Neonatal units have a range of provision for sick or premature babies, usually organized into three areas: intensive care (NICU), high dependency (HDU) and special care (SCBU).

  • NICU caters for the most premature. Here most babies will be in closed incubators, possibly ventilated, to help them breathe and have a nasogastric (NG) tube to feed them. Other interventions might include monitors to record their heart rate and blood pressure. Despite all the high tech equipment it is still really important to interact with your baby as much as possible. Techniques such as comfort holding or kangaroo care (outlined below) can be used, so always ask your baby’s nurse about how to interact with your baby.
  • HDU caters for less sick babies. Some babies will be in closed incubators, whilst others might be in open cots. Your baby will be likely to spend time in HDU following time in NICU. They will still be closely monitored, possibly by getting oxygen through their nose and being fed through a nasogastric (NG) tube.
  • SCBU caters for the least sick or less premature babies and most will be in open cots. Care might include a mattress which monitors your baby’s breathing, they may be getting oxygen through their nose and being fed by nasogastric (NG) tube. If your baby has been through NICU and HDU, then this will be the next room you are in before being discharged home.