13,000 people; mums, dads, grandparents, uncles, aunts, friends and relatives.
13,000 people; enough to fill a premiership rugby club stadium!
“When my first son was born ten weeks early, I had no idea that maternity leave would begin the very next day, months before we would bring him home. Born too soon, the reality of life in neonatal care is very different from what a mother would usually expect from the early days of maternity leave. Lines, monitors, life support machines and recovery from what is often a traumatic birth. Mothers wait days, if not weeks to hold their babies for the first time and face the agonising journey home without their baby each day. The very real cost of premature birth is not only measured in terms of financial pressures placed on families, most recent studies suggest in excess of £2,000 for an average NICU stay, but also upon the long term health implications for the mother, her ability to return to work and her babies development. Extending statutory maternity leave and pay would give mothers the emotional and financial support needed at a time of great stress and trauma – in turn leading to better postnatal health, a more positive return to work and better outcomes for babies development. We call on the Rt Hon Savijd Javid MP and colleagues at the department for Business, Innovation and Skills to recognise the significant and unique needs of families with children born prematurely and to extend statutory leave accordingly.”
Extending maternity leave for mothers of babies born too soon matters; but don’t just take my word for it. Here are just a few examples of why people have been signing this important petition.
My daughter was also born 10 weeks premature. My maternity pay at full rate ended whilst my daughter was still in the NICU. As the highest waged parent I was forced to return to work sooner than i would have liked; our daughter was still ill, this led to a 8 month bout of postnatal depression for me and bonding issues with my daughter. I would have given anything to have spent more time at home with Martha getting her well, and getting to know her – I spent the first few months not letting myself get overly attached in case we lost her. We barely got her home when I had to return to work – emotionally i wasn’t ready!!
My son was born at 25 weeks and spent nearly 6 months in intensive care. It is important to allow extended leave so as to enable parents to spend more time with their preemie and to ensure that returning to work too soon is not another worry to add to the list of the many, many worries you have with a premature baby.
My daughter was born at 30 weeks and spent her first 6 weeks in hospital. Even when a premature baby is brought home the first few months (at least) are not “normal”. Anxiety- ridden days and nights watching for episodes of apnea and often return visits to hospital are par for the course. It would be amazing if you could at least have the weeks back that the baby was spent in hospital. These babies, given the traumatic start they’ve had, need even more care and time for bonding than term babies; anything that would prolong time for this would be a good thing.
My twins were 11 weeks premature and stayed in Nicu for 9 weeks. I’ve had to take a career break from work as no option to extend maternity leave or reduce my hours.
As a neonatal nurse I see every day the long term health and financial hardships families suffer when a baby is born too early. Extending maternity pay and leave would go some way to relieving the pressures these families face and help improve the quality of life of these fragile babies during their first months.
I also had a premature baby who was born at 33 weeks. I was hospitalised before I had her and have another child at home so my maternity leave has consisted of sitting next to an incubator after major surgery for days on end. Traveling over 2 hours to see my very sick baby suffering physical and emotional pain every day being told shear not make it over and over. Maternity leave should be extended to start when the baby was due or when they leave hospital at least for parents whose babies come too soon! When a baby comes home the emotional trauma and binding issues coupled with the anxiety and medical issues have such a huge impact that parents need time to deal with everything without worrying about going back to work with considerably less time off than other “full term” parents.
This one petition calls for extended leave for mothers of premature babies, focusing on the bond between mother and baby, mums mental health and a mothers ability to return to work. Many mothers are forced to return to work much earlier than they are ready to and others simply have no choice but to leave their career altogether. Whilst this petition specifically focuses upon the needs of the NICU mother, NICU dad’s matter too and we will continue to raise awareness of the realities of NICU and life beyond for all the family.
Next stop 15,000! ….