What happens when your baby is transferred to another neonatal unit

If your baby needs to be transferred to another neonatal unit things may happen very quickly and at very short notice.

What happens if my baby needs to be transferred to another neonatal unit

Hopefully your local hospital will be able to care for your baby throughout the duration of his or her stay, however, here in Lincoln we provide level 2 care (local Neonatal Unit, LNU) and Pilgrim level 1 care (Special Care Baby Unit, SCBU) in our neonatal units. If your baby is very premature or very sick he/she may need to be transferred to another unit with a higher level of care that is more appropriate for his or her needs at that time.

If your baby needs to be transferred to another neonatal unit things may happen very quickly and at very short notice.

We are aware that this can be very overwhelming for you and your family. We do not take the decision to move your baby lightly.

Babies are transferred to other units by a transport team and it is all managed by the Centre Transport consultants and specialist nurses in collaboration with your baby’s consultant.

When the transport team are involved, they will assess your baby and plan to ensure that they can be transferred safely.

We may need to insert a tube into your baby’s airway to take over their breathing, insert a cannula and give medications to keep your baby comfortable and calm during the transfer.

Your baby will be transferred into a transport incubator which is set up to provide mobile intensive care.

Although it can seem like a bumpy ride, the incubator absorbs much of this so your baby is secure inside. Your baby will be fully monitored throughout the entire journey.  Sometimes the team will be able to take one of you on the transfer, but this is not always possible.  If this is not possible then the transport team will do their best to visit you on the postnatal ward prior to leaving the hospital.  The transport team will always contact you to let you know that they have arrived safely at their destination. Although transfer can be unsettling for some babies, typically they tolerate the journey very well and sleep throughout.

Ask questions – if you are unsure or unclear on anything, always ask. We are moving your baby away from you, so it is important that you understand.  You are welcome to ask as many questions as you need to so you can understand what is happening.

Transferring your baby can be an upheaval and may result in a lot of time, energy and cost for you, spending time travelling back and forth from home. Finding out from the new unit how they can help you is really important, as each unit has their own provisions in place.

If your baby’s transfer is planned (i.e. moving back to a local unit such as Pilgrim or Lincoln) it can be a good idea to visit the new unit if you have not been there before.

The nurses on the current unit will be able to help arrange this for you; it can alleviate some of the anxiety if you have visited where your baby is going and what you can expect.


We are able to offer the use of Facetime, which will enable mums whose babies are transferred to another hospital shortly after delivery to:

  • See their baby
  • Meet the staff providing baby’s care
  • Discuss their baby’s care needs

A member of staff will be present with both mum and baby for the duration of the Facetime call.

Telephone calls

There is a direct line for parents who wish to contact the units as follows:

Lincoln Neonatal Unit: 01522 573604       Pilgrim Neonatal Unit: 01205 445404

Further information

For further help and assistance, there is more information on the East Midlands Neonatal Operational Delivery Network (EMNODN) website.

If you have any questions regarding this information, or any other matter, please ask a member of staff.