How to Help the Parents of a Preemie



I’d like to share with you three great, and relatively simple, ways you can be a blessing to new parents of a preemie.



Let’s be frank here… giving birth to a baby 14+ weeks early is nothing like a healthy, full-term delivery. And sometimes it’s tough to know just what to say or do. So, in the event that you’re not the parent of this new little blessing, but want to do something to help, here are some suggestions:


–> If there are older siblings to the new baby, offer to babysit. Often these sibling are not even allowed at the hospital (due to the risk of germs and infections) and it can be a huge point of stress for a parent to try to arrange care for the older child so that they can see their baby. It is a hideous feeling to feel torn between your children and feel like you are failing any of them.


–> Offer to take over a share of “communications”. Write thank you notes for the parents. Make phone calls or send email updates for them. There will likely be many people who want to hear about the baby, but it can be very difficult to take the time to keep everyone informed. Offer to pray and also to solicit more prayers for the child. It brought me endless comfort to know that there were congregations and parishes all over the country praying for my itty bitty girl…


–> Lastly, but in my humble opinion, most importantly… acknowledge the birth of their baby. I know that people worry that these tiny babies might not survive. And some of them won’t. People worry about buying gifts or sending cards that might serve as “painful reminders”. The truth is this… losing a child at any point is painful. It’s not “reminders” that make it painful. But when people don’t even acknowledge the birth of your baby, it’s heart-wrenching.


Early or not, their bundle of joy is here in the world. It’s cause for celebration (though perhaps not without some trepidation). So DO send a card. Let them share their fears, but also let them share their joy!


When I look back at the journal I kept during those early days, what always strikes me is my utter delight in my new baby daughter. Never mind the terror, I was in love with my child. Just like any other parent should be. My little girl is 2 1/2 and it still hurts me how few people celebrated her birth.


At the same time, it brings tears of happiness to my eyes to recall the custom-made teeny-tiny white eyelet dress my mother-in-law bought her. Or the beautiful embroidered blanket my mother found for her isolette in the hospital. Or the sweetly encouraging card my best friend sent to me immediately upon hearing the news. Be part of that camp. These parents need all the cheerleaders they can get!


Thanks so much for reading this. The fact that you read it shows that you care, and that’s the most important thing!


{originally published 7/30/08… when C. was only two years old!}
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3 comments to How to Help the Parents of a Preemie

  • Susan

    You are so right. My husband & I had no help, not even from parents or in-laws. No gifts, no congratulations until Matthew was over 3 months old and people must have decided that he was probably going to live.

    • Oh, I am so sorry you had no help, Susan– I can’t imagine how hard that was. And, truly, the lack of congratulations and acknowledgment really is a knife in the heart. If I teach people nothing else, I hope I manage to get that point across– say SOMETHING! Send a card, for heaven’s sake!

  • Chelsea

    Also, the time spent in the nicu can be very lonely and isolating. I spent the majority of my days there alone with my baby and the nurses. It would have been lovely if a friend had offered to come have lunch with me.
    I also really didn’t like being alone while I was recovering. It was so hard not having my baby with me. I really needed to have someone else in the room with me. I had a hard time holding it together when I was alone.

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