Babies who need special care

The Rotunda Hospital Dublin

The Rotunda Hospital provides care for all newborn babies. Neonatal care means providing care for newborn infants in the first two weeks of life. In certain circumstances, we provide care for babies for a much longer period. Most babies are well at birth and are transferred to the postnatal ward with their mother where care is provided by midwives to the baby at the mother’s bedside. 

However, a small number of babies are admitted to our neonatal unit for intensive or special care. We also provide an outpatient service for babies requiring special follow up after discharge. The following pages have more information on each of these areas.


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 renovated in 2018.  It is situated on the second floor of the hospital.

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. 

Bigger babies are transferred back to their mothers on the postnatal ward once their condition improves. 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. 

Every year, we have about 1,300 babies admitted to our neonatal unit. The majority of those babies are born in the Rotunda Hospital. The team caring for your baby is multi-disciplinary in nature. This means that healthcare workers with different areas of expertise contribute to the day to day care of your baby. The team is made up of consultant neonatologists, paediatric registrars and senior house officers, clinical midwife managers, staff midwives and nurses, neonatal nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, pharmacists, a dietitian, physiotherapists and social workers.

We also have consultant specialists in other paediatric disciplines such as cardiology that provide care. In addition, we have a very strong administrative team and clinical engineers that provide ongoing support.

If your baby has been in the neonatal unit for a long time, going home is a very exciting time but it can also be very overwhelming. Your baby will be ready for discharge when s/he is feeding well, keeping warm in a cot and gaining weight. The midwifery and nursing staff along with our neonatal discharge coordinator will guide you on how to care for your baby at home.

Our philosophy of care in the neonatal unit is to:

  • Provide a high standard of holistic family-centred care to sick newborn infants and their families.
  • Ensure all care is individualised and developmentally supportive so that all infants may achieve their maximum potential.
  • Provide support and education to parents and family by maximising their involvement and facilitating good communication with all team members.

Visiting policy

For the most part, only parents may visit and this is to help reduce the risk of infection for sick newborn infants.  If parents of babies who are in the unit for a long period of time cannot visit, they can nominate a person to visit in their absence.  A single use visitor card with be signed by the midwife in charge in advance and it must be presented to security on arrival at the hospital.  Other requests are reviewed on an individual basis.

There are certain times during the day when we restrict visiting, for example, during the daily medical ward round, the nursing handover and during some medical procedures.  If you visit during these times we will ask you to wait in the waiting room.

For further information:

Download our Parent’s Guide to the Neonatal Unit booklet Here.

Information on the support services available in the Rotunda is also available from the website:

The following links provide help and support to the families of preterm babies:

Paediatric Outpatients Department

The paediatric outpatients department provides follow up care for infants born at the Rotunda Hospital. There are over 1500 clinics every year, which cater for 11,000 visits to the department. This service includes providing follow up for premature and term infants admitted to our neonatal unit, baby checks, feeding advice, follow up of jaundice in addition to dedicated infectious disease and neurology clinics for infants with specific conditions. 

The clinic hours are Monday to Friday from 8.00 am – 4.00 pm. It is important that you bring your baby to the clinic for his/her follow up appointments and if you cannot attend for any reason please ensure that you contact the department at 01 818 1728 in advance to cancel and/or rearrange the appointment.

You should contact your GP immediately if your baby becomes unwell.  The hospital provides an out-of-hours service for newborn babies up to 2 weeks of age. If your baby is over 2 weeks old, you should attend a paediatric hospital such as the Children’s University Hospital, Temple Street, as the Rotunda cannot admit babies of this age. 

Our philosophy of care in the paediatric outpatients department is to:

  • Embrace and welcome diversity
  • Provide appropriate care, education, and follow up to all infants and their families
  • Promote health 
  • Empower and equip families and carers with the knowledge, and support to help their child achieve their maximum potential
  • Facilitate good communication between families, members of the health care team and outside organisations