Thursday 17 November 2016

World Prematurity Day 2016

As per my blog name, I am a mother to a child who was born early. November 17th is World Prematurity Day and today I have Catriona Ogilvy from The Smallest Things guest posting for me.

World Prematurity Day - just another day on the raising awareness calendar or a chance to make a real difference?

You may not have heard of World Prematurity Day before, you may not know the acronyms NICU or SCBU - why would you? Parents of premature babies, just like me, often say they didn't know anything about Neonatal Intensive Care or the Special Care Baby Unit until one day their world turned upside down.

Neonatal intensive care is a hidden world, not one you would stumble across, where babies sleep within the confines of their incubators. A world tucked safely away behind heavy security doors, where parents embark on rigorous hand washing routines before they set foot within the nurseries.

A medical world where life support machines gently hum and the beep, beep, beep of machines provide a constant soundtrack. As you sit beside your babies incubator alarms cut through the background noise as if to mimic the uncertain nature and ups and downs of life in neonatal intensive care.

I found myself in this world 5 years ago after my first son Samuel was born suddenly and with no warning at 30 weeks. I was lost. I had become a mother, and yet I was unable to be a mother. I could not hold or care for my baby. Every day I would travel home without him, climbing into bed feeling empty and numb.

Often described as a rollercoaster ride the impact of premature birth and time spent in neonatal intensive care cannot be underestimated. I write about my own experiences of life through neonatal care, but also of life beyond premature birth and beyond the hospital doors. I do this through The Smallest Things, which I began in 2014, discovering first-hand that the neonatal journey does not end when you bring your baby home.

No-one warns you about the ongoing hospital appointments, medical concerns, re-admissions, the anxiety of a simple cough or cold, explaining corrected ages, isolation, flash backs, guilt, jealousy and anger... What about having another baby? Will the same thing happen again?
No-one mentions the increased risk of post-natal depression (PND), with 40% of NICU mums developing PND compared to 5-10% of mothers delivering without complication at full-term. They certainly don’t tell you about the anxiety or signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), despite more than half of NICU mothers reporting these symptoms once they are home.
Yep - it's a journey that lasts and a journey that can leave a lasting impact on both mothers and fathers.  

So, World Prematurity Day, a chance to make a real difference?
Yes! Together we can raise awareness of a traumatic and uncertain world, educating those who are best placed to provide mental health support for families following neonatal care and offering support to families currently embarking upon their own NICU journeys.

So please, this World Prematurity Day join with me to shine a light on the hidden world of neonatal intensive care.

Catriona Ogilvy
#SmallestThings #WorldPrematurityDay

Catriona is a Children's Occupational Therapist and mother of two young boys both born premature. She Founded The Smallest Things campaign in 2014 and has seen success with the introduction of The Prematurity Bill, #PreemieProud Red Book Stickers and more recently winning the Mumsnet Campaigner of the Year Award.
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