We encourage parents to be involved in decisions about the care of their babies in our neonatal units. 

Staff realise that many first-time parents have not had an opportunity to attend classes, so we are happy to show and guide you in what to do while you gain confidence in caring for your baby.

We can support you with:

  • breastfeeding
  • other forms of baby feeding, eg tube feeding
  • daily hygiene and baby bathing
  • baby handling, moving and positioning
  • holding your baby against your body (kangaroo care)
  • massaging your baby
  • soothing your baby
  • appropriate baby stimulation individually tailored to your baby to avoid agitating them and to allow them to have rest and recuperation
  • learning to read baby body language

Here are some common questions and answers that parents and families have about neonatal care at our units:

Most babies admitted to the neonatal unit are premature babies (born before 37 weeks of pregnancy), have a low birth weight (less than 5.5 pounds), or have a medical condition that requires specialist care. 

Twins, triplets, and other multiple births are often admitted to the unit as they tend to be born earlier and are smaller than babies born on their own.

Babies with more serious medical conditions, such as heart problems, infections or birth defects are also cared for on the unit and are treated based on need.

Jaundice is the yellow colour seen in the skin of many newborn infants. It happens when a chemical called bilirubin builds up in the baby’s blood, due to immaturity of the liver. It can occur in any baby regardless of ethnic background.

Most newborn babies develop jaundice to some degree in the first few days. 

Usually, it is not serious and does not cause any harm. In most cases, jaundice in babies goes away after a week or two without any treatment.

In very rare cases, more serious problems can be followed up based on need. The need for jaundice treatment is determined by a simple blood test. 

The treatment, called phototherapy, takes place under special ultraviolet lights. It helps your baby to process the chemical that can cause the harmful effects of jaundice (bilirubin).

We follow strict infection control procedures at our units to reduce the chance of your baby picking up any bacteria, including MRSA, which can be carried on the hands of the people caring for them.

Most babies who are found to have MRSA do not suffer any illness as a result, but extremely premature babies and those requiring intensive care may become ill because of MRSA and will be treated accordingly in these very rare cases.

A baby may have low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia) if it had a low birth weight, was a premature baby, if the mother received large amounts of intravenous glucose during labour, or if the mother is diabetic or had a difficult delivery.

Blood glucose is the main source of food for your premature baby's brain. Persistent or dangerous hypoglycaemia levels, if left untreated, can result in seizures and affect the brain. Hypoglycaemia is diagnosed through a simple blood test.

A fall in blood glucose is common in the hours following birth. Most babies recover themselves without intervention, but some babies have difficulty with this. 

Treatment involves giving a baby ample nourishment, including early breastfeeding.

It is important all babies have their immunisations at the correct age, even if they are still in hospital. 

The baby immunisations programme covers all stages of development (regardless of how many weeks old they were at birth) and begins at eight weeks from your baby’s date of birth.

Respiratory distress syndrome is a breathing problem that affects babies born about six weeks or more before their due dates. 

Their lungs are not developed enough to make surfactant — a liquid that coats the inside of the lungs and keeps them open so the baby can breathe in air once they are born.

Most infants who develop respiratory distress syndrome show signs of breathing problems immediately or within a few hours of birth and can be identified and treated.

In newborn infants, dehydration primarily results from an inadequate amount of fluid intake and is often associated with weight loss. 

The risk of dehydration is increased if the baby does not latch properly during breastfeeding or the baby has a weak suckling ability.

Having a baby in hospital makes huge emotional demands on parents and families, especially with ill or premature babies. 

Some mothers find recovering from a frightening or traumatic childbirth and coping with a very vulnerable baby who cannot yet go home to be stressful and upsetting.

A child psychotherapist, someone who is not involved with the medical care of your baby, can help you and other members of your family. 

Our child psychotherapist teams work with parents and babies on their developing relationships and are part of the team on the neonatal care unit. These specialists can provide the psychological support you might need to help cope with the emotional aspects of your baby’s stay in hospital. 

If you wish to make an appointment with a child psychotherapist, please ask one of the neonatal nurses at the unit. You can also call direct on 020 7830 2931 and say you are calling in relation to the neonatal unit.