Most babies are in good health at birth but around 10% will require admission to the neonatal unit. A large number of our patients are born less than 32 weeks gestation and weigh less than 1500 grams. Small premature babies (born before 34 weeks gestation) and sick bigger babies will be admitted to the neonatal unit for observation, treatment and ongoing care.
The Rotunda Hopsital Dublin
The neonatal unit in the Rotunda has been providing care for all sick or premature infants born in the hospital and those transferred from other hospitals since the 1950s. The present unit was completed in 2002 and is situated on the second floor of the Hospital.
Premature babies, because they are born early, may take some time before they are well enough to go home. Babies transferred from other hospitals to the Rotunda for intensive care will be transferred back to their referring hospital for ongoing care once their condition is stable enough to allow their transfer.
For more information, you can download our Parent’s Guide to the Neonatal Unit booklet.
Who will look after my baby?
The Neonatal Unit is staffed around the clock with specially qualified Neonatal Nurses/Midwives. A Neonatal Registrar and/or Advanced Nurse Practitioner (Neonatology) and a Senior House Officer are on duty at all times. A Consultant Neonatologist is always contactable. All other essential services, such as x-rays and blood tests are available 24 hours a day.
Our philosophy is to provide a high standard of holistic care to all sick newborns and their families. We see the babies in our care and their families as central to the activity in the unit so you matter to us and we will try to support you during what is a very traumatic and difficult time. We will always be happy to keep you fully informed about your baby’s progress and to answer your questions.
Your Baby and You
The initial shock of seeing a small baby for the first time can be very frightening for parents. Your first thoughts may be that your baby is so small and fragile that you may cause pain or distress by touching him. This is a common reaction and staff are always available to help you.
At first if he is ill, rest is very important for him so handling is minimised. We may also ask you not to stimulate him too much in this early stage. You may not be able to hold him straight away. Nevertheless he will know your voice so do spend some time talking to him and gently touching him if he is able. As he becomes stronger he will come out for cuddles and kangaroo care.
You can also help with his cares (nappy changes, feeds etc) and other tasks important to his comfort. This time spent with him helps create a strong bond between you all. You will get to know him, discover his unique personality and identify and recognise his needs. With time you will become very comfortable with handling and caring for him and even if you feel a little nervous, remember you are not alone.
Upon arrival to the unit, a photograph will be taken for you and thereafter, please bring in your own camera or video recorder. Take plenty of photos to see how he is growing. Please don’t photograph or video the other babies or staff in the unit.
If you had a vacuum delivery, you may also notice a soft round cup mark on top of the baby’s head. Overlapping or a cup-mark are both normal. Don’t worry; by the end of a week your baby’s head will regain the normal round shape.
Feelings and Reactions
The strain of having an infant in the Neonatal Unit can put tremendous pressure on your relationship. The neonatal journey is a similar experience for everyone but also unique for each person so it is very hard to describe the normal reaction to having an ill or premature baby. Some parents are drawn closer together but even the most loving relationship can come under strain.
A lot of parents can feel isolated from each other. It can be difficult to go on caring and thinking about each other while both of you are caught up in your own thoughts and feelings. Families are all different. Each person may have different ways of handling and expressing these feelings. Talking to each other comes easily for some couples but for others it is much harder, yet usually it is the talking that makes things bearable.
Tears are sometimes seen as a sign that parents are not coping when in fact they are a reaction to what has happened. Some parents find it helpful to keep a diary, with just a few lines each day of how your baby is progressing or of little events that happen. It will be lovely to look back on later.