Mum and dad count too
2 April 2019 | Midlands
Charity supports the parents of premature and poorly children.
Meet inspirational Rashmi Patel, a support worker from a small charity called ADAPT Prembabies, which supports parents of premature and poorly babies.
The organisation, a TSB Local Charity Partner for Leicester’s Cavendish Road branch, supports new parents at Leicester General and Leicester Royal Infirmary. Last year they were able to offer support to the families of 1,500 babies born early or who needed extra care at birth.
Rashmi visits the neonatal units and reaches out to new parents like Teresia Brafo-White who credits the support she received from Rashmi Patel as truly life-changing. She was in the depths of post-natal depression when the hug from the charity support worker pulled her back from the brink.
Teresia’s babies Tamiya and Tashan were born 10 weeks early last June. While they were in relatively good health despite being so premature, it was a traumatic start to a journey that should have been such a happy time for Teresia and husband Jonathan who are from Leicester Forest East.
The babies were transferred between hospitals and while they grew stronger, Teresia struggled. “First I had to recover from an infection I got as a result of the emergency caesarean. Then my husband had to go back to work despite the babies still being in hospital. I could not drive, so he would drop me at the hospital early in the morning and then pick me up late. I wasn’t sleeping or eating, and was struggling to express the milk my babies needed.
“It all got too much for me. I was just existing on auto-pilot. I stopped even showering, I was crying every day, and was so tired and stressed.
“Rashmi saw me walking down the corridor and came over to me and said: ‘You don’t look ok,’ and gave me a hug. It was just what I needed. Finally, I met someone who understood what I was going through. Her support was to prove a total life-line.”
Sue Williams, development coordinator at the charity, explained: “There is no disputing the fact that the babies get the best clinical care, but for some parents it’s one of the most traumatic, emotional times of their lives not knowing from day to day, sometimes hour to hour whether their baby will survive.
“We go into the hospital and look to help them through good and bad days and by being an independent friendly face and shoulder to cry on. The fact is the nurses are very busy, and mums can feel quite alone in hospital.”
The charity offers every mum a baby pack consisting of a tote bag with an emergency supply of tiny nappies, cotton wool, wipes, leaflets and a tiny teddy. “If your baby comes early, you probably won’t even have the basics ready,” explains Sue.
They also provide a group support coordinator who takes over from the family support worker when families go home. They run mum and baby groups for those who have had premature births or are still poorly. It means the women can connect with others who have undergone similar experiences. “The babies are always looked after, what we are about is making sure mum and dad are too.”
Teresia’s twins are now a healthy nine months old and thriving. ADAPT remain in touch with the family. The charity was recently awarded funding for their counselling services from TSB as part of their Local Community Fund programme. But they depend solely on donations to continue to support families of premature babies. “The funding from TSB is absolutely vital for keeping small charities like us going,” added Sue. If you think you can help please visit www.prembabies.co.uk.