Being a parent of a premature baby is a daunting and emotional time and can feel extremely isolating.
Neonatal Intensive Care Units experiences vary so greatly and every parent will face different challenges, but here are 5 gentle tips to keep in mind:
1. Take it day by day
When dealing with premature babies, you really do need to take it one day at a time. There's going to be ups and downs, and you may have both good and bad days, so don't overwhelm yourself by thinking of future what-ifs. Be in the moment and think about today.
2. Restrict visitors to immediate family only
Most NICUs will have this rule in place anyway, but try to keep visitors restricted to immediate family members only. You want to reduce the risk of baby getting an infection, so it's best to be cautious. Make sure that every visitor is healthy (no colds) and washes their hands before entering.
3. Ask for support
Talk to other parents who are going through the same thing, either there at the NICU or on online forum. Or ask the nurses about their miracle stories. Even talking to family and friends will help – remember, they WANT to help, so anything you ask of them will be absolutely no problem.
4. Take time out for yourself
The hospital will feel like your life so take an opportunity to get out, breath in some fresh air and grab lunch at a nearby cafe (so you're still close to baby). Rejuvinate yourself so that you can stay strong for whatever lays ahead. If you have other children, have some one-on-one time with them.
5. Celebrate each step
Take lots of photos and record all your “firsts” like their first bath, first nappy change etc. These milestones help to break down the overwhelming journey and simply focus on reaching the next step.
Do you have any advice for parents of premature babies? Let us know!
I'm a first-time mother and I've found that I can't go out with my son without somebody giving me advice on how to raise him. There seems to be a general assumption that new parents have no idea about children, and it is everybody's duty to share their wisdom.