When your baby may need additional care

At Mercy Hospital for Women, our combined Nurseries care for babies who are born unwell or too early (prematurely), as well as those babies born in regional Victoria who need intensive care.

Over 1,300 premature and sick infants are cared for at Mercy Hospital for Women each year.

The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit provides intensive care to the smallest and sickest babies, who often need help to breathe. The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is co-located next to the Special Care Nursery, which provides close observation and care for babies who are stable, and do not need help to breathe. Babies in our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit may transition to the Special Care Nursery before they go home.

Mercy Hospital for Women is a major teaching hospital and specialist referral centre. We have 61 cots made up of 28 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit cots and 33 Special Care Nursery cots, which together are referred to as Neonatal Services. We are one of just four Neonatal Intensive Care Units in Victoria. We care for infants admitted to the nursery within the first 28 days of life with gestations as low as 23 weeks. Our multidisciplinary team consists of doctors, nurses, care managers, social workers and many more disciplines.

While some premature births will be expected, others will happen due to an emergency. Your obstetric team will arrange for you to speak to a Neonatal Paediatrican before your baby’s birth. A tour of our combined nursery can be arranged.

What to expect in the nursery

While your baby is in our nursery, you will not need to bring clothes or nappies. However, if you have a special toy or blanket for your baby, please feel free to place it at your baby’s bedside.

When your baby is first admitted to the nursery, it can be hard to remember all of the information you receive. We will give you a booklet with important information on our hospital practices to read in your own time.

We welcome parents to come to the nursery, ask questions, or call at any time of the day or night. We do not think of parents as visitors and we encourage you to spend as much time as possible with your baby.

How long can babies stay in the nursery?

Premature babies are usually ready to go home around the time they reach full term, although this varies from baby to baby. Some premature babies may stay beyond their due date.

There is no special weight that babies must reach to be able to go home, but your baby must be feeding well and gaining weight, and you must be confident in giving your baby the care they need. For babies born with problems at term, their length of stay in hospital depends on the nature of the problems.

Mercy Hospital for Women is a hospital for high risk infants, who need specialist care. Due to state-wide demands on our care services, we may need to move your baby to a local Special Care Nursery closer to your home. This creates space for new babies who need to be in our hospital for intensive care or specialist treatment.

We make the decision to transfer your baby to a local nursery in your family’s best interest; it is a positive and exciting step towards getting your baby ready to be discharged home. Where possible, babies are transferred to the hospital where their birth was booked. This means you can visit more often and contact local medical and maternal child health services for ongoing support. Babies are transferred by PIPER (Paediatric, Infant, Perinatal Emergency Retrieval) in a specialised neonatal transport ambulance. All babies are cared for by a specially trained nurse. Our discharge staff will explain the transfer process to you.

Information and support networks for premature babies:
www.austprem.org.au – Austprem (Australia)
www.miraclebabies.org.au/ — Miracle Babies Foundation supporting families with premature and sick babies.
www.readystepgrow.org.au/ — Ready-Step-Grow supports premature babies and their parents.
www.bliss.org.uk/ — Support and information of parents of premature and sick babies.
www.breastfeeding.asn.au/ — Australian Breastfeeding Association.
www.mercyhealthbreastmilkbank.com.au/ — Our Nurseries are supported by the Mercy Health Breastmilk Bank.

Other information and support networks:
www.panda.org.au — Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia.
www.beyondblue.org.au — beyondblue.
www.blackdoginstitute.org.au — Black Dog Institute.
www.acd.org.au — Association for Children with a Disability.
www.relationshipsaustralia.org.au — Relationships Australia.
www.amba.org.au — Australian Multiple Birth Association.
www.sands.org.au — Sands (miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn deaths support).
www.sidsandkids.org – SIDS and Kids.
www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/newborn-screening — Victorian Newborn Screening Program.

Information on premature outcomes:
www.anznn.net/ — Australian and New Zealand Neonatal Network is a collaboration of every neonatal intensive care unit across Australia and New Zealand. The 2014 Annual Report covers the neonatal outcomes of high-risk babies born in 2014.
www.vics-infantstudy.org.au/ — Victorian Infant Collaborative Study is a long-term study of prematurely born infants throughout their childhood and into adulthood.

Last reviewed September 28, 2017.

Your labour and birth

Your labour and birth is one of the most amazing experiences you will have. It is our privilege to help you prepare for labour, and to provide care and support for you and your loved ones in our birth suite at the Mercy Hospital for Women.

Your labour and birth

During your postnatal stay

It is important that you enjoy the precious time after your baby is born. Knowing what to expect after birth, and the support we give you, is helpful in taking each day at a time as you get to know your baby.

During your postnatal stay