NICU Frequently Asked Questions
When can I visit?
Parents can be with their baby 24 hours a day. Handover of care generally takes half an hour and commences at 7.30am and 7.30pm. Medical ward round commences at 8.30 am. Parents are welcome to join all handovers and the medical review of their baby. When coming to the unit enter through the main Mendip Maternity Reception. Parents can have access to NICU with our finger print device which can be offered as a way of access for parents to maintain high security levels but easy access to their infants. Mobile phones can be used on the unit but must be placed on silent and phone calls taken outside of the nurseries in the main corridors to reduce noise within the rooms. While your baby is on NICU we can use a system called V-CREATE to send photos and videos of your baby so you stay in contact even when you are off the unit to help you feel connected and reassured.
Who can visit?
We recommend that you do not bring large numbers of visitors to see your baby however we appreciate the importance of your family network for support. Visiting times are 12noon – 7pm and must be over 14 years old. The maximum number of visitors is two at any one time, with a parent accompanying them. All parents and visitors whose babies are in NICU should please ring the bell in the corridor before entering unless they arrive with a parent who has fingerprint access. Please 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 systems; 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?
Breastfeeding your preterm 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 a milk supply by expressing your breast milk with a pump or by hand. Your milk can then be stored until required. Pre-term babies can begin to suck from the breast after about 33 weeks gestation. While developing their sucking and swallowing technique they can tire easily and 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 breastfeeding advisors to assist and advise you in establishing successful breastfeeding. Pre-term babies are fed via a naso or orogastric 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.
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. They 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.