Having a premature or sick baby can be a very challenging and often isolating experience. In most cases parents expect to have a healthy baby who they are able to hold straight away and return home with them soon afterwards, but for parents of sick and premature babies the experience is often very different. It is natural to feel confused as to what to expect and you may feel distressed by being separated from your baby when they are being looked after in an incubator, some parents can naturally feel quite helpless. There are however several important ways you can be involved in your baby’s care outlined below, which will give them the best chance of growing healthy and strong. Best Beginnings has produced the Small Wonders DVD to give you the opportunity to see how other families have coped at this challenging time helping you understand a bit more about what you might expect with a baby on a Neonatal Unit while informing you and empowering you to get more involved in your baby's care in ways that are known to improve outcomes for your baby. Clips from the DVD are below.
One of the most important things a mother can do for their sick or premature baby is to produce breast milk for her. Breast milk is particularly important for premature and sick babies, because it:
- reduces infections
- advances their mental and emotional development.
You can spend time holding or touching your sick or premature baby allowing you to bond which in turn increases your baby’s responsiveness and lets you get to know one another.
Both mothers and fathers can spend time having ‘skin-to-skin’ contact or ‘kangaroo care’ with their baby but when a mother does this it has a number of different health benefits for your baby, including:
- reducing a baby’s susceptibility to infection
- helping stabilise a baby’s temperature
- reduced hospital stay
- better cognitive development and brain maturation
- helps mother produce milk for the baby.
As a parent you can participate in your baby’s care at the earliest opportunity, including:
- Regular skin-to-skin care/kangaroo care
- Providing and feeding breast milk to your baby, for example, through expressing
- Providing comforting touch and comfort holding
- Day-to-day care such as nappy changing or bathing your baby.
The Small Wonders DVD covers all of the above and more. It is split into 12 films introuding you to the neonatal unit (and the kind of care your baby might need from the onset) right up until preparing for home and one year on.
Best Beginnings aims for every parent of a sick and premature baby in the UK to receive a Small Wonders DVD of their own, free of charge, so please ask your hospitals' staff for a copy. Most (but not all hospitals) should now have the Small Wonders DVDs, please click here to see whether or not your local hospital does.
Alternatively if you are not the parent of a sick or premature baby but are interested in obtaining a copy of the DVD and supporting booklet please visit our online shop or you may watch the films online.