Little Miracles (UK) are campaigning for the provision of mental health assessment and practical support for all parents of premature and sick babies, from point of birth within all neonatal units in the UK.
A petition to the UK Government has now been started PLEASE click here to sign the petition.
In 2014, 90,253 premature and sick babies were admitted to a neonatal unit in the UK (figure does not include Northern Ireland). [Source: Neonatal Data Analysis Unit, 2014 report]
“Giving birth to a baby very prematurely is terrifying, lonely, shocking and sad. It rips at the core of you, physically and emotionally: the child you’re doing everything in your power to protect is suddenly separated from you, long before she or he is ready to go.”
Quote: Joanna Moorhead, Guardian, 19 Oct 2015
Many many parents of premature and sick babies suffer mental torture, often in silence. The anguish is incredible; the not knowing can be painful and mentally crushing. These parents need care and support immediately. But all too often it is not forthcoming. This cannot be right.
If you are the parent of a baby that was born premature then you will understand and have your own personal account of what you went through.
If you are a woman about to give birth, or wanting to start a family, then we are sure that if you were to give birth early you would want the best possible support in place, to help you and your baby.
Background stats and information:
The NHS Toolkit for high-quality neonatal services, NICE and the BAPM (British Association of Perinatal Medicine) Service Standards are clear that all parents should have access to psychological/Psychiatric and social support, including a trained counsellor.
At neonatal intensive care units (NICU) parents should have access to a trained counselor without delay from the time their baby is admitted, and there should be ongoing support during the parents’ time on the neonatal unit. Another important part of a psychologist’s role is to support other staff on the neonatal unit. [Statement source: Bliss Baby Report 2015 (England only)]
Supporting facts: [Source: Bliss baby Report 2015]
(1) Parents of a premature baby are 10 times more likely to suffer depression after the birth, than parents of babies born at full term.
(2) Up to 40 per cent of mothers of premature babies are affected by postnatal depression soon after birth
(3) 41% of neonatal units said that parents had no access to a trained mental health worker – either on the unit or via referral to services outside of the unit.
(4) At 30% of units, parents have NO access to psychological support all.
Of particular concern, even parents with the most critically ill babies are often not able to access this vital support.
(1) One third (10 out of 30) of neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) were not able to offer parents access to a trained mental health worker
(2) Around one in eight NICUs (4 out of 30) were unable to provide any psychological support.
“Critically, one of the most challenging aspects of PPD is how covertly women suffer; up to 50% of all cases of postpartum depression go undetected.” [Source:
Ramsay R. Postnatal depression. Lancet. 1993;341:1358]
This is why Little Miracles (UK) are campaigning for the provision of mental health assessment and practical support for all parents of premature and sick babies, from point of birth; within all neonatal units in the UK.
What we want to see:
(1) Funding and resources made available to support access to mental health support for all neonatal units in the UK
(2) Mental health screening for all parents of premature and born sick babies; as close as possible to the point birth, with appropriately timed follow up assessments to ensure that any deterioration is picked up as early as possible
(3) A trained mental health worker e.g. a counsellor, assigned to all neonatal units
(4) After leaving hospital; care and professional support for as long as it is needed
(5) Provision for peer-to-peer support, or similar, for parents whose babies were born sick or premature (possibly as part of a care package incorporated into Point 4)
You can make a real difference to the futures of thousands of babies in the UK by ensuring that their parents are in the best possible state of mental health
to look after them.
Please sign the petition now and then share it!