NEW! – “Preemie Proud” Red Book Stickers

Every year 80,000 babies are born requiring specialist neonatal care services in the UK. Their parents face a turbulent journey, often physically and emotionally exhausting and for many it is a journey that will have a lasting impact. I have written about my own experiences as a preemie mum, raising awareness through The Smallest Things campaign about a journey that rarely ends at the NICU doors.

You find yourself waiting to see the health visitor, waiting to have your little bundle weighed.

Sitting in line, waiting your turn, you could be mistaken for any other new mum – a mum who has recently given birth, a mum holding their new baby close.

And yet you’re not a new mum; you gave birth months ago and your ‘new’ baby has already been around the block. You’re already a pro at changing nappies (albeit through incubator portholes) and you have had weeks and months more sleeplessness nights in the bag.


You remind the health visitor that your baby was born early and as they go to chart their weight you gently remind them about plotting their weight according to their corrected age.

Your baby is 10 weeks old – “Are they smiling yet?” they ask. You shake your head, you’ve been asked this question before.

“He hasn’t reached his due date yet” you reply.

They may not be smiling yet, but your baby has just doubled their birth weight… that’s pretty awesome!

“How are you getting on?” they ask.
“Okay,” you reply quickly, afraid that if you linger on the subject you may break down and cry.

How can you explain that every time you pass a heavily pregnant woman you feel a pang of jealously?

How can you explain that you are still grieving for the loss of your third trimester, the loss of the first precious hold, the loss of a ‘normal birth’ and the loss of weeks, if not months, of your maternity leave?

Do you open up about the flash backs, the worry, the guilt and exhaustion?

How do you begin to explain the pain of having to leave your baby every day.

Smallest Things

As a sympathetic nod to the journey you have been on, a well-meaning health visitor notes that “NICU must have been hard, ….but you’re home now”.

This plays into the common misconception that once you are discharged home from neonatal care your NICU journey is behind you; but for parents of premature babies this is far from the truth.  For instance, we know that 40% of mothers who spend time in NICU experience post-natal depression, (compared to 5-10% of mothers who deliver with no complications at full term); and that more than half of mothers report symptoms of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder once their baby is home.

Health visitors, with their specific training, are in a unique position to support the families of babies born prematurely. That is why The Smallest Things are delighted to be launching our new “Preemie Proud” Red Book initiative; a series of stickers that families can use to personalise their baby’s red book. Stickers that will act as a gentle reminder that this mum has been through NICU and may need some more support. Stickers that provide a prompt to use a babies corrected age on their growth chat; and stickers that can form the basis of an initial conversation about the lasting needs following neonatal intensive care.





9 thoughts on “NEW! – “Preemie Proud” Red Book Stickers

  1. Joanna Bradshaw

    Wonderful idea. Is it possible for other units to purchase?

    Jo Bradshaw
    Sister, neonatal unit, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire.


  2. Victoria Robinson

    This is a great idea. My baby was 10 weeks prem and I’m always getting questions. My health visitor hasn’t a clue about prem babies so I always keep in touch with the Neonatal doctors and nurses. Tried getting me to wean her at 4 months old (2 months corrected) wish I could get stickers for her. She is just coming to 5 months


  3. Charlotte

    Would love to be able to get these into the local neonatal unit that we have a charity supporting and where our girls were looked after.


  4. Pingback: Mumsnet 2016 Best Campaigner Award – Shortlisted! | The Smallest Things

  5. Claire M

    Hello I’m a Health Visitor with a child that was born at 28 weeks and needed NICU support (in a unit that was miles from where I lived). I also wanted to reinforce that the vast majority of professionals (particularly Health Visitors) are sensitive and very aware of the needs of our families (I can vouch for this both on a professional and personal level, I was not a Health Visitor when my baby was born but I did feel I was able to access support). I always believe that it can be hard for parents to reach out to professionals particularly when attending places such as busy clinics but initiatives such as these stickers will aid prompts for professionals to speak to parents about their experiences with the recognition that its often an emotional and enduring journey for the families who all have individual experiences that can be both positive and negative. Health Visitors are highly trained with a vast array of experiences and are well placed within communities to offer support to families and are always open to suggestions around improving services for our families – please do speak to your Health Visitor and I hope to see wider use of these stickers within my community as they’re such a great idea


  6. m geaney

    These are a great idea, is there a plan to get some to GPs or HVs for those already at home? These simple ideas can make such a difference for so many families, congratulations!



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