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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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Shattered expectations and trauma: coping and processing

Editor’s note: It’s my pleasure to welcome Dr Jenna Brough BSc, DClinPsy, DipHb(KGH) to PremDad. This post is a must-read for parents who are currently going through, or have recently experienced, life in the neonatal unit. Over to Dr Brough!

As a Clinical Psychologist much of my work is about supporting people who are struggling after traumatic experiences, dealing with difficult emotions and the impact this is having on them, their relationships, and their lives.

Many parents whose babies are born prematurely and require NICU support, were not expecting it, they do not have a great deal of time to process and accept the changes from their expected pregnancy, birth and new-born experience…

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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.

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6 things we learned from Bliss charity’s #NeonatalDadTakeover

When I heard that the leading prematurity charity, Bliss, was hosting a Father’s Day Twitter event for dads of neonatal babies, I had to check it out.

The event was hosted by Ricky Boleto, a journalist who had a child in neonatal care and a baby born during the COVID-19 lockdown. Ricky took over the Bliss Twitter account for an hour to share his experience and get the conversation started for the Neonatal Dad Takeover.

Following an enjoyable Father’s Day – wildly different from the Father’s Day I spent in NICU last year, I settled down to join in the conversation.

Having shared some of my own experiences and connected with some other dads, here are six things I learned.