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Keeping Newborn Babies Warm

Advice for parents

George Eliot Hospital’s Maternity and Special Care Baby Units are issuing free knitted hats to babies as part of an education campaign around preventing hypothermia in newborns.

This initiative aims to prevent babies being admitted to a neonatal unit because they haven’t been kept warm enough, as the maternity team are particularly keen to ensure that mum and baby are kept together during their time at the hospital. The campaign also demonstrates the importance of skin to skin contact between the baby and parents.

A poster and short video explaining nine first steps for both midwives and new parents was officially launched with an event in the maternity building during International Kangaroo Care Day on the 15th of May. Kangaroo Care Day is an international initiative to highlight the importance of skin to skin contact between parents and babies, from birth.

Head of Midwifery, Claire Price said: “The first few hours are precious for new-borns and this campaign both informs parents and reinforces our midwives’ training in keeping babies warm. This campaign helps us work together for the good of the babies and helps prevent them having to be treated in our special care unit.

It also is a great use for the thousands of knitted hats we received last year!”

A baby hat and printed advice will be shared with parents at birth preparation classes. The advice includes the importance of keeping windows closed in the delivery room; ensuring babies wear a hat and skin to skin contact. 

The maternity team will also be sharing the information to midwives based at the hospital and out in the community to reinforce these valuable steps.

Keeping newborn babies warm is one of the initiatives identified by the maternity and neonatal team who are taking part in the Maternity and Neonatal Safety Collaborative. This is a three-year programme to support improvements in the quality and safety of maternity and neonatal units across England. The campaign will measure the effect of the initiative and analyse the findings later this year.

Last year the George Eliot Hospital Maternity Unit received over 15,000 baby hats from kind knitters following a Facebook campaign - enough to last for a few years.

The project is already proving to be a success.

Supporting information

Kangaroo Care was a method started in Bogotá, Colombia in 1978 to improve the survival of premature babies in low-resource countries. It has since expanded world-wide and consists of continuous skin to skin contact between the mother and baby, from the time of birth (from the delivery room or intensive, intermediate or basic care,) supports breastfeeding and earlier discharge from hospital.

The aim of the National Maternity and Neonatal Safety Collaborative programme is to reduce the rates of maternal deaths, stillbirths, neonatal deaths and brain injuries that occur during or soon after birth by 20% by 2020 and 50% by 2025.

This national programme requires all NHS trusts (plus independent providers) who provide maternity services in England to make measurable improvements in safety outcomes for women, their babies and families by exchanging ideas and best practice.