Congratulations! You have a new baby!
You are not alone…
One in every 700-900 babies born worldwide will have Down syndrome. Around 20-25 are born in WA each year and Down Syndrome WA offers families support and information to new parents to help them through those early days and years.
Click here to find out more about what it means to have Down syndrome.
Anyone who has had a baby with Down syndrome will say they remember vividly the moment when they first heard their baby’s diagnosis. Most parents experience a certain amount of shock and a sense of loss and grief for the baby they were expecting.
Everyone reacts in different ways, but it is quite natural when faced with an unexpected diagnosis to have these feelings, as well as other feelings of sadness, disbelief, anger and sometimes guilt. In most cases these feelings gradually pass and parents become absorbed with their new baby.
It is common to have a range of mixed and changing emotions, anxiety for the present as well as for the future. Some parents experience feelings of inadequacy or surprise at their own reactions. Some find it more difficult to accept and initially to bond with their baby. Some go through a time of confusion and turmoil when anger and grief are the dominant feelings. It is important to recognise that every one of these feelings is valid. Give yourself time to adjust and to know that the intensity of these feelings will gradually diminish.
Early reactions can also be a response to fear of the unknown. Most people don’t know very much about Down syndrome or what to expect. It is important to source good current information and you are already on the way to doing that. Along with accurate information, talking to people who speak from experience can help you put everything into perspective and help you work your way through your feelings. The more you learn about what Down syndrome means for your baby the more reassured you will be. You can then start to move away from uncertainty and focus on your baby.
There will be emotional ups and downs for a while, and there is no easy way to manage this, but most families can and do cope well. Most find that it helps to be open about how you are feeling and reacting. Talking to those closest to you, putting your feelings and your fears and anxieties into words can help you deal with them. Denying or suppressing your feelings can have the opposite effect.
If you feel you aren’t coping, there are professional supports available. The social worker at the hospital can let you know about these or you can talk to your doctor or child health nurse. If you are not sure how to go about this, please give us a call and we can assist you.
To contact us, call 08 9368 4002