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Personal stories

Why it’s important for NICU dads to take part in kangaroo care

I thought I’d taken a wrong turn and ended up in a zoo.

Man, I was confused. I thought this was a hospital for sick babies. Why were we talking about animals?

What the hell is kangaroo care?

Turns out it’s a really important part of the neonatal journey – both for parents and baby. And while it’s essential for mums to take part, it’s also something that dads can participate in… and we even bring our own benefits to the party.

Here’s how…

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What are the benefits of reading to babies in neonatal units? Experts and parents share their views

One of the best ways I found of bonding with my sons in the neonatal unit was by reading to them.

At the time, it felt almost futile. Here I was, sometimes in a room of other parents, feeling self-conscious about being overheard reading silly rhymes aloud. All while the boys slept (most of the time) through it.

Was there actually any point? As it turns out – yes, there was. Here, I dig deeper into the benefits of reading to your baby in the NICU.

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8 things you may miss out on when your baby is born preterm

Even the best laid plans can be obliterated in devastating fashion by a premature baby’s arrival.

Much of a pregnancy involves excitement and forward planning, and yet having a preterm baby can mean those plans are put on ice… or even shelved completely.

Here are some of the things that parents of a premature baby may miss out on.

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Interviews

“It was almost a blur”: Christmas in the NICU

For some families, the only lights this Christmas will be those of the NICU. Jingle bells will be replaced by alarm bells.

Indeed, for those that celebrate Christmas, a festive spell on a neonatal ward can be memorable, but often only because of the hardship it brings. While many families are celebrating together in the comfort of their homes, those parents with sick or premature children are out of their comfort zones and often out of others’ minds.

Tayla Esgate-Menear was one of those parents in 2019. Here, she shares her experience of Christmas in NICU.

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World Prematurity Day 2020: what is it, and why is it important?

I start this piece with a confession: up until 2019, I’d never heard about World Prematurity Day. I never paid attention to it, I never even knew about it.

Really though, I never had a reason to… until my sons were born 13 weeks prematurely. Now, as a parent of preterm children, it’s a day I pay full attention to.

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Personal stories

Back to the grind: the agony of returning to work when your babies are in hospital

Business as unusual.

I’m lucky to do a job that I enjoy. But for several weeks in summer 2019, I ambled through my role in a state of fugue. I can tell you precious little about what I did at work at that time and even less about how often my mind was fully on the task at hand.

The reason, though, is simple: my mind was elsewhere. Specifically, it was in a hospital 25+ miles away. It was with my sons, still wired to their machines. It was with my wife, suddenly walking the parenthood road we’d trodden together, alone. And it was with the nurses and doctors caring for our sons.

Alas, we have bills to pay… and so a month after our boys crashed into the world, I once again showed my face in the office. This is what it’s like to return to work when your babies are in the hospital.

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Personal stories

The coronavirus lockdown gave me a second chance at paternity leave

Out of darkness comes light.

It feels almost criminal to even think of this awful situation as a positive in anyone’s life. Yet the coronavirus pandemic and its trail of destruction somehow left the cards stacked in my favour. It gave me the unique opportunity to relive my paternity leave. Or to put it more accurately, live the paternity leave I never had.

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This is how premature births and neonatal care can affect dads

When my sons were born – 13 weeks ahead of schedule – I had no idea what the hell was going on.

All I knew was that this wasn’t normal… and that was soon proven to me. After nine weeks on the neonatal units at two different hospitals, this is what I learned about how dads can be affected.

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Interviews

Interview: Natasha Borton on encouraging parents to write about their SCBU experiences

Natasha Borton is a Welsh poet and spoken word artist. She also happens to be a mum to a little boy who was born 11 weeks premature.

After a bumpy road through the SCBU (special care baby unit) which took its toll mentally and physically, she used her creativity to help others who’d lived similar experiences.

I caught up with Natasha to discuss all things preemie, and to hear more about the neonatal project she spearheaded.

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8 ways for dads to bond with their baby in neonatal care

There’s no doubt about it: bonding with your baby when they’re in an incubator is hard.

Of course, the mother’s role is imperative. She can provide the all-important breast milk to help your child on its road to recovery.

However, dads shouldn’t feel as though they have to play second fiddle all the time. There are plenty of ways you can help out and bond with your baby, even if they are in a neonatal ward.

In this post I’ll cover eight ways that dads can get involved in the NICU experience and start building a relationship with their newborns.