Wednesday, June 07, 2006

When Your Baby Has a Birth Defect

When Your Baby Has a Birth Defect

If you've just found out that your child has a birth defect, you're probably experiencing a number of emotions. Parents in your situation report feeling overwhelmed and uncertain if they will be able to properly care for their child. Fortunately, you aren't alone - with a little effort, you'll find that there are lots of people and resources to help you.

As the parent of a child with a birth defect, it's important for you to:

Acknowledge your emotions. Parents of children with birth defects experience shock, denial, grief, and even anger. It's important to acknowledge your feelings and to give yourself permission to mourn the loss of the healthy child you thought you'd have. Talk about your feelings with your spouse or partner and with other family members. You might also consider seeing a counselor.

One of the best things you can do for yourself and your child is to seek support. Getting in touch with someone who's been through the same thing can be very helpful; ask your doctor or a social worker at your hospital if they know any other parents in the area who have children with the same condition. Joining a support group also may help - consult the Web sites listed under the Additional Resources tab on the right for more information on finding support online or in your area.

Celebrate your child. Remember to let yourself enjoy your child the same way any parent would - by cuddling or playing with her, watching for developmental milestones (even if these are different than they would be if your child didn't have a birth defect), and sharing your joy with family members and friends. Many parents of children with birth defects wonder if they should send out birth announcements. Although this is a personal decision, you shouldn't feel as though the fact that your child has a health problem means you shouldn't be excited about the new addition to your family.

Seek information. The amount each person would like to learn varies from parent to parent, but try to educate yourself as much and as soon as you are able. Start by asking your child's doctors lots of questions. Record the answers as best as you can. If you're not satisfied with the answers or if he or she seems unable to take the time to answer you thoroughly, don't be afraid to seek second opinions.


Yahoo! Health: Children's Health News

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