Five ways to support a family who have just had a premature baby
There are many ways to support parents who have just had a premature baby. The nursing team at St Vincent’s Private Hospital Melbourne has put together their top five.
1. Find out if the mum has seen her baby yet
Depending on the arrival of the baby there are times when a baby has been rushed to the nursery and mum is unable to get out of bed. Some parents can find it very upsetting that family have rushed in to see the baby before she has had a chance to see her own child. If you are visiting the hospital, visit the Mum first if possible, not the baby.
2. Volunteer to be mum’s spokesperson
The parents may not be able to use mobile devices in the nursery, or they may not have the time to reply to all the well-wishers.
Volunteer to be mum’s ‘communication manager’ and give regular bulk updates on the health of the baby. Maybe also try and coordinate visitors and support.
3. Shop and cook
Some premature babies will be in the hospital for months. It can be exhausting for parents and chances are the last thing on their minds is shopping or preparing healthy meals.
Why not drop off some home cooked dishes and put together a care package of everyday essentials such as tissues, toilet paper, milk, bread, fruit and vegetables.
“One of the school mums made my big kids their school lunch for a week, it was such a small but very appreciated support for us. I knew the kids had a proper lunch for school each day during a highly stressful time in our lives.”
4. Encourage them to sleep
Most parents of premature babies are exhausted. They spend long periods of time in hospital and they then spend the evenings expressing milk and worrying about their baby or looking after other children.
Encourage them to take time for themselves and rest. You can also make it easier for them by offering to look after older children or offering to do some housework.
5. Don’t spread germs
Don’t visit the family or the baby if you’re unwell or you think you might be coming down with something. Also be mindful that the parents might ask you to wash your hands before holding a premature baby. They’re not being rude, they’re just conscious of how easy it is for premature babies to become unwell.
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