Support at home
When a baby is discharged from hospital, various health professionals are meant to advise parents on issues like feeding, growth, baby care as well as immunisation or developmental steps in the next time. A list of helpful contacts might be useful for parents taking their preterm baby home. Asking for information about the types of help available and who to contact for specific issues should be made as simple as possible.
The following lists a selected range of health care professionals who can get involved after leaving hospital. Please note that job titles and services in this regard can vary between hospitals, regions and countries.
Midwives are health professionals who continually provide support, care and advice after childbirth as well and usually come to the family’s home. Follow-up care for the mother, all questions concerning breastfeeding, baby care as well as attendance in the phase of the remission fall within the scope of a midwife.
Community neonatal nurse/case manager
A neonatal community nurse/case manager visits and helps families to deal with babies that have been recently discharged. These highly specialized professionals can provide vital support in the areas of feeding and on-going medical needs e.g. home oxygen use.
A health visitor is a nurse with an extra education in child development and public health and who works in the community. Health visitors give support and advice to parents and their children until the age of five and have a role in protecting the health of the whole community. They help to ensure sanitary and hygienic standards at peoples’ homes to protect the health of families as well as their children.
Home care team
If a baby has on-going medical needs, there is the possibility to receive support from a home care team from the hospital who delivers primary health care in the patient’s home. Depending on the baby’s needs the team has an individualised staff constitution.
A paediatrician is a doctor specialised in babies and children. Whereas a neonatologist is a paediatrician specialised in newborn babies. If there are any worries about the baby’s health, a paediatrician may be consulted.
It is very common for young parents of preterm born babies to feel insecure about coping with this challenging time. To be aware of the services of different health professionals may help parents to manage this situation. They should not hesitate to take the advice they need to learn gradually how to handle and help their baby in specific situations.
General practitioner (GP)
A GP is a local doctor where parents register with their baby in countries where it is not custom to register the baby at a paediatrician’s office. The GP should be the first point of contact for any type of health-related problem. They can make referrals to other specialised health professionals or, if needed, hospital.
The day-to-day duties of practice nurses include immunisation procedures for babies like carrying out infant injections or vaccinations. They are often based with a GP or a Paediatrician.