Deborah experienced two neonatal journeys and wants to give back. She has set up a Givealittle page and on 29th September (her first daughter Kathleen’s birthday) plans to chop off more than 45cm of hair to raise awareness and funds for The Neonatal Trust. This is Deborahs story, in her words…

Nothing can prepare you for the experience of becoming a parent; even less so when your child is born prematurely, or critically ill.

Our first-born, Kathleen, was both – surprising us by starting to make her move from the womb at 30 weeks gestation, but mostly because she was extremely unwell due to diffuse neonatal hemangiomatosis. Despite her innate will-to-live and the best efforts of the neonatal team, she slipped away shortly after birth while we sang her a lullaby.

We’ll always treasure the short time we had with Kathleen, and looking back now we can see that she brought us many gifts. Key amongst these was a dramatically increased awareness of the incredible job that those involved in neonatal care do for premature and ill babies, and their families.

This was further reinforced for us when our second-born, Sophie, needed to spend her first 3 nights in a special care baby unit (SCBU) to help her overcome some respiratory difficulties due to an infection in her lungs. Again, the staff worked tirelessly and selflessly for Sophie and the other newborns – many of whom were in the midst of what would be extended stays in hospital – to ensure they all had the best start possible.

 

Over 5,000 babies experience neonatal care each year

Each year over 10% of babies born in New Zealand are premature. While not all of these little angels require admission to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), many full-term babies are born with conditions that also require this kind of specialist help. Here in New Zealand we’re very fortunate to have world-class NICUs and SCBUs spread across the country, but families who have babies born prematurely or critically ill are still suddenly faced with a range of emotional, logistical, and financial challenges as they try to support their tiny newborn in his or her battle.

The Neonatal Trust exists to support these babies and families as they grapple with the challenges thrust upon them. This wonderful organisation aims to provide information, and practical, financial, or emotional assistance to parents of NICU babies. They also work to assist NICUs by helping to fund purchase of critical equipment, professional development of staff, and neonatal medical research.

As we come up on what would have been Kathleen’s 6th birthday I’m working to raise awareness of The Neonatal Trust and the fantastic work they do. As a part of this I am fundraising for the purpose of new La Z Boys so neonatal families can benefit from ‘Kangaroo cuddles’. Please visit my Givealittle page to learn more and donate.
 

About ‘Kangaroo cuddles’
La Z BoyKangaroo cuddling was pioneered in Columbia in the 1970s by a paediatrician who was looking for a way to keep premature babies warm in an area that was too poor to have incubators.

Kangaroo care has now become much more than a way to keep babies warm and multiple studies have proven that it has a number of benefits for parents and for babies. Once babies are well enough, they are taken out of their incubators and placed on their parent’s chest, usually under their clothes, so the baby gets skin-to-skin contact and can hear the parent’s heartbeat.  This closeness provides a warm and soothing environment and helps the parent feel closer to their baby.  Studies suggest that ‘Kangaroo cuddles’ results in physical benefits, fewer breathing problems, less energy-wasting fidgeting, faster weight gain and a more constant body temperature.  

A lot of babies improve when they’re being held by their parents.  They’ve been listening to these voices in the womb and even the smallest babies recognise their families, and babies who are happier tend to do better.  The practise is also beneficial for parents to bond with their baby.  

In order to ensure parents are comfortable and can spend maximum time cuddling their baby, The Neonatal Trust looks to purchase comfortable reclining chairs – as cuddles can last hours at a time. Also, with hygiene and infection control so important in the neonatal units, the chairs purchased need to be leather so they can be easily and regularly cleaned.

For more information on Kangaroo Cuddles, see the story and links below:

 * Article and video *
Mum and Dad’s hugs bring baby back to life
Five years ago Kate Ogg was in labour with twins – she was just 26 weeks pregnant, and these were her first children.  Tragically, after labour the Queenslander was told that her baby girl Emily was doing fine, but that her baby boy – Jamie – had passed away.  On that day the doctors said that there was nothing they could do, but Jamie is now alive and a happy five year old boy. Read more and watch the video here 

Other articles here:

http://journals.lww.com/advancesinneonatalcare/Fulltext/2008/06001/Kangaroo_Care.1.aspx
http://preemies.about.com/od/parentingyourpreemie/a/Kangaroo-Care.htm
http://www.elsevier.com/about/press-releases/research-and-journals/the-loving-touch-is-critical-for-premature-infants
http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/10/10/kangaroo-mothers-and-the-power-of-touch/