What is a Neonatal Nurse?

08/30/23  2:38 PM PST

What is a Neonatal Nurse?

Neonatal nurses are nurses who specialize in the care of newborn infants from birth until hospital discharge. While neonatal nurses care for all infants, including infants without medical complications, they are a key care provider for hospitalized infants born with a wide range of complications such as prematurity, infection, cardiac malformations, birth defects and other problems. Neonatal nurses are trained to work with infants requiring different levels of care, and infant needs will determine the skill levels required by their nurses.

The neonatal period is defined as the first month of life, however some infants may require hospitalized care that extends beyond the neonatal period, or they may have long-term complications from their medical issues shortly after birth. Neonatal nurses may care for these children up to about 2 years of age.

Neonatal nurses primarily work within the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit); however, they sometimes work in settings other than the NICU. Neonatal nurses can be found in trauma units and cardiac care units. They even work at in-home settings to provide extended care for discharged patients that might be classified as “high-risk patients” and to share their extensive care knowledge with families that care for their loved one.

Neonatal nurses are highly motivated and have many specialized skills and responsibilities.


What are some of their responsibilities?

Their responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

  • Consistent care and monitoring of infants in need of care
  • Medication management
  • Tube feeding
  • Operating special equipment such as, incubators, ventilators, and more
  • Running medical exams
  • IV insertions
  • Well-baby care


What Are the Different Levels of Neonatal Nursing?

There are three levels of neonatal nursing:

Level I:

Level I neonatal nursing is designated for healthy newborns. Level I neonatal nurses are skilled in neonatal resuscitation, wellness care for newborn babies, care for babies born at 35-37 weeks gestation, and stabilization for newborns who are ill and born at less than 35 weeks gestation until they can be transferred. Neonatal nurses at level I are responsible for a wide variety of well-baby care, including performing hearing tests and vision tests on newborn babies, giving shots, bathing newborns, and helping new mothers learn how to care for their newborns.

Level II:

Level II neonatal nurses work in special care nurseries and have all the capabilities of Level I nurses. Level II neonatal nurses frequently work with premature newborns or those who need immediate care. They are skilled at intravenous fluid administration, specialized feeding, oxygen therapy, medications, and more. Level II neonatal nurses are qualified to provide care for infants born at 32 weeks gestation who have a moderate illness and may need additional care. They also provide care for infants who are growing stronger or needing help after intensive care and may provide mechanical ventilation for these babies as well as help them learn to breathe on their own.

Level III:

Level III neonatal nurses work in the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU. These specialty nurses are specifically qualified and trained to work with high-risk infants. Neonatal nurses providing Level III care are responsible for very sick newborns, including those with congenital problems or those who are very premature. They may need surgery, incubators, ventilators, and other supporting equipment. These sick newborns may need sustained life support, have low birth weights, need to be seen by a wide variety of specialists, and are monitored constantly.


Who else is on the NICU team?

Neonatal Nurse: As previously mentioned, Neonatal nurses specialize in care of infants from birth through hospital discharge.

NICU Nurse: NICU nurses care for infants and newborns exclusively within the NICU.

Pediatrician: Pediatricians work primarily with infants as well as older children in general.

Neonatologist: Neonatologists are trained and specialized in the care of premature babies that might need additional special care after birth, they also diagnose patients, make a treatment plan, and much more.

Lactation Consultant: A Lactation Consultant is a nurse that helps teach mothers how to breastfeed their infants and how to solve any issues that can surround breastfeeding such us, latching problems and pain.

Perinatal Nurse: A Perinatal nurse works with new mothers throughout their pregnancy, their birth and the early life of their baby.

Medical Geneticist: Medical Geneticists are doctors that are specialized in caring for patients that might have birth defects and/or genetic conditions.

Clinical Nurse Specialist: These Clinical Nurse Specialists are nurses that help inform families and their children about how to care for their infant and the infant’s health condition.

And others…

The hard work of neonatal nurses helps babies thrive, and these specialty nurses save lives on a daily basis. They contribute to families and individuals being able to bring their child home whenever possible. Shield HealthCare extends our sincere thanks to Neonatal nurses for their dedication to saving lives and helping families grow.


What is Neonatal Nursing? | NANN

What is a Neonatal Nurse | NurseJournal

25 Types of Nurses | Healthline

NICU staff | March of Dimes

Who Works in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU)? | Verywell Family

How to Become a Neonatal Nurse | Western Governors University


Recent Health Care Professionals

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *