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Unborn (pregnancy)/newborn Baby Protocol

What is a protocol?

A protocol is a plan that outlines what professionals need to do when working with families and children. It’s a set of steps that everyone involved can follow to help support a family and make sure they get the help they need.

If there are any concerns or issues that arise, the protocol also helps to guide what to do next.

What is this protocol for?

This protocol is used to help protect unborn and young babies (up to 28 days old) from harm. It’s especially important during pregnancy, where early assessment and support can help reduce any harm.

The protocol helps everyone working with families, like healthcare workers and social workers, respond quickly and effectively when they identify a risk to the unborn or newborn baby’s safety.

During pregnancy, this protocol helps families and professionals work together before the baby arrives to:

  • Make good relationships.
  • Look at areas which are working well or need support.
  • Plan the care and safety of the unborn / newborn baby with their family.

By using this protocol, everyone can work together to make sure the baby is safe and supported before and after birth.

How does everyone working with families use the protocol?

Everyone working with families including healthcare workers (midwifes, health visitors, family nurses and doctors) have a role to identify pregnant women where there has been previous and/or current risks that may impact upon the wellbeing of their unborn/ newborn baby.

There are many risks which could be identified. Each family is different. If you don’t understand what’s happening or you have any questions, do speak to the staff who are working with you.

Referral to children’s social care may be made when using the protocol.

When using the protocol everyone working with a family will:

  • review and share information,
  • complete assessments with the family and other agencies,
  • refer on to other services and support as needed,
  • support the family as early as possible.


Support available

Before and after the protocol has been used, everyone working with a pregnant mother/ newborn, including healthcare workers, will continue to care and support the family.

For more information and support, please see the useful links below.


Useful links

Healthier Together ( – Provides information and resources to improve the health of children and young people in Hampshire and Dorset.

Family Information and Services Hub | Family Lives – Family Lives provides information, advice, guidance and support on all aspects of parenting and family life.

The Solihull Approach – Provides free online courses for all parents, expectant parents, carers, grandparents and teens living in Hampshire.

NSPCC library catalogue – an Unstable Start: All Babies Count – Published by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), this report looks at the impact of homelessness on babies.

The best start for life: a vision for the 1,001 critical days –  This document explains six areas for action to help improve the health of all babies in England.

Citizens Advice – Offer confidential advice online, over the phone, and in person, for free. Adviceline: 0800 144 8848.

NSPCC | The UK children’s charity | NSPCC – National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. NSPCC Helpline: 0808 800 5000 or email:

Family Rights Group – A charity that advises parents, grandparents, relatives and friends about their rights and options when social workers or courts make decisions about their children’s welfare. They work with parents whose children are in need, at risk or are in the care system and with wider family members and friends who are raising children (known as kinship carers). Free adviceline: 0808 8010366.

NHS 111 – 111 Online will direct you to the best place to get help if you are worried about your baby.

Find your nearest A&E – NHS – Find urgent and emergency care services in your area.