When Bliss was founded in 1979 by a group of parents, our objective as a charity was set out “to support the life of babies in distress at birth”, and since our foundation we have always sought to deliver this for all babies admitted to neonatal care, whether they were born prematurely or at full term.
Over the past 41 years our reach has grown and we now work with many neonatal units in the East Midlands and across the UK. Having a baby in neonatal care can be incredibly distressing for families and Bliss offers emotional and practical support to empower families and equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to provide the best possible care to their baby, for however long they live and for however long their stay in neonatal care.
One in seven babies is born needing neonatal care in the UK, equating to 100,000 babies every year, but despite a common perception that neonatal care is only for babies born premature, more than 60 per cent of babies admitted to neonatal care are born at full term (at 37 weeks or more).
Our research shows these parents often feel that their experience on the neonatal unit differs to the experiences of families with premature babies. Many feel out of place, or that they don’t ‘belong’ on the unit, as they are often the only family with a full term baby there at the time.
Some of those babies may only spend a few days on a unit, some much longer, but they all need the same specialist care as premature babies, and their parents’ practical and emotional needs should be treated with the same care and respect.
That is why we have launched Hidden Neonatal Journeys, our new campaign to raise awareness of the challenges faced by the parents of full term but sick babies. If you have had a neonatal experience with your full term baby and been supported by Bliss, we would love to hear from you.
Sharing stories like yours helps Bliss to reach more parents in your local area, shows them that they are not alone, and also means we can continually improve the care provided to families. Only with your support can Bliss continue to work to ensure every baby gets the best start in life for generations to come.
To find out more about the campaign visit bliss.org.uk/hiddenneonataljourneys
Caroline Lee-Davey is Chief Executive of Bliss