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Introduction

You may have just had a baby born prematurely or needing care in our newborn Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), or you may be expecting a baby that will need to go to the NICU. For many parents having their baby admitted to a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is a very unexpected and traumatic event.

You will have many questions about what is happening. You will need to understand medical information to make decisions and cope with this very new and stressful event.

We have fact sheets to help guide you through our NICU and on the most common conditions that are seen in newborn babies admitted to a NICU.

We have recommended websites for you to learn more about prematurity and other health issues for newborn babies.

Nothing replaces the conversations you will have with the neonatologist, nurse or support staff to learn all about your baby’s individual needs, however, we hope these fact sheets and reliable information from recommended websites will help you cope with your baby in a NICU.

About Westmead NICU

Westmead NICU is a tertiary level 5 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. We are the largest in the Sydney metropolitan area. We have nearly 1500 admissions a year from our local health area and throughout NSW and Australia.

If your baby is now in our NICU or will be coming to our NICU, you will want to know all about visiting hours, who can visit, what facilities we have and what you are likely to see when you enter our Unit.

We have fact sheets to help you understand how it all works, plus a virtual tour to prepare you for what you will see when you arrive to the Westmead NICU.

Breast milk is the best food for your baby, especially if they are born prematurely or have other health problems. We support breastfeeding, skin to skin (kangaroo care) and care that helps baby’s physical development.

We have lactation consultants and expert staff to support your breastfeeding and mothercraft skills.

To learn more about breastfeeding and caring for newborn babies see our breastfeeding and newborn baby care health information pages.

Premature babies

Prematurity is when a baby is born before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy. When your baby arrives early, it can be a stressful and overwhelming time for you and your family. It can be common for parents to have a range of emotions and each person will handle them in their own way. You can find more information on the NSW Pregnancy and Newborn Services Network (PSN) here.

Our NICU team of Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals will help you through this journey and prepare you for what to expect of your baby.

Conditions in newborn babies

There are some conditions that are common in babies in the NICU. The staff have experience with managing these conditions and will explain to you what is happening and how we treat these conditions.

Below are fact sheets on some of the common conditions for premature or sick newborns. (currently under construction)

Babies expecting surgery

Your baby may need surgery after birth and hopefully you will have had time to prepare for this. We work with the Sydney Children’s Hospital (SCHN), Westmead campus to provide you and your baby with a smooth transition from birth to surgery. Our PEARLS team will provide support and information that is about your needs and your situation. We also recommend you visit the SCHN Westmead website to learn more about babies and surgery.

Other resources

While in hospital, either in the postnatal ward, the neonatal intensive care unit or special care baby unit, your baby may require tests or procedures that could cause discomfort or pain. You can access more information on reducing pain or discomfort for your baby during painful procedures in hospital here.

Fact sheets

Prematurity is when a baby is born before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy