Parents get together for World Prematurity Day
Volunteers from Bliss, the charity for babies born premature or sick, visited Airedale Hospital neonatal unit on Friday to give out gifts to families on the unit. Big boxes of chocolates, Bliss milestone cards and fabulous handmade knitted gifts from one of Bliss Airedale’s loyal supporters, Rita Mulryan were distributed on the unit in recognition of World Prematurity Day. A low-key, private event was also held in the family room to support parents with babies on the unit. The aim of World Prematurity Day is to raise awareness of the impact that a baby born too soon can have upon an entire family.
The Bliss volunteers, who have all had premature babies themselves, also held a public bake sale on the main landing outside the neonatal unit and raised £276.54 in total thanks to some very generous customers and a fabulous group of family, friends and supporters who baked some phenomenal showstoppers. 50% of the funds raised are being donated directly to Bliss to help support their work in producing vital materials for families on the unit, the helpline and training for volunteers. The remaining £138.27 is being given to Airedale’s Neonatal Unit to help fund the works planned for the family areas there. The team intend to upgrade the bedrooms and living facilities to offer some important home comforts to families with babies staying on the unit.
Alex Wright is a Bliss volunteer and a mum of two; her 7 year old son spent several weeks on the unit during the summer of 2010. Since undergoing training with Bliss, Alex has been volunteering on the unit since May 2015 and together with Lesley Lyon organised today’s events for World Prematurity Day. Alex says:
“The love and goodwill we had from so many customers and bakers today made me feel warm and fuzzy inside! More than anything though, it was seeing so many of our Airedale neonatal unit ‘graduates’ come along for a chat, a scamper and a cake crumb or two which really made my heart sing. The early days during a spell in SCBU are immensely challenging and frightening: it was so lovely to see the families return to the hospital, so proud of their babies and how far they have come. When a baby is born premature or sick it stays with you forever: my aim as Bliss volunteer is to provide these families with a safe haven and a chance to celebrate their unique journey. The nursing team were delighted to see so many of their former patients return too: it really makes the difficult days special when they can see how the babies are getting on now.”
The neo-natal unit provides specialist round the clock care for babies who are born ill or premature; with 12 cots, including three for intensive care, for babies born at 27 weeks gestation or more.
The duration of a baby’s stay in neo-natal care varies greatly, and entirely depends on the severity of the condition and the gestation at which they were born. The average length of a stay in neonatal is eight days – however some of the most premature and the sickest babies can spend months in hospital. As an example, the average length of stay for a baby born between 28 to 31 weeks is 44 days.
Staff work hard to make the unit feel like a home from home for parents during such a physically, logistically and emotionally challenging time and there are plans to re-decorate and update the two bedrooms on the unit so parents can stay close to their babies and have privacy on the unit.
Sarah Szpara, Senior Sister on the Neo-natal Unit at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust says:
“We are very proud to work with Alex, our Bliss volunteer: she provides a great deal of vital support to parents on the unit, and works tirelessly to fundraise for both the unit and Bliss. We are hoping that we can work Bliss charity to further enhance the parent facilities on the unit which include a parent’s sitting room and kitchen. We are very grateful for their support.”
Find information about premature or sick babies, neonatal care and much more visit www.bliss.org.uk
For information or emotional support call or email the Bliss helpline to speak to a trained volunteer 0808 801 0322 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Bliss Airedale has a dedicated Facebook page too: follow ‘Bliss Airedale’ for regular updates from the unit.