Information for patients
This leaflet can be made available in other formats including large print, CD and Braille and in languages other than English, upon request.
Congratulations on the birth of your baby
We know that your baby needing to come to the Special Care Baby Unit is a worrying and stressful time and in most cases is completely unexpected.
This leaflet will tell you about the unit and explain what to expect while your baby is here. If you have any further questions, our staff will be able to help you.
When can my family and friends visit the unit?
We don’t view parents as visitors and you can be with your baby as much as you like.
For siblings (your children), grandparents, extended family and friends, we ask that they visit between 8.30 am and 8pm (avoiding ward round) with no more than 4 people (including yourself) at a time.
If you need any more support with visiting, please speak to your Nurse. Please respect other families and babies in the unit. We ask that you do not approach the cots of other babies and be mindful of others in the room during visits.
What happens during the Ward Round?
We have a medical ward round every morning. This is normally between 9.30 am to 11 am.
We would encourage you to be present during ward round so the medical team (Doctors and Nurses) can update you with your baby’s care and discuss any plans.
We do ask visitors other than parents to leave during ward round to help maintain confidentiality. They will be able to wait in the family room until the round is finished.
If you would like to speak to a Doctor or Nurse Practitioner outside this time, please ask and we will arrange a suitable time.
Will I be able to breastfeed while I am on the unit?
Breastmilk is really good for your baby and even though your baby may not be well or big enough to breastfeed just yet, we would encourage you to express your milk. This can be stored in our fridge/freezer for use when they are able to start feeds.
You can either express your milk by hand or you can use a breast pump to express at the cot side, or in a designated room. Your Nurses will be able to help you get started and show you everything that you will need. We have a number of home loan pumps available if you need one.
What is skin-to-skin contact?
Skin-to-skin contact (Kangaroo Care) is when a baby is dried and laid directly on their mother’s bare chest after birth, both of them covered in a warm blanket until the first feed is finished.
Skin-to-skin contact can also take place any time a baby needs comforting or calming and to help boost a mother’s milk supply.
Skin-to-skin contact is also important in neonatal units, where it is often known as ‘kangaroo care’, helping parents to bond with their baby, as well as supporting better physical and developmental outcomes for the baby.
There are many benefits of skin-to-skin, here are some of the most important:
- Calms and relaxes both you and your baby
- Regulates the baby’s heart rate and breathing
- Stimulates digestion and an interest in feeding
- Regulates temperature
- Stimulates the release of hormones to support breastfeeding.
Additional benefits for babies in the neonatal unit include:
- Improves oxygen saturation
- Reduces cortisol (stress) levels particularly following procedures
- Assists with growth
- If you express following a period of skin-to-skin contact, milk volume will improve and the milk expressed will contain the most up-to-date antibodies. Please talk to your nurse about how to do this with your baby.
What is the Vcreate app?
We are very lucky to have the Vcreate app on the unit. This app allows us to take pictures and videos of your baby when you are unable to visit or when they have reached a milestone or just being extremely cute!
To receive these, we need you to complete a consent form available on the unit and register for Vcreate. The images will then be sent to the email address you have entered on registration for you to see or share with your family and friends.
Where can I eat and drink while I am on the unit?
We ask that you use the family room to eat while you are on the unit. You can drink at the cot side and we have a water cooler that is available for you to use.
A voucher for £3 to use in the Canteen is available for parents with a baby on the unit. Your Nurse will be able to get this for you.
How much will it cost to park my car while I am on the unit?
Reduced car parking rates are available for those with a long stay on the unit. Please ask for a form that can then be taken to security.
Will I be able to stay with my baby overnight?
There are four transitional care beds within the Special Care Baby Unit. These are mainly used for you to stay with your baby before going home. These beds can be used to offer support before being discharged with your little one and to stay in to start breastfeeding.
We are aware that leaving your baby in hospital overnight can be very daunting, if we can accommodate you, we certainly will. However, during busy periods and when Transitional Care (TC) is full, this may not always be possible. Please speak to the Nurse looking after you and your baby.
If you are resident in TC, please be aware that your meals are provided on Ward 22. The ward hostess will come and take orders for lunch and dinner.
Will my baby be transferred to a different ward?
Your baby may be coming to us from a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or may become more unwell and require transfer to an Intensive Care cot.
Each unit has slightly different ways of looking after your baby, in line with their hospitals policies.
When you come to our unit, we may do things slightly differently which may be frustrating for you as parents, this will always be in the best interest of your baby.
Please bear with us as we get to know your baby, and you get to know us. Any problems or concerns can be discussed with your Nurse.
Is there any facilities on the ward?
There is a parent’s sitting room located within the Special Care Baby Unit. Please feel free to help yourself to tea and coffee from the kitchen. If you intend to take this in to the room your baby is in, please pop it in to a lidded cup, which are available in the kitchen.
For parents staying on the unit, there are shower facilities and toiletries should you need anything extra.
When will I be able to go home?
Babies are admitted to SCBU for many different reasons and so the amount of time they will need to stay will vary. All babies need to be feeding well, gaining weight regularly and the Doctors need to say they are fit for home before this can happen.
This will be discussed with you regularly, but please ask if you have any other questions.
What is the neonatal playgroup?
Once you have been discharged home, there is a Neonatal playgroup running every Tuesday at Velocity Gymnastic and Trampolining Club on Marsh House Avenue in Billingham.
The playgroup is ran by the Neonatal community team. There will be one of the community Nurses or a paediatric physiotherapist present.
The venue is funded by Neoangels and there is always a hot drink and friendly faces waiting to greet you.
Will I get any more help or support?
We are very lucky to be supported by charities on the unit.
Neoangels is a local charity who provide meal vouchers, financial support for travelling and car parking, neonatal specific playgroup and equipment for use on the unit.
Leo’s charity supports parents during the challenge of the neonatal journey with mental health support.
Contact details can be found on posters throughout the unit, by discussing with the team or via their websites below:
Please scan the QR code below to access this site:
E Mail: [email protected]
Please scan the QR code below to access this site:
E Mail: [email protected]
Please scan the QR code below to access this site.
Bliss is a national charity. They campaign for change, support families and healthcare professionals and enable life changing research.
You may see leaflets with the Bliss logo around the unit and can find out more on their site:
Northern Neonatal Network
Northern Neonatal Network was brought together following recommendations from The Department of Health to make sure babies and families in the North East of England and North Cumbria receive the highest possible quality of care.
The Network covers a large geographical area and covers eight trusts within that area. There is an app available to download in the App Store and via Google Play, or via the QR scan above.
UNICEF UK works with the hospitals where children are born, the schools where children learn and grow and the services that shape their lives, to make sure that every child has the same chance to shine. Please visit their website: www.unicef.org.uk
If you have any further questions or concerns, please speak to the unit matron (office opposite main unit desk).
Comments, concerns, compliments or complaints
Patient Experience Team (PET)
We are continually trying to improve the services we provide. We want to know what we’re doing well or if there’s anything which we can improve, that’s why the Patient Experience Team (PET) is here to help. Our Patient Experience Team is here to try to resolve your concerns as quickly as possible. The office is based on the ground floor at the University Hospital of North Tees if you wish to discuss concerns in person. If you would like to contact or request a copy of our PET leaflet, please contact:
Telephone: 01642 624719
Freephone: 0800 092 0084
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 4:00pm
Email: [email protected]
Out of hours
Out of hours if you wish to speak to a senior member of Trust staff, please contact the hospital switchboard who will bleep the appropriate person.
Telephone: 01642 617617
Data protection and use of patient information
The Trust has developed Data Protection policies in accordance with Data Protection Legislation (UK General Data Protection Regulations and Data Protection Act 2018) and the Freedom of Information Act 2000. All of our staff respect these policies and confidentiality is adhered to at all times. If you require further information on how we process your information please see our Privacy Notices.
Telephone: 01642 383551
Email: [email protected]Privacy Notices
This leaflet has been produced in partnership with patients and carers. All patient leaflets are regularly reviewed, and any suggestions you have as to how it may be improved are extremely valuable. Please write to the Clinical Governance team, North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, University Hospital of North Tees, TS19 8PE or:
Email: [email protected]
Leaflet Reference: PIL1429
Date for review: 13/06/2025