Our community support groups can be a lifeline for parents. Once home you lose the security net of the doctors and nurses, and the reassurance of the monitors. Your baby may be going home with additional support such as oxygen, or requiring tube feeds. It can be daunting and hard adjusting to new routines and lots of appointments. It doesn’t matter how long your baby spent on the neonatal unit – one day is one day too long, and everyone is affected in very different ways. Some people might go home and put it all behind them and there is nothing wrong with that.
For others it leaves a deep scar and it can take a long time to recover. Initially you may feel OK when you go home, but often parents can find months down the line that they start to experience difficulties. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is sadly very common amongst parents that have experienced neonatal care, particularly when birth has been very traumatic or your baby has been very sick or in hospital for a long time. Parents sometimes don’t want to attend the standard baby groups on offer, as there is sometimes the fear your baby may catch something from another child and get sick, especially if they still have ongoing health problems. It can also be upsetting seeing babies who are younger than yours but are developmentally further on. It can become tedious explaining why your baby is small for his/her age or what the tubes are for.
We hold community support sessions throughout the month in areas local to the neonatal units we support. The sessions are run by our peer support volunteers, who you will have already met on the unit. Parents are welcome to attend along with their baby and siblings and it is a great opportunity for them to catch up with friends they may have made on the unit, or meet new mums and dads who are also experiencing life after NICU. The sessions are informal and there is no need to book. Drinks and snacks are provided and we are well known for celebrating special occasions and events – we love parties!