Especially parents of former preterm infants know exactly what it means to get a preterm baby. The pregnancy can end before the pregnant woman has had a belly or even felt the movements of the baby. Many couples did not yet decide on the baby’s name when it is born. Psychologists often speak about a stolen pregnancy and a stolen normal delivery. Everything turns upside-down from one day to the other, the feelings are extremely mixed and ambiguous; and not all hospitals have psychologists specialised to look after preterm parents.
Silke Mader, Co-founder and chairwoman of the European Foundation for the Care of Newborn Infants knows from her own experiences that a family needs much more than medical care and support – the entire family needs to be in the centre of interest. Parents need to be empowered in their parental role from their first day in the NICU. The most important point from the beginning is communication with parents in a respectful and understandable way, accepting their autonomy, helping them with education and guidance to find their parental role. For sure, not all parents are easy to handle, but these parents are in a traumatic situation and some of them stay in the unit for months. Family centred care also means to provide support and help for the many times neglected needs of the siblings. Preterm birth has many side effects and often traumatises the whole family.