When you have a friend, family member or even a colleague with a baby in NICU it can be very difficult to know how to support them when they need you the most.
Do you buy gifts? How often should you visit, if at all? How many times is too many times to ask 'are you okay?'?
Who better to tell us how to do it in the best way possible than someone who has been through it themselves. We chatted with Megan Hewitt-Dean (@wildpachamama), who gave birth to her gorgeous twins at 28 weeks. We have followed her's and Dan (her husband)'s journey from the moment they announced their pregnancy and find them truly inspiring.
She told us - in terms of support, it's the small things:
Home cooked food - You really don't have time to think about eating, let alone cooking any decent meals. It's so helpful when people cook meals and drop them off or ask if they can send anything.
Daily company/check ins (virtual - or socially distanced - infection control is absolutely terrifying in NICU life) - You can't ask how someone is too many times. They might not respond, or take a long time to do so but the support is felt, believe me.
Understanding things change on an hourly basis - The news you had 3 hours ago might not be what you here next so keep that in mind when you ask how things are or position your questions
Breastmilk cookies - This is a whole subject in itself but pumping for a sick baby/babies is extremely difficult so anything that will help that is very much welcomed
Gift voucher for the hospital coffee shop - It sounds like a strange one but families spend days, often months in the same hospital visiting the same coffee shop. It's a small gesture that will go a long way.
Deliveroo vouchers - Whether it's food to the hospital or food to their home after a long (and emotionally draining) day/night, delivering food in is often the solution, so vouchers are always welcome here. Having babies in NICU comes with a lot of outgoing expense, wherever that can also be supported is helpful.
Premature size baby clothes - They are surprisingly hard to find but extremely important. Having your baby in NICU is something you very rarely plan for so it is unlikely you would already have these teeny tiny clothes ready.
Avoid sending items a baby would enjoy at home - I personally found it really difficult receiving gifts for the babies - toys, "massive" newborn clothes - there were many times we were told they wouldn't come home so to then (very kindly) get sent a play mat was really triggering. Instead I would opt for NICU specific baby books and The Octopus.
In other (but related news) Megan and Danny are raising awareness around premature babies and the work that Action Medical Research does to support these tiny babies and their families. They are running 6.7km every day for 67 days, the amount of days Teddi and Winnie spent in NICU, up until 1st birthday. If you would like to support them please visit their page: www.gofundme.com/f/67days