Tommy's PregnancyHub

Transferring your premature baby

If your premature baby needs extra care, they may be transferred by ambulance to a another hospital with specialist facilities.

This is general advice about what may happen if your baby needs extra care. If this is necessary, your healthcare team will explain what is happening and what your options are, depending on your baby’s health and your family circumstances. 

A specialist neonatal transfer team will keep your baby comfortable and give them the care they need during the journey. Your baby will travel in a portable incubator to the nearest hospital that has the space and facilities to care for their needs. Staff at that hospital will be alerted in advance and will be prepared for their arrival.

Can I go with my baby?

If you have recovered from the birth, you may be able to travel with your baby while they’re transferred to the new hospital. Partners may need to follow the ambulance separately. 

If you have given birth but still need hospital care, you will need to stay where you are until you’re well enough to move. If this is the case, partners may be able to travel with the baby. If you need longer-term care, you may be able to move to the same hospital as your baby if your condition is stable and there’s a bed available.

Being separated from your baby can be very hard. The healthcare team will tell you what’s happening and why as soon as they can. To begin with, they will focus on making sure your baby’s condition is stable as quickly as possible.

You will have been through a lot and your head may be spinning with everything you've been told about your baby’s health. Using this time to rest and recover from the birth will help you later when you’re looking after your baby in the baby unit.

What is 'back transfer'?

If your baby has been transferred to another hospital for specialist care, they may move them back to your nearest hospital once they’re well enough. This is called 'back transfer' or ‘repatriation’.

Having your baby closer to you may make it easier for you to visit and care for them. Your role in your baby’s care is important for both your and their wellbeing so the healthcare team will try to move them closer to you when they no longer need intensive care in the NICU.  

Support for you after the birth

This can be a worrying time and many parents have feelings of grief or guilt. You could try talking things through with a loved one or a member of staff at the hospital. To read more about your emotional health and wellbeing, see our section on coping with a premature birth.

EFCNI, Cetin I et al. (2018) European Standards of Care for Newborn Health: Maternal transfer for specialist care. European Standards of Care for Newborn Health.