Tommy’s National Centre for Preterm Birth Research partners with Birth Rites to explore experiences of premature birth

Through this collaboration, our team will use art to explore premature birth experiences with a range of communities, particularly those from minoritised ethnic groups.

We’re excited to announce that our new National Centre for Preterm Birth Research has partnered with Birth Rites to develop a project to raise awareness of premature birth.

Our new centre, launched last month, brings together researchers from 5 leading institutions: Imperial College London, University College London, King’s College London, Queen Mary University of London and the University of Leeds.

The centre’s teams will work together on a wide range of research projects investigating the causes and prevention of premature birth and the factors that increase risks for people from minoritised ethnic communities, as well as looking at the best ways to support parents of premature babies.

Sparking conversations about premature birth

We know that talking about premature birth and pregnancy complications can be difficult for our community. We understand the huge impact that premature birth has on families, and hope projects like this that drive awareness of these problems will help more people feel supported, no matter where they are on their journey. Please know that we hear you, and we’re here for you.

This project with bring together artists to work with communities across the UK to explore experiences and ideas around premature birth. Artists will be commissioned to produce thought-provoking pieces to share with the public to encourage awareness and understanding of the impact of premature birth. Birth Rites are now looking for artists and artist collectives to get involved.

Jack and Jen’s twin boys, Remy and Luca, were born prematurely at 32 weeks and spent a month in the neonatal intensive care unit. Jen talks candidly about the impact that premature birth had on her.

There’s a bit of guilt related to NICU that is hard to put into words. You’re so relieved, grateful, thankful that your children have been born safely unlike so many others that pass through the NICU doors, but why is it fair that they’re not able to come home with us? Any NICU stay is hard, no matter the duration.

I’m clearly still holding a lot of baggage relating to the boys’ time in NICU, and it does still weigh heavy, despite them doing well. The image of my tiny boys, no bigger than my hand, in an incubator, tied up in so many wires, will always hurt. I doubt that pain will ever really go away, and I still think about it a lot.

How to take part

Birth Rites are taking expressions of interest from artists and artist collectives who are interested in getting involved. They are particularly keen to hear from artists from Black and minoritised ethnic backgrounds, as well as disabled, LGBTQ+ and female artists.  

The deadline for initial expressions of interest is 30 April 2024. Find out more on this webpage

Kate Davies, Research and Policy Director at Tommy's said:

Having a premature baby comes with a complex journey of emotions, questions and uncertainty. Many parents have told us they felt guilty or like they had failed after their babies were born early. 

Here at Tommy’s, we believe more needs to be done to give parents the answers they need and support them after having a baby too soon, so we’re delighted that our new centre is working with Birth Rites to increase awareness of and encourage conversations about the impact of premature birth.