    3 / 11 Listen to the doctors

    They have explained many times that your preemie’s early arrival was not your fault and beyond your control.

    Instead of rejecting their professional medical comments, accept that you didn’t do anything wrong during the pregnancy.

    Related: This Singapore doctor has cared for over 17,000 premature babies! 

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  • Talk to other parents
    4 / 11 Talk to other parents

    Chances are, other mums and dads of preemies get locked into a guilt-syndrome, too – you’re not the only parent to feel this way.

    You’ll find it reassuring to learn that they eventually overcame this intense form of self-blame.

    Related: Jamie Yeo gives birth to premature baby at 35 weeks

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  • Enjoy your interaction with Baby
    5 / 11 Enjoy your interaction with Baby

    Rather than concentrating on your faults (real or imagined), just relax and enjoy your little one’s company.

    She loves you, she thinks you are the best mum ever, and she would be very annoyed if she knew you felt guilty about the way you are bringing her up.

    Related: Miracle preemie: 580g baby needed 15 blood transfusions…

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  • Recognise your strengths
    6 / 11 Recognise your strengths

    For instance, you’re good at getting her to finish her feed, or you can soothe her when she is upset. Give yourself a pat on the back for all the things you get right with your little one.

    Related: It’s twin boy and girl for Melody Chen and Randall Tan after trying for 9 years

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  • Delight in your baby’s progress
    7 / 11 Delight in your baby’s progress

    One of the best antidotes to any form of parent guilt is awareness of the wonderful progress she makes.

    For instance, she babbles more today than last week, or her crawling is stronger than previously. This is irrefutable evidence that you are getting it right.

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  • Share your feelings
    8 / 11 Share your feelings

    Explain to your husband that you can’t help blaming yourself for your baby’s premature birth.

    Talking about your concerns, doubts and anxieties will ease the inner turmoil you are experiencing right now. His support will help.

    Related: Born at 1.27kg: How this dad helped premature baby gain weight faster

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  • Be realistic about yourself
    9 / 11 Be realistic about yourself

    It’s only natural that you have self-doubts. Every parent feels like that sometimes; some more often than others.

    Avoid the easy mistake of imagining everything that goes wrong with your baby is always your fault.


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  • Look forward, not back
    10 / 11 Look forward, not back

    Think positively about the wonderful future that lies ahead for your child.

    Take delight in her new achievements that emerge every day, and imagine what she’ll be like in a week, in a month and in a year. She has so much potential, and so many terrific experiences in front of her.

    Related: 9 premature babies transform into superheroes at hospital 

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  • Talk to your doctor
    11 / 11 Talk to your doctor

    Will your second child be born prematurely, as well? Your first childbirth may have rocked your confidence and enthusiasm about expanding your family, for fear the same could happen the next time.

    Don’t keep these fears locked inside. Discuss this with your gynaecologist and follow her advice.

    (Photos: 123RF.com)

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