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In the NICU

Your baby’s birth

The birth of a baby who is preterm or unwell can be a different experience for parents than the birth of a baby who is term and well.

Sometimes babies are unexpectedly unwell after they are born, and the midwifery team may call the neonatal team urgently. This may mean that the neonatal team come running into the room where your baby is being born. This might feel scary but the neonatal team want to get to babies who need help as soon as possible.

If your baby is getting emergency treatment from the neonatal team, the team will try to keep you up to date on how your baby is getting on, but their main priority will be helping your baby at that time. 

If your baby’s preterm delivery is planned, or if your baby is diagnosed with a medical condition before they are born, the neonatal team will be in the room before your baby is born. The team will have at least one neonatal doctor and one neonatal nurse, but there may be more people. The neonatal team is there to look after your baby when they are born.

For most conditions the team looking after you can still delay cord clamping for one minute after baby is born. If your baby is born preterm the neonatal team may use a plastic bag to help your baby keep warm. Your baby will go into the plastic bag like a sleeping bag, and the bag will reduce how cold your little preterm baby will get. Many preterm babies need breathing support after they are born: some babies will need CPAP, and some babies will need a breathing tube put in and surfactant.

Cling film is used to protect new babies if they need it – like to protect the bowels if a baby has gastroschisis or exomphalos/omphalocoele, or the myelomeningocoele if baby has spina bifida. 

Some babies with heart conditions need to go to the neonatal unit very quickly to get a medication called Prostin.

Babies usually move from where they are born to the neonatal unit in a transport incubator. 

It normally takes a little while to get baby settled in their new incubator in the neonatal unit, and at this time there is usually no space for parents at the bedside. The neonatal team will let you know as soon as you can come to see and be with your baby.