Taking your baby home

Planning to bring your baby home can cause great anxiety as well as relief. Over the weeks or months that you and your baby have been on the unit, you may have grown used to a high level of support and always having people around to answer questions and give advice. At home you will be much more on your own.

But remember, your baby is only coming home because the staff on the unit believe that he or she is well enough to leave the hospital and you are capable of looking after him or her.

Even at home there are health services available to help you. A health visitor should be able to give support along with your local GP. Many pharmacists can also help with issues that may crop up from time to time. Some areas of Britain have specialised neonatal outreach teams or community based paediatric homecare teams who can also provide specialist support. Make sure you know about all the services that are available before you leave the hospital.

Preparing for leaving the hospital

Plan your move carefully. Once your baby is stable enough to no longer need the specialist help in the unit, staff will start to ensure that you can provide all aspects of your baby’s care.

As part of this preparation, staff should give you training in how to perform basic resuscitation and give guidance on ‘safe-sleeping’.

The Neonatal Unit has facilities where you can ‘room in’ for one or two nights and practice caring for your baby independently, but within easy access of staff if you have any questions. Rooming in can help you build up confidence and realise that you are capable of caring for your baby.

Travelling home

For your baby’s safety, you must always use a suitable car seat, even on the shortest of journeys. If you do not own a car, it is still advisable to borrow or hire a baby seat for getting your baby home from hospital by car or taxi. As with all babies, never hold them in a car. For advice on car seats and transporting your baby home, speak to staff on the unit and they will suggest the best options.

Before you leave

Before you leave, make sure that you are clear about any medication that your baby needs and where to get hold of this. Also check that you have contact phone numbers of people you can call if you need additional advice. You can contact the neonatal unit at any time if you have questions while you are getting settled in at home. The number for the Special Care Unit is 020 8725 1935.

Temperature

By the time your baby comes home, he or she should be able to maintain a body temperature just as well as any other full-term baby. The best room temperature for your baby is around 18ºC (65ºF). Too hot or too cold could be dangerous. This is much cooler than the unit, but that temperature was needed because many of the babies in it were not sufficiently mature to maintain their body temperature. Do not worry if your home feels cooler than the hospital.

In winter you may keep the baby's room a little warmer than the rest of the house. The main danger is that, in your concern, you make the room too hot rather than let it get too cold.

If the baby seems hot and moist, remove a layer of clothing or a blanket or sheet. If it appears that your baby has a fever, contact your GP and get advice.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)

RSV affects a large proportion of all babies and causes cold-like symptoms. RSV can cause breathing difficulties if the lungs are affected. If your baby was born prematurely, is prone to getting lung infections or was born with a congenital heart problem, he or she could be at greater risk of being made more seriously ill if infected with RSV.

Hygiene is very important in managing RSV. Make sure you always wash your hands and keep surfaces, toys and bedding clean. If your baby is poorly, try and keep away from public areas. RSV season peaks between October and March.

* Copy courtesy of Bliss

Look after your baby

Going home can cause anxiety as well as relief

Look after baby

Staff will give you guidance on ‘safe-sleeping’