Parents of premature babies aim to 'offer hope' to other families

Parents of babies who were born prematurely are aiming to "offer hope" to other families going th...
Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

16.07 17 Nov 2020

Share this article

Parents of premature babies ai...

Parents of premature babies aim to 'offer hope' to other families

Marita Moloney
Marita Moloney

16.07 17 Nov 2020

Share this article

Parents of babies who were born prematurely are aiming to "offer hope" to other families going through the same experience.

Today is World Prematurity Day which takes place annually to raise awareness of preterm birth and the concerns of babies and their families worldwide.

Around 15 million babies are born preterm each year, accounting for about one in ten of all babies born worldwide.


Some of the families affected spoke to Lunchtime Live today about their experiences with the aim of offering hope to other parents of premature babies.

Jill and Darragh O'Neill are parents to Con who was born at just 25 weeks old and weighed 800 grams.

On Con's birth, Jill said: "It was a complete surprise to both of us, I wasn't at risk for a premature birth at all and it was my first baby.

"[His weight] dropped to 675 grams, all new babies lose weight after they're born but then he thankfully began gaining weight again.

"We spent three and a half months in Holles Street with him but thankfully he came out the other side and we haven't looked back since."

Jill said it was a "complete shock" when she went into labour 15 weeks before her due date.

She said: "I didn't even realise that babies could be born that early.

"The doctors said he had a 60% chance of survival and even if he did survive, he might have certain complications.

She praised the staff at Holles Street and said they were "amazing" throughout her time there.

Jill said: "We were really worried at the start, it was very up and down for the first few days.

"Con was on a ventilator and we were plunged into this world where I didn't have any idea about premature birth or the problems or complications that premature babies can have.

"It was quite overwhelming but the support we received not only from our friends and family but the doctors and nurses at Holles Street and from other parents just helped us through that time."

Jill added that "nobody wants to leave the hospital without their baby" and that aspect was "very traumatic" for the couple.

However, her advice to other parents was that "you will get through it, it is really really difficult at the time but there's light at the end of the tunnel."

Her husband Darragh said that "at 15 weeks early, you're not in that frame of mind that the baby is coming at all".

He said: "You just kind of go into autopilot and it becomes a new normal and you spend all your time in the hospital."

He praised the medical staff again and said not only do they take care of the babies, but they also act as counsellors to the parents.

He added that other parents in the hospital acted as a great support network for each other.

Darragh's sister Tríona has written a song called 'Little One' to raise funds for the Holles Street foundation, and she is co-hosting a live-streamed entertainment event tonight in aid of Helping Holles Street NMH Foundation.


Also speaking to the programme was Emily from Co Cork whose first baby was born at 27 weeks.

Emily said that similarly, she was shocked to learn that she would be giving birth 13 weeks before her due date but she also wants to give hope to other parents.

She said: "I was diagnosed with high blood pressure 22 weeks into my pregnancy so I was hospitalised in and out all the time while they tried to control it.

"I had a bit of a suspicion that something wasn't going to go the way I had hoped it would go.

"Because they keep you very calm all the time and the way they speak to you is not with the shock factor, I was eased into it quite gently."

Emily said that at 25 weeks she was diagnosed with "severe preeclampsia" and was then told that the maximum she would get out of her pregnancy would be a further two weeks.

She added: "So I had two weeks to hope and pray they would get longer but sadly they didn't and they had to deliver her."

Emily said her daughter will be celebrating her ninth birthday on Christmas Day.

She wants to tell parents of premature babies to "have hope and keep the faith" because they will eventually get to take their children out of the hospital and "when they get home they never look back".


Mairead in Sligo had her son Sonny two years ago at 28 weeks and five days and who was "quite a big boy for his age" at three pounds.

She was diagnosed with maternal sepsis and was told that in order for her to be treated, Sonny would have to be delivered first.

She said it was a "traumatic time" but reiterated her praise for the support of staff in the neonatal intensive care unit.

Mairead advised parents to avail of courses available within the hospital for new parents.

Parents of premature babies aim to 'offer hope' to other families

00:00:00 / 00:00:00
Main image: A pair of baby's feet. Picture by: Kelly Redinger/Zuma Press/PA Images

Share this article

Read more about

Holles Street Premature Babies Premature Births World Prematurity Day

Most Popular