What to Say to a Preemie Parent

· At a loss for words on what to say to a friend or family member who had a premature baby? Here is a few guidelines ·

February 3, 2016 0 Comments

WhatWhat to say/do for a preemie parent

We have all read the “What not to say to a preemie parents” which I found funny, and hurtful, but pleased somehow, that I wasn’t the only one who got the insensitive and sometimes hurtful comments.  But I realized that maybe they just don’t know what to say or how to help. After having 2 preemie babies many of my friends now come to me as the ‘Preemie mum expert’ when they, or someone they know has a preemie baby on what they can say or do to help the family.

Honestly there isn’t much – but here are a few things on what to do/say and what NOT to do or say.  Thank you to my other preemie mum friends I have met on Social Media to help with these lists.IMG_5509

So lets start with the what not to say or do:

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  • Don’t say “I know a preemie baby and he is now 6 feet tall and is totally fine.”  That’s awesome – but that is THAT preemie, that is genetics, that is not all preemies, and my baby is still fighting for his life, not to mention that I just saw a preemie die in the bed space beside me..
  • Don’t say “All he needs to do is grow, give him time…he will grow” – oh it is so much more than that, they need to learn how to breath, fight off infection, brain bleeds, eye growth and disease, eat (suck, swallow and breath), reflux, to only name a few…it is SOO much more than just gaining weight
  • Don’t say “At least you didn’t gain weight/suffer through the 3rd trimester”….really? Does this need an explanation, sure lets switch places see how you feel when you spend that third trimester and sometimes beyond in the hospital?
  • Don’t say “he is so tiny” – I’m aware he is tiny, I don’t need a reminder say instead “I bet he has grown so much lately”, “he looks strong”, “he looks healthy”, “he looks so cute” – even if it is a lie (many preemies, are not that cute).
  • Don’t tell me to “expose him to germs, it’s good for them” – maybe a full term, healthy baby that is true…but it is the complete opposite for preemie babies – a simple cold can kill them…so no, I will not let your germ filled child near me, and yes I WILL make you sanitize or even wear a mask, and no you can not come over if you have a cough…back the F*ck off.
  • When he is home, don’t think that the fight is over – it is not, it will not be for a very long time, if ever – the fight continues long after we are discharged.
  • Don’t say “just let me know what I can do to help”….I will not ever know what you can do…just think of something helpful and do it.IMG_5510

So now we know what NOT to say…here are some more helpful things to say when you aren’t quite sure what to do to help.

  • Do say “This sucks, I’m so sorry, you have lost so much”
  • Do say “How is he/she doing” – not “What is wrong with him/her?”
  • Do tell the parents a huge Congratulations – when my son and daughter were born, I never got one “congratulations”, not one “yay your a mum/dad” so try to remember that although it isn’t the ideal of situations, acknowledge that there is a sweet baby now, and that they are now parents.
  • Do tell the parents that they are doing a good job, that they are being strong and doing all they can do and that they are doing awesome at it.
  • Do say “What time in the day is best for a visit/ for me to drop off food/ for a quick hug”
  • Please come and visit the parents in the hospital – but don’t expect much…they may need you to just sit beside them, holding their hand, without saying a word, quietly reading, or staring at the precious baby.  It wont be a visit, in fact don’t expect any form of communication.  And please be ok with me leaving every 2-3 hours to pump.
  • Please bring them food, coffee, gift cards, HOME COOKED FOOD, sweaters, books, journals, cute bag to hold it all, cute baby clothes,
  • Do sit beside me, reading a book and not expect me to explain anything…just sit…
  • Do drag me away from the NICU every once and a while for a cup of coffee and to see the sunlight.
  • Do help take care of any other babies that are at home – don’t ask when, just show up and take them
  • Do say “I’m sorry for what you have lost”, “I’m sorry for this difficult journey”, ”I’m sorry for your pain”
  • Do say “I wish I knew what to say”
  • Do say “I wish I knew how to make you feel better”
  • Do say “I have no idea what you are going through, what you have lost, and what you must be feeling” – acknowledge that you have no effing clue what to do we appreciate that more than you know.
  • Do research the area and find some place new to eat or do… hospital food is only good for so long.
  • Do help out the other family members – it is so much more than mum and dad grieving and struggling (baby’s grandparents, aunts and uncles, siblings, etc).
  • Often the family would have not been prepared for baby because they came months too soon.  So buy them some things, get the nursery ready, paint, laundry, etc.
  • Preemie clothes, they are so hard to find, expensive, and usually too big anyway – honestly the smaller and warmer the better.IMG_2353

I would love to hear from you, so let me know what you think, follow along with me, share this with others you know who have had a preemie, or know someone who has had one.



February 10, 2016