Parents whose baby has left the neonatal unit

Here is the latest guidance on COVID-19 for parents with a baby who has been discharged from the neonatal unit or who is now older.

Last updated: 6th January 2021

This page provides more information about follow-up appointments, paediatric appointments, and community care.

Please be aware that information about changes to healthcare services may change quickly. We will monitor and make changes to this information as soon as we can if they are needed. You should always check the details of any appointments or medical care with your healthcare team.

Will our follow-up appointments change?

Telephone follow-up appointments may be used instead of face-to-face appointments. The team looking after you and your baby will decide if your appointments will be changed, and keep you informed. The neonatal team will be in close contact with your health visitor and GP during this time.

If you need to attend appointments at hospital, you may be advised to wear a face covering at all times when in the hospital. It is also mandatory to wear a face covering when using public transport.

Will the care we receive in the community change?

Services such as visits made by community nursing teams and health visitors are likely to be affected by COVID-19 at the moment.

Telephone follow-up appointments may be used instead of face-to-face appointments. This may also apply to some home visits.

Decisions on any changes to appointments will be made by healthcare teams who will consider the needs of individual babies and families, with higher-risk babies, mothers and families being prioritised. If you have any concerns, contact your GP or the neonatal unit for advice.

If you are not sure how you will receive community care, speak to a relevant healthcare professional such as your health visitor or community neonatal nurse. It can be difficult to know what to do at the moment, and you may be feeling worried or isolated. If you need any additional help or support at this time, look at our support pages to see how we can help.

My child has ongoing paediatric appointments. Are these likely to be affected?

Services such as ongoing paediatric appointments are currently affected by COVID-19.

Telephone follow-up appointments may be used instead of face-to-face appointments. This may also apply to some home visits.

If you need to attend appointments at hospital, you may be advised to wear a face covering at all times when in the hospital. It is also mandatory to wear a face covering when using public transport.

Decisions on any changes to appointments will be made by healthcare teams who will consider the needs of individual babies, children and families. If you are not sure how your child will receive paediatric appointments, speak to a relevant healthcare professional. It can be difficult to know what to do at the moment, and you may be feeling worried or isolated. If you need any additional help or support at this time, look at our support pages to see how we can help.

Should my baby or child wear a face covering when attending appointments?

Babies should not wear face coverings, as there is a potential risk of suffocation and other hazards if they do.

There is different guidance regarding the age that children should wear face coverings in different parts of the UK. The guidance in England says that face coverings should not be used by children under the age of 3 and in Scotland, by children under the age of 5.

I have recently been discharged from the neonatal unit and am finding local restrictions with a new baby difficult. Where can I get support?

If you have just gone home from the neonatal unit with your baby, you may be feeling more isolated, and you may have some uncertainty of not having the support of unit staff at home. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these feelings and emotions may be heightened, particularly as friends and family may not be allowed to visit, and face-to-face appointments may have changed.

In England, Scotland and Wales, you able to form a support bubble or extended household with another household if you are a single parent living with a child under the age of 18.

Also, in England and Wales, you can also form a support bubble if you live with a child under the age of 5 with a disability who needs continuous care, or living with a child under the age of one (from 2 December 2020).

In Northern Ireland, you can form a bubble with one other household. The two households can be of any size. You do not need to live alone to do this.

This means that you can get support from another household without needing to socially distance. Support bubbles have been designed to help anyone who may struggle with loneliness and isolation during this time, and this may be useful to you if you are finding things difficult.

Some areas of the UK are currently in lockdown or are on very high alert. This means you should stay at home as much as possible.
However, in some areas of the UK you are able to meet someone outside of your household or support bubble/extended household. For example:

  • In England and Scotland, you can meet with one person from a different household for exercise in a public outdoor place if you are on your own (this does not include children)
  • In Northern Ireland, up to six people from a maximum of two households can meet outdoors in a private garden (maintaining social distancing).
  • In all areas of the UK, you are allowed to go out to access childcare or support services.

If you need someone to talk to, Bliss Champions are available for one-to-one video chats to offer vital support to parents who are on the neonatal unit or who have recently been discharged. To arrange a call, simply fill out the short form here or email hello@bliss.org.uk

You can also email hello@bliss.org.uk for emotional support and find more information about supporting your mental health on our website here.

If your baby has been discharged very recently, you may be able to call your neonatal unit for further guidance and support in the first few weeks after arriving home. You should check with your neonatal unit before going home to see if this is possible.

Other useful organisations

Wellchild has specific information about coronavirus (COVID-19) for parents and carers of sick children.

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 have 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.

YoungMinds has more information about how to talk to your children about COVID-19.

Tommy’s have information and guidance about coming home with a newborn baby during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are updating this page as more information becomes available. For more support, get in touch at hello@bliss.org.uk