What is World Prematurity Day?
The 17th November marks global World Prematurity Day. Around 15 million babies worldwide born prematurely, that is about 1 in 10 children. This day aims to raise awareness for the challenges of preterm birth and shine a light on the risks and consequences faced by preterm infants and their families worldwide. Here in Northern Ireland where Shnuggle HQ is located, TinyLife the only charity supporting preterm babies and their families, will lead on local events and support families to tell their stories. The theme this year is Kangaroo Mother Care.
What is Kangaroo Mother Care?
Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) is a skin-to-skin intervention that allows the mother and father to take a central role in their own and baby’s care. This is important as many parents report that they do not feel like parents, as the care their baby receives in a neonatal unit primarily comes from the healthcare staff. KMC is so important as it provides numerous benefits to the child and parents supporting them to bond with their baby.
This year for World Prematurity Day, TinyLife along with the many parent organisations worldwide are raising awareness about Kangaroo Mother Care with the global call to action “A Parent’s embrace: a powerful therapy, enable skin-to-skin contact from the moment of birth.”
KMC is the care of preterm or low birth weight infants in continuous and prolonged skin-to-skin contact with the mother or father. The benefits of KMC from the moment of birth for both the infant and the parent include improved thermal regulation, infection prevention, breastmilk
let-down, positive facilitation of physiological, behavioural, psychosocial, and neurodevelopmental effects, and a reduced risk of neonatal mortality by 40%.
Despite the benefits of skin-to-skin care for preterm/underweight infants, implementing KMC has been a persistent challenge globally. Only a few countries have successfully standardised skin-to-skin care, making it unavailable to many families. Many healthcare systems need to translate this evidence into policy and practice, which requires a paradigm shift in the ‘classical’ newborn unit care model, which separates the mother and baby especially if the baby is born too small or too sick. Here in Northern Ireland TinyLife have been working with all of the seven neonatal units to promote and successfully implement KMC. With KMC, we present a vision where mothers, fathers, newborns, and families form an inseparable centre around the baby where the entire neonatal service delivery is organised.
World Prematurity Day aims to raise awareness of the challenges surrounding preterm birth and to educate people about risks and consequences. TinyLife hope to improve early detection during pregnancy, to promote innovative medical treatment options, to empower mothers and fathers in their roles, and to significantly reduce long-term consequences for children and their families. As in previous years, countless individuals, hospitals, NGOs, parent groups, and governmental institutions are participating in World Prematurity Day activities in about 100 countries this week to raise awareness and spur action to prevent preterm birth where possible, improve healthcare and save babies’ lives.
TinyLife’s Premvember Campaign
Throughout the month of November, the team at TinyLIfe will be running a Premvember campaign to raise awareness for premature babies in Northern Ireland. The team plan on sharing key statistics, interesting facts as well as asking you to get involved by sharing your own experiences or by taking part in one of their many different events and activities.
Each year, over 1,000 babies and their parents benefit from a range of TinyLife services including our breast pump loan service, specialist baby massage classes, parent support groups and child development programmes, which all help to improve physical and cognitive development and offer one-to-one practical and emotional support.
To see how you can help or donate, click here.
Credit: Alison McNulty, CEO of TinyLife.
TinyLife is Northern Ireland's premature and vulnerable baby charity. TinyLife are dedicated to reducing premature birth, illness, disability and death in the six babies born every day in Northern Ireland. They are committed to providing a range of support services that meet the growing needs of families of premature babies locally. Their work supports vital research to ensure every pregnancy has the best chance of a healthy outcome and a healthy baby.