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Pretoria FM Interview about premature babies

On 22 January 2020 one of our directors, Marilie Parsons had the opportunity to speak live on air about premature babies and Projects4Preemies. Listen to the interview here.

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Questions to ask about

Having a premature baby in neo-natal ICU is never desired, but it happens. It happens that nearly 20% of babies in South Africa are born prematurely and very likely to be in a NICU. Our view of a NICU is that it a very necessary place for a premature baby, but it should be managed as best as possible to ensure that a family with their premature baby is holistically cared for.
How do Projects 4 Preemies wish a NICU should look like, be like, or experienced?
If we could imagine a space that meets both medical and family’s needs it would be something like this:
A space that is calm, relatively quiet with no unnecessary external noises such as televisions, radios or videos being played on cell phones. An area that uses white noise to block out a lot of the beeping. Soft lighting or covers that can be used to dim out unnecessary brightness – unless procedures have to be done. Access to experts when you need to ask questions, patience from the team to answer your questions and to provide support. An area close by that you can utilise to pump that much needed breastmilk, a bonus will be access to a place that is sanitised that you can wash your pumping equipment and sterilise it. A space that allows you to hold your baby, despite being on respitory support. A place that understands why kangaroo mother care is important and that allows you as a parent to co-care for your child. A place with people that educate you and improve your knowledge about things they do every day. A place that can see you as a family that struggles and provides you with access to councillors or peer support groups. Allow you to become part of the NICU family and help you to read to your child, massage your baby and help to bath the baby. And when you graduate the NICU – equip you to care for your premature baby. As a last thought to be a place that learn and take what you have found to be challenging and improve on it.

Important questions you should ask about neonatal intensive care units (NICUs):
1. Can the NICU provide you with outcomes and statistics? Survival rates for extremely premature babies or the number of babies cared for.
2. Are paediatric experts available in the NICU 24 hours a day? Or at least do you have access to a specialist should you need to ask questions?
3. Does the NICU have a team of specially trained people or does the NICU have a neonatologist available?
4. Are programmes in place to eliminate or reduce unnecessary testing?
5. How are the nutritional needs of the babies in NICU met? Will you have access to a lactation consultant? Is there a space where you can privately sit to express breastmilk?
6. Are infants in the care of respiratory therapists that specialise in the treatment of infants?
7. How is the physical environment of the NICU? Can you close curtains, is it private are they trying to reduce noise? Does the NICU offer therapy to reduce stimulation overload of premature babies?
8. Who will support parents with counselling or is there access to support groups?
9. Is there a place for parents to stay overnight at the hospital or nearby?
10. How are families being prepared to go home? Is there any training given or any explanation or information booklet given when you are discharge with your premature baby? Are the hospital ensuring that the parents cope at home with the premature infant?
11. Is there a follow-up care programme?

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