Resources for Special Delivery Unit Parents | The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment

Resources for SDU Parents

Learning your baby has a congenital defect can be overwhelming. At the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment, we offer a multitude of resources for parents looking for answers, comfort and more.

When you visit the Center, you will tour the Garbose Family Special Delivery Unit and — depending on your baby’s condition — either the Harriet and Ronald Lassin newborn/infant intensive care unit or the cardiac intensive care unit, where your baby will be cared for after birth.

The following is a list of resources available at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. We hope to make this stressful time in your life a bit easier.

Support services

A number of Hospital departments and service groups can help you and your family before, during and after your time in the Special Delivery Unit.

Social work

Our Social Work Department can help with issues such as coping with the hospitalization of your sick infant, finding resources in your community and preparing for the transition to home. Social workers at CHOP are master's-prepared counselors.

For more information, see social work and how a social worker can help your baby

Child life

The Department of Child Life, Education and Creative Arts Therapy is trained to help children (both patients and siblings) cope with the effects of hospitalization through play and age-appropriate education. The department also provides art and music therapy to help children express their feelings in creative ways. Child life specialists also help with bereavement by assisting families in gathering mementos such as footprints and photos of their child.

For more information, see child life and how a child life professional can help your baby.  

Lactation / breastfeeding

The Lactation team at CHOP is led by a PhD-prepared nurse with more than 20 years of clinical and research experience into lactation and breastfeeding. The team of lactation specialists and breastfeeding resource nurses help parents-to-be learn about pumping and breastfeeding for babies with birth defects. For more information, see breastfeeding for moms.  

Language services

The hospital offers professional interpreters and translators who can help non-English speakers be full participants of their child’s care team. Interpreters are available free to families who prefer to receive medical information in a language other than English. For more information, see language services.

Respiratory therapy

The Respiratory Therapy Department at CHOP is comprised of specially trained professionals who work under a doctor’s guidance in the intensive care units. Respiratory therapists help improve your baby’s breathing capacity and efficiency until their lungs are working properly.

Physical therapy

The Department of Physical Therapy at CHOP has 20 clinical specialists who are certified by the American Physical Therapy Association to help families recognize an infant’s physical cues and behavior, such as signs the baby is tired or overwhelmed. Our physical therapists also assess motor and sensory skills, encourage their development through positioning and handling techniques, and assist with family education.

For more information, see physical therapy and how a physical therapist can help your baby.  

Occupational therapy

The Occupational Therapy department provides specially-educated occupational therapists who are trained in interventions that help individuals achieve independence in all areas of their lives. Occupational therapists help you bond with your baby and help your child develop skills that will lay the groundwork for achieving future developmental milestones.

For more information, see occupational therapy and how an occupational therapist can help your baby.  

Speech-language pathologists

The Department of Speech-Language Pathology evaluates and treats babies and children who have difficulties with communication and swallowing. Speech-language pathologists help assess your baby’s readiness to feed by mouth, help your baby feed safely and promote early communication skills.

For more information, see speech-language pathology and how a speech-language pathologist can help your baby.  


The Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment is the first fetal treatment center to have a dedicated clinical psychologist on staff that focuses solely on the needs of families facing a diagnosed birth defect. Joanna C.M. Cole, PhD, works closely with our Center’s social workers to provide emotional support to families during the prenatal period, and in the SDU and intensive care units.

The CFDT staff psychologist has received specialty training in the care of the pregnant mother. As part of the multidisciplinary team, psychologists are able to provide comprehensive mental health services for patients and their families. They can help you and your family cope with the fetal diagnosis, pregnancy and birth of a child with a birth defect, and suggest ways to help you interact with your baby.

Learn more about how a psychologist can help your family in the N/IICU after your baby is born.  

Chaplaincy Services / Pastoral care

The Chaplaincy Program at CHOP provides professional pastoral care to patients and their families as they cope with their hospital experience. Chaplaincy staff are sensitive to the varied expressions of faith and are dedicated to providing support 24 hours a day.

For more information, see chaplaincy program and how chaplaincy services can help your family

Family consultants

The Department of Family Relations has a number of family-centered care programs to help patients and their families. Family consultants are hospital employees whose children were treated at CHOP, and who now help inform Hospital staff about issues from a family perspective. Consultants can help you work through the sometimes-overwhelming Hospital system. For more information, see family-centered care.

Perinatal palliative care

If a family learns their baby is not likely to survive, they may wish to be introduced to our perinatal palliative care program, which helps families deal with their feelings and create meaningful memories. For more information, see perinatal palliative care.

Local resources

There are a number of housing options for families who need an extended stay close to the Hospital. We offer details about some of the most popular, along with links to some of Philadelphia’s cultural and recreations resources. See our local resources.

Pregnancy resources

Many parents find resources on the Internet, books and support groups helpful during their pregnancy. We offer such general information, as well as tips for coping with bed rest during pregnancy, breastfeeding, postpartum depression and more. See our pregnancy resources.

Diagnosis-related resources

For parents looking for specific information about the condition their unborn child has been diagnosed with, we offer a list of websites, books and other support information specific to your baby’s diagnosis. See our diagnosis-related resources.

Directions and parking

If you’re looking for practical details, such as directions and parking information for your trip to The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, see traveling to Children’s Hospital.

Outpatient resources

While the staff at the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment will be your main contact during your time at Children's Hospital, families often find the Connelly Resource Center for Families and the Auto Dealers Caring for Kids Foundation Welcome Center helpful places to get more information, access the Internet or answer any questions. See Children’s Hospital resources.

From ATMs to clothes washers

Our goal is to make your stay at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia as comfortable and convenient as possible. To review an alphabetical listing of resources from ATMs to food service, from mail to washing machines, see Children’s Hospital amenities.

Other resources

Sometimes it helps to see where you’ll be staying and visiting. We have a number of videos and online tours featuring the Special Delivery Unit, The Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment, as well as the entire Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. We also offer some highlight reels of past patients to provide hope for you and your child’s future.

March 2012

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