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The Future of Parent Education in the NICU: The My Preemie App has Arrived

My Preemie

Neonatal therapists love to teach.

We’ve become expert educators as we fulfill our roles in the NICU. We soak in knowledge from every profession represented in the NICU and add it to our own perspective, background and practice. We sit with parents for extended periods of time making sure they understand how their infants communicate, develop, eat and bond.

Providing great education to parents is one of the most rewarding things we do. And it’s perhaps the most effective way to improve long term outcomes for infants in the NICU.

I’m happy to report that forging a partnership with parents of premature infants in the NICU just got easier and a lot more fun, thanks to a terrific new app for parents called MyPreemie.

The app, for iPhone and iPad, comes from the same team (two mothers of premature babies and a neonatologist) who wrote the highly-praised book Preemies: The Essential Guide for Parents of Premature Babies.

You’re going to love this app. I can’t stop thinking of the educational opportunities it will inspire. It’s a whole new way to prompt conversations and bring up crucial topics while helping the family keep track of it all.

I wanted to bring this information to you ASAP so you can begin to share it with parents. I showed the My Preemie app to a group of former NICU parents. Their overwhelming response, “I would’ve LOVED to have something like this!! Where was this when my baby was in the NICU?!”

It not only does a great job informing and supporting parents of preemies, but because when they have it, it can help us do our job better, too.

The app has 6 sections:

  • A Pocket Guide to Preemies covers a multitude of health and developmental issues. Topics like “Interacting with a preemie,” “Feeding difficulties,” “Early childhood intervention,” and “Home g-tube feeding” can introduce a parent to a difficult topic or underline points we’ve discussed with them.
  • A Remember To Ask List. Each topic in the Pocket Guide comes with several “Suggested Questions” that parents can select and transfer with one click to this To Ask list (or they can type in their own). This handy list not only helps parents communicate with us, but we can also use it to help them phrase questions for the doctor about medical issues related to our treatment plans, making sure the family clearly and accurately expresses concerns.
  • A Remember To Do List helps keep tasks organized, including, for example, our therapeutic interventions, recommendations, and tips. We all know how overwhelmed NICU parents often feel, making it harder to focus and remember. Therapists can help parents keep their list updated, ensuring that action plans are correct and complete. (And wow – this will help with consistency.)
  • A beautiful Diary, with prompts focusing on typical preemie experiences and parents’ feelings, helps celebrate a baby’s progress and keep a record of when achievements or other events occur. Therapists can assist parents by flagging:

* events that happened for the first time

* progress or a setback

* developmental or medical milestones parents can update or look forward to (and more!)

Working on the diary together will not only help ensure that the therapist and parent are “on the same page” regarding how the baby is doing, but also enhance bonding and reinforce that even the tiniest step can be tremendous progress for a preemie.

  • A Trackers section allows parents to log their baby’s daily weight, length, and head circumference and see them plotted on premature infant growth charts. This engages parents in gathering key data and participating in treatment decisions as well as promoting collaboration.
  • Finally, Treasured Mementos offers a list of items from a preemie’s early days that parents are encouraged to gather as keepsakes. By helping parents add to the list, therapists are able to give them precious memories to cherish in the future, demonstrating more than ever our understanding and commitment to them and their baby.

Technology can’t replace the value of human connection. This app is designed to prompt and support interaction between parents and caregivers. Your own personal expertise and style is never lost in the technology shuffle. Instead, it will be highlighted, remembered and cherished in a whole new way.

The MyPreemie app is available in the iTunes store for $4.99. Check it out– the parents in your NICU will be glad you did!

(And just to be clear – I have no financial interest in this app. I just think it’s an amazing resource! I even have it on my phone because I want to show it to NICU parents whenever able.)