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Parents of a premature baby experience much that reinforces any questions they may have about their parenting skills. They must first deal with feelings of guilt and anger concerning the very fact of the premature birth. Next, they are confronted with their baby's need for specialized care in an environment that makes them feel, at best, uncomfortable and anxious and, at worst, in the way. They may experience feelings of ambivalence about their baby and the guilt that such feelings may cause. They may have concerns that their baby may die or be seriously handicapped. Too often, parenting issues come up only at the time of discharge, when the parents are expected to suddenly assume complete responsibility for a baby who several hours earlier was under the care of professionals around-the-clock. Unhappily, dysfunctional parent-child relationships are not uncommon for this group of children.
In an excellent new book, Parenting Your
Yellin PB. Parenting Your Premature Baby. JAMA. 1990;264(10):1331. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03450100123043