11th March 2021

Five tips for parents with a premature or sick baby

It’s ok not to feel ok

Having a baby in neonatal care can sometimes mean losing or letting go of ideas and plans you had. It’s very common for this to leave a sense of grief, for moments that won’t come back.

How you feel and process this might be different from others, but talking things through with someone who understands can make you feel less isolated. No matter what you are feeling, there is support available for you, you’re not alone. 

Bliss volunteers normally see more than 900 families on the neonatal unit each month, and they’re now available for one-to-one conversations via video call.

You can book a call at any time on your neonatal journey, from when you first arrive on the unit to when you are about to leave, and after you’ve gone home. It can be a one-off call if you just want a chat, or continued support throughout your time on the unit. Whenever you’re ready to talk, Bliss is here for you.

“They listened. They were not judgmental and let me cry for everything, including my lost three months of pregnancy and birth experience.”- Bliss service user

Get involved in your baby’s care

Being involved in your baby’s care while they are in hospital can really help both you and your baby. You might hear health professionals call this family-centred care.

Every baby will be getting different care, depending on what they need. If you are at all unsure about what you can or can’t do for your baby, you can talk to the staff on the unit. They will be able to tell you how they support parents and families to get involved in the care of their baby.

Remember – there’s no pressure. You don’t have to get involved with all of your baby’s care right away, or at all. The unit will support you in a way that is right for you and your family.

“It’s having the voice just to say, can I do the parenting, can I change the nappies, will you help me do the mouth cares, will you help me hold my baby. They’re like basic fundamental rights of any parent. I don’t think there’s a nurse or a therapist or a doctor in the country who wouldn’t support that, because they know how important it is.” – Emily Hills, Occupational Therapist working on a neonatal unit

Find support for the extra expense

Having a baby in neonatal carecan bring extra expenses from travel costs, parking, extra child care and missed days at work.

These unexpected challenges can add more pressure on the everyday things that make up your life.

You’re not alone, and being informed about the options available to you can be important for your well-being.

“I would have paid anything to be able to be with my baby but knowing I could claim some of it back took a look of stress off me during the most difficult time of my life.” – Bliss service user

Make memories

Making memories on the unit is a personal decision which some parents find helpful to celebrate or remember their baby’s neonatal journey.

Parents often tell Bliss they wished they’d known to take more videos, photos or to make a memory box. 

Even though this might not be the path you’d planned, it can still be special.

Little Bliss is a free magazine for parents with a baby in neonatal care filled with inspiring real-life stories and support, which many parents find helpful as a keepsake for their time in neonatal care.

Be kind to yourself

The environment of a neonatal unit can have an impact on how you are feeling. Parents often say taking some time away from the neonatal unit can help you cope with the life changes you are going through.

Make sure to go for plenty of walks, spend time with family and keep some comforting routines.

“NICU parents are amazing people, even if you don’t feel it now, you are stronger than you could have ever imagined, you will come through this knowing a new love in your lives, little warriors who pull on your heart strings and find strength in your hearts, your touch and your love. Treat yourselves gently, know we’re thinking of you.” – Debbie, Bliss volunteer

Bliss supports the amazing mums or mother figures who are caring for babies born premature or sick. You can help to ensure that every baby born premature or sick in the UK has the best chance of survival and quality of life. To support Bliss this Mother’s Day, take action today: https://www.bliss.org.uk/everyday-1

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