Looking through parenting forums online you'll see lots of questions like these:
- My friend's had a premature baby, how can I help?
- Can I visit my friend who's premature baby is on the NICU?
- Should I send a gift to my friend who's had a poorly premature baby?
So we wanted to offer our advice, so you know how to help your friend go through this huge life event? How do you lend a sympathetic ear and help them celebrate the strange NICU milestones, of which you probably have no idea!
Get in touch ASAP - This is likely to be a stressful time for this new mum and dad, and only closest family will be around physically, but you can send a text message to at least let them know you're thinking of them and are here to help if you can. Tell them you don't expect lots of updates and respect their privacy, but be available.
Send a card and gift - It is important that this huge life event doesn’t go unmarked! Send a gift and card to celebrate the occasion. Just be sensitive in what you write in the card, especially if baby is poorly on the NICU or SCBU. Most premature births are unexpected so parents are unlikely to have clothes that fit or are practical for a tint baby, so they'll really appreciate suitable clothes for their early arrival.
Offer help to the parents - Do they have other children or pets? An offer to help with the practicalities of juggling their care along with time in hospital can help so much.
Send a gift for the parents - if parents are going to be in hospital for an extended period, they may not be looking after themselves as well as they could be. If you can, try and send them a gift too - a local coffee shop voucher normally works a treat - find out if there is a coffee shop in the hospital, that way mum and dad can pop out of the NICU for half an hour and enjoy some time to themselves.
Wait to be invited to the hospital - Try and remember to wait to be invited to the hospital - there are plenty of visiting restrictions and reasons to keep visitors to a minimum on the NICU, so if parents don’t invite you, don’t be disheartened.
Do some forward planning for when the family go home - if you’re local to them, deliver some home cooked meals into the freezer, do a load of washing, or spruce up their house. You can be helpful in more ways than you know.