Nicu groups for parents have been relaunched at the Queen Alexandra Hospital. The groups, which were paused due to the Covid-19 lockdowns and social restrictions. Are aimed at supporting parents with babies currently in NICU as well as those who have been discharged.

Louise Newland, Neonatal Nursery Practitioner at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust. Has been working with the Ickle Pickles Children’s Charity to reinstate the groups to support families.

She said: “It’s great to have the support groups again, they are so important to the families we help on our NICU.”

“The Covid-19 restrictions meant we had to pause the support groups and we know this affected our new parents. As a lot of families found it difficult not being able to speak with people who had experienced the same thing with their own children.”

“We are so pleased to be able to welcome families to these groups again and I would really encourage anyone to come along.”

Mum Samantha Griffiths previously attended the support groups.

She said: “The coffee mornings were an absolute godsend to me. Having a premature baby is really hard as you find no one else understands but this group made me feel so normal and I felt like I really fitted in.”

“I made lifelong friends who still support each other now. This group was an absolute lifeline in a time of anxiety, trauma, and loneliness.”

Rachael Marsh, co-founder of the Ickle Pickles Children’s Charity said: “We have found that one of the few benefits of being in neonatal care is developing friendships with other parents and finding support through peers.”

“Our coffee mornings are full of compassion and understanding for NICU families. Parents can share their experiences in a relaxed and non-judgemental environment. And often describe our coffee mornings as a ‘fantastic support system’.”

There are currently two groups running fortnightly. The first group, Ickle Nestings, is aimed at parents whose baby is an inpatient on NICU. And gives them the chance to connect over a hot drink and share their experiences of having a child on the ward.

It takes place in the NICU Parent Lounge on B Level at Queen Alexandra Hospital every other Wednesday between 12pm and 1pm. Each week NICU staff will cover different topics, including feeding, caring for your NICU baby. Preparing for discharge and life after NICU and give parents the opportunity to ask questions.

The second group, Ickle Fledglings, is aimed at those whose children are now discharged from NICU and allows parents to socially meet with others who have experienced the NICU journey and can offer peer support.

This group is held at Cosham Baptist Church every other Tuesday between 10am and 12pm. There are activities for siblings to enable parents to attend without childcare worries.

For more information about the groups, please contact or