When a baby is first diagnosed with a birth injury, such as hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE) or another form of neonatal brain damage, parents often feel overwhelmed and unsure how to proceed. It’s important to know that feeling this way is only natural. It takes time to adjust to the idea that your baby may have a disability or complicated healthcare needs.
We’ve put together a few tips that we hope will help during this time:
1. To take care of your baby, you also have to take care of yourself.
Parents of children with birth injuries often experience anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental health issues. Additionally, parents may be so busy and stressed that they miss out on sleep, exercise, healthy meals, etc. Remember that although you may be willing to make great sacrifices for your child, you will be better equipped to care and advocate for them if you also take care of your own mental and physical health.
If you feel that your mental health has taken a toll, or you would just like to talk to others who have gone through similar experiences, consider joining a parent support group. Check out our interactive guide, which allows you to search for support groups based on factors like location and specific health conditions/disabilities. Many online groups are also included.
Another great way to get connected with new parenting resources and groups in your community is by asking your OB-GYN, hospital staff, or your child’s pediatrician.
Friends and family can also be an invaluable source of support, whether that be a home-cooked meal delivered to your door, a few hours watching your child so you can get a break, or just someone to vent to. Don’t be afraid to accept their help.
2. It’s ok to mourn.
Being upset about your child’s injuries, and the ways in which their life may be different from what you had expected, is a normal reaction. It doesn’t mean you love them any less. It’s also normal to feel other negative emotions, like anger and guilt. Of course it’s important to try and process these emotions, but be patient with yourself.
3. Celebrate the small stuff.
Maybe your baby isn’t reaching developmental milestones when expected. Maybe you have no idea what the future will hold for your child.
While it’s unlikely that you will be able to just put all of these worries aside, focus on the positives when you can. If your child gains a new ability, or overcomes a health scare, that is definitely worth celebrating. It might be helpful to get a baby book or journal for your child so you can log their progress on skills and milestones.
4. Advocate for your child.
Your baby’s doctors and nurses may know more than you do about complex medical topics, but you can still be involved in care decisions. Whenever you don’t understand something, ask questions. If something doesn’t seem right, speak up.
5. Consider whether malpractice may have played a role in your child’s injury.
Unfortunately, birth injuries often result from negligent actions by medical professionals. For some parents, it is difficult to know whether their baby’s birth injury may have been caused by medical malpractice or not. However, if anything about the quality of medical care during pregnancy, labor and delivery, or early infancy seems questionable, you may want to get the opinion of an attorney.
If malpractice did play a role, your child may be eligible for compensation under the law; enough to cover lifelong treatment, therapy, and a secure future.
It is important to know that with birth injury cases, there is a statute of limitations (SOL). This is a finite period of time (defined by state law) under which you have to pursue legal action. After the SOL has expired, a claim cannot be filed. Therefore, if you are at all interested in a potential case, it is important to speak to a lawyer early.
About ABC Law Centers
ABC Law Centers was established to focus exclusively on birth injury cases. A “birth injury” is any type of harm to a baby that occurs just before, during, or after birth. This includes issues such as HIE, infection, and trauma. While some children with birth injuries make a complete recovery, others develop disabilities such as cerebral palsy and epilepsy.
If a birth injury/subsequent disability could have been prevented with proper care, then it constitutes medical malpractice. Settlements from birth injury cases can cover the costs of lifelong treatment, care, and other crucial resources.
If you believe you may have a birth injury case for your child, please contact us today to learn more. We are happy to talk to you free of any obligation or charge. In fact, clients pay nothing throughout the entire legal process unless we win!
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