Bradshaw calls for a new maternity strategy on World Prematurity Day

Paula Bradshaw

Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has called for a renewed maternity strategy and more support for parents of premature babies.

Talking on World Prematurity Day, the South Belfast MLA said the the ending of the previous strategy in 2018 and pausing of the development of a new one due to the pandemic meant an increase in stress for parents here.

“As many as one in thirteen babies are born before week thirty-seven of pregnancy, and a number of these newborns will need help breathing, feeding and keeping warm. For those who have multiple births, it is even more likely their babies will arrive prematurely,” she said.

“For parents with children who are being looked after in a neonatal unit, it is an incredibly stressful time. Anxieties can continue even when the baby is strong enough to return home and the right assistance must be in place. This World Prematurity Day, I am incredibly grateful to charities like Tiny Life for all their work supporting families. 

“Changes last year to allow parents of premature babies to claim an extra week of parental leave are welcome, but there is still more we can do. Alliance supports a renewed maternity strategy for Northern Ireland to promote evidence-based care, which should include an integral role and increased provision for midwives. We also need the Education Minister to deliver on her commitment to a flexible school starting age. 

“As a society, we should use awareness days like this one to ask if we are giving enough support or showing enough compassion. We need to be doing all we can to support parents, particularly those who have a multiple birth.”