Parents with infants in the (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) will tell you it’s not a walk in the park. Though doctors and nurses offer round-the-clock care, they still can’t help but worry about the health and well-being of their newborns. These parents also need to think about their financial logistics, transportation, child care for their older kids and how they will manage to keep up with their jobs. Unfortunately, everyone around them seems to overlook their physical, mental, and emotional turmoil and only focuses on the newborn. The situation will vary from one parent to another. However, if you have a friend or relative with a premature baby, here are some basic things you can do to take the load off their shoulders.
Offer a shoulder to lean on
If you have nothing pleasant or reassuring to say, it is better not to say anything. However, when friends and family fail to reach out for fear of saying the wrong thing, parents with premature babies feel very lonely. You could offer emotional support by sharing kind words and letting them know you are available if they need to talk or vent.
Stay in touch after they leave the hospital
Life with a premature baby gets more challenging as time goes by because one parent eventually needs to go back to work, leaving the other alone at home for most of the day. The new mom also has to get acclimatized to pumping, not to mention her aching body that hasn’t recovered from giving birth. It would be best to keep the momentum and continue being there for your loved ones as long as they need to.
Ask whether you can take them to the hospital
If the family doesn’t have access to a car or the other parent needs it to go to work or run errands, you could offer to take them to the hospital and pick them up after their appointment. Even if they have a car, you could still offer them a ride to help them save on parking fees and keep them from driving in a sleep-deprived state. The short drive will also allow you to catch up with your pal.
Help them file a lawsuit
Mothers who give birth to preterm babies might delay producing breast milk to feed their young ones, causing the hospital to resort to baby formula as a source of nutrition. However, recent research has linked the development of Necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) to the consumption of formula in preterm babies. The best source of nutrition for preterm babies is breast milk, which the mother can obtain via donations until she can produce her own. If your loved one loses her baby or the infant develops NEC, you could help them file an NEC from baby formula lawsuit. It will help them get compensated for the negligence of manufacturers of the dangerous formula. They will most likely need emotional support during such a testing time.
Help them cook or bring food
The last thing any parent would want to do is get into the kitchen after a harrowing experience at the hospital. New moms are also pretty hungry as the body is gearing up to produce breast milk. One of the best ways to support a parent with a baby in the NICU is by helping them cook after they get home. Alternatively, you could bring them some frozen foods to thaw whenever they need a bite until they are ready to resume kitchen duties.
Whisk their older children away for a while
If your friend with a baby in the NICU has toddlers or preschoolers, they might not understand the severity of the situation. They also need constant care, attention, and supervision, which your friend might not be in a position to provide. You could offer a helping hand by taking their kids to playdates or hosting them at your house for a while. Another great idea would be to offer to pick them up from school or their extra-curricular activities.
Help with household chores
A tired mom who spends hours in hospital might not have the energy to complete household chores such as laundry and cleaning. If you cannot do it yourself, organize for somebody to clean their house and run a load of laundry so that they can come home to a clean house. You could also finish setting up the baby nursery when they eventually come back home.
As the saying goes, it takes a village to care for young children. If you see your colleague, friend, or relative needing a helping hand, please don’t hesitate to offer your support. Being by their side at a tough time will certainly make their burden a bit lighter.