Who Is Who

The People involved in your baby’s life.

Neonatologist – A Paediatrician who has had extra training and deals specifically with newborn babies in an Intensive Care situation.

Paediatrician – A doctor who specializes in Babies and Children.

Resident – A doctor who is qualified but is gaining extra training in a specific area.

Surgeon – A doctor who has been trained and specializes in operations. In this you have surgeons who specialize in certain areas. E.g. A Cardio-Thorasic Surgeon deals with the heart, lungs and chest area

Anesthetist – A doctor who specializes in administering Anesthetics ( Putting the baby to sleep to enable an operation or procedure to be preformed.)

Cardiologist – A doctor who specializes in the Heart.

Neurologist – A doctor specializing in the Brain and Nervous systems

Gastroenterologist – A doctor specializing in Intestinal Problems

Endocrinologist – A doctor who specializes in the glands of the body and hormone problems

Geneticist – a Doctor who specializes in genetic problems. If your baby has a suspected chromosomal problem they would be referred to this doctor.

Opthamologist – A doctor specializing in Eye Problems. It is routine in most hospitals for a baby born under 1500 grams to have at least one checkup done by the Opthamologist. For the majority of babies this checkup is done prior to release from hospital. Follow-ups are also quite routine for this size baby.

Audiologist – A doctor specializing in Hearing. Again it is normal for baby’s born under 1500 grams to have an audiology examine done and sometimes prior to discharge. If at any time you are worried about your baby’s hearing ask your GP for a referral to an audiologist.

Physiotherapist – Physio takes on many forms that over the course of time you may encounter.

1. A physiotherapist may give your child chest therapy if there is problems with fluid retention. This is a gentle tapping on the chest to loosen any congestion.

2. A physiotherapist will be involved in the routine care of your baby, in advising the nurses the best ways of handling and the baby for optimum long-term benefit.

3. Some hospitals the physiotherapy department give talks to parents on handling your baby. If you have the opportunity to attend a talk like this, take it. It will help you feel more comfortable in handling your little one.

4. After your baby goes home and in the first couple of years, a Physiotherapist can help your baby with gross motor problems. Because a premature baby loses the opportunity of flexing the muscles against the resistance of the womb often they have poor muscle development that needs help to develop. A physiotherapist will work with your baby in a number of exercises designed for baby’s to build up muscle strength. It is important if you have any concerns about your baby’s development to talk to your baby’s doctor or health clinic nurse about them. They can then refer you on to a specialist in the field of concern.

Speech Therapist (Pathologist) You might think that because your baby is not talking yet a speech Pathologist is a waste of time. But speech and language is only a part of the speech pathologists domain. If you baby is having problems with feeding and sucking a speech pathologist may be able to help you. The same muscles are involved in early feeding as in later speech development so it is important that these skills are laid down early.

Lactation Consultant – A lactation consultant is the person to see if you are having any problems with breast feeding. They can help and advise you on the expressing and keeping your supply of milk until you baby is able to start trying to feed. They can help with problems dealing with the breasts such as mastitis, or cracked nipples. And when the time comes to start feeding you little one they can advise the best ways to go about it. Most Units have at least one lactation consultant on staff, or the Breastfeeding association can be called on for advice. If the problem with the baby feeding is latching on to the breast the best person to help is a lactation consultant however if you think the problem is to do with sucking the Speech Pathologist is the person to talk to.

Occupational Therapist – My first thought when my daughter was referred to an OT was she is not old enough to need one. But a OT works with the fine motor skills which can also be a problem with some prems.

Social Worker – The social worker plays an important part in the life of the ICN. It is a stressful time for parents and the social workers are there to offer support and counseling when needed. They can provide information about the hospital and accommodation options that may be available to parents of babies in the nurseries. They work with support groups to offer the best care and support possible. If you feel you need to talk to a social worker during your stay in the nurseries contact can usually be made through your baby’s nurse.

Pastoral Care or Hospital Chaplains
Most major hospitals have access to a pastoral care ministry. These comprise of specially commissioned representatives from a variety of religious denominations who minister to the religious, spiritual and emotional need of parents and families. If you would like to make contact with a Hospital Chaplain, talk to your nurse who can arrange a meeting. Arrangements can also be made for your baby to be baptized or christened in the Intensive Care Unit if you require it.

The primary aim of PIPA is to provide practical and emotional support to the parents and families of premature infants. However we do not offer professional advice. We are parents of preterm baby’s and not medical staff. We do offer understanding, support, encouragement and friendship.