If you know a family on the unit, here are some ideas of ways you can support them;
Often day to day jobs like washing, cooking healthy meals, food shopping and cleaning are a struggle for parents who have babies on the Neonatal Unit as they want to devote their time to being with their baby as much as possible. If you could help with some of these practical jobs, it would be a huge support to them. Sometimes, not asking and just doing them will make their day and show how much you are willing to support them through this time.
There will also be many parents who have other children at home that they need to take to school or organise activities for. Perhaps you could help look after the sibling (‘s). Could you take them to school or collect them? Could you organise a play date so that they are seeing their friends, which will be a sense of normality for them.
Some Mum’s will have also had caesarean sections; it is advised that they cannot drive for 6 weeks following the birth of their baby. Offering lifts to and from the hospital can also be a huge help to the family.
Often parents who have a baby on our Neonatal Unit do not know anyone that has been through this same journey as them. Although, hopefully they will build friendships with other parents who are on the unit at the same time as them. For friends and family on the outside it can be hard for you to understand as you most likely haven’t had a baby on a Neonatal Unit yourselves. Being there to listen to the family will mean a lot. They will be comforted knowing they have some wonderful friends and family out there who are willing to listen.
It may be a time where parents tend to shut off from the outside world, this is also normal as they are focusing on their baby. For some parents a sense of normality and meeting family & friends for lunch will seem doable, for others this would be too much to comprehend. Again, knowing the offer is there will mean a lot to the parents.