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Support For you & Your Baby

If your baby has had a stay on the unit it is likely to have been a stressful experience at times. You will probably have been really looking forward to having your baby home. It might have felt like the day would never arrive! It can feel a bit strange to begin with and may not be quite as you expected.

After a stressful time it is not unusual to feel a bit down and worried to begin with. It can feel a big responsibility and hard to get used to not having the unit staff there to reassure you.

Give yourselves some time to settle into family life, it is normal for it to take a little while.

Take a look at this animation to find out about the professionals who are there to help you and your family;

  • You might have found out during pregnancy that your baby would need extra care when it was born or it might have come as a complete shock. Whatever the case for you and your family it is unlikely to have been how you pictured the early days with your baby. 

    There may be things that you missed out on as a result like;

    • Having a ‘big bump’
    • A baby shower
    • Time on maternity leave to get ready for your arrival.

    You may not have been able to have the birth you hoped for and you will very probably have not been able to come home as soon as you had hoped. It is normal to feel sad and disappointed about this and to wish things had been different.

    Talk to family and friends about this, especially if you know people who have been through a similar experience. Or you can join our online parenting community *here*.

    You may have had times when you felt scared during labour and delivery or whilst your baby was receiving extra care. Both Parents can have experienced this or one of you. This can be difficult to deal with. It is common for these memories to play on your mind especially to begin with. 

    • Talking about your experience with the people who care about you often helps. 
    • Using relaxation techniques can help you manage your feelings. There are NHS guides on this *here*.

    Usually over time these bad memories fade.

    It is important you get support if you continue to suffer from;

    • ‘Flashbacks’ and/or bad dreams.
    • Bad memories and thoughts that ‘pop’ into your head unexpectedly.
    • Feel anxious a lot of the time and/ or can’t sleep. Avoid things that ‘trigger’ the memories.
    • Can’t enjoy your baby / feel a strong bond with them

    Speak to your GP, health visitor or call Just One Number to talk to a professional about how you are feeling. There are treatments to help you recover from difficult experiences.

  • Sometimes parents tell us it takes longer to feel that strong bond with their baby after a stay on the neonatal unit. This is quite normal after a stressful and worrying start to your parenting journey. Try not to worry - it can sometimes take a bit of time.

    • Spend time holding your baby.
    • Build ‘skin to skin’ time into your day.
    • Give it time – you are recovering from a stressful experience.
    • Talk to friends and family about how you feel.

    Like all important relationships sometimes it might need some extra help to get back on track.

    If you feel worried about your bond with your baby talk to your health visitor, or call Just One Number.

    Please don’t struggle on your own with these feelings, they are not uncommon and there is help to make it better for you and your family.

  • Whatever your personal experience has been, losing a baby is a very sad and difficult time for all the family. From the moment you know a baby is on its way it is natural to imagine the important relationship you will share with them.

    When a baby dies from miscarriage, stillbirth or neonatal death your grief and sadness about the loss of your child can feel overwhelming. It is sometimes hard for others to understand how you feel and it can feel very lonely.

    You may find you and your partner grieve in different ways and at different times from each other. You may have other children who need support to understand what has happened.

    You don’t have to cope with this experience on your own. There is support available to help you deal with the grief of baby loss; take a look at some of the links below for details of organisations which offer support.

  • When you have a baby needing extra care there are lots of professionals to support you in hospital and at home. They will work together to make sure your discharge home goes as smoothly as possible.

    Different health professionals will be involved in the care of your baby and in supporting you and your family. There is a lot of support available both on the unit and once you get home. There is always someone to ask for advice and help, so please don’t keep any worries or questions to yourself.

    *Click here* to find out more about the professionals who are there to help you or watch the animation above.

  • Take a look at this video which a parent has filmed at home to share her experience of accessing support;

Who Can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

The Hamlet Centre provides nurture groups for babies and families who have spent time on the Neonatal Unit. They cover a range of topics that will be useful to you like weaning and baby massage as well as giving you the chance to talk with other families who have had a similar experience to you. Find out more *here*.

Early Childhood and Family Service is there for all Norfolk families with children under 5. Click the link below to find out more.

'All Things NICU Norfolk' Facebook group - A support group for anyone connected to NICU, including parents and professionals. The group shares information about development and promotes local groups and fundraising. *Click here* to join the group.

The Patient Activation Measure (PAM) Health Questionnaire will help you to think about your knowledge, skills and confidence in understanding and supporting your baby or child’s health. The results of this can help us, to support you, in setting goals and priorities in a way that is right for you and your family. On completion of the questions you will be signposted to some self care resources which are tailored to your responses. This will help you to take steps to improve your family's health and wellbeing. *Click Here* to find out more. 

                                 

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