Sick Term Babies

You may not have expected to find yourself in the neonatal unit (NNU), having given birth to a term baby. You may feel disappointed and frightened in this new environment, but the medical staff is here to support you

Family-centred care is at the heart of the neonatal unit’s ethos.  This means that the medical staff aim to ensure that parents are informed, guided, and supported in providing care throughout their baby’s stay in the NNU.  They want parents to feel confident when caring for their baby and to feel comfortable in taking control of their baby’s care. In the NNU, parents will receive support which makes them confident enough to make decisions and to take control of their baby’s care.

You will be able to take part in caring for your baby as soon as you feel ready and as soon as it is medically appropriate. Initially, this may be talking to your baby, or comfort-holding them as shown by your baby’s nurse.  As your baby gets better, you’ll have the opportunity to be more hands-on. The team in the neonatal unit will ensure that both your baby and your family receive the appropriate care and have access to the resources you need, such as practical support to breastfeed or express breastmilk.

No matter how long or short a baby’s stay in the NNU, or whether a baby is born preterm or at term, family centred care is always important. Although your term baby may be more developed and weigh more than a preterm baby, this does not mean that they have less need for supportive care. The nervous system of a term baby is more mature than that of a preterm baby so your baby has a greater ability to respond to your voice and smell.

As a result of your baby being ill, their ability to communicate with the world and move as you would expect may be hindered.  You’ll get better insight to your baby’s behaviours as you get to know them and following clinical examinations.

Your baby was admitted to the NNU because your baby needed further observation, investigations or medical care.  There are many reasons why, and this section provides information on the most common reasons for term babies being admitted to the NNU.

Heart Issues

Some term babies may have heart issues and need treatment in the NNU.


Some term babies may contract infections that need to be treated in the NNU


Jaundice is one of the most common conditions in term and preterm babies

Neurological Issues

HIE and seizures are common neurological issues that are treated in the NNU

Respiratory Issues

Respiratory issues are a common reason for admittance to the NNU

Other Reasons

Other reasons your baby may have been admitted to the NNU