Special Care Nurseries

When babies arrive with complex needs, they often require extra special care. The Northside Hospital Special Care Nurseries (SCN), also known as neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), at our Atlanta, Cherokee and Forsyth Women’s Centers and Gwinnett Women's Pavilion at Northside Hospital Gwinnett, all deliver unsurpassed expert Level III care (the highest level of clinical designation) to our youngest and smallest patients. Northside SCN babies receive the individualized special care that is expected from the nation’s leader in maternity and newborn services. There are various reasons that may lead your baby or babies to require neonatal care in one of our Special Care Nurseries including:

  • Being born prematurely
  • Having a low birth weight
  • Being a set of multiples (twins, triplets, etc.)
  • Diagnosis before delivery with a congenital condition
  • Genetic predisposition to being born with an inherited condition
  • Diagnosis at birth with a condition that requires immediate medical or surgical care
  • You have a pre-existing condition that may impact the health of your baby at birth (such as heart disease, diabetes or lupus)

Advanced Care for Your Baby

Care Teams

All of our best-in-class Special Care Nurseries are staffed 24 hours a day with experienced and caring NICU care teams that are specially trained to care for newborns with complex conditions and work with their families. Knowing that our compassionate multidisciplinary care teams provide the latest research-based patient care, education and support to meet the individual needs of our families, you can have peace of mind during your labor and delivery, that you are in the right place should your baby need it.

Your baby’s care team includes:

  • Care coordinator
  • Neonatologists
  • Pediatric specialists in cardiology, gastroenterology and ophthalmology
  • Neonatal nurses and/or nurse practitioners
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Dietitians
  • Occupational therapists
  • Physical therapists
  • Speech therapists
  • Audiologists
  • Pharmacists

Tests & Procedures

We offer the following specialized procedures at each of our Special Care Nurseries to ensure that your baby receives the highest level of neonatal care available:

  • High-frequency ventilation (HFV)
  • Nitric oxide therapy
  • Therapeutic hypothermia
  • Ex-utero intrapartum treatment (EXIT) procedure
  • Delivery and rapid transfer (D.A.R.T.) procedure
  • Laser eye surgery for retinopathy of prematurity (ROP)

Short Term NICU Care

If your baby is in need of a little bit of extra care immediately following the birth, the Special Care Nurseries at our Atlanta, Cherokee and Forsyth Women’s Centers offer a Transition Nursery where your baby can remain for up to six hours. At our Gwinnett Women’s Pavilion, babies needing extra care will transition in the NICU.

Parent/Baby Rooms (Cherokee, Forsyth & Gwinnett)

The Special Care Nurseries at Cherokee, Forsyth and Gwinnett have dedicated private Parent/Baby Rooms. This allows our nursing staff to provide a lot of one-on-one time, attention and teaching to you and your family.

Nesting Rooms (Atlanta)

Our Atlanta Special Care Nursery offers a Nesting Room for parents with infants that will require special needs at home. Here you are able to spend the night with your baby prior to discharge, to help you feel more comfortable with the care you will need to provide at home.

Skin-to-Skin Care in the NICU

No one can prepare you for the first time you hold your new baby. It’s a special experience like no other. In our Special Care Nurseries, both mothers and fathers are encouraged to bond with their babies by doing skin-to-skin care (also known as kangaroo care) or holding your baby unwrapped, on your bare chest under a blanket. Most babies are able to be held skin-to-skin shortly after birth, but if not, your health care team can help you decide when the time is right.

Skin-to-skin is important for all eligible babies on a daily basis and encouraged for at least an hour or longer. Hearing mom and dad’s heartbeat will comfort your baby. Skin-to-skin holding can also help with earlier breastfeeding and an increased milk supply if you choose to pump and/or breastfeed.

Skin-to-skin is also encouraged while your baby is in the SCN for the following reasons:

  • Leads to increased parent-infant bonding
  • Possible decreased length of stay in the hospital
  • Improvement in baby’s temperature stability
  • Improvement in baby’s sleep
  • Decrease in oxygen requirements
  • Possible decrease in apnea episodes (breathing pauses) and bradycardia episodes (slow heart rate)
  • May decrease crying and fussiness

When skin-to-skin holding needs to be postponed due to your baby’s condition, the perfect alternative is to hold your baby with a “hand hug”.

Breastfeeding in the NICU

Human milk is specifically designed for your baby and particularly important for the very small or special needs babies, as it helps protect them from infections and contains hormones, nutrients and growth factors that will help your baby grow and develop. Our Lactation Consultants will meet with you and give instruction on expressing your milk, how to use a breast pump and how to safely store your milk while your baby is in the NICU.

Click the links below and follow one family’s NICU journey and the importance of human milk in the NICU.

Parent Communication

Parents are the most important caregiver and member of a baby’s care team and the family-centered philosophy works to encourage families to participate in the care of their newborns. You will be encouraged to be with your baby as much as possible and our specially trained staff are there to explain the intensive care routine and procedures to you and provide the necessary education to keep you engaged and informed about your baby’s condition.

While your baby is in our Special Care Nursery, you may reach your Care Coordinator by calling:

AngelEye at Gwinnett Women's Pavilion

The Gwinnett Women's Pavilion provides parents of babies in the NICU access to a closed circuit camera dedicated to their baby to help facilitate and maintain connection for parents when they are not able to be by their baby's bedside.

Parent Education

Whether your child delivered early or you experienced complications during birth, our “Special Beginnings” eBook is designed to help answer your questions and prepare you for what to expect during your stay in our Special Care Nurseries. (Español)

Funding for eBooks provided by the Northside Hospital Atlanta Auxiliary.

Support & Resources

We understand that having a baby in the NICU is a very emotional time for families. At Northside Hospital, we offer a variety of services to help support you and your family throughout your time in one of our Special Care Nurseries:

H.E.A.R.T.strings at Northside Hospital

The H.E.A.R.T.strings Perinatal Palliative Care Program cares for families that have been given a life-limiting diagnosis for their unborn child and have made the decision to continue their pregnancy. We would be honored to be a support to you on this journey during your pregnancy and beyond. To learn more about how our program can help, contact us at or 404-851-8177.

The H.E.A.R.T.strings Perinatal Bereavement Program consists of a team of nurses, chaplains, bereaved parents and hospital staff, who are trained to help, guide and support parents through their loss and journey toward healing. A variety of support groups and resources are available for you, to help preserve memories and understand natural grief reactions. For more information, please contact 404-851-8177 or, or visit our website at All resources are free of charge.

Miracle Babies at Northside Hospital

As the undisputed leader in maternity services, our Northside Hospital Atlanta, Cherokee and Forsyth Special Care Nurseries care for more than 20,000 babies annually. Many families spend days, weeks or even months in the unit and are not able to handle extra needs and expenses associated with their stay. Unplanned time-off from work and increased travel to and from the hospital are a new reality for them. Miracle Babies at Northside Hospital is a fund, through the Northside Hospital Foundation, that provides crucial support to these families. For more information about this program, contact the Northside Hospital Foundation by calling 770-667-4483 or or click here to visit their website. Additionally, each year, we invite Special Care Nursery alumni to celebrate with us for a day of fun at our Miracle Babies Party at the Zoo. Learn more about this annual event and about our Miracle Baby Alumni Club.