Today is World Prematurity Day. A global movement to raise awareness of premature birth and the devastating impact it can have on families.
I previously worked with Pampers when they first launched their nappies for premature babies. Read about this here. I’m pleased to be working with Pampers again to highlight World Prematurity Day.
Did you know that approximately 60,000 babies are born prematurely in the UK every year? That’s roughly 1 in 11 of all births. With so many babies being born too soon, it’s reassuring to know that the survival rate of premature babies in the UK is increasing.
It’s also good to know that companies such as Pampers are working hard to help support premature babies and their families. Read on to find out how, plus find out how you can help.
Back in 2012 our twin girls were born six weeks premature. Although we knew they’d be premature, nothing could ever have prepared my husband and I for what we were about to face.
28 weeks into our pregnancy we discovered that one of our twins had stopped growing. From the moment of conception, we always knew that twin two was on the small side, but to hear that she’d stopped growing altogether was frightening.
Our consultant was brilliant. She explained our twins would be born premature, but that they wanted to continue our pregnancy for as long as possible to give our girls the best chance of survival.
A word that no expectant parent ever wants to hear spoken about their unborn children.
As the weeks went by, we had scan after scan, and slowly, but surely twin two did make some progress. However, at 34 weeks pregnant our consultant told us that it was almost time to meet our children.
I remember the day so well. It was a Friday and the consultant told us that she’d booked us in for a c-section the following Tuesday.
Knowing the date that your children are going to be born is pretty mind-blowing. I mean most people don’t know, they just wait for their waters to break or for a contraction.
Packing our hospital bag gave us a feeling of control in a situation that we really didn’t have any control over.
Tuesday morning arrived and when we walked into our local hospital we were shown into a side room and told to wait our turn. Hours passed by, and we grew more and more anxious.
The next time we saw our consultant we discovered that the neonatal unit had been closed as they had no incubators free.
Our consultant wanted to deliver our twins that very day. A day later could have been too late.
As such we had no choice, but to drive 25 miles away from home to another hospital that had two incubators ready and waiting for our girls.
An Early Arrival
Later that day, our twins were born. R was born first weighing 4 pounds 3 ounces, followed by M two minutes later weighing 2 pounds 11 ounces.
Seeing such tiny babies was petrifying, yet the love we felt for our children was instant and over-whelming.
That’s what made being separated from them all the more painful. They were whisked off to be cared for whilst I lay on the operating table being stitched back up.
Later on, being transported onto a ward surrounded by mums with their babies was heartbreaking.
I hadn’t seen my babies since they were born over three hours ago. I couldn’t remember what they looked like, what they sounded like, what they felt like to hold.
I remember being in the recovery room, and being told that R had been put on a ventilator because she was struggling to breathe. I felt helpless, useless even. I wasn’t with her and I couldn’t do anything to help. I knew she was in good hands, but it was still painful not knowing what was going on.
When I finally got the chance to visit the neonatal unit and see our twins for the first time, it was almost 9pm. Six hours after our twins had been born.
They were tiny.
Their skin was covered in hair.
R was orange due to being severely jaundiced and M was just so tiny.
Her nappy was almost the same size as she was.
R was surrounded by tubes and machines beeped all around.
As each day passed by, our girls made good progress. The NICU nurses were amazing. Their care was second to none, as was the support they provided for our children, and my husband and I.
Our twins are now almost six years old, and to look at them, you’d never guess that they’d spent the first 27 days of their lives in hospital.
To me #PrematurityIs facing the unknown, trusting doctors and nurses to care for our little fighters and finding an inner strength that you didn’t know existed.
Pampers Preemie Nappies
As mentioned above more and more premature babies are surviving in the UK than ever before. This means that the need for the right premature nappy is also increasing.
When thinking about a nappy for premature babies who better to ask than the NICU nurses who help care and support premature babies on a daily basis.
Those NICU nurses told Pampers that previously, preemie nappies didn’t fit the smallest babies. Because of this nappies were often cut and folded to size, with a wider core causing discomfort and impeding healthy development of baby’s hips and legs.
Nappies for babies as small as our girls simply didn’t exist when our twins were born. The nappies they wore came up to their arm pits. They didn’t fit very well and I can’t imagine they were all too comfortable for our girls either.
Earlier this year Pampers developed its smallest nappy yet for premature babies weighing less then 1.8lb (800g) and committed to donating an estimated 3 million to UK hospitals’ Neonatal Units.
Since the launch of it’s premature baby nappies, 28% of the 196 neonatal units in the UK have taken advantage of this donation, with an estimated 18,285 premature babies benefitting from free nappies, specifically designed to fit them.
Speaking from experience, the fact that these nappies have been donated and are free to parents with babies in the NICU unit, is such a big weight off our minds. All we wanted was to be by our babies sides 24/7. The thought of having to leave hospital to buy nappies was the last thing we wanted to do. It may seem like a small gesture, but Pampers really are helping to make a difference in the lives of premature babies and their parents.
Pampers are appealing for the remaining neonatal units to get in touch to receive their free supply of premature nappies.
Pampers are also working in partnership with Bliss, the premature baby charity, by raising awareness of the daily struggle premature babies such as our twins face, as well as helping to raise thousands of pounds to support them and their families.
Help Support Premature Babies
As mentioned above today is World Prematurity Day and Pampers will be continuing its partnership with Bliss, the largest preemie charity in the UK. For every story shared using the hashtag #PrematurityIs and tagging Pampers they will donate £1 to Bliss.
All you need to do is share a short sentence about what prematurity means to you. Be sure to use the hashtag mentioned above and tag Pampers.
Pampers have also released a series of limited edition milestone cards aiming to celebrate and support some of the unique stepping stones premature babies achieve that we often take for granted. These will be distributed to neonatal units across the UK and available for free on the Bliss website.
Pampers is also continuing to supply free premature nappies to every premature baby in the UK, through donations to neonatal wards, and would like to remind all remaining units this World Prematurity Day that they should claim their free supply.