My Care During Pregnancy and Beyond

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Special Care

Q. If my baby needs specialised care straight after birth is it available?

Every unit in the country has some degree of special care available, either having a Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) or a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or both.

SCBUno unit chosen
Number of cots in SCBUno unit chosen
NICUno unit chosen
Number of cots in NICUno unit chosen

Q. Will I be able to touch and hold my baby?

All units encourage skin-to-skin contact (touching, stroking) and kangaroo care (putting baby chest-to-chest with you). There may be medical policies where this is limited depending on the baby's condition.

How is skin-to-skin contact encouragedno unit chosen
Kangaroo care practicedno unit chosen
Kangaroo care additional informationno unit chosen

Q. If my baby is in a special care unit, who can visit?

There are no restrictions on visiting for parents of the baby.

Below is a list of visiting arrangements for other family members which varies from unit to unit.

SCBU

Parentsno unit chosen
Siblingsno unit chosen
Grandparentsno unit chosen
Other familyno unit chosen

NICU

Parentsno unit chosen
Siblingsno unit chosen
Grandparentsno unit chosen
Other familyno unit chosen

Q. If my baby requires special care is there a room were I can stay?

Half of the units have a room where mother/parents can stay. Some units can accommodate mothers/parents only in special circumstances.

Is there a room where parents can stayno unit chosen
Additional commentno unit chosen

Q. When I'm visiting my baby, is there somewhere for me to eat?

Only one unit has hot food available 24 hours per day in the restaurant. The vast majority of units have hot food available at limited times in the hospital restaurant.

Hot food 24/7 in restaurantno unit chosen
Hot food, limited times in restaurantno unit chosen
Microwave availableno unit chosen
Tea/coffee facilitiesno unit chosen
Otherno unit chosen

Q. What about feeding my baby in special care?

8 units reported that baby-led feeding (the baby is fed when they show signs of hunger - hands up to mouth, lip smacking, rooting, eventually crying) is practiced. 11 more units stated it was decided on an individual basis and 1 unit said it was not practiced.

Donated breastmilk can be used in 15 units. Where breastmilk is not being used, or sometimes in addition to breastmilk, formula milk is provided and in certain cases specialised formula milk.

For premature babies, expressed breastmilk can have fortifier added. Babies can be fed in a variety of ways depending on their needs/condition. In addition to breastfeeding the following methods can be used to give babies expressed breastmilk, fortified expressed breastmilk or formula food; by bottle, cup feed, nasogastric tube, syringe, orogastric and IV fluids. Most (75%) units stated they always seek consent from parents for the type of feed and the method of feeding, with one (5%) unit each responding 'mostly', 'sometimes' 'rarely'.

Is baby-led feeding practiced?

Yesno unit chosen
Decided on individual basisno unit chosen
Nono unit chosen
Additional commentno unit chosen
Does the unit used donated milk from the milk bankno unit chosen
Additional commentno unit chosen
Extra feeds in addition to or instead of mother's breastmilkno unit chosen
Detailsno unit chosen
Feeding methodsno unit chosen

Q. If I have twins/triplets/quads etc. will I get additional support?

The vast majority of units stated that they provide additional support to mothers of twins or more.

Additional supportno unit chosen
Detailsno unit chosen

Q. How would I be supported emotionally & psychologically if my baby requires special care?

Generally staff encourage parents to be very involved in their baby's care. There are often multidisciplinary teams, sometimes including chaplains, to provide extra support if needed. In addition most units provide a range of information leaflets including those about support organisations and those written by support organisations.

no unit chosen

Q. If I'm breastfeeding my baby in special care, what extra supports are available to me?

This varies with most units providing a good level of support in certain areas (e.g. training in hand expression and in the use of pumps, storage facilities for breastmilk etc.). However not every unit provides a quiet, comfortable room to express in.

Less than a third of units support mothers through free or subsidised meals or the loan of a pump for home use. Lack of such supports could create additional expense and stress for mothers who need to be well supported in order to be able to provide the optimum food for their babies in special care.

The following is the range of practical supports offered:

Training in hand expression – 19 out of 20 unitsno unit chosen
Training in the use of pumps – 20 out of 20 unitsno unit chosen
Storage facilities for breastmilk – 20 out of 20 unitsno unit chosen
Seating to facilitate pumping at their baby's bedside – 18 out of 20 unitsno unit chosen
Quiet, comfortable room to express in – 17 out of 20 unitsno unit chosen
Access to drinking water – 19 out of 20 unitsno unit chosen
Access (on some shifts) to a certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) – 16 out of 20 unitsno unit chosen
Access (24 hours) to a certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) – 0 out of 20 unitsno unit chosen
Support for establishing and maintaining milk supply- 19 out of 20 unitno unit chosen
Access to free or subsidised meals (24 hours) if mother has been discharged – 6 out of 20 unitsno unit chosen
Loan of a pump for home use – 6 out of 20 unitsno unit chosen
Otherno unit chosen

Q. If I leave hospital before my baby what happens?

Open visiting for parents still applies. Additional help is available for breastfeeding and expressing breastmilk (loan of pump (in some instances), room to express, access to lactation consultant, breastmilk storage). Parents are encouraged to be very involved in their baby's care. Support from special care/neonatal staff is ongoing and you may also be offered support from the pastoral care worker, social services and or your local Public Health Nurse.

Additional support given to women who are discharged before their babyno unit chosen
Specific support provided for a breastfeeding woman who is discharged before her babyno unit chosen