Two of the mothers who have taken part in the filming of Small Wonders, Vicki and Sinem, attended the lunch and spoke movingly about their personal experiences of caring for a premature baby.Both images from Lyanne Wylde Photography

This week we launched the next stage of our next big project Small Wonders at an exclusive Lunch at the Cheyne Walk Brasserie in Chelsea. Small Wonders aims to empower parents of sick and premature babies to be at the heart of their child's care in ways proven to enhance health outcomes.


Thirty people attended the lunch time event in Chelsea, where I spoke to explain about the pressing need for the educational DVD. Some of the parents who took part in the filming of the DVD also attended the event and spoke movingly about their experience of caring for a pre-term or sick baby.

Vicki Ling (pictured above left), the mother of 9 month old baby Jacob who was born prematurely at 27 weeks and was cared for over a period of 14 weeks at St Mary’s Hospital Paddington said: “I was very pleased to be able to take part in the filming of the DVD as I know first-hand how frightening and alienating the experience can be for new parents. This will hopefully give parents a much clearer idea of how to look after their tiny new baby and be a big part of their hands-on care.”

Every year, approximately one in ten babies in the UK is born prematurely or sick and has to spend time in a neonatal unit. This is distressing for their parents because, aside from worries about their babies’ health, they have limited access to their baby and consequently often feel disempowered. This can mean that premature and sick babies do not benefit from regular physical touch from their parents, skin-to-skin contact with their mother and from their mother’s breastmilk, all of which have proven health and psychological benefits for these vulnerable infants.

Vicki holding baby Jacob talking to Best Beginnings Chief Executive Alison Baum

Best Beginnings wants to ensure that all parents of premature and sick babies are aware of the benefits of skin-to-skin contact and breast milk, and that health professionals support them to do these things.

‘Small Wonders’ is the first DVD of its kind that follows real parents’ experiences of having a sick or premature baby and shows parents how to care for their vulnerable baby when they have been born under difficult or unusual circumstances.  Best Beginnings is working to ensure that every parent of a sick or premature baby receives a free copy of the DVD, which is due to be launched in June 2012. Click here to view 'taster' clips of Small Wonders, including a short film of a father giving kangaroo care with his premature twins.

Best Beginnings have now been awarded funding from Guys and St Thomas’ Trust for a health professional, who will be based at a maternity hospital and work on an independent evaluation or “change programme” to investigate the current situation, what impact the DVD will have when it launches and then the results. Essentially this will be a national “change programme” to place parents at the centre of their babies care. The full-time nurse running this programme will now start in March 2011, and the new evaluation programme will run until June 2013.