World Prematurity Day Advises: No Separation of Parents and Babies


November 17 is World Prematurity Day – a time to increase awareness of the challenges surrounding prematurity around the world. This year, the theme is, “Zero Separation – Act now! Keep parents and babies born too soon together.” The theme was born out of the need to reemphasize the critical importance of keeping parents and babies together, even and especially with premature babies, despite the continuation of Covid.

With Covid, hospitals adopted strict regulations out of abundance of caution so as to prevent the spread of Covid. Unfortunately, this resulted in parents and babies experiencing separation, which has detrimental consequences for both parents and baby. If you’re pregnant, ask the hospital in advance about their policies for keeping parents and baby together in the event of a premature birth. Ask how Covid impacts these policies. Understanding the policies in advance can help you prepare for the possible need to advocate for you and your baby should you experience premature birth.

According to the March of Dimes, skin-to-skin care (also known as “kangaroo care”) benefits premature babies in the following ways: 

  • Maintain temperature
  • Regulate breathing and heart rate
  • Weight gain
  • Increase time in deep sleep, which is beneficial for growth
  • Spend more time calm and quiet instead of crying
  • Improve chances of breastfeeding success

Skin to skin also benefits parents! It helps reduce stress levels, increases feelings of closeness and bonding with your baby, increases your confidence in caring for baby, and encourages milk production for breastfeeding / chestfeeding. 

If your baby is not yet well enough to be held, there is another way to use touch that provides benefits, called the “hand hug.” The hand hug is when you place one hand on baby’s head and the other on their tummy or around their feet. March of Dimes advises against stroking baby as this could be overwhelming for baby’s senses. 

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