NICU Frequently Asked Questions

When can I visit?

Parents can visit their baby 24 hours a day. We do request however, that parents wait in the coffee room at times of nursing and medical handover to protect the confidentiality of all the babies in each nursery. Handover of care generally takes half an hour and commences at 7.30am and 7.30pm. Medical ward round commences at 8.30 am and due to the thoroughness of discussion of babies condition and care can take about an hour and a half. Parents are welcome to join the medical review of their own baby, but times cannot be pre-arranged. Between the hours of 10am and 8pm, enter through the Main Maternity Reception. To come into the Unit at other times, please make arrangements with NICU staff. All parents and visitors whose babies are in NICU should please ring the bell in the corridor before entering. Mobile phones may interfere with some of our equipment, so please switch your phone off before entering NICU.

Who can visit?

We recommend that you do not bring large numbers of visitors to see your baby however appreciate the importance of your family network for support. Visiting times are 2pm – 3pm and 6.30pm – 7pm. The maximum number of visitors is two at any one time, with a parents accompanying them. We ask you to limit the period of visitors to 10 minutes at a time to protect the babies from infection, noise and over crowding in the small nurseries. Mothers’ may at times arrange a visiting partner, other than the father, to give support and help, this should be arranged with the staff on NICU. All visitors should please ring the bell in the corridor before entering and leave outdoor coats on the coat hooks by the entry door, keeping all your valuables with you.

When can I touch my baby?

We encourage parents and siblings to interact with their new baby as quickly as possible. Your baby will recognise your voice and skin to skin holding is beneficial to both you and your baby. Nurses will support you to care for your baby’s needs as much as possible. We ask other visitors not to touch babies due to their immature immune system, we feel it is better for them to wait until the baby is well and at home.

I planned to breast feed my baby, but she is premature, is this still possible?

Breast feeding your pre–term infant is still possible; in fact we encourage you to provide breast milk for your baby. Until your baby is able to breastfeed, you will need to establish lactation by expressing your breast milk with a pump or by hand. Your milk can then be stored until required. Pre-term babies begin to suck effectively from the breast after about 33 weeks gestation. Before this they are developing their sucking and swallowing technique and can tire easily. They may appear to play at the breast either licking or taking a few sucks before falling asleep. This is a normal process. You will be supported by our nursing team and breast feeding advisors to assist and advise you in establishing successful breast feeding. Pre-term babies are fed via a naso-gastric tube until they are able to establish either breast or bottle feeding.

There are so many lines attached to my baby, what are they all for?

Your newborn baby may need to be monitored closely and may need to receive intravenous fluids or drugs. A great deal of the equipment you will see around your baby is routine – ECG leads on your baby’s chest assist us in monitoring his heart rate and breathing and the probe with a light, possibly on his foot or wrist, allows us to monitor how much oxygen is circulating in his blood. Please ask the nurse caring for your baby to explain the equipment to you, he/she will be more than happy to do this.

I have so many questions I would like answering, who do I ask?

Every member of our team would be more than happy to answer any questions you may have, so please feel relaxed in approaching us. We will do all we can to answer your questions and queries.

What can be done to prevent infections caused by Pseudomonas?

Read more about preventing infections  Pseudomonas.pdf


How long will my baby be in NICU?

We usually say, aim for your due date. Babies born nearer their full term may be home before this time. Some very premature babies may still need to be looked after in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit beyond their due date. Normally we expect that your baby will be feeding either by breast or bottle and gaining weight and without medical concerns.

What support will I have at home?

You may be introduced to one of our neonatal community nurses prior to your baby’s discharge. If this is the case you will be invited to a discharge planning meeting whereby your family needs in preparing for home will be discussed. The community neonatal nurses’ normally visit once or twice a week and become less frequent as your needs require. If you do not need our community team involvement your health visitor will be your main support once you are home. She will have been updated on your baby's treatment during your stay in NICU and on discharge. Health visitors should visit you at home within 48 hours of your discharge. Your baby will then be followed up regularly at their clinic.