Preparing to go home

There are lots of things to think about when taking your baby born premature or sick home. Find out more about how you can prepare for this day.

It may be hard to believe that the day your baby will be well enough to come home will ever arrive, when they are so small and sick. 

But the weeks do go by, and as well as fitting in hospital visits, looking after the family and keeping things running smoothly at home, you now have to get ready for your baby’s home-coming. 

Getting organised

If you get organised in advance, you will be able to spend more time with your baby when they come home. Share your concerns or practical difficulties with the staff on the unit. In any case, the hospital will arrange a meeting with you before your baby goes home.

You should have easy access to a telephone. A mobile will do, but a landline is better if your baby has complex needs. 

If you do not have one, ask staff on the unit to put you in contact with social services, who may pay to install a phone at your house if your baby needs ongoing specialist care. 

If you need to have your line repaired, tell your telephone company that repairing the line is urgent, because you need to be in contact with the hospital and emergency services.

If you will be expressing or bottle feeding your baby at home, it is helpful to bring in the bottles and teats so that your baby can start to get used to them. 

You will also need your own breast pump if you are planning to express milk at home. If the pump that you used in hospital is working well for you, it may be worthwhile either buying or renting the same machine.

You may also like to bring in a brightly coloured or musical toy (check whether it’s appropriate with the staff first) for your baby’s cot and something which smells of home, for example, a special blanket. 

Once your baby arrives home, they will be comforted by familiar objects and smells.

Rooming in

Before going home, all hospitals should offer the chance to 'room in'. This means you stay in a room on or near the unit and care for your baby overnight for a few days.

It is a good idea to use this opportunity if you can. It will give you more confidence in caring for your baby, while the unit staff are on hand to help you if necessary. 

It will also help you to find out what you need to know before taking your baby home. 

Before you leave - a checklist

As well as getting to know your baby, it is important to make sure you are completely confident with providing your baby’s care. For example:

  • Do you know how to make your baby comfortable and reassured?
  • Do you know how to give your baby a bath?
  • Have you been shown how to give your baby medication?
  • Have you been shown how to use any specialist equipment?
  • If you are expressing or bottle feeding, do you know how to sterilise bottles and make up your baby’s feeds?
  • Have you received resuscitation training?
  • Do you know how to monitor and control temperature?
  • Are you aware of safer sleep techniques to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) or cot death?
  • Do you have enough information and support to breastfeed?

If you don’t feel sure about any aspect of your baby’s care, ask staff on the unit – they will be happy to help you.

This page is proudly supported by Pregnacare

The information on this page is more than two years old