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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.

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How does it feel to spend Father’s Day in NICU?

I never really gave much thought to what my first Father’s Day as a dad would bring.

Presumably, novelty socks, personalised pint glasses and some chocolates would feature prominently. I certainly didn’t envisage spending it in hospital – yet that’s exactly what happened. If your sons insist on making an extremely premature entrance into the world, that’s the way it goes.

This is what it’s like to spend Father’s Day on a neonatal unit.

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What’s it like in NICU? A first-hand account

The neonatal intensive care unit. A place you may never know about, and certainly one you hope to never go as a parent.

But once you’ve spent time in NICU, it stays with you forever.

In this article, I’ll recount some of my experiences as a new dad watching my twin sons fight for their lives on two different NICU wards, and answer some of the questions I’m asked most often.

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Personal stories

In the beginning: how my sons were born into chaos

To enjoy the best thing in my life, I had to endure the worst.

Becoming a dad is the most rewarding and satisfying thing I’ve ever done – but it didn’t always feel that way.

For several long, arduous weeks, my twin sons’ lives hung in the balance. This is the story of how they were born 13 weeks early, and how it immediately affected me.