My name is Vickie Bevan; I’m a Paediatric Dietitian at the Great Western Hospital in Swindon.  We are a Local Neonatal Unit and Special Care Baby Unit (SCBU) for babies who are born prematurely. 

I start my day by checking the computer to see which babies are on the ward, and noting down the results of any blood tests they have had.  Then I head upstairs to start my ward round.

The neonatal nurses and paediatricians tell me about the babies they would like me to see, which are usually ones that have feeding difficulties, aren’t growing so well, are on a special milk or have a medical condition which makes feeding and growing more of a challenge.

Firstly I check their weight, length and head circumference and plot it on a chart so I can monitor the trend in their growth.  I’ll then talk to the nurses, doctors and parents about how the baby is doing with their feeds.  I’m interested to know how much they are taking and how often, and if they’re tolerating the feed OK.  I use this information to work out if they are meeting their nutritional requirements.  Babies who are born early need much more energy, protein, vitamins and minerals than babies who are born on their due date – they’re like the super athletes of the baby-world!

Working alongside parents and families is really important to me, so I always ensure I spend time understanding their thoughts about how they would like their baby to be fed and making sure they are involved in any decisions about changes to feeds.

Finally, I’ll put a nutrition plan in place and arrange a time to come back and review.

The other big part of my job is reviewing babies who have gone home.  Often they will need their growth and feeding monitoring for a while after they have left the unit.  I work closely with our SCBU Outreach Team, Health Visitors, Community Outreach Nurses and Speech and Language Therapists to provide ongoing support to families.

I love being part of our Neonatal Team.  It’s a real privilege working with babies and families at such a vulnerable and special time in their lives.  Knowing that I can help them get the best start nutritionally fills me with a sense of pride and satisfaction.