What can you do as a friend or relative?
As a friend or relative of someone who has just experienced the birth of a premature or sick newborn, you might be unsure about how to act. Here are a few suggestions to assist you.
- Congratulate the parents on the birth of their baby. Offer to post birth announcement.
- Acknowledge the stress and toll Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) / Special Care Nursery (SCN) life can take.
- Offer positive comments.
- Offer to babysit siblings / Offer to pass on information to other family members.
- Cook meals for the family & help out with housework.
- Drive parents to the hospital. Parking can often be hard to find and expensive.
- Offer to keep parents company while they visit the baby, or meet them for a meal.
- Avoid comparing – This may only serve to maximise a parent’s grief.
- Do not intrude or interfere and avoid giving parenting advice.
- Avoid abandoning parents – Stay in touch, knowing you are thinking of them helps.
- Avoid talking about setbacks that may happen or challenges that baby may face.
- Do not expect the parents to attend family gatherings.
- Do not visit when sick.
Don’t Say to a Parent
- “Didn’t you know something was wrong”?
- “At least you get a full night’s sleep while the baby is in the hospital.”
- “At least you didn’t get huge and uncomfortable.”
- “He / she must be in so much pain / will they be normal when they get bigger”?
- “When can I hold the baby”?
- “It must be hard to watch someone else take care of your baby.”
- “How do you leave him/her there every night”?
You cannot make their baby better or take away their pain. All you can do is be supportive and understanding.
This information is available as a Tip Sheet to hand to your friends and family. Click here to download.
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