On the Neonatal Unit

The Neonatal Unit

Having a baby on a Neonatal unit can raise a number of mixed emotions for families. The importance of your presence and involvement as parents on the neonatal unit cannot be underestimated. It is recognised and understood that Neonatal Units can be an overwhelming place for families, filled with uncertainty and worry.

The Neonatal team are here to offer you support and guidance throughout your baby’s journey. The length of time spent on a Neonatal Unit can look very different for families, it can sometimes be days, weeks, or months.

Each Neonatal unit will have a multidisciplinary team to care for your baby and you as a family, these will include medical staff, Nurses, Specialist Nurses, community/outreach nurses, Nursery Nurses/support workers, housekeepers, and administration support. Uniforms can look different in each unit however every member of staff should introduce and identify themselves and if you are unsure who anyone is then please ask.

Allied Health Professionals are a vital part of the Neonatal team, and they include dieticians, physiotherapists, Speech and language therapists, occupational therapists and Wellbeing Practitioner/Psychologist who may come to the unit during the week.

A stay in neonatal care – An animated guide – YouTube

Jargon Buster


Parents often say that the equipment on the neonatal unit can seem overwhelming when you first arrive. Many parents share that when their baby is being nursed in an incubator and attached to wires it can make them feel distanced from them and feel like a barrier. On the neonatal unit there can be a number of different sounds from equipment which can seem alarming at first and can feel very upsetting. Learning and understanding some of the equipment and how it helps to monitor and provide support for your baby can provide reassurance for you as parents. If you are ever unsure about the equipment used for your baby, ask the neonatal team – they will be happy to explain.

More information on the types of equipment used in the Neonatal can be found on the Bliss website  Equipment on the neonatal unit | Bliss

What happens if my baby needs to be transferred to another unit?

Your baby may need to be transferred to another hospital for a number of reasons. This will be discussed with you by both the medical and nursing teams, and you will be supported throughout the process.

The decision to transfer a baby isn’t taken lightly and your baby will only be moved when the doctors and nurses, on the neonatal unit and the transport team, are satisfied that it is safe to do so.

The most common reason for transfer is that your baby requires a higher level of care than their local hospital is able to provide.

On some occasions your baby may need to be moved because they have been born with a heart condition or surgical condition that requires surgery or specialist review. In the North West our surgical and cardiac centres are based at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool and St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester.

Your baby may also be transferred to a hospital closer to your home for continuation of care which will support your transition to home and the opportunity to meet local professionals for ongoing support in the community if required.

Prior to non-emergency transfers, it can be arranged for you to be shown around and orientated to a unit your baby is being transferred too.

For more information about Neonatal transfers and the team, please visit https://connectnw.baby

Taking your baby home for the first time can be a happy and exciting time, however some families might feel nervous or worried about leaving the neonatal unit. This is completely normal, and many parents feel this way.

The staff on the unit will help you with the transition to home and with the support of Family Integrated Care your confidence in caring and understanding your baby will have grown.

Many units facilitate and encourage parents to ‘room in’ with their baby prior to going home, parents have found this builds their confidence. The baby passport includes a section preparing for home and this has elements that the team on the unit will support and educate you with. These include basic resuscitation, safe sleep, car seat safety, feeding at home and giving medications. Please follow the links below for further information and guidance in supporting the transition to home. (More information around the passport is detailed within the FiCare section)

Preparing to go home video

Car seat
Child car seats: the law – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Car seats and SIDS – The Lullaby Trust

Safe sleeping, Medicine, Oxygen
Reducing the risk of SIDS for premature babies – The Lullaby Trust
How to reduce the risk of SIDS for your baby – The Lullaby Trust

Medicine for Children – giving medicine to your child

Basic resuscitation – video

Choking  video

Crying – ICON
Parents Advice | ICON (iconcope.org)

Discharge Day – A Dad’s Experience’