Parents who have a baby on the neonatal unit

Father holding his baby in a chair next to a cot in an neonatal unit

Here is the latest guidance about COVID-19 for parents with a baby on the neonatal unit.

Am I able to be with my baby on the neonatal unit?

The current guidance says that neonatal units should support parents to be as involved in their baby’s care as possible during this time, and that both parents should have unrestricted access to their baby. This is because research shows that parents being involved in their baby’s care on the neonatal unit can have long term benefits for babies, as well as the whole family.

We are encouraging neonatal units to continue to ensure that parents have maximum opportunity to be with their baby and to be as involved as possible in their baby’s care. We have a position statement about parental access and involvement on neonatal units at this time.

If you cannot be with your baby, speak to the staff on the neonatal unit and ask if they have access to vCreate. This is a secure video messaging service where neonatal unit staff can record and send video updates to parents who are unable to be with their baby.

Many neonatal units are reviewing their visiting policies as the situation develops. If you have concerns or want to talk to someone, talk to a member of staff on the unit such as a lead nurse. You can also email us at

Do I need to complete a lateral-flow test before being with my baby on a neonatal unit?


As outlined in the latest government guidance, parents in England will no longer be required to take a lateral-flow test before going to a unit from 1st April. Testing may continue in some hospitals and units that are considered high-risk for infection spreading. Please ask the staff at the unit reception about the specific requirements for your unit.

Free lateral-flow tests will no longer be available from 1st April. Unfortunately, there is currently no guarantee that parents of babies in neonatal care will be given free tests if they are asked to take one.

Bliss has called on the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) to urgently clarify the position of neonatal services, and to commit to keeping lateral-flow tests free for parents of babies in neonatal care.


Parents in Scotland are asked to complete a lateral-flow test and return a negative result before attending hospitals and units.

Northern Ireland

Lateral-flow and PCR tests are still available in Northern Ireland, but this may change at the end of April. See the latest guidance and how to order tests.


From 1st April, lateral flow tests will only be available in Wales to people showing symptoms of COVID-19. See the latest guidance.

If you have returned a positive lateral-flow test, or you are showing coronavirus symptoms, you are advised not to attend the unit.

We will update this page with new guidance as it becomes available. If you have any questions about what this means for being with your baby on a unit, please reach out to us at

Where can I buy a test and how much will it cost?

If you are asked to take a test before going onto a unit, there is a list of government-approved testing providers available.

Boots is selling packs of rapid antigen tests. Other pharmacies are offering them for similar prices.

If you are feeling nervous about being on a unit without testing, there are other steps you can take to protect yourself and your baby, including wearing a mask and thoroughly washing your hands. See a useful guide to washing your hands.

Are my family and other children allowed to visit my baby?

Most neonatal units are currently being advised not to allow other children, including your baby’s brothers and sisters, or other family members to visit. In Scotland the guidance allows for siblings to visit, but it is likely that this will only be possible for limited periods of time.

Will I have to do anything differently when I'm with my baby?

For infection control, you and any other visitors may have to wear personal protective equipment (PPE), including a face covering and comply with social distancing measures on the unit. If you do not have a face covering, your neonatal unit will be able to provide you with one.

However, we are encouraging neonatal units to support parents to care for their baby and provide skin-to-skin at the cotside without wearing a face covering where possible. This is to support babies’ development and bonding. You can find more information about this in our position statement.

Find the latest information and guidance on infection control.

Will I still be able to have skin-to-skin contact with my baby?

It is recommended to continue with skin-to-skin contact with your baby if you are well and healthy. This is because research shows that parents being involved in their baby’s care on the neonatal unit can have positive effects on them and their baby. It is important that you follow the hospital’s procedures around infection control before having skin-to-skin with your baby. This might include wearing personal protective equipment (PPE), including a face covering.

If your baby has tested positive for COVID-19 and is in need of respiratory (breathing) support, skin-to-skin may not be recommended. Talk to a member of the staff on the neonatal unit if you are unsure.

What will happen if my baby needs to be transferred to another neonatal unit?

Neonatal transfers to other hospitals are still taking place, and hospitals are encouraged to invite at least one parent to travel with their baby. However, there may still be restrictions to parents being able to travel with their baby in some parts of the UK. Parents are able to travel with their baby in all parts of the UK if their baby is receiving palliative care or is not expected to survive.

Can I breastfeed if I have been vaccinated against COVID-19?

There is no known risk to you or your baby from having the COVID-19 vaccine while you are breastfeeding. You should not stop breastfeeding before or after having the vaccine.

Other useful organisations

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) have published a Q&A for pregnant women and their families.

Twins Trust have published a Q&A about COVID-19 for anyone who is pregnant with, or who has, twins or multiples. They also have some advice about home isolation when you have multiples, and some other useful links and information that you may find useful.

SANDS have produced a guide for parents about COVID-19 and changes that will impact parents and family members who have been affected by the death of a baby.

Mind has lots of information if you are feeling anxious or worried about COVID-19, and has guidance on how to take care of your mental wellbeing.

We are updating this page as more information becomes available. For more support, get in touch at

Getting involved in your baby's care

Even if you can't be with your baby as much as you'd like, there are ways to make the most of your time on the unit to help your baby to know your love, your touch and your care. This animation was produced with support from our partner, Pampers, and narrated by our Ambassador Lady Sarra Hoy.

Information last updated: 5th April 2022