Neonatal care in prematurity

According to the NHS, half of all twins are born prematurely and according to a survey by TAMBA, 40 per cent of twins and 95 per cent of triplets will spend some time in neo natal care. As a neo natal unit can be an unfamiliar and confusing place, it is worth organising a
visit. In the event that one of your babies has to go to the neonatal unit immediately, you might consider having a second birthing partner so one could accompany the baby.

It may be worth having contingency plans for the following: some families have the added complexity of one baby being discharged sooner than the other; if you have had a caesarean section, you won’t be able to drive back and forth to the hospital and you may have other children at home.

“My pregnancy became complicated at 20 weeks, (twin two had stopped growing and was not receiving a consistent blood supply) we were warned that they would be quite a bit earlier than expected and that we might not be lucky enough to have two surviving at the end of it all. I made it to 32 weeks and had my twins by caesarean section, weighing 4lbs 6oz and 2lbs 4oz. At King’s the neonatal rooms are set up in order of the dependency of the babies: Intensive Care Unit One is the room with the sickest babies and Intensive Care Unit Two where the slightly less sick babies are, followed by High Dependency and then Special. Intensive Care Unit One is definitely the scariest of all the rooms, the lights are very dim and it’s very quiet – apart from all the alarms constantly going off.

Each baby has a nurse with them all the time and each of their needs are met immediately. We had one baby in intensive care and one in Special care. In Special Care, however, each nurse has three or more babies to care for. Being used to one-to-one care, it is very hard to wait your turn to be told how our babies were doing and learning that we could pick our babies up ourselves if they were crying and we didn’t have to wait for someone to tell us it was ok (in Intensive Care Unit One you wouldn’t dream of trying to pick up your child without permission and help.) The idea of Special Care is that the parents do most of the feeds and changes themselves, getting ready to take their babies home and be sole carers.

You are normally advised to “room-in” with your baby before you go home. This is where you stay with your baby in a private room just off Special Care Birthing Unit and all the care is left to you, in the knowledge that if anything happens the staff are just outside your door. We roomed in with one baby who came home a week before the other but when the other was ready to come home we just braved it – it was too much of a challenge to try and organise all four of us in such a tiny room.”

Stephanie from West Dulwich, mum of Sacha and Louis, 8

For contact details of organisations concerned with prematurity see Here to help

Big Lottery Fund logo

Dulwich and District Twins Club monkeys