It’s a moving scene that hits you when you are not expecting it. Premature newborns are smaller than you prepared yourself for, more helpless. Parents are unquiet and machines sound their beeps. The feeling they most recall, whether they were there on their first or last child, is impotence. Life is an incredible fight in tiny hands.
Everything happens in the neonatal intensive-care unit of Alfredo da Costa Maternity Hospital (MAC). It becomes some babies’ first home, spending there their first three months, before they go to their real homes with their parents. Every year 6000 babies are born, about 6% of all country’s births, at MAC, in Lisbon, Portugal. About 150 of those born at MAC weight less than 1500 grams. Since 2007 this unit is also in the list of UNICEF’s “Baby Friendly Hospitals”, an initiative where promoting breast-feeding and mother-baby bonding is the golden rule.