Caring for newborn babies – antenates and neonates

Every year over 100,000 babies in the UK are admitted to a specialist neonatal unit*. Unfortunately, there are a comparatively large number of babies who are born but die soon after birth or who are identified with life limiting conditions in the first month of their birth. For example:

  • Some babies may be diagnosed antenatally (in pregnancy) with a condition that means they are likely to only live a few hours or days
  • For some babies, treatment may be inappropriate or will fail and need to be withdrawn
  • Other babies may be discharged but have an ongoing condition that will threaten their life and they are unlikely to reach adulthood.

*The term neonate refers to a newborn child usually less than a month old.

Specialist antenatal and neonatal care

Our highly trained, experienced nursing staff provide specialist care to babies and their families. At each of our hospices there is a dedicated nurse with special responsibility to support the delivery of antenatal and neonatal palliative care. We can support through:

  • Antenatal referral to enable relationship building with parents and provide the time to listen, reassure, advise and support. This can include pre-bereavement work if appropriate
  • Early referral for neonates to ensure babies with an ongoing need start receiving support as soon as possible
  • Access to an experienced and qualified multi-disciplinary team of professionals including:
    • A paediatric consultant and team of GPs
    • Registered children’s nurses (including neonatal nurses and non medical prescribers)
    • Health care assistants
    • Family team and sibling workers
Baby's bedroom at Acorns
  • Development and delivery of individual care plans to include pain management and symptom control. These are developed with the family ensuring their views are reflected and they retain a level of control and decision making
  • Ensuring all appropriate resources are available – from information materials to specialist equipment
  • Compassionate extubation (removal of life support) at the hospice, ensuring a calm, controlled experience led by the family wishes and involving key members of extended family if desired
  • Transfer to the hospice post-death with use of a special bedroom where a baby can rest peacefully after they have died

Creating lasting memories

Parents are offered the option to spend the limited time they have with their baby in a homely non-clinical environment on site at an Acorns hospice, allowing time to be parents and a family together with their baby. Our staff work closely with families to create positive opportunities:

Children's bed and toys
  • Making quality personal time with their baby by providing support e.g. with bathing and dressing
  • Capturing positive memories in the form of photographs, footprints, and hair
  • Space and facilities to allow for wider support networks to be involved, e.g. enabling siblings, grandparents and other family and friends to visit and spend time together with the baby, helping them to understand the situation and make their own personal memories
  • Developing appropriate memorials such as tree planting

Supporting families through loss

We also provide non-hospice services to help families deal with the loss of their child, providing emotional and practical support when it is needed most:

Children's soft toys at Acorns

Find out more about care services