Having a premature baby (or babies) is something that none of us expect, and few of us get to plan for.  We spoke to NowBaby parents who had experience of premature birth and parenting a premature newborn to get their advice on how to cope, what to expect and the things that they wish someone had told them!

  • There are a lot of wires and machines in NICU, but they look worse than they are. Slowly day by day they remove them and before long you can hold your baby properly without fighting through all the cables and feeding tubes.
  • Prepare yourselves for ups and downs. It is very hard seeing your baby so vulnerable, there are so many emotions you go through, there are good and bad days and just when you think things are going well, the slightest setback could make such a difference.  Similarly when things are looking bleak, suddenly they can take a turn for the better.
  • It sounds cliche, but I would say just take each day as it comes, you are bound so have down days but it is also ok to laugh and be happy too.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask to see your child if they’re in intensive care. The visiting hours for parents are 24 hours. I was told I couldn’t see him until the next morning and not knowing any different believed them. He was born at 6.34pm and I didn’t see him until nearly midday the next day. Fight to see your child. It’s your right.
  • It can be very hard to assert yourself with so many staff around caring for your child, particularly as a first time Mum.  Remember, you’ve spent (nearly) 9 months caring for your little one already – it’s YOUR baby and she will instinctively want to be near you.
  • Be as hands on as possible the wires and alarms do look scary but they are doing a good thing, changing your babies nappy or doing their tube feeds really will help with bonding as will kangaroo care.
  • We coped by being with our baby as much as we could but also making sure we had time together as a couple or with family to get away from it all because once they’re home, there’s no couples time anymore!
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions, don’t be afraid to touch or hold your child and get involved with all the nappy changes and feeds as much as you can. They make look fragile but they’re tough little cookies and despite how frail their limbs are, you will not break one changing their clothes!
  • Once you’re home, try not to compare your baby with ‘full termers’ our prem babies may have some struggles and set backs but they can and do do amazingly.  We were always told in terms of milestones that our twins should be aiming for half way between their gestational age and their due date
  • Keep some of those preemie clothes so in the months and years to come you can remember just how far you’ve come! Make your 3 year old hold them against him like I do and marvel at how much he’s grown. They grow super fast and the pain of watching them hooked up unable to do anything without the beeping machines breaks your heart but soon you’ll be completing school applications wondering how they were ever so small!

Prematurity - parenting quote