November 17th is World Prematurity Day. This day aims to raise awareness of premature birth, what it means, and the support available for parents of preterm babies.
The image for World Prematurity Day shows tiny purple baby socks surrounded by nine pairs of regular size baby socks. The purple represents sensitivity and exceptionality, and the one pair of tiny socks symbolises that 1 in 10 babies are born prematurely worldwide.
The theme for World Prematurity Day 2023 is small actions BIG IMPACT, promoting immediate skin-to-skin contact.
A baby born before 37 weeks of pregnancy is considered to be a premature baby.
Premature babies may be smaller and may need some extra care or time in the hospital. Reaching developmental milestones may take longer for a preterm baby compared to babies born at full term, as they are younger.
This can be a very anxious time for you as a parent and you may experience certain concerns.
Feeding the baby can be a concern for the parents of a premature baby. The medical professionals involved in your little one’s care will be able to advise you on what and how to feed your baby after they’ve been born. You may also want to keep a notebook or use a premature baby app to help you track your baby’s eating patterns.
Many parents of premature babies feel isolated from the rest of the world. It can be helpful to remember that there are many parents who have experienced what you’re feeling, and you are not alone.
Charities such as Bliss can provide support when you’re struggling. Websites and online forums may also help give you advice and understanding.
It can be easy to become withdrawn from your own support network if your little one is premature and in the hospital’s NICU. However, talking to your support network is one of the most important things you can do.
You family and friends will want to be there for you, but you can also lean on your little one’s doctors, midwives and nurses.
You can also access support from Tommy’s, another pregnancy, and premature birth charity: https://www.tommys.org/pregnancy-information/premature-birth#:~:text=Call%200800%20014%207800%20(Monday,out%20more%20about%20premature%20birth.
Your hospital may have details of local support groups for parents of premature babies. Ask one of the nurses or check your local library or community centre website.
Many communities have groups, or programs to support parents on an emotional and practical level.