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10 Things Not To Say To Parents Of Preemies - featured June 30, 2011

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Special Thanks to our friend Deb Discenza of Preemie World for the heads up on this article


She meant well, to be sure. My friend, one of the most supportive people I know, had come to visit me in the hospital as I cuddled my prematurely born son, who was still hooked up to various tubes and looking more like an alien fetus than a baby.

“Oh,” she cooed when she saw him, “he’s a little monkey baby!”

That 4-pound preemie, born two months early, is now quite a sturdy boy of almost seven, but the sting of that long-ago remark came back instantly when I read a new report titled “Insensitive Comments And Their Impact On Preemie Mothers.” Compiled by an on-line community hosted by the company Inspire, it aims to document the emotional damage that wrongheaded remarks can wreak, and help the public do better.

About 12% of American babies are born prematurely — a half-million babies a year — posing quandaries to all who know the parents. If a baby is still facing myriad, potentially life-threatening complications, is it right to say “Congratulations”? On the other hand, will you offend the parents by not saying it? What about commenting on a baby’s size or looks? Mentioning possible silver linings?

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Tags: Article Preemie Newsletter 1 July 2011