One of the first things you hear when you tell people you’re pregnant is to write down your ideal birth plan and then tear it up. I always thought that was silly until I found myself in the NICU not once, but twice, with premature babies born at 28 and 29 weeks. If you’ve found yourself in a similar situation, or know someone who has, then you know how traumatic, exhausting, and stressful that time is for new parents — many having just gone through an unexpected C-section, unable to hold their newborn in their arms, and with so many unknowns stretching out before them. I wanted to share eight ways to care for mothers who have preemie babies, things that were graciously and lovingly done for me by family and friends as well as what so many in our DoSayGive community have recommended.
These will not only be welcome, but immensely helpful and thoughtful — such a blessing in the midst of uncertainty!
1. Send or help with food.
If it’s a couples’ first child, think about sending a food gift. Food delivery gift cards to Uber Eats or DoorDash are great for using at their own convenience, as are gift cards to restaurants near the NICU. It’s always nice to be able to take a break and walk to get non-cafeteria food!
If they have other children, consider sending a meal to the house for the older children at home. Not having to think about this is such a gift. You could also set up a meal calendar to take care of meals or groceries for the older children, or prepare one for when they come home. For tips on meal train etiquette, be sure to read this post!
2. Offer to give mom a ride.
After a C-section (which many premature babies are delivered by), new moms may not be able to drive for up to six weeks. When my daughters were in the NICU, friends offered to drive me to and from the hospital, which was a help not only for the transportation but also for the company. Having a preemie can feel lonely, especially if they don’t allow visitors — so those conversations meant so much. If you can’t offer to drive, an Uber gift card is a nice gesture as well.
3. Send thoughtful gifts.
Many people aren’t sure what type of gift is best to give to a preemie baby, and there are definitely some gifts that are at the top of the “to-give” list. I shared my favorite gifts for preemie babies in this post — from board books (easy to wipe clean!) to soft baby blankets (to keep them cozy in the incubators) and nursing wraps. Be sure to give it a read! Otherwise, Amazon gift cards are always helpful and welcome. As are preemie baby clothes, and Kissy Kissy is my personal favorite for preemie babies.
4. Gift hospital parking or valet passes.
Hospital parking can be expensive, so a handful of passes would be a nice gesture or something to add to a gift basket. Even better? Valet passes! These parents deserve the royal treatment, after all!
5. Give a gift card to the hospital gift shop.
The hospital gift shop often has a lot of preemie products, clothes, and nursing supplies on hand — plus, it’s super convenient. Tip: You can also call and have the gift shop put together a baby gift to deliver to the NICU.
6. Offer to help with older children.
Ensuring that the older children — who are often unable to visit the hospital and are worried about their parents and new sibling — are taken care of and loved is a true gift! You might offer to babysit so both parents can be at the NICU at the same time (we were always tag teaming!). Rides to school and extracurricular activities are also helpful, as is helping with homework as needed.
7. Be sensitive to parents’ concerns.
Preemie parents are often on high alert when it comes to viruses. So tread lightly when asking to hold the baby when she comes home, and don’t get offended if you’re asked to take off your shoes or wash your hands. If you’ve been exposed to a virus, be up front with the parents and delay your visit.
8. Don’t stop offering to help once the baby goes home.
When the baby comes home, all the responsibility lands on the shoulders of the parents — which can be a shock after months of hands-on NICU nurses. If the baby is coming home on oxygen or with other medical needs, this can be an even more stressful time. All of the above things are still helpful!
If you have any other tips or ideas to share, please leave a comment below! I would love to read them!