Reviewed for AIMS by Jo Dagustun
By Francesca Segal
Chatto and Windus, 2019
According to Bliss (a charity supporting parents of babies who are born prematurely or unwell), one in seven of all babies born in the UK spend some time in neonatal care. Whether the stay is short or long, it is an experience that has a lasting impact on every family involved, and it is good to see a new book on the market that allows outsiders a glimpse into this rather hidden but hugely valued part of the NHS.
As an established novelist, Francesca Segal is clearly at an advantage in writing about her time as a new mother whose twins are being cared for in a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). In this memoir, Francesca describes the first 56 days of her daughters’ lives, until they are ready to go home together as a family.
For readers (like me) who have not encountered life as a NICU mother, Francesca’s account offers a compelling insight into the experience. It shares some of the unspoken rules of this unique space and invites us to consider the value of spontaneous peer support, as complementary to the professional support offered. Against the backdrop of a hugely impressive service offer, it allows the reader the opportunity to consider some key areas for service improvement. And, whilst Francesca’s account is firmly centred on her experience as a milk-producing NICU mother, the memoir also includes some thought-provoking observations about the role of fathers, too.
The memoir doesn’t attempt to tell you ‘everything you need to know about NICU’. It is a story of one woman’s experience: just one of many diverse experiences. But it is no less important for that: this memoir provides a key introduction to many aspects of the parental and baby NICU experience from a parent’s perspective.
This book would make an excellent read for anyone planning to work with families accessing neonatal care. I’d also recommend it to anyone involved in maternity/neonatal-service improvement, including Maternity Voices Partnership members, both with and without personal experience of having a baby in NICU.
AIMS supports all maternity service users to navigate the system as it exists, and campaigns for a system which truly meets the needs of all. AIMS does not give medical advice, but instead we focus on helping women to find the information that they need to make informed decisions about what is right for them, and support them to have their decisions respected by their health care providers. The AIMS Helpline volunteers will be happy to provide further information and support. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 0300 365 0663.
AIMS Journal, 2020, Vol 32, No 4 Lorna Tinsley Interview by Rachel Boldero AIMS believes that an effective Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) is crucial for a well-funct…Read more
AIMS Journal, 2020, Vol 32, No 4 By Wendy Jones PhD MRPharmS MBE ‘ Scientific, evidence-led information which is very up to date and relevant, and … better informed than…Read more
AIMS Journal, 2020, Vol 32, No 4 The OBS facilitators: Charlotte Gilman, Julie Gallegos, Lisa Mansour and Jayne Joyce (left to right) By Jayne Joyce IBCLC Project Lead Ox…Read more
POSTPONED FROM JUNE 2020 Making a difference past and future The purpose of the day is to celebrate what Birth Activists in general and AIMS in particular have achieved,…Read more
This year’s AGM will be an online meeting, so we plan to keep it to two hours. However, there will be the opportunity to stay, chat and socialise with friends and colleag…Read more
AIMS has written this week to Jeremy Hunt MP, in his role as chair of the Health and Social Care Select Committee, as a response to the current discussion regarding a so-…Read more
AIMS has submitted comments on the draft NICE Shared decision making Guideline. You can read our comments here The details of the consultation on the draft guidelines can…Read more
AIMS has submitted comments on the draft update of the NICE Neonatal Infection Guideline. You can read our comments here . The details of the draft guidelines can be foun…Read more