Experiencing the heartbreak of stillbirth or neonatal death often means later pregnancies are an understandably anxious experience.
Tommy’s supporter Jennifer remained concerned throughout her pregnancy after previously having a stillborn baby boy.
‘There was no let up at any point. I was worried about every little thing, not sleeping at night. Any slight twinge, I felt made me wonder, “Is this normal? Should this be happening?”’
Jackie Knowles had her share of heartbreak before becoming pregnant with her fifth child, Anais.
In 2003, Jackie and her husband Gene lost their son, Jude Blue, two days after he was born. Later, their daughter, Indiana, was born sleeping.
‘Losing two children was horrendous. It's the worst thing in the world that you can go through as a parent and I wouldn't wish it on anyone.’
When Jackie’s waters broke at just 22 weeks she feared she would be saying goodbye to a baby for a third time.
Once in hospital, Jackie was told she had caught an infection and gone into labour. Just six hours later she gave birth to baby girl Anais, weighing just 1lb 5oz.
‘Because she was so small, there were real concerns that she was going to die, and that was something that I tried my best to deal with.’
The days after having a premature baby can be extremely stressful, particularly if your baby isn’t very well.
Anais spent the first four months of her life in an incubator which can be extremely difficult for parents. Jackie and Gene dedicated their time to travelling to and from hospital to see her.
‘I was determined to see her, so I would drive to the hospital every day and spend hours with her making sure she was OK. You just go into your own bubble and you become so focused on how your baby is doing all the time. My children dealt with the situation quite well, whilst Gene, who wears his heart on his sleeve, found it a lot to cope with. I am not great at asking questions, but he asked the doctors everything, and he was just so brilliant the entire time.’
Anais was finally ready to come home on oxygen.
She has cerebral palsy which affects her legs and also has problems with her eyesight. Despite this, Jackie says she is a happy and healthy five-year-old girl who is currently attending a specialist school.
‘She was such a fierce little girl to make it through and it truly is a miracle that she is here.’
If you have given birth prematurely and need a little extra support you can read all of our information about prematurity here.
Our free app works across all devices and allows you to keep a diary of your baby’s growth and development, track feedings and share important milestones with friends and family members. You can download it here.
Get our free app for parents of premature babies. It is the first of its kind in the UK. 'My Premature Baby' is available on all devices (phones, tablets).
The following symptoms before 37 weeks of pregnancy could indicate premature labour.
Skin-to-skin contact with your premature baby is a wonderful way for you both to bond. It also provides health benefits.
You will play an important part in your premature baby's care, even while they are in the NICU.
Your premature baby's diet will be carefully balanced to suit their tiny digestive system while meeting the needs of their growing body.
Positioning your premature baby correctly can make them feel secure, improve their breathing ability, strengthen their muscles and reduce the risk of cot death.