Whether parents have spent days, weeks, months or even a year or more in the care of the neonatal unit, going home can be a terrifying time.
We completely understand, that they might have mixed feelings of wanting to stay because the NICU staff and other families on the unit have become your own family and support network or they may wish to rush out of those locked double doors and never look back.
That moment when parents arrive home, bring the car seat into the living room and put it on the floor can often be very overwhelming, asking themselves, ‘what now?’.
We want parents to know, that it’s ok to be terrified, it’s ok to be lonely – but we at Leo’s are working towards making parents feel less alone and less terrified when they’re at home.
We know parents may still hear phantom sats monitor beeps. We know parents will worry about their baby overnight, especially if their little one had bradycardia and apnoea episodes. New parent concerns can be amplified. We know those who bring their baby home on oxygen, with an NG tube or other medical needs which need assistance will worry about making mistakes.
Members of our board and parent advisory group have dealt with some or all of these issues, which is why we are able to better help care for parents during this time.
It is often at that the point of returning home that postnatal depression (PND), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and exhaustion may begin. We know parents may want to keep the NICU routine of coats off at the door, hand washing and hand sanitiser, and that no one who is ill, or has been ill can come around to visit.
Going out can be exhausting too, not everyone understands what it’s like to have a preterm or sick baby and often ask questions, some days parents wish they didn’t have to answer.
We understand the worries they will face, the feelings of trying to regain control they will have and ultimately, that they need support.
We’re working on a specialist discharge programme for parents which will continue offering dedicated care once they’re at home too.