Neonatal staff and what they do

Mum and staff

This page talks about the different members of the neonatal care team, and provides some suggestions for questions you can ask them about your baby's care.

The neonatal team

Different health professionals work as a team on the neonatal unit. You will see different people looking after your baby, with staff coming and going on different shifts. You will probably get to know some of the staff, but it can feel confusing at first to know who’s who, and what their job is.

Use this guide to help you work out who’s who. Different roles wear different colours to help people know what job they do, but this can be different on every unit. Your unit may have their own chart of the staff on the unit, and the uniforms they wear.

It was an emotional and extremely cooperative journey with the NICU staff. I am so thankful to them for their support and help. Be brave, it may be hard initially but you can handle it.

Mubeen, mum to Muhammad Ali and Muhammad Hussain

Nurses and nurse associates

  • Nurses will support you in providing most of the day-to-day care for your baby.
  • Nurses can also help you with kangaroo (skin-to-skin) care and breastfeeding.
  • They can answer your questions, show you how to feed and take care of your baby, and arrange for you to speak to the doctors.
  • Some nurses with further training are called ‘advanced neonatal nurse practitioners’ (ANNPs) or ‘nurse consultants’. They often perform similar duties to doctors, and can supervise teams of junior doctors.
  • Talk to the nurses right away if you are ever worried that your baby is in pain, or you feel something isn’t right.


  • Doctors coordinate your baby’s treatment in partnership with you.
  • They can answer your questions about your baby’s treatment, medical conditions and progress.
  • Doctors who specialise in the medical care of children and/or babies work in a team that is led by a consultant paediatrician or neonatologist.
  • Surgeons work in a separate team of doctors, which is also led by a consultant. If your baby needs an operation, the surgical team will work closely with the other doctors.
  • You can ask doctors for a second opinion on your baby’s care.

Other staff you might meet on the neonatal unit

All units have different staff, depending on the level of care that needs to be given. Ask your unit staff if you want to find out more about the people listed here.

Nursery nurses

In some units, nursery nurses contribute to the smooth running of the unit by supporting the nurses with a number of different tasks.

They work with other members of the neonatal team.

They also often work with the community outreach or discharge team to help parents and babies prepare for going home.


Pharmacists look after your baby’s medicines.

They can tell you what medicines your baby is taking and provide information about the benefits and possible side effects.


There are different types of therapists that specialise in different parts of your baby’s development.

Physiotherapists and occupational therapists are trained to help with your baby’s physical and social development.

Speech and language therapists are trained to assess your baby’s ability to feed and swallow.


Dietitians make sure that your baby gets the best nutrition possible.They can explain what nutrition your baby needs.

Ophthalmologists and auditory technicians

These members of staff will check your baby’s eyes and ears.


You will meet these staff members if your baby needs an X-ray or scan.If your baby needs an ultrasound this will be carried out by a consultant who specialises in X-rays and scans.

Students and trainees

You may meet newly-qualified doctors who have just finished medical school, medical students or nursing or midwifery students.You should always be asked whether you are happy for students to watch and learn from the health professionals providing care for your baby.

Psychotherapists, psychologists and counsellors

These professionals can help you to talk about how you are finding your time on the neonatal unit. Looking after your own needs on the unit, as well as your baby’s, is very important. Your unit can provide you with details of someone who you can talk to.

Community neonatal nurses/discharge nurses

Some units might have dedicated staff to help you through the process of leaving the unit, and adapting to your baby’s care at home.

Social workers or family support workers

These members of staff can support families and carers with emotional and practical needs . This may include advice and support around the cost of having a baby in hospital, and adjusting to the hospital environment.

Porters and cleaners

The members of the team who keep the day-to-day maintenance of the unit running, and clean the unit and equipment.

Clerical staff

Members of the team who manage the office work of the department.

Faith leaders/chaplaincy team

Some parents find it helpful to speak to a member of the hospital’s chaplaincy team. This team provides support from members of many different faiths. If you would like a visit, ask a nurse if this can be arranged.

“Some people never meet their heroes; I gave birth to mine” - Pia’s Story

Pia didn’t expect to give birth to her third child at 27 weeks. Thanks to the amazing medical staff, Saoirse came home after three and a half months, and is now a healthy and strong-willed 4-year-old.
Read more
Pia 1

Things you can ask your care team about

You are encouraged to ask your care team about anything you are curious about or anything that is unclear. Parents often tell us that knowing what to ask or even remembering what you have been told can be difficult during this stressful time. This is completely normal.

Your care team will understand and will be happy to answer your questions or repeat anything you have forgotten.

Some common questions you might like to ask your care team about your baby's care

  • When will their first time be for: getting dressed, coming out of the incubator, changing nappies, feeding, bathing?
  • Where can I find clothes and nappies that fit my baby (if they are born smaller)?
  • What can I do to look after my baby and strengthen our bond while they are in an incubator or connected to other medical equipment?
  • How can I plan my time on the unit to maximise the time I spend with them?
  • What is this procedure/treatment/medicine? How does it work? How is it supposed to help my baby?
  • Are there any procedures I can be taught to be more involved in their care?
  • When can I talk to a senior member of the team and how often?

Some common questions you can ask about looking after yourself and your family

  • What sort of mental health and wellbeing support is available for me?
  • What facilities are available on the unit for me and my family?
  • When can my other children or the rest of my family come to see my baby?
  • What can I bring onto the unit to help look after myself and my baby?
  • What sort of support is available in my area once we are home?
  • Where can I look for peer-support from other families who have experience of neonatal care?
  • What sort of practical planning do I need to think about for when we go home? E.g. insurance, equipment at home and follow-up appointments.

The information in this section is due for review November 2025