A mother sits upright in a chair. She exhales sharply as she tries to shift her weight off her freshly cut birth scar. She fidgets with her fingers, gently stroking the glass of the incubator next to her – the life-line cradling her tiny baby who should have still been nestled inside her. She sits in this chair, body aching, day in, day out, willing her baby to grow. She was discharged weeks ago. Her life is in a strange limbo – a waiting period of tentative hope and anxiety. Her other children don’t understand why she doesn’t bring their new brother with her when she enters the house each night. She has no answers for them. Another day is better than no day and so she waits.
Her baby is one of 15 million babies born prematurely across the world each year. Premature birth is the leading cause of death worldwide in children under the age of five. Premature birth can cause a number of health issues and it can be very stressful for parents. It can be difficult to know how to best support mothers, especially when the care of their babies is largely out of their hands.
Through our work, we’ve seen the power of a few kind words to show a mother she’s seen and supported. We’re asking you, our Embrace community, to join our letter-writing campaign for mothers who are waiting for the premature babies to come home.
Help us connect with 500 waiting mothers of premature babies for World Prematurity Day (Sunday, 17 November).
The letters can be from caring individuals, other mothers, from people who were born prematurely and from moms who have birthed pre-term babies.
Here’s how you can be a part of this initiative:
- Write a letter (letters can be written in any South African language; we’ll lay it out on lovely paper, print it and deliver it for you);
- Be a post(wo)man: once we’ve printed and folded the letters, we’ll need volunteers to hand deliver them to each hospital; or
- Be a provincial co-ordinator: we want these letters to reach moms in every province. This will take some co-ordinating with hospitals and volunteers – shoot us an email or a WhatsApp message if you can help!
You can also text your message or voice note it to us via WhatsApp on: 066 320 4477. Voice notes will be compiled into a podcast for moms to listen to.
A few tips:
- Keep the spirit of your letter or message encouraging and affirming
- Resist the urge to give advice
- Use simple and appropriate language
- Be courteous and think about your reader as a real person
- Avoid using phrases like “I know what you are going through” unless you absolutely know and have been through the experience
We look forward to sharing your words of encouragement with moms who need it most!