Neonatal ICU (NICU)

Contact us

Doula Services

Find an OB Provider

See all


Find an MD or Midwife

Call 206-386-BABY (2229)

If you'd like to have your baby at Swedish, let us help you find a doctor or midwife.

Find a caregiver 24/7

One of Washington’s Largest Neonatal Care Programs for its Smallest Residents.

Of the thousands of babies born at Swedish each year, the vast majority will never see the inside of a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). But for those who need extra attention, our First Hill campus is home to a Level IV NICU. This is where babies who are born very prematurely, or face life-threatening illnesses or complications receive the highest level of specialized care. We have a nationally renowned team of neonatologists available 24 hours a day — plus pediatric nurses, anesthesiologists, surgeons, therapists and other specialists dedicated to caring for sick or premature babies.

Depending on a baby’s needs, we offer different levels of NICU care. Our NICU FAQs page can answer common questions about why a baby might need the NICU and what kind of care she would receive there.

Parents at First Hill have the peace of mind that comes from knowing that if their baby needs it, expert help is just down the hall. And our newborn transport service — available 24/7 — is dedicated to safely transferring babies from our Ballard, Edmonds or Issaquah birth centers to the First Hill NICU.

Does Swedish Have a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit?

In the video below Dr. Dorcas McLennan, Medical Director of the Family Childbirth Center at Swedish Ballard, and Judy Kimelman, Seattle OB/GYN, discuss the levels of neonatal intensive care units and premature delivery.

Note: Swedish First Hill now has a Level IV NICU.

Read the full video text/transcript

Full Video Text/Transcript for "Does Swedish Have a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit?" Video

All of us use the First Hill Neonatal Intensive Care doctors to take care of our babies that need a higher level of care.  Not all hospitals for example would have a neonatal intensive care unit and most people do not need to be delivered in a hospital that has that ability. So, what you look for is a hospital that has access to that kind of service.

A level 3 or 4 neonatal intensive care unit can take care of babies as premature as they come, so the very smallest of babies with the most complications can be taken care of at a level 3 or 4. A level 2 NICU can take care of babies 32 weeks and above. If the baby is born earlier than that they may need to be transferred to a NICU that can take care of them. A level 1 NICU will take care of babies born 35 weeks and above and will stabilize a baby just in order to get them off to a higher level NICU.

One of the nice things is if you are at a Swedish hospital and you do end up delivering more prematurely than the NICU at that hospital there is a special way to transport those babies to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit that's appropriate for that baby. So patients that are hospitalized very early on may end up being transferred to First Hill campus where they can be taken care of if their baby is delivered prematurely.