Five ways to support parents of premmie babies

On World Prematurity Day

November 16 2018

A staggering 1 in 10 babies in Australia are born prematurely and often it can be challenging to know how to respond and support family and friends who have a premature baby. This November 17th is World Prematurity Day which aims to raise awareness of preterm birth. Liz Wilkes, midwife and Philips Avent ambassador, has shared her top tips on how to support our loved ones who are currently experiencing preterm births.

1. Celebrate when the baby is born
While the new bub and parents may face a challenging journey ahead of them depending on how early the baby is born, it is important that people celebrate in meaningful ways. In most situations it is still appropriate to send a gift, flowers or a card to congratulate them on becoming new parents.

2. Offer practical support
The parents of a premature baby may be stressed, exhausted and emotional which can make it tricky to know how to best support them through this time. Generally parents can find it very difficult to leave bub for a break, and may have to remain by the baby’s side for weeks. Offering to do other jobs at home, bringing meals, providing transport and keeping one of the parents company at the hospital while the other rests will be appreciated. Encouraging self-care for the new parents is also important because it will be one of their last priorities. Check they have someone in their close circle as well as in the hospital to talk to about their concerns and worries, with professional help available if they need additional support.

3. Support breastfeeding mums 
Mum will be working hard to try and establish milk supply earlier than expected, which can be a significant challenge. Whilst in hospital she may be able to use an internal system, however once home it’s a good idea to have a high-quality, comfortable breast pump, such as the Philips Avent Comfort Double electric breast pump which may help mum to stimulate milk supply and flow. Ensure mum gets plenty of food, rest and fluids to keep her supply and energy up too.

4. Buy appropriate gifts for premmie babies
Gifts for the baby can be difficult to buy as they are too small for most clothing. When baby arrives early, parents are often not ready and may not have had time to hold a baby shower, so it might be a good idea to ask what essentials are still needed. Sometimes the best gifts are also the simplest, such as gift cards or soft toys. If you can find premature baby clothes, these will also be greatly appreciated.

5. Don't forget mum and dad... 
Parents of a premature baby will be spending the majority of their time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or Special Care Unit (SCN) depending on babies gestation. It is important for them to be able to carry breast milk safely and therefore transfer bags could be a good present. Other options include a good book or kindle device, or a magazine subscription to occupy the hours of quiet time in hospital.