When you first arrive on the neonatal unit

Dad skin to skin 2

Our 'About neonatal care' section contains lots of information and guidance to help you understand neonatal care and navigate your first few days on a neonatal unit.

Congratulations on the birth of your baby! This is one of the most exciting things that can happen in a family. But finding out that your baby is going to spend time in a neonatal unit can be a very difficult experience.

This section has been written with parents and healthcare professionals, to help you find your way when you first arrive on a neonatal unit. It explains daily routines, some of the equipment you might see, the hospital staff and support workers you might meet, and the medical words you might hear.

It offers ideas on how you can look after your baby and bond with them. We have included some simple suggestions of what you can do as a parent to support your baby, in partnership with your care team. We have also included some things you can do to look after yourself during your time on a neonatal unit.

Introduction to a neonatal unit

Watch a series of five videos which will introduce you to life on a neonatal unit.
Read more
Mum and nurse with their hands through an incubator touching a baby

Before you read on

This information has been written to give you a better understanding of neonatal care. It is designed to help you understand the medical advice you might be given about your baby’s care. It is also designed to help you settle into routines on a neonatal unit.

The information is written with parents of premature and sick babies born in the UK, as well as the doctors, nurses, midwives and other staff who help to look after their babies. We try to make sure our information reflects current practice across the UK, but there may be some differences in how the care of your baby is managed between units.

Bliss provides information and support to parents, and does not give specific or individual advice on medical care.

For anyone starting their neonatal journey, my advice would be to take it one day at a time. Accept any help from family and friends without feeling guilty about it. Be kind to yourself.

Sara, mum to Ben

The information in this section is due for review November 2025