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World Prematurity Month with the Ickle Pickles Children’s Charity

Thursday 16 November 2023

Each year November’s World Prematurity Month shines a spotlight on the 90,000 babies born sick or prematurely in the UK and beyond.

In support of this year’s World Prematurity Day on the 17th of November, we partnered with the Ickle Pickles Children’s Charity to raise awareness of prematurity and raise funds for much-needed equipment.

All our Basking Babies classes will be fundraising in style by holding a dress-up activity in their classes for a week in November and asking everyone to wear a purple ribbon to let parents know that they are not alone.

The Ickle Pickles Children’s charity aims to give every newborn a chance. Babies born prematurely and with serious medical conditions need a range of intensive and special care equipment to help clinical teams treat them and help them survive. Some babies are treated for a few days, and others like Ickle Pickle Austin, for several weeks.

Austin’s premature birth during COVID

Baby Austin was born prematurely at just 28 weeks and four days gestation due to severe Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR). His mum Becky tells his story:

“He was born weighing just 710 grams. Austin’s IUGR meant that he weighed much less than an average 28-weeker.

Because of COVID restrictions during that time, there was a debate about whether or not my husband was allowed to be with me during my C-section. He was only just allowed to be present in theatre.

I only knew that Austin had been born when I saw him being whisked out of the door to my right to the waiting neonatal medical team. We were told nothing until I heard him cry sometime later when I was being taken to the recovery area. That was all we knew of him for some time. We didn’t even get to see his face.

We were only given a card with a photo of our baby. Until I was feeling well enough to visit the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) much later that evening that was all we had or knew of our tiny son.”

Austin’s NICU journey

Austin’s journey, like many others, was full of ups and downs. He had more injections, cannulas and blood tests than most adults have in their lifetime.

Becky got used to the noises on the neonatal unit and the immense stress about all the brain scans, eye checks, jaundice and other worrying signs that her baby was struggling or having a better day than before.

She recalls, “Between the bad days, I suddenly got a glimmer of hope. Austin was finally big enough to move back closer to home to our local hospital. This was the first time his dad and I could be with him together as a family, except our daughter. This was a huge lift and helped us to stay positive.”

Austin is home

Austin spent a total of 79 days in hospital and came home the day before his due date.

His family is incredibly thankful that Austin received the best care possible during an immensely challenging time for all the staff at both hospitals that helped him.

Austin is now a happy, healthy – albeit slightly small – three-year-old and most people comment that they wouldn’t know he was so premature if his mum didn’t tell them!

Like Austin, over 7.5% of babies in the UK are born early and their parents often feel scared, overwhelmed, lost and helpless. A journey through neonatal care is a unique and tough challenge and the Ickle Pickles Children’s Charity is here to support new parents on their neonatal journey.

Join World Prematurity Month

November is dedicated to raising awareness of prematurity but it is also a month for celebrating those who have made it through difficult periods with their premature babies who are now thriving.

You can support vulnerable babies and families who have experienced neonatal care and take part in World Prematurity Day. Join in the conversation using #WorldPrematurityDay and tag @icklepicklescharity on social media.

Together, we can make a difference for World Prematurity Month to raise awareness of babies like Austin and help others.

Support our Prematurity Awareness Month campaign and donate here today.

To get involved and find out more, visit www.icklepickles.org.


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