The support we provide
Every year approximately 10% of all babies are born premature (before 37 weeks gestation) in New Zealand.
That’s one premature baby born every 90 minutes. There are also full-term babies whose condition or illness requires admission to a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) after they are born. In all, over 5,000 babies have a difficult to start life in New Zealand each year.
We exist to support these families through a journey that can be full of stress and anxiety. This help is provided in a number of different ways, all aimed at “making a difficult start to life that little bit easier”. To view a gallery of support examples, click here.
We are extremely grateful to our Partners, Supporters and Donators for their help that enables this support.
Examples of the support and education material we’ve created, with the help of graduate parents of a NICU and/or SCBU, include:
- Reading to your Baby, provided to encourage a practise that helps both parents and the baby
- The Think REF – Health and Wellbeing support document, to prompt parents to look after themselves
- Kangaroo Cuddles is great for both bonding and development
- Thoughts on, and tips for Bonding with your baby
- It’s important to be conscious of Your Emotions
- Written by Dads who have been there, here are some Tips for Dads
- The Supporting Development resource, which has been produced in partnership with, and using the research based material of, Baby Sensory
- The Sensory Processing resource, which has been produced in partnership with, and using the research based material of, Baby Sensory
- The Essentials of Baby Play resource, which has been produced in partnership with, and using the research based material of Baby Sensory
- Tummy Time resource which has been produced in partnership with, and using the research based material of Baby Sensory
- The Benefits of Knitting document, used to encourage volunteer knitters that support with wonderful knitted boottees, beanies and blankets
- A resource on going home Leaving the Unit
- Postnatal Depression heavily affects parents of neonatal babies, we would encourage you to read this resource and seek help if you think you or your partner require support.
The world of neonatal care most definitely has a language all of it’s own. While on your neonatal journey, you’ll hear many words and medical terms which can seem a little overwhelming at first. We have created this glossary of the most commonly used medical and clinical terms, plus abbreviations you may encounter during your time on a neonatal journey. If you hear a term used that you don’t understand, please ask your baby’s nurse or doctor to explain it or write it down for you. Being able to understand neonatal language will help you feel more informed about the care your baby receives and is one step towards making a difficult start to life a little easier.
Providing hope and encouragement to parents on a neonatal journey is key. If you are on a neonatal journey, or you know someone who is, check out:
- The personal stories section on our website, where you can read about the journeys of families who have been on a neonatal journey. We receive a lot of positive feedback from families in a neonatal unit who read these stories and feel strength, hope and positivity knowing that they are not alone going through these experiences and feeling certain emotions.
- Details of famous people who have been on a neonatal journey. In addition to these pages, we have also developed this resource for printing and sharing.
We live in a world of metric weights where product weights are listed in kilograms and grams, eg a 500gram block of butter. However, as a result of previously using the Imperial scale, baby weights are often mentioned in pounds and ounces. So, we’ve put together this handy weight conversion table of both for you.
In addition to the support documents above, below are three images of other examples of how we help support families. To view a number of other examples of our support, head to this Facebook gallery.
Donations to help us deliver more support to families going through the stress and anxiety of a neonatal journey can be made here.
Our support services are at different levels of maturity in different locations. Due to this, at this stage the support provided in each region differs.
We strive to offer the following in all our regions:
1. Support / Welcome packs
We endeavour to give a free information pack to parents in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) as soon as possible. The pack contains:
- a copy of “What to expect–when it wasn’t what you expected”. This is a handy “all you need to know” booklet providing parents with the information they need to help them get through their time in a neonatal unit. It is written by Trust volunteers and provides key information and offers parents practical, first hand advice based on experience; and
- a small gift to acknowledge the arrival of your baby. Usually knitted booties and a hat.
2. Regular lunches/morning teas and catch-up
One of our most regular and popular support events is providing an opportunity for Mums and Dads with babies in the NICU to meet and have a get together. This is an opportunity to provide necessary information and support and also answer any questions. Parents can also develop support networks with other parents, which help outside of the unit. Where facilities allow, the Trust host a regular light lunch or morning tea.
Feedback from a Mum about catch-ups
“This is just a fantastic gesture by the Trust and it was a great opportunity to chill out for half an hour with other parents over a piece of pizza and a cup of tea. We met two other couples whose babies were born around the same time as our son and we were all in the Unit for eight weeks so we got to know each other pretty well and compared notes about our respective experiences. We are now good friends with one of the couples in particular – that wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t met at the weekly lunch – so we really appreciated it – thanks Neonatal Trust!”
3. Playgroups/Coffee Groups
Parents who have had a NICU experience often need support once they return home, as returning home with a baby that was premature or sick can have demands over and above a full term healthy newborn. Also parents may not have ever had the opportunity to join an antenatal group. We offer regular playgroups where parents can meet up after they have left the NICU and their babies can have a play.
The Neonatal Trust operates a combined shop and office located within the NICU in both Auckland and Wellington. The shops:
- carry ranges of clothing for premature babies and newborns;
- have breastfeeding equipment for sale;
- have breastfeeding equipment for hire at subsidised rates;
- maintain a library of neonatal reference material for parents to borrow while in the NICUs; and
- have staff on site who provide support, advice, and co-ordination for families in the unit.
There is also breastfeeding equipment available for hire in Waikato.
Supporting the NICUs and SCBUs
We look to support the NICUs and Special Care Baby Units (SCBUs) in a number of ways. Examples include:
- Purchasing equipment that directly supports or assists the care of babies in the units, such as:
A “Baby Sim” simulation doll for enhanced staff training
New feeding pumps for the delivery of regular and accurate feeds, to help meet nutritional requirements and maintain blood glucose levels
Maternity chairs for ‘Kangaroo cuddles’
- Enhancing the unit for parents so their stay is as comfortable as possible. This includes re-decorating and furnishing parent ‘rooming-in’ rooms and shared spaces.