Neonatal Care and Covid-19: Supporting Families and Babies During a Pandemic
This article is part of a series taking a close look at organizations chosen for donations from our teammate and founder, Kenji. For more information on his donation, check out “Our Founder’s Response to COVID-19.”
Welcoming a new baby into the family can be a stressful and intimidating time for any parent. But for the parents of babies born early or sick, it’s easy to feel scared and alone. In the UK alone, 300 babies are born needing specialist and often live-saving care every day.
For over 40 years, Bliss has been working hard to make sure vulnerable babies and their families get the care and support they need. The FamilyAlbum team is proud to partner with Bliss as they continue to support babies and families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
How It Works
Babies born premature or sick have the best outcomes when their parents are involved their hospital care. High-quality, family-centered care is always at the heart of Bliss’ work, whether supporting families, providing resources for health professionals, or enabling life-changing research in neonatal care.
Bliss volunteers visit neonatal units to provide parents with emotional and practical support. They encourage parents get involved in their baby’s care, including feeding and changing diapers. They provide expert information to give parents confidence to make decisions about their baby’s care. Volunteers are also there to just listen to how parents are feeling and help them through this challenging time.
In addition to their work supporting parents, Bliss works directly with neonatal units to improve family involvement. The organization also campaigns at a national level for improvements in neonatal care.
Helping Babies and Families During a Pandemic
In the midst of a pandemic, parents have been increasingly anxious about the safety of their premature or sick baby. Hospitals have adopted strict measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19, and neonatal units have reduced parents’ access to their babies. Some units only allow one nominated parent to visit.
Stephen’s baby Theodore was born at 25 weeks. At first he was able to see Theodore regularly, but as the lockdown intensified he was told that only one parent was allowed.
“Lindsey goes to the hospital to be with Theodore every day, while I spend my days at home waiting for pictures or updates,” said Stephen. “I feel like I’ve had a bit of my heart taken out. As a man, you grow up being told you’re the one who holds the family together and I feel like I’m not there for them.”
Stephen told Bliss that there needs to be more emotional support for families like his.
“Everything is new to us – and besides being told to turn to Bliss for support and information, which has been great, we’ve had no follow-up. There is normally a counsellor on the unit, but because of the situation with the virus, she can’t get in. So, Lindsey is there all day by herself – having someone who could talk to her just for half an hour would make such a difference.”
In response to COVID-19, and with support from FamilyAlbum, Bliss has launched a new video call support service to give parents someone to talk to at this critical time. This has meant that Bliss’ experienced volunteers are able to provide support and information to parents even when they can’t be on the neonatal unit.
“Having a baby in NICU has to be the hardest part of my life so far, and with COVID-19, it has only been harder,” said Stephen. “But I’m so proud of Theodore – he’s a wriggler and a fighter – and I can’t wait to hold him again.”
FamilyAlbum and Bliss
“For so many years, Bliss has been there to offer support and advocate for parents with babies born premature or sick,” said our teammate and founder, Kenji. “When faced with new challenges imposed by restricted visiting, Bliss quickly adapted and began offering one-on-one support services remotely. The FamilyAlbum team is honored to support Bliss as they continue to provide critical services to families during this time.”
How to Get Involved
To find out more about Bliss’ work, visit bliss.org.uk/about-us/our-impact.
To learn more about support available from Bliss or to take advantage of their new video call support service, visit bliss.org.uk/parents/support/emotional-support.