Support for you and your family

Dad and sibling

This page gives more information about how you and your family can be supported in your first few days on the neonatal unit.

Having a baby born premature or sick in neonatal care can cause many different feelings. There is no right or wrong way to feel.

You may also have practical things which are made harder by your baby being in hospital, for example, family finances, travelling to and from hospital, or looking after your other children.

You are not alone. There is support for you and your family.

Dads and non-birthing parents

Sometimes, it might feel that there is a lot of focus on supporting the parent who has given birth, so they can do things like breastfeed or express milk. We often hear that partners can often feel helpless, and unsure what they can do.

Family-centred care and family-integrated care helps to involve the whole family in the care of the baby.

Both parents are important to the care of their baby. This can include skin-to-skin contact, comfort holding, washing, changing and feeding. These can help you bond with your baby and be more involved in their care.

Naturally, my wife was the main parental focus for much of the time, but to have a moment to acknowledge the joy of being able to be Daddy to these two miracles meant so so much that day.

Jason, dad to Xavi and Anya

Grandparents, other family members and friends

Your other children, your baby’s grandparents and other family members and friends can also help to care for your baby. Every unit has different policies about visitors. Talk to a nurse about how your unit involves other members of your family.


Bliss research has shown that during the time they are on the unit, parents with a baby in neonatal care can spend a lot of money on extra things which they did not plan for.

This can be things like travelling to a unit far from home, paying for childcare for other children, or paying for parking or food for the time you are in the hospital with your baby.

If you are worried about money, you can talk to your care team about what support might be available for you. Many units have options available for parents, for example, free parking or food vouchers.

You can find details of other organisations which might be able to support you, including by providing advice about money, on our page here - Other helpful organisations.

Talking to someone

It can feel very isolating when your baby is on the neonatal unit. But you are not alone.

If you think that talking to someone about how you are feeling would help you, you might like to try:

  • Talking to friends and family. They will want to support you. You might not know what to say at first – try explaining to them that you just need someone to listen. Sometimes it can feel easier to talk when you can see someone’s face, so you might like to try video-calling. This can help if people live far away or are not able to visit you at home.
  • Talking to someone in your neonatal team that you feel comfortable with. They will want to support you, and will let you know if there is someone in particular who could help you. This could be a counsellor to talk about how you are feeling, or a doctor to explain more about your baby’s care.
  • Your unit might have details of a counsellor, psychologist or psychotherapist you can speak to, if you think that could help you. You can also talk to your GP about how to access support like this.
  • If you want to speak to someone from your faith, or from the hospital’s chaplaincy team, ask the unit staff if there is someone available.
  • Asking if there is a Bliss Champion on your unit. These are trained volunteers who provide emotional support to parents face-to-face on the neonatal unit. Ask your unit if they have a Bliss Champion, or look out for a poster which will give times and days they visit.
  • Join our peer-support group on Facebook. This is a private group for parents who are on a unit, or are at home after spending time on a unit. It allows parents to talk to each other and seek support from other parents with neonatal experiences. You can sign up by following this link - Bliss Support Group for Parents of Babies Born Premature or Sick

“NICU dads feel the pain, fear and worry but sometimes don’t show it” - Jason’s story

This Father’s Day Jason reflects on his experience as a NICU Dad, and what being a Dad to Zac, Xavi and Anya means to him.
Read more
Jason holding his twins at home

Facing the unknown

We often hear that parents can find it hard not knowing why their baby was born early or why they have a particular medical condition. It can also be hard when you do not know what the future might bring.

We often hear that parents can find it hard not knowing why their baby was born early or why they have a particular medical condition. It can also be hard when you do not know what the future might bring.

You are not alone. You can read other parents’ stories on our website..

You can also listen to a growing number of parent stories on Spotify.

We’re here to support you

Bliss offers a wide range of free services for the families of premature and sick babies including a video call support service.
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Mother holding her sleeping baby on her chest

The information in this section is due for review November 2025