PTSD in Mothers of Premature Infants

New Zealand

Becoming a mother is an enormous life transition, preceded by the experience of childbirth, which often brings about a heightened sense of vulnerability.

In the post-partum period, women often experience an instinctual need to protect their new baby. At the same time, the baby can seem fragile and foreign, and women often have a sense of needing to learn about and get to know this new entity in their lives. This can raise the mom's own questions about her capacity to bond, nurture, and provide for the needs of this tiny, dependent being, and bring to the fore her own early experiences. Skin-to-skin contact is one of the ways moms and babies can begin to feel connected in this early period.

Having a premature baby can deeply challenge some of these instincts and expectations. The baby may appear even more fragile than expected, rousing deep anxieties about the baby's robustness and mom's anxieties about keeping baby alive. Baby's apparent fragility might leave mom feeling frightened to handle and take care of baby, impacting on early bonding. If the baby spends time in Neonatal ICU, mom may struggle with feelings of helplessness, and may feel traumatised by the medical interventions required to keep her tiny baby alive. While NICU units often take this into account and try to hold mom's anxieties and facilitate closeness between mom and baby, this can still be a very difficult experience.

Salisha highlights that therapists need to be attuned to the possibility of PTSD symptoms, where moms may be vulnerable to PTSD symptoms such as hyper-arousal, re-experiencing, flashbacks, and other related difficulties.

Watch Salisha, senior psychologist at Tygerberg Hospital, talk about what to bear in mind when working with moms of premature infants. Salisha works with mothers, babies, and families. Her full, CPD-accredited talk on family therapy is available here and her article on Kangeroo Care can be read here


CalabashArticlesPartnersContributorsSpeakersTalksSign upSign inProfileRegistered CounsellorsDieticiansPsychologistsAnti-psychotic MedicationsTrauma and RecoverySAPC Dialogues: Sue HawkridgeCleftThe Ethics of Prescribing Psychiatric Drugs To ChildrenPhonological disorders: Assessment & Treatment ApproachesSensory & Emotional Regulation 3: Sleep & ArousalTerms of UseAbout ContributorsPrivacy PolicyCalabashArticlesPartnersContributorsSpeakersTalksSign upSign inProfilePsychologistsEthicsAudiologistsParenting in CyberspaceThe Concept of MentalisationCindy Strydom on Establishing a new practiceDietself-helpCommunicationBuilding Brains: Sub-cortical structures of the brainMotor learning principles and feedingAnxiety Disorders: Differential Diagnosis and TreatmentHow It WorksAbout PartnersTerms of UseCalabashArticlesPartnersContributorsSpeakersTalksSign upSign inProfilePsychiatristsOccupational TherapistsPhysiotherapistsWhy conventional hearing tests are not sufficientCOVID-19 and StigmaInfant CommunicationTherapy dogsBereavementLegal WorkIntroduction to Schema Therapy - Part 2 - Maladaptive Coping Modes & Basic Therapeutic TechniquesPerinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders II: Attachment implications & Therapeutic ModalitiesSensory & Emotional Regulation 2: An Introduction to Emotion RegulationUploading a TalkAbout ContributorsUploading an ArticleCalabashArticlesPartnersContributorsSpeakersTalksSign upSign inProfilePsychologistsRegistered CounsellorsSpeech TherapistsDiffusion Tensor ImagingTips for student supervisionCOVID-19 and AnxietyNeuropsychologyFeedingMigrationCBT with Children and Adolescents: Generalized Anxiety DisorderEpilepsy: Overview of Clinical Features, Management & Links to NeurodiversityDialectical Behaviour Therapy: The Clinical FrameworkAbout CalabashPrivacy PolicyUploading an ArticleCalabashArticlesPartnersContributorsSpeakersTalksSign upSign inProfileAudiologistsEthicsRegistered CounsellorsCBT: Band-Aid Solution or Sufferer's Balm?Intuitive Eating & Digestive HealthTips to ensure neuroplastic changes in therapyDivorceNew PracticeAutismVona du Toit Model of Creative Ability: Assessment and Treatment principlesTraumatic Brain Injury: Effects & Neuropsychological ConsiderationsPreparing Clinical, Counselling and Educational Psychologists for the Board ExamUploading an ArticleAbout CalabashAbout PartnersCalabashArticlesPartnersContributorsSpeakersTalksSign upSign inProfileDieticiansPhysiotherapistsAudiologistsReflections on CPDWho's afraid of getting into trouble?Therapy DogsNote TakingMemoryLearningTraumatic Brain Injury: Effects & Neuropsychological ConsiderationsListening and Language Development driven by Play in 0-3 years oldWhat is Relational Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy?Privacy PolicyHow It WorksAbout Contributors gearbox repairs, Johannesburg Makeup Artist, Johannesburg Psychologist, Sydney