What to Say to NICU Parents
The birth of a baby is such an amazing event. The early birth of a baby is still amazing, and sometimes even more so. But it can be confusing for friends and family to know what to say, and how to respond. As a result, many times people say the wrong things, or they don’t say anything at all. This can lead to feelings of isolation and guilt. And frankly, there is already plenty of that as it is. If your heart is in the right place but you find yourself stumbling over the right words...do not worry. I have created a script for you with the help of other NICU parents. These words can be delivered via text, email, phone call, or with a thoughtful card. I designed this one with NICU parents in mind.
“Congratulations on the birth of your baby.”
According to many of the NICU parents that I have spoken to, this is always the perfect thing to say! Every parent needs to be congratulated when a new baby arrives, regardless of the circumstances of that birth. This was the thing I longed to hear the most when my twins were born at 28 weeks.
“This must be so hard.”
Acknowledging what your friend or family member is going through is so effective. What usually isn’t helpful is offering advice, unless you have first-hand experience. And even then, advice is best when it is asked for and not just offered.
“I’m here to listen and support you.”
Having a baby in the NICU is a very isolating experience, and it is common for people to experience significant mental health issues. Having a friend or family member who will listen is a great support.
“I want to bring you a meal/ help you with your older children/ walk your dog. What day would be good for you.”
Sometimes it’s not as much what you say, but what you do to help. NICU parents are often torn between being in the NICU with their baby, and completing all the other tasks that make up their daily lives. If you can help run errands, cook meals, or care for other children, it will be appreciated. Just remember that most NICU parents won’t ask for help, so being specific with your offer is most beneficial.
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