UNC Neonatologist Releases MyPreemie App, the First Complete Tool Kit For For the Practical and Emotional Needs of Families of Premature Babies

Dr. Mia Doron, co-author of the leading book "Preemies: The Essential Guide for Parents of Premature Babies," addresses the needs of families of premature babies with the new iOS app MyPreemie, designed to provide both information and emotional support on a mobile device.

UNC Neonatologist Releases MyPreemie App, the First Complete Tool Kit For For the Practical and Emotional Needs of Families of Premature Babies click to enlarge Home page of MyPreemie app, on an iPad.
UNC Neonatologist Releases MyPreemie App, the First Complete Tool Kit For For the Practical and Emotional Needs of Families of Premature Babies click to enlarge Table of contents of Pocket Guide in MyPreemie app, on an iPhone. This item does not have any body text, click the edit tab to change it.

Families who go through the difficult experience of a premature birth, hospitalization, and caring for their preemie at home can now have the information and support they need at their fingertips, in the form of a mobile app.  The newly released MyPreemie app, for the iPhone, iPad, iPad mini, and iPod Touch, is the creation of UNC neonatologist Mia Doron and her partners, who are also the co-authors of Preemies: The Essential Guide for Parents of Premature Babies—the leading book in its field. Says Dr. Doron:  “We conceived MyPreemie to put concise, relevant information in the hands of these parents, and at the same time comfort them with art, color, and some normal parenting activities at such a stressful time.”

Families of premature babies have to grasp new medical information every day their child is in the hospital, and continue to have a myriad of questions on health and development after their child comes home. To meet this need for information, MyPreemie contains a "Pocket Guide to Preemies." “It is essentially a book inside the app, with clear explanations of over 115 issues of prematurity that can be browsed or searched by keywords,” explains Dr. Doron. A well-organized, cheerful layout allows easy reading and navigation, even on the smaller screen of the iPhone or iPod touch. To facilitate communication with medical staff about their baby, each topic in the "Pocket Guide" comes with suggested questions parents can place with one tap on a "Remember to Ask" list. A parallel “Remember to Do” list helps keep personal tasks organized.

Dr. Doron says that in her experience, “nearly all parents focus on their preemie’s growth as a key to progress.” In the "Trackers" section of the app, users can record their baby’s daily weight, length and head circumference and immediately see them plotted on special premature infant growth charts, telling them whether he is growing as expected.

Families often face unexpected ups and downs (sometimes called "the rollercoaster of prematurity"), with turbulent emotions, and the loss of the usual parenting experience while doctors and nurses care for their baby in the hospital. The "Diary" section of MyPreemie—a combined baby journal and adult diary—is artfully designed to provide a fun and normal parenting activity, and has easy-to-complete prompts that elicit events, feelings, comments, and photos, encouraging families to identify and record the meaningful occurrences in their life with their baby, and reassuring them that their feelings are shared by others. Multiple users, such as Mom and Dad, are able to merge their pages into a shared diary.

The great majority of premature babies can overcome their difficult beginning and grow to live a meaningful life with their families. But some preemies’ lives are lost in the NICU, breaking their parents’ hearts. “We wanted MyPreemie to be able to acknowledge and support the families who lose a baby, without creating unnecessary anxiety and fears for all the other parents. I think we found an effective solution for that, ” says Dr. Doron. It is a Loss pathway in the app that is triggered only by specific Diary prompts. When a family member confirms the tragic occurrence of a baby’s death, the app offers condolences, suggested readings, and the option of creating a special Memory Page to memorialize their baby.

A section of the app called "Treasured Mementos" presents a checklist of meaningful items from a preemie's early days that parents are encouraged to gather as keepsakes, since all parents cherish objects from their child’s start in life.

Dr. Doron adds, “We hear from many families that a huge source of stress is keeping friends and relatives constantly updated with news about the baby.” To address that, all pages of MyPreemie can be easily shared on Facebook or by email directly from their baby’s bedside, and users can also print them as PDFs to preserve.