Welcome to the Neonatal Unit
The Neonatal Unit is located in Paediatric Unit, next to Maternity.
Enter the hospital on Scenic Drive and turn right, follow the signs to Paediatric Unit.
We care for babies who need extra support through their first few steps of life.
The dedicated nursing and medical staff who work in this unit will help you and your family by offering family based care. We do this by always keeping you informed of your baby's progress and any changes to their health that may arise whilst in our unit.
A Lactation Midwife is available Tuesday to Thursday to assist with breastfeeding issues, as well as the Neonatal Unit staff who are there 24 hours a day.
Please click here for Hospital Visiting Hours during COVID-19
When special care is needed for baby (video)
Discounted 24 hour parking is available in the hospital carpark for parents who's baby is staying in the Neonatal Unit (Please ask staff).
Click here for more information about parking at Shoalhaven Hospital.
Toilets are available at the main entrance to the hospital (Scenic Drive). The main entrance is next door to the Paediatric /Neonatal Unit.
Facilities are available for parents to use whilst their baby is in the Neonatal Unit.
A fridge, microwave, tea and coffee are available in the parents room. This is located in the Paediatric Unit attached to the Neonatal Unit.
Places to eat
There is a kiosk at the main entrance to the hospital and a cafeteria downstairs. Vending machines are also available in the hospital.
Click here for more information.
Shoalhaven Hospital has a Chapel available at all times to those who feel they may need to visit whilst their baby is in the Neonatal Unit.
This is located on level one. Ask staff for directions.
Shoalhaven Hospital provides WiFi to patients and their families.
Handwashing and Hygiene
As you enter the unit, staff will ask you to wash your hands as babies that are born early are at risk of infection.
Please use the sinks (warm water) around the Neonatal unit as well as the alcohol-based hand rub
- before touching your baby
- after attending to baby cares such as nappy changing
- when entering or leaving the unit
- before and after eating
- after using your mobile phone (please wipe your phone down as well before use)
Family Centred Care
Bonding with your baby is important in the Neonatal Unit and it helps babies grow. Our staff will do everything we can to help support and encourage this natural bonding process.
Kangaroo care involves direct skin to skin contact with your baby. Staff will encourage frequent skin to skin contact with both mother and father.
For more information about skin to skin, click here.
Bathing your baby can be exciting, our staff will help and support you. Feel free to bring in your own soaps, oils and moisturizer if you choose to use these.
Bringing your own clothes & sheets for baby
We encourage parents to bring their own clothes and sheets to make it more like home in baby's cot space. Please be aware of SIDS guidelines.
The medical team and nursing staff will be available every day to discuss your baby's progress. We encourage you to be involved in this conversation.
Patient care boards
Each family is provided with a patient care board on admission to the Neonatal Unit. This allows parents to communicate with staff and establish goals for baby.
We encourage you to take pictures of your baby to share with your family who cant be here to see your baby grow.
We do allow you to video call family however ask you to be mindful of others around you for privacy.
Baby Cares and Treatments
Staff will help you to be involved in your baby's cares for example changing your baby's nappy and checking their temperature. Nurses will teach you how to do this. Please ask if you have any questions.
You may see lots of different medical devices and hear lots of different noises and beeps. We are more than happy to explain the equipment to you. Here is a brief explanation of some things you might see in the Neonatal Unit. Every baby requires different cares, and the staff will explain the treatment options available for your baby.
- Bubble Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) helps your baby to breathe through two prongs in their nose.
- High Flow Nasal Prongs -your baby receives humidified air and oxygen through two prongs in their nose.
- Low Flow Nasal Prongs - your baby receives small amounts of oxygen through two prongs in their nose.
- your baby may require fluids through a tube in their vein (Intravenous (IV) cannula). These lines can also be used for giving Antibiotics (medicine).
- your baby may receive feeds through an NGT or OGT tube that goes to their stomach
- breastfeeds are encouraged
- bottles may be used for feeds while you are away,
- please ask staff for more information about different ways to feed baby
- It is important that your baby maintains the right body temperature. Your baby may be require a "humidicrib" (plastic box/cot that stays warm) to help them stay warm. Nurses will teach you how to care for your baby whilst they are in the crib.
- sometimes your baby will be on an "open cot" with an overhead heater to help them stay warm
- baby may be connected to a monitor that allows staff to see their heart rate, heart rate pattern, blood pressure, breathing rate and the level of oxygen in their body.
Low Blood Sugars (Hypoglycaemia)
- if your baby requires treatment for low blood sugars, it may be through a sugar gel in their cheek or a tube in their vein (IV line).
- if your baby becomes jaundiced (yellow skin colour), they may be treated under bright blue lights to help reduce their jaundice levels. It is common for baby to be sleepy and wear special sunglasses if under lights.
- Please click on the little picture below for more information about jaundice in newborn babies
Sometimes, babies who are born sick or premature (early) may have trouble feeding. Our staff in the Neonatal Unit are here to support parents to feed their babies while in the unit.
Our staff are dedicated to supporting your breastfeeding journey.
A Lactation support Midwife is available to further support your breastfeeding journey [Tuesday to Thursday]
For more information about feeding your baby at Shoalhaven Hospital, click here.
Some feeding options are explained below:
Our staff are dedicated to supporting your breastfeeding journey. A Lactation Support Midwife is available if needed.
Feeding Tubes (NGT/OGT)
Sometimes, your baby may require feeding through a tube that goes into the nose called a nasogastric tube (NGT) or a tube that goes into their mouth and then their stomach called an orogastric (OGT) feeding tube. Staff will teach you about these feeding tubes, answer any questions and support you through this if needed.
Baby Friendly Health Initiative (BFHI)
The Baby Friendly Health Initiative (BFHI) is a joint World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF project that aims to create a healthcare environment where breastfeeding is the norm, and practices known to promote the well-being of all mothers and babies.
The Milky Way Breastfeeding App
Tests for Baby
Baby may require some blood tests during their stay. Tests are taken from their heel or a vein. Staff will give you more information about tests if they are required.
Common tests include:
- anaemia (low red blood cells), electrolyte and mineral levels
- blood sugar levels
- testing for infection
- NSW /ACT Newborn Screening Test - Newborn screening tests are offered to all babies born in NSW and the ACT. A blood sample is collected from the heel of babies onto a pre-printed filter paper card. Collection occurs in our maternity ward or at home by our midwife support program. Please click here for more information. Please click the image below for Newborn Bloodspot Screening- Tests to protect your baby in English and in different languages.
With your consent, at birth, your baby will receive their Hepatitis B vaccination and Vitamin K injections
Click the above images for more information about Vitamin K and Hepatitis B vaccine
A head ultrasound may be required during your baby's stay. This is painless, similar to the ultrasound you may have had during pregnancy. It scans through the soft spot on the top of your baby’s head (fontanelle). Babies usually sleep through this and results will be discussed with you by the doctor.
Some babies may require an eye test to screen for “eye disease of prematurity” called Retinopathy of Prematurity. You will receive more information if this is required.
NSW Newborn Hearing Test
All babies in NSW have a Hearing (SWISH) Program test. Since 2002 over 95% of babies born in NSW have been screened.
The hearing screen is done when baby is asleep and settled. It helps identify babies that could have permanent hearing loss. The hearing screener will ask for your consent before baby is screened. Click the image below for more information.
Discharge [going home with baby]
It can be exciting taking your baby home from the Neonatal Unit. Our goal is for you to feel confident taking your baby home. Staff will support you through your transition home.
From the minute your baby is admitted to the Neonatal Unit, our staff will be working on a plan to prepare you for discharge. We will teach you so that you feel more confident taking your baby home.
Your baby is ready to go home when he/she is:
- 36 weeks corrected gestation or more
- feeding well – breast, bottle or sometimes tube feeding
- maintaining their temperature
- putting on weight
Before you go home with your baby after they have been in the nursery we offer rooming-in one to two nights [depending on what you need] to feed and care for your baby
Staff will be there to support you if needed.
Rooming-in will occur in the Maternity Ward or Paediatric Unit, depending on bed availability.
The room has a single bed and an ensuite. You have access to the kitchenette. We encourage you to bring everything required for you and your baby's needs.
Neonatal Unit Resources
You might find some of these websites helpful for more information:
Neonatal Unit -what to expect (Raising Children)
Miracle Babies - supporting premature and sick newborns, their families and the hospitals that care for them
Parental Support - (Raising Children)
Breastfeeding your premature baby (Australian Breastfeeding Association)
ISLHD Resources Page for Pregnancy and When you have a new Baby
R.E.A.C.H out to us
Our Paediatric team leaders
Need an Interpreter? Professional interpreters are available if you need help to communicate with staff. Our staff can also ask for an interpreter. The service is free and confidential. We will book the interpreter for you. You can also call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450 if you need to speak to us before your appointment. Click here for more information about the Illawarra Health Care Interpreter Service.