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‘Neonatal November’ Kicks Off Today

Sunday 1st November marks the start of ‘Neonatal November’ – a month to acknowledge neonatal journeys and the stress and anxiety many families go through, which this year has been even more traumatic due to the lockdowns imposed to help conquer COVID19.

If the averages play true, today in New Zealand there will be 16 babies born premature and a greater number of full-term babies born who will require specialist care as a result of health issues and/or complications. They will join the hundreds of other babies already receiving specialist care in one of New Zealand’s neonatal units.

Rachel Friend, Executive Director of The Neonatal Trust, said “This year has been difficult for all of us but imagine having your baby in an intensive care unit in 2020, I can only begin to comprehend how distressing it would have been for these families. Even though COVID19 had the majority of New Zealander’s at home during lockdown, premature and very unwell babies were still being born and needing specialized care. Parents had to grapple with not being able to see their baby round the clock as is the case in normal times. Visiting hours were limited, often only one parent allowed at a time for limited timeframes and they couldn’t lean on family or friends to visit and offer support as we had to stick to our ‘bubbles’. Plus the unknown fear of what impact this virus could have on a tiny baby – the fear these families encountered was tangible. So now more than ever we need to champion these babies and their families given the journey they’ve been through and raise awareness for them.”

“A lot of people think of only prematurity when they hear of neonatal care so we promote
‘Neonatal November’ to highlight the journeys of all babies that go through a unit, be they premature or full-term.”

“The support we receive and awareness of Neonatal November is growing year on year, with iconic building

and landmarks lighting up purple for us, through to businesses and airports hosting our unique donation

incubator boxes, we’re overwhelmed with the desire to help our campaign grow year or year. I believe that

most people in New Zealand will know of someone who has had or is currently experiencing a neonatal

journey. We exist to raise awareness of what is involved for families, support them during and after their

time in a unit, plus highlight the wonderful people who care for the fragile and precious babies”

Additional support:

  • Lighting Up Purple for Neonatal November and World Prematurity Day – over 24 landmarks or buildings throughout NZ are lighting up purple for prematurity during the week 16th-22nd November (World Prematurity Day is 17th November) and a list of these is below.
  • Morning teas at every NICU & SCBU for families and staff throughout NZ on 17 November 2019

– co-ordinated by the Trust and baked by volunteers.

Those wanting to learn more can visit:

Key details:

  • ‘Neonatal November’ includes the internationally recognised ‘World Prematurity Day’ (Nov 17)
  • There are 350+ incubators and cots in neonatal units across New Zealand
  • On average 16 babies are born prematurely in New Zealand every day. 
    Babies are classified as premature if they are born before 37 weeks gestation. A normal pregnancy lasts 40 weeks.
  • 40% of pregnancies involving multiples (twins, triplets, etc) arrive prematurely.
  • Approximately 1 in 10 of babies born in New Zealand every year arrive early. 
    That's one every 90 minutes, and over 5,000 in total. Many arrive very early – some as early as 17 weeks early (23 weeks gestation).
  • Some stays in a neonatal unit last just a few days, others take a very long time. For example, from the personal stories on The Neonatal Trust website


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