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Coping With Birth Defects

4 min read

The birth of a baby is always a matter of joy and happiness not only for the parents but also for the near and dear ones. This joy or exuberance can turn into grief if a newly born has some birth defects. It is estimated that around 3 percent of the babies born with congenital or birth defects, the most frequent ones are cleft lip and palate, spina bifida and Down syndrome. It is indeed devastating to find that your baby has a birth defect, and often, parents mentally whip themselves for the same.
Doctor checking newborn

How Are Birth Defects Caused?

Genetics, environmental factors or a combination of both these can cause birth defects in babies. Genetic disorders are characterized in 3 ways, namely:

  1. Chromosomal disorders: Rarely inherited, chromosomal disorders are caused when the number of chromosomes in each cell is abnormal – either more or less than 46. For example, in case of Down’s syndrome, each cell has 47 chromosomes instead of 46
  2. Multi-factorial inheritance: Faulty genes and environmental factors contribute to birth defects that arise due to multi-factorial inheritance. Spina bifida and anencephaly both fall into this category of birth defects
  3. Single gene disorder: Defective genes that can be passed on from generation to generation cause what is known as single gene disorder

Birth defects are broadly classified into 2 types – structural and functional or developmental. Structural defects are related to problems with body and appearance, while developmental birth defects are linked to the working or functioning of the body parts or the body system. It can be devastating for parents to find that their baby has a birth defect, and they go through a plethora of emotions with many of them wondering how they will take care of the child. Fortunately, there are many resources and people to help you with the child, and here we list some common steps that will help you in coping with your emotions.

Steps To Take To Cope With Your Child’s Birth Defect

Below are listed some of the simple tips for parents to help cope up with the child born with birth defect:

    • Acknowledge yourself: It is quite natural to feel devastated and sad but you have to move forward. Express your emotions of shock, fear, guilt, anger. Few days of sadness will give vent to your feelings and will help you in accepting the truth. If you like, you can seek the help of friends or even a counselor
    • Talk to yourself: Talk to yourself and accept what is bestowed on you by the Almighty above. Speaking to oneself often helps in accepting the situation and it gives the strength and courage to cope with the difficult circumstances
    • Do some research: It is advisable to do some research. Take the help of internet and learn more about the various available methods and techniques in coping with the predicament.
      But confirm the collected information from some reliable source such as your doctor or his recommended medical books
    • Talk to your partner: Your partner is the only person in the entire world who can relate to your condition. So talk to your spouse at length on various topics such as what all you expect from one another, how you are feeling about the special child, the difficulties that you will have to face. Promise to stand by each other and work in unison in taking care of your little special baby

Cleft Lip

  • Know about your baby’s condition: Knowing your baby’s condition is very important for the parents. Every birth defect is not permanent some are quite curable with surgeries. Some defects are forever and the child has to learn to live with them however there are therapies. Many people often do not understand the truth behind cleft palate or lip. They feel that this is due to eclipses or using knife during pregnancy. Be scientific and teach your family members about birth defects
  • Try to get local support: Coping with congenital defects can be very annoying and stressful. The correct way to handle the changes in your aspirations and expectations is to learn with other parents facing similar or like circumstances. You can also find gratification in volunteering groups concerned with birth defect awareness. Working with other children with birth defects will give you a sense of fulfillment and will enhance the level of patience in you. Do not confine yourself to one option, instead augment all possible alternatives and weave a good support network to help you and your baby in coming times
  • Discuss freely about the birth defects with your family members and friends: Prepare yourself mentally to live with birth defect in a child. This will not only enable you but also prepare you to deal with the baby’s defect emphatically and will provide you and your baby a better and healthy life. Expressing your emotions will ease your burdened heart and will also help you in the struggle of coping with the situation
  • Prepare yourself financially: Having a child with birth defects is quite challenging both psychologically as well as financially. Health insurance benefits, lifestyle daily routine, etc all are affected.
    You should ask the doctor about the helping aids your child might need in order to be safe and healthy for example prosthetic limbs, heart stint or a wheel chair. Some children need few alterations in the house specially clothes for the easy access of equipment. So start saving for larger expenses
Seeking Help And Support

You can get support from professional counselors or psychological advisers. Do not feel embarrassed in seeking their help. They will pacify your emotional turmoil and will help you sail from initial sad experience to a more successful life. Health care counselors are helpful in rendering you a more effective advice in how to look after children with birth defects.
Psychological counselors lessen your levels fear, anxiety apprehensions and depression. Professional talks with counselors are immensely helpful in providing you a lasting emotional support and also subsides all underlying fears.
Remember every child is special and so is yours! Accept what you have got and instead of crying ad feeling stressed, prepare yourself for having a hassle-free life both for your little baby and yourself!

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