Tommy's guest blog by James Farina
The experience of having a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) can be very challenging.
Dads sometimes get overlooked in the pregnancy journey, but it's important to remember that preterm birth is difficult for them too.
Juggling the needs of their partner, visiting their baby in NICU and coping with their own emotions can become overwhelming. James has some advice for dads of preterm babies here.
James’ Top 5 Tips for NICU Dads
Tip 1: The doctors and nurses are there to help so ask questions and try to be as helpful as possible.
If there are red lights flashing and they’re busy then don’t get in the way, but when it’s quiet ask as many questions as possible.
Find out what all of the equipment does, what the readings mean on the monitor and what you can do to help. They’ll be happy to teach you.
Tip 2: Be there for your baby as much as you can.
You may not at the time feel that you are doing much good, especially during early days, but just being there and talking to your baby can have incredible benefits.
You’ll learn all about your little one and eventually you’ll be able do a lot more like hold him/her, change and feed them and most importantly, bond.
Tip 3: Look after each other.
We found there were often hugely stressful times and this made it very easy to get frustrated with your other half.
Just remember, you’re both going through similar feelings and being there for each other and trying to keep a sense of humour is so important.
My partner and I are now stronger than ever and this positivity can be passed onto our baby.
Tip 4: Rely on friends and family, even if it’s just asking them to cook a meal or give you a lift.
Finding time to cook when you’re at the hospital all day is very draining and you need to keep your strength up for your baby.
Fortunately ours were there for us a lot. Our family members visited often which was lovely and they were all so supportive with us which is essential during tough times!
Tip 5: Lastly but no means least; take tonnes of photos and videos!
You’ll be able to look back on them every few days and see the differences. Having a baby in NICU is a challenge but look on the bright side; you’ll be able to see your baby evolve from a tiny human being into an amazing baby.
Take photos every day, back them up on a hard drive and hopefully in a few years’ time you’ll be able to show your grown up son or daughter how they started their life on this planet.
The baby unit can be a difficult place to be in whilst you are simultaneously coping with the fact that your baby isn't very well. REad our practical tips for surviving the baby unit here.
Having a premature baby is a huge adjustment and it may take you a long time to accept what has happened. Here is our advice on adjusting to your new reality after premature birth.
You can read more about James' journey through NICU here.