Neonatal care refers to the professional health care given to new-born infants from the moment they are born through the first 30 days of life. It is a necessary practice to ensure the life and safety of the baby as it adjusts to life outside the womb. Also known as specialized nurseries or intensive care, neonatal care has been around and in practice since the 1960s and has brought a great decline in the mortality rate of infants.
Why Is It Important?
Neonatal care begins immediately after the baby is born. A nurse begins with suctioning the baby’s nose and mouth, sometimes even while it is still being birthed, to prevent any obstruction to breathing. After clearing the baby’s airways and lungs of amniotic fluid, the nurse clamps and cuts the umbilical cord, quickly dries off the baby so it doesn’t lose body heat through evaporation before proceeding to check the baby’s vitals thoroughly. Proper neonatal care not only ensures the baby is properly and safely delivered but also enables early detection of possible health issues and sees that medication is administered.
Neonatal care is a specialised area of medicine and the department of a hospital that manages this area is called the neonatal unit. The unit is designed to cater for new-borns whether healthy, sick, or premature. Neonatal Care Units are also equipped with incubators, blood pressure monitors, oxygen hoods and ventilators, among others. Those who care for infants are called Neonatologists and Neonatal Nurses. In England, Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Private HealthCare has one of the largest Neonatology and Neonatal Unit that cater for up to 1000 babies annually. With a global reputation for providing modern and excellent health care services, the hospital lends specialized expertise to adults, children and infants. They also offer maternity and fertility services.
A selection of expert neonatologists and neonatal nurses are on hand to handle complications arising from cardiac, surgical and neurological conditions 24 hours a day to care for sick and premature babies. To ensure that each baby gets the peculiar care that it needs, the neonatal unit at Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Private Healthcare is divided into three areas namely, The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for new-borns with respiratory problems, The Neonatal High Dependency Unit (NHDU) for babies who do not require as much intensive care but still need medical attention, and The Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) which attends to infants who need oxygen, phototherapy and tube feeding. The unit also boasts of the best consultant neonatologists, pediatric neonatal surgeons and a consultant pediatric neurologist assuring patients that they are in excellent hands.
Neonatal care cannot be trivialised as that is the first defence a helpless baby has against life-threatening ailments. It is a way of giving infants a fighting chance to live. Every parent should take the time to research the quality of neonatal care at their preferred hospital before committing to giving birth there.