Around 60,000 babies are born prematurely in the UK, each year. In fact, the rate of preterm birth is between 7-8%.
A 'premature' baby is one that is born before 37 weeks. If your baby is born early they may need special care as they may not be fully developed.
For many of these babies, an early arrival means a fight for survival and months of uncertainty for mums and dads.
Four mums share what they wish they'd known before having a premature baby, in hopes that it'll help other parents who are going through something similar.
1) "I wish I’d known that it’s OK not to be OK"
Charlie was born at 31 weeks, weighing 3lbs. His parents, Charlotte and Glen, from Leeds weren’t able to cuddle him until he was a day old, describing it as absolute hell. For six weeks he was in NICU, and Charlotte says the five things she wish she’d known are:
- I wish I’d known that the preemie journey can start before birth
- I wish I’d known that it’s OK not to be OK
- I wish I’d known how many support systems for parents are in place
- I wish I’d known that there’s no such thing as too many questions
- I wish I’d known that the preemie ups and downs continue after NICU
2) "I wish I’d known how well Jessica would do"
Rebecca had her daughter at just 27 weeks. Jessica weighed a tiny 760 grams and was only 10 inches long. She spent a month in The Rosie Hospital, 20 miles away from the family home in Bedfordshire. The five things they wish they’d known are:
- I wish I’d known more about pregnancy complications
- I wish I’d known about NICUs and the enormity of having a premature baby in one
- I wish I’d known that there is a massive support network when you have a premature baby, including help from charities like The Sick Children’s trust
- I wish I’d known how much we could be affected by the situation.
- I wish I’d known how well Jessica would do
3) "I wish I’d known that it’s OK to not know the answers"
Anita Hyams, from Southend, who had her son William at 23 weeks. To help other parents going through what she went through she has shared five things she wish she’d known about having a premmie:
- I wish I’d known that NICU life is a rollercoaster ride
- I wish I’d known that it’s OK to not know the answers
- I wish I’d known that it’s OK to cry
- I wish I’d known that it’s OK to take a break
- I wish I’d known that it’s OK to need help
4) "I wish I’d known someone who had been through it before"
Daisy was born at 27 weeks weighing just 630 grams. She spent six months in hospital, much of which was The Rosie Hospital, 16 miles from the family home in Suffolk. Daisy is now doing really well at 10 months old! Five things her mum Kirsty wish she’d known are:
- I wish I’d known more about the unexpected
- I wish I’d known someone who had been through it before
- I wish I’d known that the impossible hug wouldn’t last forever
- I wish I’d known that sleepless nights are just a part of the journey
- I wish I’d known it’s all about taking one step at a time
For more stories, advice, and information, visit The Sick Children’s Trust
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“You are an amazing mother” Preemie mums share their messages of hope on World Prematurity Day