Helping families of premature babies

By Brittany King

A Lucan family of a premature baby made an appearance at the launch of The Irish Neonatal Health Alliance’s (INHA) new educational guide, “Next Steps…the Journey Home,” on November 17, that marked the ninth annual World Prematurity Day.

World Prematurity Day aims to create awareness of the challenges premature babies and families face, with the new guide intends to provide information, support and guidance for the family while transitioning from hospital to home.

Premature baby

Lucan family Bridget, Mark and baby Aoife McQuillan attended the event.

Speaking at the event, guest of honour, Lord Mayor Micheál Mac Donncha said: “I hope that the ‘Next Steps . . . the Journey Home’ guide will help prepare families for life beyond the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.”

The guide aims to provide families with an active role in the Discharge Planning Process, to ensure the transition goes as seamlessly as possible for both baby and parents, and that parents feel confident and prepared to step into their new roles as parents, but not too overwhelmed.

The guide addresses some issues families of premature babies face, such as feeding, the development of the infant, recognition and management of illness at home, safety issues, emotional support and role integration.

“Supporting and involving parents in the discharge process is of vital importance as it can reduce the risk of readmission and give the parent’s confidence in caring for their premature infant at home,” said the symposium chair, Dr John Murphy, Clinical Lead for Neonatology of the National Maternity Hospital.

Each year, over 4,500 babies in Ireland and one in ten babies globally are born prematurely.

The INHA is a charity that supports families affected by prematurity by advocating increased awareness, empowering families through improved pre-conceptual, ante-natal and post-natal education, campaigning for equitable and standardised neonatal care regardless of geographical location and improved long-term care for both the premature baby and the family.

For more information, or to download the guide, visit

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