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What to expect when your baby is being transferred

08 February 2017

Kelly Patston is a Neonatal Senior Sister who works for the London Neonatal Transport Service (NTS). In the second part of her interview she provides valuable insight and advice on what parents can expect when their baby is transferred to another hospital.

What happens when a baby is transferred?
  • When a baby needs to be transferred things may happen very quickly at very short notice. We are aware it is overwhelming for families to see us arrive and we do not take the decision to move a baby lightly.
  • When we arrive we assess the baby and make a plan to ensure they can be transferred safely. We may need to insert a tube into their airway to take over their breathing, insert lines for fluids, and give medications to help keep them comfortable and calm during transfer. These interventions can take a long time, and we may be there for several hours before we are able to move. Other babies may need very little intervention from us at all and are ready to go when we arrive.
  • Babies are transported in our incubator rig which is set up to provide mobile intensive care. Although it can seem like a bumpy ride, the incubator absorbs much of this so the baby is secure inside. They are fully monitored throughout the entire journey.
  • We are often able to take a parent with us, but this may not always be possible, for example if mum is still in hospital. In these situations we do our best to visit mum on the maternity unit. If we are unable to take a parent with us, we will always contact them to let them know their baby has arrived safely at their destination.
  • Although transfer can be unsettling for some babies, typically they tolerate their journeys very well and sleep throughout. The ambulance motion is much like driving them around in the car or pushing them in a buggy.

What tips would you give to families whose babies may need to be transferred?
  • Ask questions! If you are unsure or unclear on anything always ask. We are moving your baby away from you, so it is important you understand why. We would rather you ask the same thing ten times if it means you are reassured.
  • Transferring your baby can be a big upheaval and result in a lot of time, energy, and cost spent travelling back and forth from home. Finding out from the new unit how they can help you is really important as each has their own provisions in place.
  • If your baby’s transfer is planned (i.e. moving to a local hospital), it can be a good idea to visit the new unit if you have not been there before. The nurses on your current unit will be able to help you arrange this, and it can alleviate some of the anxiety if you have seen where your baby is going and what you can expect.

Read the first part of Kelly’s interview in which she talks about the best and most challenging part of her job.

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