Welcome to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU)
The Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Saint
Mary's Hospital is located on the second floor next door to the
Whilst for some babies admission is planned, sometimes babies
are born who unexpectedly need some extra care, or arrive much
earlier than usual. Although this can be a difficult and emotional
time the Neonatal staff will be there to support you and keep you
up to date on your baby's progress.
What to expect if my baby is admitted to the neonatal
Some babies need some extra care after birth. Whilst sometimes
this is planned, it can occasionally occur unexpectedly. The
Neonatal Unit at Saint Mary's provides intensive care to babies
from around the region and high dependency and special care to
babies from the Central Manchester area.
Depending on your baby's needs, they will be in one of these
- Intensive care (rooms 4 and 5).
- High dependency care (rooms 3, 7 and 8) - for babies who do not
need intensive care but still require some higher level care.
- Special care (rooms 1, 2 and 3) - for babies who are catching
up on growth and development after a premature birth. These babies
have less serious health problems or are getting better after more
When can I visit?
We encourage you to visit your baby as frequently as possible
and to stay as long as you are able to.
Other relatives and friends that come to see your baby must be
with you or they will not be allowed onto the Unit. Only two people
at a time are allowed to visit your baby at the cot side (one
parent and one visitor) as the rooms can get very busy.
The only time we ask you not to visit is during the
doctors' ward round.
Contact by telephone
Each room has a dedicated telephone number. The room telephone
numbers are available in the unit booklet which you will be given
on admission and you can check with the nurse caring for your baby
for that you have the appropriate number.
For general enquiries: (0161) 701 2700 between 7.30 am-8.00
Doctors ward rounds
Visiting is not permitted during the doctors ward rounds.
The ward round times are:
Intensive care rooms 4 and 5: 9.00 am-11.30
All other rooms:
9.00 am-11.00 am
On the Ward round each baby is discussed in turn and we do not
allow visiting during this time in order to maintain strict
confidentiality. Please be aware that sometimes the ward
round may overrun and we kindly ask you to be patient.
Who will care for my baby?
A skilled team from different professions will care for your
baby during their stay on the unit. Your baby will be under
the care of a Consultant
Neonatologist. In addition there are Surgical and Medical
specialists available if your baby requires their expertise.
Junior doctors in training work under the guidance and support
of the senior medical and surgical teams. These are qualified
doctors who are undergoing sub specialty training in paediatrics
There is an extensive team of Neonatal Nurses. Some have
specialist areas of work and will introduce themselves to you.
There are also nursing and midwifery students who are gaining
experience within the team.
Your baby may also have input from other health professionals
according to their specific needs.
How will I feed my baby?
We will support you to feed your baby the way you have chosen to
do so whilst s/he is on the Newborn Intensive Care Unit. Wherever
possible we strive to keep you and your baby together but when
separation is unavoidable you will be encouraged to spend as much
time as possible with your baby on the unit so that you can get
used to their individual ways and learn to recognise their feeding
cues. If baby's condition allows, we will support you to continue
feeding according to those cues.
Depending on the reason for your baby's admission and the number
of weeks at which they were born, oral feeding may not be possible
initially. It may be that your baby has been born so early that
they have not yet reached the developmental stage at which they are
able to suck, swallow and breathe in a coordinated way. They will
learn to do this in time as they develop but until then, we may
have to give fluids by drip or feed them milk by tube. We will then
gradually wean your baby off the tube feeds and onto oral feeds
depending on their condition and their stage of development.
If you choose to breastfeed and your baby cannot go to the
breast initially, we will help you to start expressing your breast
milk as soon as possible and preferably within 6 hours of birth.
This is to ensure that you are able to establish the best milk
supply possible and to stand you in good stead for when your baby
is able to feed as this will help you to establish a plentiful
We will show you how to hand express your milk at first and when
the volume of milk increases after day 3 or 4, we will show you how
to express using an electric breast pump. Your milk will then be
stored in the fridge or freezer until it can be given to your
You may have chosen to formula feed your baby but told us that
you are happy to express your breast milk for your baby because
s/he has been born prematurely or is unwell. Breast milk is
particularly beneficial to babies who have been born early as it
provides protection against infections and a serious inflammatory
condition of the bowel. It is much easier for babies to
tolerate too and contains properties to help your baby's immature
gut to develop. Again, we will support you to establish your milk
supply and maintain it for as long as you wish to provide milk for
your baby, as only you can do.
If you have chosen to formula feed we will support you to do so
in a way which meets their needs by responding to their feeding
cues or requests for food and by gradually increasing the number of
bottle feeds they take according to their stage of development.
Where can I stay when my baby is on the neonatal
If your baby has needed care on the Neonatal Unit and is not
ready to be discharged home when you are, there are a number of
options for accommodation. Unfortunately the Postnatal Ward
is not able to provide a hospital bed once you are well enough to
be discharged from hospital.
Many women find that they prefer to be at home in a familiar
environment. If you live too far from the hospital, or if transport
is difficult, accommodation may be possible in the Ronald Macdonald
House or within NICU where there are a limited number of parent
rooms. You should discuss these options with the midwife on the
ward and the NICU nurse caring for your baby.
Saint Mary's Hospital is not my local hospital but I have
booked and had my maternity care here
Greater Manchester has a Network of Neonatal Units. The Neonatal
units are designed to care for babies with different needs.
In Greater Manchester there are three hospitals that provide
Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) and five hospitals with Local
Neonatal Units (LNU). Your baby will be cared for in the most
appropriate unit closest to your home.
Saint Mary's is a Newborn Intensive Unit and babies are
transferred from other hospitals around the North West and so it is
important that we make sure that cots are available to treat babies
that require intensive care.
If you booked to have your baby at Saint Mary's Hospital, and do
not live in Central Manchester, your baby will be transferred to a
LNU nearer to your home when they no longer require intensive care.
The nurses on NICU will provide you with additional
There are lots of questions I need to ask
We welcome your questions and will do what we can to ensure you
have all the information you require about your baby.
This gives a brief overview of the Neonatal Unit. On
admission you will be given a unit booklet that has more detailed
information you can also find information and
additional supportive links on the website below: