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TinyLife celebrates Premvember and World Prematurity Day


Monday 21 November 2022

TinyLife celebrates Premvember and World Prematurity Day

November is a significant month in the calendar for premature babies and their families. Throughout the month TinyLife, Northern Ireland’s only charity dedicated to supporting preterm babies and their families, lead on local events and support families to tell their stories through our Premvember campaign. Around 15 million babies worldwide are born prematurely, that is about 1 in 10 children. The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness for the challenges of preterm birth and shine a light on the risks and consequences faced by preterm infants and their families worldwide.

During the month of November and to support our Premvember campaign many families reached out to us to share their stories just like Geoff and Julia Thompson’s story about their daughter Sophie.

In May 2021 Sophie was born at 24 weeks 3 days, weighing a teeny 1lb 7oz (656g). Her early arrival caught us all by surprise and was a very stressful and emotional time for me and my husband given that she was so tiny and suffered numerous medical issues associated with being born extremely prematurely. She spent 2 months in the Neonatal Unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast and a further 3 months at Antrim Area Hospital. During this time Sophie encountered many medical complications, including several bouts of sepsis, a collapsed lung and lung infections, received so many blood transfusions we lost count, and had 3 surgeries to save her sight.

As parents, not being able to do anything but sit and watch our daughter go through so much in those early days was a living nightmare. We felt completely helpless and just wanted our little warrior to be ok. It was during this time that we were introduced to TinyLife, and since then TinyLife have been there for us every step of our journey giving us invaluable support. From availing of the breast pump loan service, to weekly contact with our Family Support Officers; it was just lovely to be able to speak to someone who understood everything we were going through, to be reassured and receive support. We have attended online courses as well as baby massage classes and monthly TinyGym physio sessions. We continue to take part in TinyTime groups and the Growing Child Programme. Their support has been and continues to be crucial and has greatly benefitted Sophie and our whole family.

Whilst we had heard of TinyLife before, we didn’t really understand just how much support they give not only to the babies in Neonatal units but to the whole family, and how this continues long after the babies get home. Sophie has made great progress, now weighing 17lb 7oz, and recently attended the TinyLife Big Push event in October. It was great for us to raise some money as we know it will go towards supporting local babies and their families who find themselves in a similar situation to us. I would really encourage you to do whatever you can to support TinyLife. No-one ever expects to have a premature baby, but we were so grateful to have TinyLife there to support us when we needed it the most.

TinyLife set out to achieve a number of key goals through the Premvember campaign to help educate and support premature families and the wider Northern Ireland public. Through our social media platforms we provided information and statistics to help inform, empower and inspire parents, families and others to get involved and support TinyLife. A number of local businesses answered our call to action to support the charities drive to replace recently decommissioned hospital grade breast pumps that are loaned to new mothers to help them feed their premature children with breast milk while in neonatal units and at home. The support has come by donations from businesses and also through staff volunteering to take on fundraising challenges to raise the £1,200 cost for a pump.

We also successfully launched two brand new services, TinyStart, Northern Ireland’s first holistic programme of support child development specifically tailored for families with premature babies up to the age of 3 years and PremAware, a programme delivered in partnership with The Smallest Things which gives an excellent opportunity for continued professional development for primary teaching and nursery staff.

Our annual global World Prematurity Day conference hosted in partnership with the Irish Neonatal Health Association took place on Friday 11th November with over 350 delegates including health professionals from India, Uganda, Germany and beyond. TinyLife highlighted findings from key research undertaken in partnership with Professor Victoria Simms from Queens University about the impact for adults who were born prematurely.

While November has been a significant month to shine a light on our fantastic services delivered locally by TinyLife our work continues throughout the year. On average there are 6 children born prematurely every day in Northern Ireland, almost 1 every 4 hours. TinyLife provide support in every Neonatal unit across Northern Ireland and continue to support at home, in schools and in the community. Every pound counts for babies born too soon, too small and too sick and every pound raised for TinyLife counts as it helps us be there to help premature babies get the best start in life.

Prematurity is for life not just the NICU.

If you would like to find out more on how you can get involved with supporting TinyLife please contact

Monday 21 November 2022

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