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Neonatal care

Neonatal Care

 It is quite a distressing experience when you can hardly catch a glimpse of the tiny figure of newborn babies  from the machines, tubes, wires and screens that monitor and help to maintain vital functions – heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, saturation – in the first few weeks or even months of a new life. This is the site parents have to face with at the neonatal care (or newborn care), which is a hospital unit that specializes in preterm babies, underdeveloped infants (in case of multiple births) and in newborns who have a medical condition that needs hospital care or surgery.

Neonatal Care of Preterm Babies

Neonatal care in case of premature babies aims to prepare newborns to safely leave the hospital by the time the birth would have been due. Newborn care plan in their case mostly targets:

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  • Regulating body temperature by placing babies in an incubator
  • Assist breathing of babies whose lung is not yet fully developed with the help of ventilators that press oxygen-rich air into the babies’ lungs.
  • Intravenous feeding, as many premature babies cannot feed on their own
  • Increase body weight to normal

Neonatal Care of Sick Babies

Besides premature baby care newborn care plan often includes babies born with some medical condition such as:

  • Sepsis
  • Jaundice
  • Respiratory distress syndrome
  • Meningitis and septicaemia
  • Pneumonia
  • Patent ductus arteriosus
  • Brain hemorrhage
  • Necrotising enterocolitos
  • Congenital diseases

Neonatal care is usually conducted in three levels:

  • Intensive neonatal care
  • High-dependence newborn care
  • Low-dependency neonatal care

At all levels neonatal care specialist are present non-stop providing support with gentle care and expertise. Who is a neonatal care specialist?

  • Nurses
  • Senior obstetricians
  • Specialist doctors (neonatologists)
  • Surgeons
  • Dieticians
  • Radiographers
  • Pharmacists
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Social workers (who serve the needs of parents as well)

Neonatal Care – The Role of Parents

Neonatal care has recently embraced new family and baby-friendly practices (skin-to-skin and Kangaroo care) as the babies’ emotional well being must also be a priority. In spite of the caring environment these vulnerable newborns are exposed to a lot of stress from their environment such as:

  • Sudden separation from the mother and lack breastfeeding
  • Strong light and background noises
  • Painful examinations (blood tests, scanning, sensory tests, vaccines, taking spinal fluid)

Especially in high and low dependency newborn care it becomes essential that parents spend more and more time with their babies and provide the reassuring, caring presence the baby needs in a foreign environment. There is always a newborn care specialist available who gladly instructs parents on the basics of parenting an especially sensitive baby. In this way the routine of daily care involving feeding, bathing, changing nappy, becomes a joyful, shared activity.

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