UCLH neonatal unit takes centre stage 

01/11/2013 00:00 
Families of premature babies at the University College Hospital Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Wing are featured cuddling their newborns in a new video launched today to highlight the power of the hug.
 

Every year 15 million babies are born too soon around the globe, 60,000 here in the UK. To help recognise these tiny babies and to mark World Prematurity Day on 17 November, the special care baby charity Bliss has produced a moving ‘give a hug’ video.

The charity visited the neonatal unit at University College Hospital and filmed parents having cuddles with their babies. One mum – Rhiannon Hemmingway – is captured sharing her first kangaroo care hug with her tiny Alfie. Important kangaroo care helps parents to be skin-to-skin with their baby, in turn helping to promote bonding and breastfeeding.

The UCLH neonatal service is a recognised centre of excellence and takes referrals for acutely ill and pre-term babies from across North and Central London and beyond.  These babies are cared for by specialist teams of nurses and doctors.

Gillian Kennedy, specialist speech and language therapist on the neonatal unit, said: “On the unit we celebrate World Prematurity Day  in different ways: candles to take home, colourful baby sock lines, cakes! It always surprises parents to learn how many other families worldwide are going through a similar rollercoaster journey. 

“Even when a baby is tiny and born very early they can still enjoy a cuddle; their parents envelop their little one under still, gentle hands.  A parent termed this a ' hand blanket' which is a lovely description.”

Many parents aren’t able to hug their premature baby for days or even weeks when they are born prematurely. The video is a celebration of hugs and in particular that very important first hug a parent has with their baby.

On the video you will also see a range of parents, friends, families and colleagues showing their support for World Prematurity Day.

Bliss hopes that by sharing the video they can spread hope to the many families whose baby has been born prematurely around the world.

For more information about getting involved in World Prematurity Day visit www.bliss.org.uk

Join us on twitter @blisscharity #giveahug and facebook at www.facebook.com/worldprematurityday.

For more information about neonatal care at the University College Hospital Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Wing click here.

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