November 17 – World Prematurity Day

by Claudia Ravaldi

The day dedicated to Prematurity is celebrated on November 17th all over the world to draw the attention of the entire population to an event involving one child in ten .

We talk about premature birth when the baby or girl is born before the 37th week of pregnancy.

One aspect that is still too little talked about is the meaning that premature birth assumes for a couple of parents: one passes from waiting for one’s child to hospitalization and one learns to be in practice that child’s parents through the incubator, through the hands of others , necessary and precious of doctors and nurses, combining looks and caresses, when possible, with a cascade of complex clinical parameters, numbers, values to be followed carefully and scrupulously. The parent of the premature baby has numerous needs precisely because of the particular experience he faces, which the family associations represented by Vivere Onlus teach us so well every day: needs that should be welcomed and understood by those who deal with the health of these children on a daily basis. .

Premature birth is a fracture that interrupts a process of gestation and parenting, transforming it in times, ways and places: when a family experiences prematurity it experiences all the emotions characteristic of anticipatory mourning e of post-traumatic stress reactions : with this in mind, taking care of the mother with love and kindness and involving the father in care of this precious and fragile dyad should be an integral part of baby care.

This aspect becomes even more important if the premature baby, despite the profuse care, dies from complications related to the condition of prematurity.

Mourning a premature baby is a difficult issue to address in our society.

So complex that it always remains at the bottom of the agendas of our decision makers. We see the outcome of this difficulty every time it is not possible to guarantee proper psychological support to bereaved parents in our neonatal intensive care units and every time health workers, tried by yet another bereavement, ask for support to manage the overload. emotional, in vain.

It would be advisable to offer support to the operators of our NICs so that each of them can make a difference in accompanying the parents of a dying child.

In fact, every parent, if desired, should always be in a position to accompany the last moments of his or her child’s life.

For many parents, having arrived “too late” or not having been accompanied at the moment of the passage is a reason for serious regret and despair; on the other hand, those who have been able to take advantage of a psychic and physical place to be with the child, supported and guided by the staff of the ward, consider it fundamental for his bereavement process.

Having some memories of the child and of the relationship with him that in addition to the pain of loss evokes compassion, empathy, and all the tenderness that his newborn releases, is a very important element that parents will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

Among the rights of the dying infant, in addition to that of dying without pain, it should be contemplated that of living the last moments with his parents, if possible in loving arms, in a welcoming and respectful environment.

Every day in Italy 3 families find themselves in this difficult situation and it is the duty of health workers to offer appropriate support for bereavement.

Accompanying a newborn baby at the end of his life with love, respect and dignity should be part of the profession of every health worker and World Premature Baby Day is a precious opportunity: to reflect, deepen and change what can and must be changed.

If you are the mother of a premature baby who flew away too soon, share your story with us: take part in our Memory Box Preemies research

Read the full press release here

Insights

Lancet

Testimonies from parents of severely premature babies

The importance of good care – testimony

Picture book – Here are the swings

Film – KOI Losing a Baby

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