Having a child born prematurely can plunge parents into an unknown and sometimes frightening situation, where they experience a loss of control over events and reduced decision-making capacity. Preterm birth sometimes results in posttraumatic stress disorder for parents and negatively impacts on parent–child interactional patterns, especially if parents were unprepared for this eventuality. The role of information, support, and early intervention in parents' coping capacity in this situation has been noted in developmental systems theory to contribute to family interactional patterns. This article reports on a mixed-methods study that explored the information and support needed by and available to parents following preterm birth in England and the effect of this on their emotional well-being. The findings suggest that support systems do not always provide timely or helpful emotional or practical support to parents, and this has the potential to place additional stress on family interactional patterns, especially where parents were unprepared for the possibility of preterm birth.
Centre for the Study of Practice and Culture in Education (Dr Blackburn) and Department for Children and Young People's Health (Dr Harvey), Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences, Birmingham City University, Edgbaston, Birmingham, England.
Correspondence: Carolyn Blackburn, PhD, Centre for the Study of Practice and Culture in Education, Faculty of Health, Education and Life Sciences, Birmingham City University, Westbourne Rd, Edgbaston, Birmingham B42 2SU, England (firstname.lastname@example.org).
This study has been funded from pilot seed funding by Birmingham City University.
There are no conflicts of interest from Dr. Carolyn Blackburn or Professor Merryl Harvey.