A mother from Hull who started a premature baby clothes business after her own daughter was born prematurely, has had her business nominated for two awards in the Yorkshire Choice Awards.
Jessica Louise started the company after her own experiences with her daughter Bella, who was born nine weeks premature, weighing less than 3lbs. While her daughter was staying in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), Jessica found that baby clothes would not fit Bella, and they were inconvenient for incubators, which contain tubes and monitoring equipment.
The Tiny Company was launched in 2023 by Jessica and her partner Rhys Briggs, selling baby clothes in premature sizes. It has now been nominated for Charitable Business of the Year 2024 and New Starter Business of the Year 2024.
Jessica had a challenging experience while giving birth to her daughter
Bella came along so suddenly, she had to be born via emergency caesarean section. Jessica said “I was so anxious and so panicky but the doctors and nurses and midwives were so reassuring, I couldn’t ask for more from them. They took the time to explain everything to me, even though I was unconscious for some parts of it”.
Just over a year later, Bella is now a happy toddler. Her mother shared “She’s doing really well. She’s still struggling with her breathing but you wouldn’t think she was a premature baby looking at her now”.
Jessica wants to raise awareness of premature babies and give hope to others
As well as premature sizes of baby clothes, The Tiny Company sells cotton octopus toys, which can remind babies of the umbilical cord. This can keep babies from pulling out tubes and cables that are providing their medical care.
Jessica said “Each octopus has its own individual name and story, the octopuses are named after babies that have spent time in NICU, mainly from when our little girl was in there, but we have added to the collection to allow other NICU parents to share their stories through us, to give hope to other NICU parents and babies and also to help do our part to raise awareness of premature babies”.
Some people also choose to donate their purchases to others in order to send a message of support. Jessica shared “All of our premature collection is available for people to purchase online and they can leave a comment to say it can be donated to Hull NICU. If they’ve been at NICU, they may not want to go back because it can be quite triggering”.
“We don’t find out who it goes to because it is anonymous but sometimes people reach out and say they got one of the octopuses and the message was so nice”, she added. “We’ve got a good bond with NICU and it’s nice to make a difference”.
Medical intervention for premature babies is improving
Premature babies like Bella are surviving at an increasing rate. In the decade to 2019 alone, the survival rate for extremely premature babies doubled, prompting new guidance from the British Association of Perinatal Medicine (BAPM) that enables doctors to intervene to save premature babies from 22 weeks gestation. The previous clinical guidance, drafted in 2008, set the standard that babies who were born before 23 weeks gestation should not be resuscitated.
Once a mother is over 22 weeks pregnant, if her baby is born prematurely, the chances of survival increase week-by-week due to technical advances, better planning so pregnant mothers who go into preterm labour go straight to specialist units, and the increased use of steroids.
Spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson, said “How amazing to hear about Jessica and Rhys giving back and showing their support for other parents by launching their company for premature baby clothes and toys. It is great to see that more people are becoming aware of the specialist needs of these tiny babies”.