Parents experiences of caring for a preterm infant after discharge from neonatal intensive care unit of Mulago Hospital
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Introduction: The prevalence of preterm births in Uganda is estimated at 13.6 per 1000 live births and 25% of these die due to complications of prematurity. Parenting a preterm infant after discharge from the NICU is associated with a number of challenges which have not been fully investigated especially in the Ugandan setting. Objective: The objective of this study was to explore the experiences and coping strategies of parents caring for a preterm infant after discharge from the NICU. Methodology: This was an exploratory qualitative study which used purposive sampling method to select 15 participants. In-depth interviews were conducted with each of the participants. Recorded interviews were transcribed verbatim. Content analysis was conducted and findings were summarized into sub-themes and the findings were summarized into sub-themes, and themes Results: Overall parents experienced fear for delayed developmental milestones for their preterm children, shame due to small size of the baby, stress arising from infants’ demands such as feeding schedule and medication. In addition, parents also faced financial constraints in buying infants feeds and drugs. Coping strategies that helped parents to navigate through this challenging journey include, support from family, community and also personal coping strategies like, self- determination, working hard and also ignoring other people’s opinions. Conclusion: Parents experiences of caring for a preterm after discharge from NICU is a phenomenon characterized by challenges like fear for delayed developmental milestones, fear for repeated infections, demanding schedule of feeding of the infant These challenges can be managed if these parents receive the right support from family, community and from health workers. Recommendations: we recommend provision of counseling services to parents with preterm infants after discharge from the NICU to address issues that lead to stress like, fear for delayed developmental milestones.