About Special Care Nursery

Your baby’s Special Care Nursery team

A neonatal nurse is a registered nurse and midwife who provides the overall hands on care of your baby. They will keep you informed of your baby’s progress and will provide you with information to help you care for your baby at home.

What tests are needed?

The paediatrician will order any blood tests or x-rays that are necessary. Blood sugar levels may need to be checked often to assess whether the baby needs early feeds or an intravenous line (drip).

Checking baby’s vital signs

Once baby’s condition has been stabilised they will be observed in the isolette and monitored with very little handling. At first, vital signs will be recorded hourly and then reduced as baby’s condition improves.

Keeping your baby comfortable

Working with the Special Care Nursery staff, parents and families play an important role in keeping your baby calm and comfortable. It is important that your baby is allowed to rest as much as possible to promote growth. Until their condition is stable, cuddling may not be possible. However, you will be encouraged to sit with and talk to your baby.


Nappies are changed about every 3-6 hours and when baby’s condition is stable you will be encouraged to help with this. Babies are not bathed until they are well enough to tolerate the procedure.
Baby in Special Care Nursary Crib

Baby feeds

Baby’s condition will determine how and when feeding will start. If they are not ready for milk feeds, an IV line (drip) will be inserted to provide the fluids necessary to meet their needs. Not all babies are mature enough to suck straight away. A feeding tube will be inserted via the nostril into baby’s stomach. This tube is taped into position and used to give your breast milk or formula.

Expressing breast milk for your baby

If your baby is unable to suck, and you intend to breastfeed it is important for you to stimulate your breasts regularly. If possible, start expressing as soon after delivery as you are able. The nursing staff will demonstrate how to hand express and then encourage you to continue expressing every 3 hours during the day, and once overnight.

Regular expressing is vital to establish and maintain a good milk supply. Once your lactation is established, we will introduce an electric breast pump.

You will need to purchase either a disposable breast pump kit from Wesley Maternity or a kit from the pharmacy.

No matter what the volume, we will give all expressed breast milk to your baby.

Will my baby need any medications?

All babies are given an injection of Vitamin K shortly after delivery to prevent a blood clotting disorder (haemorrhagic disease of the newborn).

The Hepatitis B vaccine (which you need to give signed consent for) may be delayed until baby’s condition improves. The paediatrician will order any other medications your baby may require.