Your baby's time in hospital

If your baby is born prematurely, she may need to spend some time in hospital.

Premature baby in hospital.

While your baby is in hospital – whether her stay lasts for days, weeks or even months – much of your life is likely to revolve around the baby unit. Precisely how long this goes on for will depend on her gestational age, how developed she is and whether she has health problems.

After the initial shock of seeing your baby in the unit, you will become more familiar with the hospital environment, and will gradually understand how the baby unit works.

You may continue to feel very upset and anxious about your baby, but over time you will gradually adapt to your new circumstances and start to focus on developing your own vital role in supporting your baby's care.

Read more

  • Mum stroking premature baby in incubator.

    Taking part in prematurity research

    You may be asked if you would consider taking part in research into premature birth. We explain what this might involve.

  • The letters FAQ written on black chalkboard.

    Your baby's time in hospital, FAQs

    We answer some of your questions about your premature baby's time in the hospital and neonatal unit.

  • Mother holding baby to her chest.

    Kangaroo care

    Skin-to-skin contact with your premature baby is a wonderful way for you both to bond. It also provides health benefits.

  • Mother holding premature baby.

    Caring for your baby: your role

    The healthcare team will cater for your baby's medical needs, but she needs you too. As you get to know your premature baby, you will begin to work out what she needs.

  • Premature baby using feeding equipment.

    Feeding your premature baby

    Your premature baby's diet will be carefully balanced to suit her tiny digestive system while meeting the needs of her growing body. This page covers talks about to feed your baby, from breastfeeding and expressing to cup and bottle feeding.

  • Premature baby in incubator.

    Positioning your premature baby

    Positioning your premature baby correctly can make her feel secure, improve her breathing ability, strengthen her muscles and reduce her risk of cot death.

  • Premature baby in incubator.

    Your premature baby - surgery

    You're bound to feel anxious if your premature baby needs surgery, but try to focus on the positive: the operation is likely to help improve your baby's chances.

  • Premature baby in incubator.

    Your premature baby: tests and immunisation

    During his stay in the baby unit, your baby will have all kinds of checks to monitor his progress.

  • Premature baby in incubator.

    Other medical conditions and premature birth

    If your premature baby has any of the conditions below, ask the healthcare team to explain anything that you don’t understand.

  • Premature baby with eyes covered in incubator.

    Your premature baby - vision and hearing

    Babies born prematurely are more likely to have problems with their eyesight and hearing, but in most cases treatment is successful.

  • premature baby being monitored in incubator.

    Your premature baby: heart and blood flow

    It's worrying if you discover that your baby has a heart problem, but most defects are treatable and some do not even need treatment.

  • Premature baby in incubator needing breathing support.

    Breathing support for premature babies

    Many premature babies need help with breathing for a while. This is known as ventilation.

  • Premature baby being held by mother.

    Practical tips for surviving the baby unit

    The best thing you can do for your baby is to look after yourself. That way, you will be better equipped to handle the challenges that face you and your family. Help is at hand from many sources - family, friends and the healthcare team in the special care baby unit - so don't be afraid to ask for what you need.

  • Premature baby using breathing apparatus.

    How the baby unit works

    The special care baby unit (SCBU)/neonatal unit/neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) becomes the centre of the universe for parents of premature babies, so it's important to familiarise yourself with the way it operates.

  • Sleeping premature baby in care unit.

    Early days with your premature baby

    The first few days after giving birth to your premature baby can pass in a daze. Here's what to expect...

  • Premature baby being tube fed.

    Transferring your premature baby

    If your baby is very young and very sick, he may need to be transferred to another hospital with specialist facilities. This might be done before he is born or just afterwards.

  • Premature baby in incubator.

    After your premature baby is born

    Whatever your premature baby's birth was like, it will have taken a lot out of you, so try to rest and gather your strength for the days ahead. The medical team will assess your baby's health and start treating him if necessary.

Last reviewed on July 1st, 2014. Next review date July 1st, 2017.

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