Keeping parents and babies together.

A few years ago at a La Leche League conference I had the privilege of hearing Dr Nils Bergman speak. In his talk he outlined the history of incubators and spoke of how they began as Dr. Martin Couney’s “Incubator Baby Exhibits” in a freakshow in Coney Island. He spoke of his clinic and his research in Third World countries and the amazing outcomes of Kangaroo Mother care as opposed to Western incubators. He described how simply being against their mothers’ chests stabilised babies’ heartrates, breathing, and temperature – babies born as prematurely as 24 weeks. More on this research can be found on the Irish Premature Babies site.

Some of the images and what seemed to me radical ideas in his presentation never left me. One statement stayed with me too. ‘In no published paper is a single adverse outcome reported for Kangaroo Mother Care’ Then I began to listen to the parents of premature babies in Ireland. Time and time again I heard ‘I was discharged but baby was kept in for weeks.’ This just feels wrong to me. I have been blessed with two full term healthy babies and the physical need to have them constantly close to me in those early weeks was overpowering. I discovered that in Ireland there are currently not enough facilities to keep parents close to their premature infants. Instead, mothers are sent home with an industrial electric breastpump and a photo. All of Ireland’s neo natal intensive care units are in Dublin. Many parents have travelled for hours everyday to be with their sick babies, some have slept in their cars. Others have sold all their valuables to pay for private accommodation. This is a very sad situation that I would love to be able to wave a magic wand and change.

Unfortunately, I don’t possess a working magic wand but when I saw that the charity CHY19532 Irish Premature Babies was organising a group to climb Mt Kilimanjaro to raise funds to address this situation and also to raise awareness of the problem, I jumped on board. It will be a hard slog up that mountain but nothing compared to the hard slog our tiniest babies have to simply survive and their parents have just to cope. Please support my climb by donating here or through the buttons on the right of this post. All donations are much appreciated. You can also sign a petition to increase awareness of the problem here. I would also like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has donated so far and supported me by offering their time and by sharing this blog.

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