One in thirteen babies are born prematurely in the UK every year. That’s thousands of beautiful babies needing specialist care for days, week and even months. As parents it’s a fear you hold close until your bundle arrives but for these parents they don’t get to breathe that sigh of relief once the baby is born. They have a whole new journey in front of them.
To mark World Prematurity Day which was on 17 November, Tommy’s is launching the first ever UK App to support parents through the complicated early days of a premature arrival.
Through a series of features specially designed for premature babies, the free app My Premature Baby gives parents the facts they need about prematurity any time of day or night, helps them keep track of their babies’ progress, and offers practical and emotional support ranging from breastfeeding and expressing alarms to a ‘Finding Friends’ feature to help them connect with other parents who have been through a similar experience.
Premature babies haven’t finished growing and the earlier they are born, the more likely they are to experience health issues such as chronic lung disease or bowel problems, and to struggle with feeding and keeping warm.
Just imagine how scary that is for mums and dads who just want to hold their child and keep them safe. A new survey from Tommy’s has revealed that only 1 in 3 parents of premature babies felt excited about telling loved ones their baby had arrived, and 1 in 5 were so worried they didn’t want to tell anyone at all.
The Tommy’s My Premature Baby App has been designed in consultation with mums and dads of premature babies. It will act as a companion for parents, giving them practical advice and insight through those early days on the Neonatal Unit or Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU), including the following features:
• Tommy’s expert Having a Premature Baby Guide (3) available in an easily searchable format
• A diary feature, allowing parents to record their baby’s progress, significant milestones such
as coming off breathing support, and their own thoughts and feelings. Users will also be able to search for other people’s prematurity diaries on the app (4)
• The ability to plot weight and height on development charts customised for premature babies
• The ability to record times, amounts and types of feeding and set alarms for breast feeding or expressing
• A sharing function, so that baby’s pictures and progress can be shared easily with loved ones or shared more widely via Facebook.
• A Finding Friends feature. Mums and dads can enter their own postcode and contact other local parents by email who have been through the prematurity journey.
Heidi Livesey, whose daughter Ebony was born at 26 weeks weighing just 511g, said:
“The word ‘roller coaster’ is used a lot in neonatal units and that best sums it up – you walk into an alien environment, machines beeping, not knowing what you’ll find or how your baby’s health is going to be. Tommy’s My Premature Baby App is fantastic as it’s full of information that you’re too caught up to ask staff about, and it’s brilliant that it will help mums and dads to learn from other people’s experiences and find friends who know what they’re going through.”