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The following information explains how we are able to look after the health of your newborn baby. If you are looking for more generic information on the health of your baby, please visit the NHS Choices website by clicking here.


New mums in our Neonatal Unit may be faced with extra challenges. The following may help achieve a positive breastfeeding outcome:

There is a breastfeeding policy which all staff adhere to. Staff are trained in the management of breast feeding preterm babies.

Staff will help mothers to establish 'skin to skin' contact as soon as baby's medical condition allows.

Our staff can provide information and support needed to:

  • Start milk expression soon after birth 
  • Maintain lactation 
  • Understand the breastfeeding process of an early (preterm) baby.
  • Mothers should be informed on best techniques (breast massage, nipple stimulation, hand expressing and use of breast pumps). Breast milk should be expressed at least six times in 24-hours if the baby is too small/ill to feed. Dual pumping (using two collection sets together) increases milk volume and saves time.

Our neonatal feeding policy supports breast milk feeding for all babies admitted to the unit.

Pasteurised and banked donor milk is considered if mothers’ breast milk is unavailable.
Staff encourage 'breastfeeding practice' as soon as baby's condition allows i.e. contact between breast and baby's mouth, becoming acquainted by smelling, licking and tasting, transferring gradually from scheduled feeds to demand feeding, and the avoidance of use of bottles until the baby has established good suckling ability at the breast.

During tube feeding the baby can be stimulated with breast or other oral stimulation.

There is evidence that use of teats may confuse oral function in breastfeeding babies.

All guidelines and procedures consider the individual baby's needs. In the Neonatal Unit there will always be babies who for one reason or another are not able to breast feed and who need to be fed with a bottle to thrive, because of longer periods of hospitalisation
or who may need a dummy for comfort.

Parents are encouraged to 'room in' prior to baby's discharge and to assist the transition to exclusive breastfeeding.

Community neonatal staff are trained to give continued breastfeeding support following discharge from the Neonatal Unit.

There is breastfeeding support in the community.

Your premature/sick baby will be more able to digest breast milk than formula milk and it will help them to recover more quickly. Therefore, you will be encouraged to provide your breast milk for them. Help and support will be given to enable you to express your breast milk and progress to direct breastfeeding if you wish. Breast pumps are freely available for loan.

If you are unable to provide your own breast milk, donated breast milk may be available. (This is breast milk which has been donated and pasteurised. Strict screening processes are in place for donors and milk).

The Neonatal Unit feeding advisor is available to discuss any feeding issues.

If you are discharged home and your baby remains on the Unit, arrangements can be made for the loan of one of our breast pumps. Please ask the nursing staff for details. Expressed breast milk can be frozen and transported to the Unit. The staff will be happy to give you advice and any further information if required.

Bottle Feeding

Breastfeeding your baby for the first six months allows for the best start in life as per the recommendation from the World Health Organisation.

However, when baby has been born early and/or born very poorly, breastfeeding can be challenging to start and prolong. Your baby needs milk for energy and growth and can be offered donor breast milk given by nasogastric tube, cup or bottle.

Modern manufacturing techniques have improved and researched in order to try and emulate mothers milk. Careful preparation of those milks is required so please read the instructions very carefully.

If you are going to bottle feed it is important to use the teats your baby will use at home before you are discharged. Please discuss bottles and teats with the nurses on the Neonatal Unit and with the infant feeding advisor to help you decide which teat is most appropriate for your baby.

Head Scan

Your baby may have a head scan whilst on the Neonatal Unit. Further investigations that can be done on a baby are MRI and CT scanning. Sometimes these are done to look in more depth at a problem identified during a head scan, helping to give a better diagnosis. MRI and CT scans can be used for other problems for example, to investigate abnormal tissue.

The medical nursing staff within the Neonatal Unit are always ready to speak to you about any concerns you may have about any test your baby is having.


Our Consultants usually recommend a full course of vaccinations from eight weeks of age, if for any reason they feel your baby should not receive a certain vaccine they will usually let your GP and Health Visitor know. If you have any doubts please ask.

Transfer of Babies

If your baby was born in the Labour Ward room or theatre and needed some assistance he/she will have been transported to the unit in a warm snug bed. The Labour Ward and theatres are not far away from the Neonatal Unit and are on the same floor.

This bed is soft and filled with water set at a warm temperature of 37°C. Your baby is wrapped up and kept warm with a hat and given oxygen if needed. He/she is then taken through to the Neonatal Unit for assessment and observation and transferred into an incubator or cot.

Hopefully you have been able to see or hold your baby before he/she was moved. Your baby is stabilised first, given medical support and medication if needed. Two photographs are taken as soon as possible and brought to you with booklets about the unit and care (provided by Bliss and the Neonatal Unit)

A larger incubator is used to transfer babies to other hospitals. This incubator is set at the required temperature for your baby and can supply oxygen and fluids to baby and a kit to help your baby if an emergency should occur during transfer from hospital to hospital.


Always wash your hands thoroughly using warm soapy water before touching your baby and also after you have changed your baby's nappy.

You should also remove your jewellery as bacteria can linger on watch straps and under rings. It's advisable not to wear nail varnish or false nails for the same reason.

Hand gel is extremely effective for the removal of lingering bacteria on hands that look clean. After washing, use the gel covering all areas of your hands and fingers.

At home you would not usually use gel, but because of the risks of hospital born bacteria, it is particularly important to be vigilant in your hand hygiene. Please ask your visitors to observe the signs about hand washing too.

Hand gel should be used on entering and leaving the Neonatal Unit to reduce the risk of infection being brought into the unit and also maintain cleanliness when you leave.




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