Psychological Aspects of Help to Mothers with Children who Suffer from Perinatal Affections of the Nervous System

O. O. Kulya


Perinatal Psychology is a unique new branch of psychology which is very popular in modern medical practice. The incidence of perinatal lesions of the nervous system in Ukraine is 16-43 % of all diseases of children under one year of age, 47-60 % of which belong to hypoxic and ischemic damage of the nervous system. Review of specialized literature was performed in order to summarize and present modern views on the problem of the psychological state of mothers of children with nervous system perinatal affections and provide them with appropriate support.

Psychological peculiarities of how parents perceive their sick children are extremely important. The accumulated data suggest that early and high-quality interaction between parents and their child has a positive impact on cognitive and social development of the child. Psychological follow-up of families having a child with central nervous system damage, started in early neonatal period, is believed to be able to facilitate complete overcoming of grief as well as to improve the quality of medical care. The psychologist’s efforts should be directed at parental emotions to reduce emotional tension and stress level and to form a positive attitude towards nursing their infant. Short sessions of psychotherapy are recommended. One of its features is positive psychotherapy that aims at identifying and activation of certain possibilities in order to overcome difficult situations and diseases.

It is important to ensure parental communication with neonatologists, neurologists, and intensive care specialists.

When the child’s disability cannot be avoided, parents experience a second tragedy. Immediately after diagnosis, they feel shock and uncertainty as well as panic of the unknown. Then a gradual contradiction between the understanding of the problem at the rational level and its rejection at the level of emotions and feelings occurs. The next step is aggression manifested in emotional outbursts and focused on others. Gradually belief in healing and wrong diagnosis appears and is replaced by depression. And, finally, acceptance of a developmental defect, appearance of interest in the environment, and opening up new opportunities for self-realization happens.

Researchers indicate the high rate (80 %) of resistant disadaptational reactions in such families. These reactions direct the energy of the internal conflict in a way that leads to a partial relief of mental stress, but not to the problem solution.

Specialists should work to enable the mother to see her child’s personality in all its complexity, and not focus on just one side.

Parents of a special child have certain common personality traits – sensitiveness and hypersocialization; their contrasting combination contributes to the internal moral and ethical conflict. The next feature is the protective nature of behavior (lack of openness, immediacy, and ease in communication), due to the psycho-traumatic experience of interpersonal relations.

Mothers of disabled children are sensitive to the need for authoritative figure on which they could rely in their misfortune. Any possibility to communicate with other parents of sick children is of great support to them.

Thus, the conducted research suggests the following conclusions:

  1. The birth of a child with a central nervous system disease is seen as a great tragedy and is accompanied by stress in mother and family members.
  2. It is important that a multidisciplinary team of experts could start working already in the hospital offering parents further steps of therapeutic cooperation and a program of adequate rehabilitation.
  3. Consequences of the perinatal nervous system damage create a complicated biopsychosocial reality causing a complex of psychological reactions in mother. Misunderstanding and underestimation of the psychosocial component of the child’s disability and the negative psychological reactions of the mother can block the life and positive opportunities available for both the child and the mother.


perinatal psychology; perinatal damage of the nervous system; positive psychotherapy; special child; rehabilitation

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