Infant Journal
for neonatal and paediatric healthcare professionals

Podcast to support parents launched on World Prematurity Day

The neonatal unit at Leeds Children’s Hospital has created an innovative new podcast series – Unexpected Beginnings – that launched on World Prematurity Day (17 November) to support parents and families as they experience the ‘highs and lows’ of spending time on a neonatal unit with a premature or very poorly baby.

Designed as a complete toolkit, the podcast will ‘hold the hand’ of parents and families at what can be a very frightening time and support them to know that they are not alone. Voices include leading children’s specialists, psychologists, and the families themselves. Unexpected Beginnings has been made possible with £1,480 of generous support from Leeds Hospitals Charity.

The series focuses on a different element of the neonatal journey in each episode, covering topics such as arriving on the neonatal unit for the first time, difficulties bonding with a baby in an incubator, and managing mental health.

Liz McKechnie, Consultant Neonatologist at Leeds, says: “We understand what a vulnerable time this can be, not only for the newly born babies, but their parents and wider families, which is why we launched our family-integrated care model in 2015. We aim to help parents become confident in looking after their poorly or premature new baby. We work with parents to adapt our care to help families and it is from this joint working that the podcast has been born.”

Unexpected Beginnings co-producer and veteran neonatal parent, Caroline Verdon, went on to say: “Our youngest child was born prematurely at 33 weeks in Leeds in 2019. I remember feeling scared to touch him in case I broke him. I felt guilty and blamed myself for him coming early and I struggled for a long time to feel a bond with him. These feelings can make you feel very isolated but in reality, most parents on the neonatal unit are having similar thoughts. This podcast is something I would have listened to; it would have made me feel better knowing I wasn’t the only person feeling my feelings and having my thoughts – it would have made the experience less insular.”

Eleven episodes of ‘Unexpected Beginnings - The Neonatal Unit’ are available on podcasting platforms and the Leeds Teaching Hospitals’ website here

The new podcast series launched at Leeds Children’s Hospital.

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