There are many sources of support and information that might help you during this difficult time.
The specialist neonatal nurses and doctors looking after your baby should explain to you everything that is happening, what treatments are being given, and what they expect the long-term outlook to be. They may not always be available when your baby is very unwell, as their focus will be on stabilising your baby and starting the emergency treatments that they need. Whilst your baby is being transferred by NTS London, the nurse or doctor looking after your baby will do their best to explain what is happening, but again their first priority will be the safety of your baby. If you feel that you would like to discuss what is happening, please do ask as soon as the team are free.
Usually, once at the accepting hospital, the consultant or other senior doctor or nurse will come and explain what is happening and what they are planning to do. Most units allocate a specific nurse to look after your baby for each shift, and she or he will always be happy to chat with you and explain what is happening. Each unit has a system of ward rounds where each baby is seen by a senior doctor or nurse practitioner, usually every morning. This usually includes an opportunity to be updated and ask any questions you may have. If you feel that you have not been able to discuss everything you would like, you could ask the nurse looking after you baby to arrange an appointment with the Consultant in charge of your baby’s care.
You can download an NTS hospital information leaflet to find out more about the hospital your baby is going to. As a parent, you can usually visit your baby at any time, but you will need to find out your hospital’s policy about grandparents, siblings and aunts and uncles. You can also telephone for an update at any time, but most units are more cautious about the information they give out over the phone.
Other sources of support you could access:
- Bliss charity: http://www.bliss.org.uk/ – Bliss has a number of booklets to help you understand what is happening to your baby, a helpline, and can link you up with parents who have been through a similar experience
- Best Beginnings charity: http://www.bestbeginnings.org.uk/ – offers support for parents of premature babies, and has the “Small Wonders” video which explains how a premature baby is cared for
- The chaplaincy or counselling services at your hospital