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13 July 2012

New Coombe resource supports parents of premature babies - 10 month old quadruplets launch Coombe Baby Fax information manual

10 month old quadruplets Max, Charlie, Alanna and Sadbh Rogers launched an information resource support for parents of premature or ill babies at the Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital (CWIUH). The Coombe Baby Fax, which was funded by Abbott Laboratories Ireland and the Coombe's Neonatal Fundraising Committee, was designed to reassure, inform and assist parents in coping with caring for their baby in an unfamiliar and often high stress environment. The folder will be distributed to parents of babies undergoing periods of extended stay in the hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and is available to download here: Your complimentary copy of Baby Fax

More than 1,000 babies are admitted to the NICU at the Coombe each year and the length of the baby's stay can vary from days to months depending on their needs. The Rogers quadruplets were born 12 weeks premature, in September 2011, and were cared for in the NICU for a period of 8 weeks.

The information manual was developed by Bridget Boyd, Assistant Director of Midwifery and Barbara Whelan, Clinical Midwife Specialist at the CWIUH who identified a need to empower parents of premature or ill babies to feel more in control and informed with regard to their baby's care.

Dr Chris Fitzpatrick, Master of the CWIUH said, "The arrival of a new baby is a very exciting time for a family but having a baby born prematurely or ill can be overwhelming, confusing and very stressful. Our experience has shown that parents in these cases wish to be well-informed and involved in the baby's care and so this resource has been designed to help parents to understand the process and give them confidence to get involved in their care".

The resource contains simple language and clear descriptions for everything a parent is likely to encounter while their baby is being cared for in the NICU. This includes information on how to identify the health professionals who will care for the baby in the NICU based on the colour of the uniform and tunic, advice on how to cope with the volume and types of equipment which is likely to be used in a baby's care, and identifying important milestones such as weight and feeding.

Barbara Whelan, Clinical Midwife Specialist said, "Each journey for the parents and baby is unique and personal. The difference between the Baby Fax and other neonatal information guides is that the Coombe's one can be used to record and log baby's progress on their neonatal journey. In years to come, the Baby Fax will also serve as a memento for both parents and child".

It describes the appearance of premature babies and the changes to expect as they grow, details on some of the most common conditions and symptoms which may affect a premature baby, and advice on what to tell siblings. The manual also assists parents in preparing for bringing their baby home and the emotions of joy, fear, anxiety, anticipation and relief which may accompany that significant step.

The Neonatal Centre at the Coombe is made up of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU); High Dependency Unit (HDU) and Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU). Between 15-20% of newborn infants need to be admitted to the 40 cot facility to receive special and intensive care treatment. The hospital also provides a regional and national neonatal service for premature infants born in other hospitals, and those with complex conditions.

The Centre hosts a post discharge support group for parents and babies who have spent time either in the NICU or the SCBU. The group, which is the first of its kind in Ireland, meets on the second Saturday of the month from 11am to 1pm. The session provides parents with additional support and guidance from Coombe health professionals and an opportunity to engage with other parents and babies who have had similar experiences.

Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital
Cork St.
Dublin 8.

Tel: +353-1-408 5200
Fax: +353-1-453 6033

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