Flowers are beautiful and can really cheer a person up. The bold bright colours make us smile and help us connect with happy thoughts. They come in beautiful arrangements and they really brighten up a room. Ordinarily this would be a much appreciated gift but having a premature baby is not an ordinary occasion. For a parent of a preemie or sick baby these beautifully presented flowers are a dreaded hazard!

Bouquet of flowers - photography credit: Christie Kim
Bouquet of flowers – photography credit: Christie Kim

Did you know…

9 out of 10 hospitals have banned flowers, particularly on their high dependency and intensive care units. This is due to the increased risk of infections being introduced. The Neonatal Unit is one of these risk areas and even though mum is on the maternity ward to start with she will be spending a lot of time on the Neonatal unit so flowers are not an appropriate gift on this occasion.

Preemie parents will go to extreme lengths to minimise the risk of germs. Expect to be asked several times to wash your hands and use hand sanitiser! The doctors and nurses (mainly the nurses) will repeatedly remind the parents and any visitors the importance of cleanliness around the baby. There will be gentle, and some not so gentle, reminders to wash and sanitise hands, to remove any outdoor clothing and to keep home environments as germ free as possible.

What do studies show?

This was a controversial issue that was raised by several newspapers a few years ago. The NHS replied to the press articles with this article – click here to read.

Within the NHS article are links to studies about why flowers are discouraged from being taken onto hospital wards.

So what are good alternative gift?

For me chocolates, sweets and fruit were always welcome gifts. My son was given lots of teddy bears and I found the larger ones were a comfort to me. I wasn’t allowed to hold Neil until he was 18 days old and I found that the larger teddy bears gifted to him were also a comfort to me during those long 18 days. When putting these teddies in his nursery as they were too big to go in his incubator I found I would hold on to them a little longer before carefully choosing its place on the shelf.

Check out the website for more useful gifts for both mum and baby.