An NHS Improvement group looking to reduce admissions of babies born at term (on or around their due date) to neonatal units has released a new set of guidelines and information.
The guidelines are designed to help health care professionals and parents spot key signs of a baby needing neonatal care as early as possible, from birth and onwards. They also give more information about what can be done to help to prevent these admissions through some simple best practices:
At all times:
1. Speak up if you are worried, as a parent’s “gut feeling” is often correct and should be acted upon.
2. If you are having a planned caesarean delivery, it is important that this is delayed until week 39 of pregnancy (unless there is an important medical reason to do it earlier) as this will reduce the chance of your baby needing admission to the neonatal unit with breathing problems or low sugar levels.
Immediately after delivery:
3. It is important to keep your baby warm after birth as this will help to avoid his or her blood sugar levels becoming low. Ideally this should be done by skin-to-skin contact but if this is not possible, dressing and covering your baby appropriately will prevent him/her becoming cold. Low body temperature also increases the chance that a baby will develop short term breathing problems which might require admission to a neonatal unit.
4. Early feeding (typically within an hour of birth) reduces the chance of developing low blood sugar levels which might require admission to a neonatal unit.
5. Wherever possible, you and your baby should be kept together to help keep the baby warm and support feeding. This should reduce unnecessary intervention or admission to a neonatal unit. Skin-to-skin contact between you and your baby will also help to support long term emotional wellbeing and bonding.
6. If your baby does need admission to a neonatal unit and you are planning to breast feed or provide breast milk for your baby, speak to a midwife or neonatal nurse about expressing your breastmilk, as this provides milk and supports your milk supply.
After birth – at any time:
7. If you think your baby is not feeding well, particularly if there has been a change in the way he/she feeds, this could be a sign that your baby is unwell and should be seen by a healthcare professional.
8. The number of times a baby feeds a day is extremely variable, but a baby being quiet or sleepy and not interested in feeding can be a sign of your baby being unwell.
9. Jaundice (yellow colouration of the skin) is common in the first week after birth, but may need treatment. Babies with a yellow tinge to the whites of their eyes or whose skin is obviously yellow must be seen by a healthcare professional (i.e. midwife, nurse, GP).
10. Putting a jaundiced baby in the sun will not cure the jaundice, and this practice should be avoided.
For more information, visit the NHS England Term Admissions project website.
If you have been affected by any of the issues in this post, please call the Bliss helpline on 0808 801 0322 or visit our website for support.