Babies who have difficulty breathing – for example when they are born prematurely, may receive help to breathe by using a ventilator for a period of time.

The baby will have a soft plastic tube inserted into one of its nostrils or its mouth. The tube is then connected to the ventilator which helps the baby breathe. The doctor will programme the ventilator in slightly different ways depending on how much support the baby needs. It may be set to the number of breaths, low or high pressure and different oxygen levels.

By looking at the baby, how well it is able to oxygenate its body and how well it expels carbon dioxide, the baby's need for respiratory support can be met. The baby's oxygenation and carbon dioxide levels are visible on the monitor. If further information is required, blood gas samples will be taken as needed.