Q&A about baby transfers

Two medical staff pushing a cot in hospital to transfer a baby

Read some commonly asked questions about baby transfers.

Will my baby be safe during the transfer?

Yes! The transport team will only move the baby from the referring hospital when they are satisfied that the baby is stable enough for the journey. The journey is usually rapid and safe.

On arrival, the team will formally hand over the care of the baby to the receiving hospital.

Will I also be transferred so I can stay with my baby?

Hospitals will always try to care for both mother and baby in the same location.

However, if the mother is an inpatient at her local hospital, she will probably stay at the hospital until she is well enough to make the journey and there is a bed available. This transfer may be arranged separately.

What is a ‘back transfer’?

A back transfer is simply transferring your baby back to your local unit. For practical reasons (visiting, breastfeeding), it is usually best if your baby is cared for close to your home.

Once your baby is stable, and if a cot is available, your unit will make every effort to transfer your baby back to your local unit.

This transfer may also be recommended if your baby is recovering well, responding positively to treatment, and no longer requires specialist neonatal care.

Can I travel with my baby in the ambulance?

Transport teams will try to support at least one parent to travel with their baby where possible.

If you are unable to travel with your baby, the hospital will provide you with information about the new unit, including detailed directions to help you get to the new unit and some hospitals will be able to support you with organising alternative travel. It is suggested that the parents do not attempt to follow the ambulance as it may be travelling at speed.

Who will accompany my baby when they are taken back to my local hospital?

At the time of transfer to your local hospital, a doctor and nurse will accompany your baby in the ambulance if ventilation support is required. 

If your baby is stable but does not require ventilation support, your baby will be accompanied by the transport nurse. If it is safe to do so, you or your partner should be given the opportunity to travel with your baby in the ambulance.