Infant Journal
for neonatal and paediatric healthcare professionals

Parenting premature babies in a pandemic leaves lasting impact

The latest report by the premature baby charity The Smallest Things demonstrates the complex and wide-ranging needs of families and children after premature birth.

Life After Neonatal Care: A Post Pandemic Survey Report 2021 shares the findings of a survey of more than 500 parents whose babies were born since 2017, both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes parents’ personal experiences and addresses the complex and problematic issues families can face following premature birth. Exploring parental mental health, family life, ongoing medical needs, special educational needs and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the results show that parents struggle to access support and understanding during their ongoing and often difficult journey after having a premature baby.

The report makes a series of recommendations including:

  • neonatal leave and neonatal pay to be brought forward by the government from the proposed implementation date of 2023

  • pathways to be established between all hospital and community health visiting services as standard best practice, ensuring smooth transition from hospital to home and supporting families in the weeks and months that follow neonatal care

  • training in the specific needs of premature babies and their parents to be easily accessible for GPs and health visitors and for all health visiting teams and GP practices to have a named and trained neonatal lead

  • The Smallest Things red book stickers, or similar, to be available for parents in neonatal units ready for them to use as a visual reminder to community staff when they leave hospital

  • Parents should have increased access to information on understanding the potential impact of premature birth on learning and development

  • all schools and teachers to become ‘prem aware’, supporting the learning needs of pupils born prematurely.

Read the full report here

The new report makes a series of important recommendations for life after neonatal care.