Support for you and your premature baby at home
The community healthcare team
When your baby leaves the baby unit, their care transfers to the community healthcare team. This is a multidisciplinary team, made up of health professionals who specialise in different areas of your baby’s care. We describe some of these roles below.
The community team will help you build your relationship with your baby and answer any questions about feeding and sleeping. They will also ask you about your emotional and physical health and your baby’s health.
Looking after your premature baby at home can be stressful at times. You may also feel lonely if you’re avoiding busy places or having many visitors to protect your baby from infection. Speak to your GP, health visitor or community neonatal nurse if you feel you’d like some support. They can also help if you would like to talk about your birth experience or ask questions about your care during labour. Find out more about recovering from a difficult birth.
Your health visitor will be able to help support you with feeding. They will also be able to help with breastfeeding, including details of local breastfeeding drop-ins, cafes and centres. You can also find details of local support on the NHS website.
If you want to speak to someone between appointments, you should be able to find details of local support in your baby’s red book. This is your personal child health record, where all your child’s health and development reviews are recorded.
These organisations also provide support:
Bliss has information about support available to parents, family and friends of babies born premature or sick.
The Breastfeeding Companion provides free video-based breastfeeding tips and advice.
The Breastfeeding Network provides support and information about breastfeeding. They also provide a helpline and webchat service.
The Association of Breastfeeding Mothers are a group of trained volunteers supporting breastfeeding mums and their families. They provide online information, a helpline, webchat and local support groups.
Twins Trust is a charity supporting families with twins and triplets. They provide information about pregnancy and parenthood, including breastfeeding.
The National Childbirth Trust (NCT) is a charity that provides information and support on all aspects of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood, including breastfeeding.
The UK Association for Milk Banking has information about using donated breast milk if your baby is premature or ill, and how to donate breast milk.
Your baby’s care may stay with a midwife for a while, depending on your baby’s age, health and how your local team is set up. A midwife is a qualified health professional who will provide postnatal care and support in the short term. They may advise on feeding and will check the overall health of you and your baby.
Your health visitor
A health visitor is a nurse or midwife who specialises in supporting families with babies and young children.
You may see your health visitor in your home or in a clinic. They can give you emotional and practical advice and information. They can also put you in touch with local support groups.
Your health visiting team or GP will run child health clinics, where you can take your baby for growth and development checks and their vaccinations.
Community neonatal nurses or midwives
You may see nurses or midwives who care for babies who have recently been discharged from hospital. They can support you with any problems your premature baby may have, such as feeding or breathing problems.
You will need to register your baby with your GP after they’re born. Your GP will be your first point of contact for medical care. You will usually visit your GP in your local surgery.
At 6–8 weeks after the birth, they will give you and your baby a health check, which will include contraception advice. You will then be discharged from maternity care.
If your baby was born before 30 weeks or has a higher risk of growth and development problems, you may have more follow-up appointments with other specialists, such as physiotherapists, ophthalmologists, dietitians or speech therapists.
If you have any non-urgent questions about your premature baby, you should have been given a central telephone number or email address you can use to get in touch with the healthcare team before you were discharged from the hospital.
Where else can I get support?
Family and friends may be able to offer you support, for example, by helping you with shopping or laundry, or giving you time to rest. Many people are really happy to help so don’t feel bad for asking.
Other parents of premature babies can also be supportive. Your health visitor or GP may be able to put you in touch with local groups. You can also chat to other parents online on the Bliss and Netmums forum for parents of premature and sick babies.
Our Tommy’s midwives are also here to answer your questions. You can call them for free on 0800 0147 800 (9am-5pm, Monday to Friday).
NICE (2017) Developmental follow-up of children and young people born preterm. NICE guideline 72. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/ng72
NICE (2006) Postnatal care up to 8 weeks after birth. Clinical guideline 37. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg37
NHS (2018) Services and support for parents. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/pregnancy-and-baby/services-support-for-parents/ (Page last reviewed: 21/11/2018. Next review due: 21/11/2021)
NHS Health Careers. Explore roles: Neonatal nurses. https://www.healthcareers.nhs.uk/explore-roles/nursing/roles-nursing/neonatal-nurse