Giving birth to a child is one of the paramount, most positive experiences in life, but having a baby born too soon is a significant trauma for families. There are 15 million babies born prematurely worldwide every year, and 8 out of 100 of these are born in South Africa.
To raise awareness of these stats, Sunday the 17th of November is Annual World Prematurity Day.
How can you, as a family member or friend, can help so that new parents can focus all their love and attention on their preemie baby?
Here are some top tips:
Help with older kids
New parents to preemie babies often spend the majority of their time at the hospital. If there are older kids, they can sometimes feel that they aren’t getting attention and can feel alone.
You can help to make them feel special. Organise a playdate, school pick-ups, an outing or bring them something special to brighten their day.
The last thing you want to worry about as parents of a preemie baby is having to do household chores. This is where family and friends can help: offer to do the grocery run, or the laundry or even the vacuuming or mopping.
These are the little mundane everyday things that need to be done. They might sound like simple tasks, but these are the things that keep a household running.
Hospital care bag
Give new parents everything they need for days at the hospital. Pack a care bag filled with healthy snacks and water to keep energy levels up, add in a soft blanket for the skin-to-skin sessions with baby (Kangaroo Care) and nappies.
Note that oversized nappies can cause the baby to lie with their legs in a ‘frog-like’ position, which hampers muscle tone development and can cause hip dysplasia. Huggies® Preemie nappies are tailored to fit preemie babies that are born weighing less than 1.5 kilograms.
Help with meals
Parents of preemie babies spend long hours at the hospital and forget about their own needs.
Having wholesome and delicious meals ready and waiting for them after a long day goes a long way in terms of helping them keep their energy levels and nutrition up.
Just be there and support them
Having a baby in the NICU is sometimes a lonely and isolating experience, so if you can visit, do. Take the new parents out for a cup of coffee and have a chat. Listen and be there for them on those days when they need a hug.
There are going to be many ups and downs on this journey and knowing that they have a support system there for them will make a huge difference.
Raise awareness of pre-term birth rates
Raising awareness of pre-term birth is the first step to defeating it: pre-term birth rates could be significantly reduced and lowered through overall information and improved treatment and care.
According to renowned Baby and Childbirth educator, Lynne Buff, expectant moms should be aware of information related to medical conditions which could result in pre-term labour and educate themselves on the signs of early labour.
It is critical to consult with a midwife or obstetrician as pre-term labour can be halted in many instances.
Additionally, expectant moms should also look after themselves during pregnancy by:
- Having regular, sound antenatal care at the recommended stages of pregnancy
- Manage weight gain: around 12kg is the average over the course of pregnancy
- Infected gums produce prostaglandins – the same hormones that initiate labour. Visit a dentist at least once during pregnancy and brush teeth at least twice a day and floss.
Lynne Bluff also points out that it is, however, important to realise that in the majority of premature births, there is nothing a mom could have done to prevent it from occurring.
Wear Purple for Preemies
“We understand what preemie parents go through and we are proud to be able to make this donation to play our part in helping preemie babies thrive,” says Caitlin Meredith, Senior Brand Manager Huggies®.
This year the nappy brand will be donating 300 cases of Huggies® Preemie nappies, valued at R 198 000.00.
Thelle Mogoerane, Chris Hani (Baragwanath) Hospital and George Mokhari Hospital will be receiving 100 cases of preemie nappies, each.
Members of the public can support Wear Purple for Preemies by buying a sticker for R 10.00 and wearing purple on World Prematurity Day – and by encouraging friends and family to do the same.
Paint your social media pages purple for preemies!
Compiled for Parent24 by Huggies®
What are your tips for supporting parents of a preemie? ? Tell us and we could publish your comment.
NEW: Send messages and voicenotes to 066 010 0325