Premature Birth and the Impact on Family Systems




Hebert, Camille

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Premature birth is a phenomenon that is increasingly prevalent and affects not only the nuclear family, but also many others. The impact on those surrounding the nuclear family is not well addressed in the literature. This study uses a case study method to investigate a family's experience of having a child born prematurely and explores the impact of the premature birth in the ecological systems to which the family belongs. In-depth, personal, semi-structured interviews were conducted with parents, extended family members, a work colleague, and healthcare professionals about how the family and these groups were mutually influenced by the birth. A theoretical framework of Ecological Systems Theory was used to explore the complex interactions of different layers of the family system. The results indicate that the impact of premature birth is substantial, wide-spread, and possibly underestimated, particularly for extended family members and in the work environment of parents.



Premature birth., Extended family., Healthcare team., Case study., Neonatal intensive care., Parents., Parental employment.