Caring for the most vulnerable – celebrating World Prematurity Day

Posted on 15 November 2022

Where does one begin on what makes your neonatal nurse special because they play a very important role in your family’s life? It is not easy to have your baby admitted into NICU. My son was admitted for a total of 99 days. It was scary and we were unsure of what to expect. We were blessed with amazing neonatal nurses, who were very diligent in their job (you have to be a perfectionist and completely in control). Our neonatal nurses main focus was the patient but they made sure all the parents were coping. They went the extra mile and now as a result we are still friends and on special occasions we share photos. I think one is just so grateful and aware of what a miracle our preemies are, that we have to celebrate them.” –  A special message from a parent from Mediclinic Hoogland.

World Prematurity Day on 17 November allows us the opportunity to shine the light on the work being done to care and support our most vulnerable patients.

Mediclinic Southern Africa operates 35 NICUs units across South Africa and Namibia, supporting more than 4000 premature babies each year. Their stay in the unit usually reflects the extent of their prematurity, where a baby born ten weeks early, is likely to spend approximately this period in the unit, ensuring that they are strong enough to go home. This is usually triggered when they are able to maintain their own body temperature, managing all their feeds and steadily growing without any additional medication or specialised support required.

Mediclinic Neonatal units do not simply offer equipment to support the tiniest of our patients, but rather foster relationships with the new parents, teaching them how to best manage their baby while also doing everything to foster a strong bond between baby and parents. “Skin-to-skin care or kangaroo care is done as soon as the baby is well enough. The mother or father hold the baby on their chest skin-to-skin, growing that bond as soon as possible. The evidence indicates a number of benefits, namely that babies are more relaxed, experience less heart rate fluctuations and grow better with this type of care,” explains AlinéHall, Clinical Quality Specialist at Mediclinic Southern Africa.

“I love being a neonatal nurse and going to work every day, neonates are the toughest, most tenacious, and precious miracles in this world. The work can be stressful, painful and taxing at times but the reward of sending a healthy baby home is the best feeling ever,” PN Crystal George, Mediclinic Cape Gate

Teams within the NICU ensure that parents are involved in the care from the outset, equipping them to manage all the baby’s needs with confidence. Extensive health education is started in the neonatal unit and when the baby is ready to go home the parents are prepared with guidance on feeding, growth, milestones as well as key doctors’ appointments to ensure they are developing normally, and if there are any concerns, they can start interventions early. They will be educated with regards to the importance of vaccines and be taught basic safety at home, signs to watch out for indicating they must see a doctor, and very basic CPR.

“Working with preemie babies makes you feel special because it is a new life entrusted to care and they are so fragile in the beginning.  Seeing them grow is so rewarding and satisfying, you get so attached to the babies and are thinking of them when you are off-duty,” PN Apolonia Imalwa, Mediclinic Windhoek NICU

Mediclinic is deeply invested in expanding access to this care, with a new unit being added to Mediclinic Hermanus, ensuring that families within the surrounding area have easy and convenient access to this essential service. It also means that families no longer have to travel into the city for this level of care. Mediclinic Hoogland has expanded their unit while Mediclinic Durbanville has also recently a brand new 3 additional bed unit. “We want to ensure that the best possible care is available to the communities we serve, and we are very encouraged by the latest additions,” says Aliné.

“We realised from day 1 of our daughter’s birth at Mediclinic Kloof that these nurses are almost like a surrogate mother for each baby. Each baby is handled for with the utmost love and care. The neonatal sisters were just amazing. They are people that support families and carry you through some of the most difficult times. They are also teachers and teach you how to appreciate the small wins, even with each incremental 0.2ml feeding session,” says Anri Potgieter, parent to a NICU success story.

Published in Nursing

In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.