Taylor Larson holds her daughter Taliyah in the NICU. Dr. Michael Hynan watches closely, so mom and baby aren't distressed during their hospital stay
When Taylor Larson came to Avera McKennan in April she was a little more than halfway through her pregnancy. She started having complications and after five days of bed rest, little Taliyah was born.
"My first thought was just praying she'd make it, she was born so little she wasn't even two pounds yet so I was like how can she live like this." Said Larson.
Taliyah was born at just 26 weeks and has spent her entire life in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or NICU.
While Taliyah has gone through so much just getting here, her mother has also experienced an enormous amount of stress. Doctors are watching Taylor as closely as they're watching her baby.
"Having a healthy full term baby also is stressful, even when childbirth goes very well 12-14% of mothers will have a postpartum depression during the first year." Said Dr. Michael Hynan.
Dr. Hynan is a Clinical Psychologist from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He was brought to Avera McKennan by the March of Dimes to speak with doctors and nurses about post traumatic stress in parents of NICU babies.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD is most often associated with soldiers returning from combat, but research has shown that a third of all NICU parents will show signs of PTSD.
Dr. Hynan developed the screening process for PTSD in the NICU and has traveled across the country teaching hospitals ways to lessen the blow of these high stress situations.
"The more the staff can understand where the parents are coming from I think they can help to short circuit what research has shown to be a pretty nasty spiral that can develop." Said Dr. Hynan.
Treatment and prevention starts with a supportive staff and family centered care or kangaroo care. That's where parents are just as involved as nurses in the care of their baby, things Avera McKennan already prides itself on.
But Larson says there are things parents can do as well.
"Have your support and talk to people even if you don't have family here, talk to the nurses, talk to the doctors, like Jackie with the March of Dimes she's really good about talking. Just express yourself it's ok to show emotion, I tried to hold it in for the first month, didn't talk to anyone, but it's probably the best thing." Said Larson.
Taylor says it's also important to get out of the hospital and do normal things and if you are feeling overwhelmed, there's nothing wrong with asking for help. Even Dr. Hynan sought counseling after his son was born.
"It is normal to be upset and there is nothing embarrassing about seeking help for feelings of sadness, depression, or post traumatic stress." Said Dr. Hynan.
Taliyah's original due date was July 25. While her birthday came a little early, with the care of her parents and staff of the Avera McKennan NICU, Taliyah is shaping up to be a beautiful healthy baby.
"Just to think she's not supposed to be here yet and she had to go through all this but this is the right place for her right now." Said Larson.
The Larson's are still in the NICU and are waiting to finally take little Taliyah home.
According to the March of Dimes, more than one out of every ten babies will be born premature and be forced to spend their first days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Dr. Hynan also says that if left untreated, postpartum depression can lead to an unhealthy childhood for the baby as well as severe depression in both parent and child later on in life.