Finding Out
First Questions
Telling Others
Your Feelings
Looking After Yourselves
Feeding Your Baby
Your Baby's Development
Early Intervention

Your Feelings

• This is a general simple guide. Everyone is different.

• Most new parents go through a grief process as they would if their baby had died. In a way your baby has died; the dream baby you imagined for nine months or more; the baby without Down syndrome.

• But it is different to having a stillbirth because you have a living baby needing love and care. So in addition to the grief for the loss of your dream baby, you develop feelings of love and joy for your actual baby. The baby who was the problem becomes the solution.

• Grief is a healthy reaction to loss. The strength of your reaction depends on how big the loss seems to you.

• Grief is hard work and it hurts. It can be delayed (maybe your baby is very sick and Down syndrome seems unimportant) but cannot be avoided.

• Throughout your child’s life there are likely to be occasions when you revisit these feelings of grief, but most parents say the pain of the early days is the hardest.

• Many different feelings are part of grief.

Denial is a common first reaction, you hear the news and think “this isn’t really happening” “this only happens to other people”.

It cushions the blow and protects you for a while until your body is better able to cope with the news.

Anger may be a generalised rage at the world or a more personal “why me?” “How dare this happen to me?”

You may be able to channel your anger into doing something to help your child.

Bargaining is that feeling of “If I do this I can make it better”, a time where guilt and responsibility may be strongly felt. It may lead to a change in priorities in your life.

Depression is an intense and overwhelming feeling of helplessness and sadness, “my world is falling apart.”

Acceptance creeps in as you start to think, “so my baby has Down syndrome, I can live with that”

Most people don’t work through these feelings in order. They experience them all at once and revisit them again and again.