By: 30 November 2021
New app to help UK parents of premature babies

Pregnancy charity Tommy’s has created a free app to support parents through premature birth, from finding out they’re at risk to bringing their babies home.

60,000 babies are born prematurely (before 37 weeks of pregnancy) each year in the UK [1] – and 14,000 of these arrive as early as 24-32 weeks, raising the risk of serious health complications. Premature birth is the leading cause of death, illness and disability in babies.

However, public awareness of premature birth is low, and Tommy’s research found three-quarters of parents didn’t know they were at risk until their baby was born early[2]. This means that many families only learn about premature birth while personally going through it, creating more anxiety and uncertainty at an already difficult time.

The new research also found one in three parents of premature babies experienced anxiety, depression or PTSD. Two-thirds (65%) had high stress levels, while two-fifths (41%) struggled with low mood. Previous studies report 10x higher risks of postnatal depression among parents of premature babies[3], with hospital records showing a third of mums and almost two-fifths of dads were diagnosed with the condition after their babies were born too soon[4].

With the right care, premature birth can often be predicted and sometimes prevented, but this isn’t widely known or well understood. Tommy’s is the largest UK charity funding medical research into premature birth (as well as other pregnancy complications and losses), but also works to turn this evidence into practical information for expectant and new parents.

As part of its mission to make the UK the safest place in the world to give birth, Tommy’s is bringing together all the latest information and advice on its new ‘My Prem Baby’ app. The app was developed with input from parents and premature birth experts – including obstetricians, neonatologists, premature birth researchers, specialist midwives and paediatricians.

Freely available now across iOS and Android platforms, the app features:

  • Personalised content delivered week by week throughout the pregnancy journey
  • Mood tracking for parents, given risks of premature birth to postnatal mental health
  • Weight logs for the baby, so parents can track their development once born
  • Feeding logs and timers, to help parents feel confident their baby’s needs are met
  • Shareable diary entries and milestones, for parents to keep loved ones updated from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU)
  • All the latest premature birth findings from Tommy’s researchers across the UK
  • Expert information and impartial advice from the charity’s in-house midwives
  • Real life stories from other families with premature babies, so parents don’t feel alone

Sarah Siguine, head of pregnancy information at Tommy’s, explained: “Pregnancy and parenting can be stressful at the best of times, but when babies are born too soon it often presents unique challenges that mean families need some expert guidance. Our new app will put all the latest resources in parents’ pockets to help them feel informed, supported and in control at every stage of their premature birth journey.”

The charity’s midwifery manager Amina Hatia added: “Everyone’s experience of pregnancy and birth is different, so we tailor information on our app to the individual parent using it, to really make sure they’re getting the support they personally need. It’s not just about practical things like the weight and feeding logs; our app can also help families cope emotionally with the stress of premature birth and keep track of precious moments with their baby.”

Jane and Olly Savage from Kent turned to Tommy’s for information and advice when their twins Max and Thomas were born 10 weeks early. Jane recalled: “It was the most overwhelming experience. My pregnancy and birthing plan disappeared overnight, and I had two sick babies I was unable to care for. I felt totally alone. The hospital support was amazing, but as a mother, I felt helpless – and with nurses rushed off their feet, me asking them 101 questions and taking their time away from other babies wasn’t always possible.

“On the Tommy’s website, I found information and ideas that I could use, and other people with similar experiences; I found a bit of hope. It really helped to have all the information and support in one place. This got me through those first months in hospital, and once we finally brought our boys home, I still turned to Tommy’s for guidance on everything from kangaroo (skin-to-skin) care to breathing equipment. If I hadn’t read the things I did, I can see how many may struggle to cope with the stress and could quite easily break down.”

London mum-of-three Daisy went into labour with her daughter Jannah at just 23 weeks pregnant. She was born weighing just over a pound and spent 105 days in hospital, including five weeks on the NICU. Daisy’s wife Ali said: “We lived over an hour from the hospital and had to uproot our entire lives; we were desperate to be with Jannah around the clock. It was a time of our life we will never forget. Knowledge is what got us through this journey. Tommy’s helps make research accessible, and I believe this is vital for parents of premature babies.”

‘My Prem Baby’ is free to download in Apple and Android app stores. For more information, visit




[2] Tommy’s supporter survey (sample size 1,034), October 2021