Tuesday 17 November 2015

Today is World Prematurity Day

The 17th November is World Prematurity Day. Just going by my blog name, you'll know that this is a day which is very close to my heart. 

If you're not familiar with my story, my first pregnancy went well right up until 32 weeks. All of my routine appointments at the midwife and hospital were fine and nothing untoward was picked up on. At 32 weeks I lost my vision. I never want to feel like I'm annoying anyone for a silly reason so I didn't panic and I went to bed hoping I'd be okay in the morning. I was right, my vision was back but my boyfriend Chris urged me to phone the maternity ward just to let them know. I was advised to come in and it turned out that I had severe pre-eclampsia and we were extremely lucky that we went in when we did. My son, C, had to be born almost straight away via an emergency Caesarean. I feel so lucky that 1) neither of us died, 2) the hospital were amazing and 3) C had no developmental problems. He did have a 16 day NICU/SCBU stay and he just thrived from the minute he was born. He, of course, needed help with breathing as his lungs weren't developed enough but he was taking milk wonderfully.

My premature baby then
My premature baby now - sporting his Bliss "World Prematurity Day" ribbon
I don't think anyone understands what it's truly like to have a premature baby until you have one. I know I didn't. I could imagine it but it's hard. It was hard having to be away from him. Back home when he was still in hospital. Not being able to hold him straight away or show him off to everyone. Even when I did get him home, I worried about everything. People touching him was probably my biggest worry, alongside his temperature if I took him outside. I was terrified of him getting sick. I remember in NICU, the nurse gave me a little goody bag of items from premature baby charity, Bliss. Their leaflet was amazing. I could read about other mums and dads who had been in similar situations. No one I knew personally had been through this so I had no one to ask or speak to about it.

I mentioned that the hospital we were at were amazing and I actually feel like that isn't strong enough of a word. I don't know what we would have done without them or where we'd be, the neonatal staff especially. I cried to them many times and they were just so lovely and reassuring.

This year, Bliss have put together an infographic and leaflet of their findings about neonatal units in England. The units are being stretched to breaking point which is a scary thought when it's tiny babies' lives at risk.

  • 64% of neonatal units do not have enough nurses to meet national standards on safe staffing levels, and two thirds do not have enough specialist nurses
  • 2,140 more nurses are needed to care for premature and sick babies in England
  • Two thirds of units do not have the medical staff they need to meet national standards
  • Insufficient funding accounts for three quarters of nursing shortfalls at neonatal units, demonstrating an urgent need for investment in neonatal services
  • 72% of units struggle with at least one aspect of nurse training and development
  • At 41% of units, parents have no access to a trained mental health worker
  • At 30% of units, parents have no access to any psychological support at all
  • One third of neonatal units are unable to offer accomodation to parents of critically ill babies who live many miles from the hospital
  • 70% of neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) are consistently caring for many more babies that is considered safe
  • 855 babies were transferred between hospitals last year due to a shortage of staffed cots rather than medical need, putting babies at risk and adding to their families' stress and worry
  • Over half of neonatal units say that clinical leaders were not included in discussions about funded activity levels for their neonatal service
These statistics are scary, especially when you see from the infographic just how many babies need these services. If you'd like to make a donation, head over to the Bliss website to find out how.

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