Organisation to aid parents of premature babies

AN ORGANISATION is being launched to provide support to the thousands of parents who struggle to cope with the birth of a premature baby every year.

Over 4,000 babies are born prematurely in Ireland each year, but according to Irish Premature Babies (IPB), there are very few outlets for parents to seek information or turn to for support.

Premature babies – those born at less than 37 weeks – are more vulnerable to infection and often require days of intensive care.

IPB family liaison manager Mandy Daly said there was a desperate need to highlight the struggle that an increasing number of parents face each year.

“Premature birth is such an important issue. Little is known about the cause and few people know that many of the baby’s complaints can last well into childhood. We wanted to provide a place where parents can seek information about where to get support, and put them in contact with other parents.”

The organisation, founded by Allison Molloy, was set up in December 2009 and is run by volunteers, all of whom have given birth to premature babies.

Georgina Byrne, wife of Westlife singer Nicky Byrne, is a patron for the organisation, having given birth to her twin sons six weeks prematurely.

One mother who gave birth to a premature baby, Leanne Calvert, described the feeling of having to leave her newborn son in intensive care as “heart-wrenching”. “I went into labour at 33 weeks. It was a desperate situation for my husband and me because the doctors kept giving us conflicting information about what to expect.

“Our son was born with brain haemorrhages, but because we didn’t know that was common in premature babies we were left feeling extremely distressed. He also had the muscle condition, hypotonia, but I was never given any advice on how to strengthen him – I really felt alone.”

Ms Calvert, whose son, Daniel, is now a healthy three-year-old, added that IPB is invaluable to parents of pre-term babies.

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