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14 Ways to Show Love and Support to Parents of Preemies

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When someone you love becomes the parent of a preemie, you might feel an immediate need to reach out, to say or do something… anything. But you also might hesitate because what if your gesture isn’t really helpful? What if your attempt at comfort provides the very opposite? You want to help and do everything you can — so where do you begin?

We reached out to our Facebook community and our Preemies community for advice on the best ways to show support and love to the parents of preemies. As one person pointed out, every experience is different, and what works well for one person might not for another. But this is what helped these parents:

1. Reach out with an encouraging message.

“Sometimes it is the encouraging message, note or text that helps us make it through the day.” — Niki Marsden

Image of an open book on a wooden table with the text: "Sometimes it's the encouraging message, note or text that helps us make it through the day"

2. Help with home life.

“[My sister] went to my house while I was still in the hospital and put everything away. She made up a bed on the couch for when I came home, she organized the gifts so I could write thank-you cards and she made my husband and I home-cooked meals.” — Stacy Staggs

3. Stay positive.

“Having someone who is uplifting and positive to keep you going through those really hard moments is so vital, at least it was for me.” — Sandra Robinson Tracy

4. Offer to take care of the chores they don’t have time for.

“It was great when someone offered to help us finish the baby’s room/buy supplies, help with laundry, housework, meals, mow the lawn — anything. It was a long day, and my husband still had to work during the week and I was still recovering.” — Patricia Colbert

5. Offer hugs, too.

“Honestly there wasn’t anything anyone could say. Just getting a hug or someone to sit with me helped a lot. No one, not even other preemie parents, can ever truly understand what you are going through because each case is different.” — Lauren Powers

6. Say these words: “Your baby is beautiful.”

“Don’t be afraid to acknowledge the birth. Whatever happens, this is my child. Tell me my baby is beautiful.” — Mary Murphy

A sleeping baby next to the text: "Tell me my baby is beautiful"

7. Let the parents know you’re listening.

“Tell us you can’t imagine what we are going through, but you will be there to listen.” — Meghan Williams

8. Check up on the parents’ wellbeing, too.

“[Make] sure we, the parents, are taking care of ourselves.” — Caroline Ayala

9. Do not comment on size.

“Stop telling me how small my baby is. Just accept that we are all different sizes.” — Marie Duke

10. In fact, you don’t have to say a word.

“Sometimes it’s better for the family members to not say anything. Just be there physically.” — Angela Ccsa

11. Fawn over the baby photos.

“What meant a lot to me was when people could see past the wires and tubes. A simple ‘She’s beautiful”‘or ‘How precious’ was the best response I got when sharing photos. I am a mom, and my babies were beautiful to me from day one.” — Megan Toman

12. Respect the parents’ decisions and requests.

“It’s not so much what they can say, as respecting what we say especially when it came to hand washing and not coming around if you or anyone in your house had been ill.” — Ruvina Eber-Mechin

13. Bring things like food and supplies to the hospital.

“Bringing food, offering to was pump parts, offering to bring you something you need, being there to sit and chat with you etc. actions speak louder than words.” — Sara Hastings

14. Just be there.

“I just needed support in person. Sometimes no words can help.” — Caroline Johnson

Two people holding each other's hands with the text: "I just needed support in person. Sometimes no words can help"

What would you add to this list? Let us know in the comment section below.

*Some answers have been edited for brevity and clarity

Originally published: February 16, 2016
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