What would you say if we told you that there are people out there who engage in an amazing volunteering job which involves cuddling drug-addicted babies to help them heal? It`s pretty much like being an auntie to some babies fighting for their lives across the country.
As drug addiction is constantly on the rise, more and more babies are suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).
These babies, exposed to drugs in the womb, require a very special amount of care in order to survive the withdrawal process. This is where volunteer cuddlers step in, who can be a key part of this survival process.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the incidence of NAS has increased by 383 percent in the U.S since 2000, meaning there are a lot of babies who need snuggles.
Consequently, cuddle care programs have been established in order to help babies born addicted to opioids. These volunteers are a great help to nursing staffs in terms of bringing hope to a seemingly desperate situation.
Hospital Cuddle Care Program
According to Philly.com, a Pennsylvania nurse named Jane Cavanaugh is the one who initiated this program, specifically the volunteer program at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
“These babies going through withdrawal need to be held for extended periods,” she said. “What they need is human touch.”
Maribeth McLaughlin, chief nursing officer and vice president of Patient Care Services at Magee-Women’s Hospital of UPMC in Pittsburgh, agrees.
She leads a group of cuddle volunteers at Magee who cuddle and soothe the at-risk babies who lack the ability to soothe themselves.
Amazingly, this seems to be working. According to McLaughlin, babies in withdrawal who are held and cuddled on a regular basis generally need less medication and go home sooner.
“[Cuddling] is helping them manage through these symptoms,” she told Today.com. “They are very irritable; they are hard to console. This is about swaddling them and giving them that comfort and safe, secure feeling.”
If cuddling babies sounds good to you, there are a couple of ways you can help. At this moment, there are cuddle care programs in most states, from Ohio to Wisconsin to Texas. Just do a little research on the Internet and you will quickly find a program in your area.
The Benefits Of Cuddling
There isn’t “too much” when it comes to cuddling infants, contrary to popular belief. Recent research suggests that holding a baby is far more important for brain development than previously believed. For babies going through withdrawal, the benefits are compounded.
Promoting skin-to-skin contact — known as “kangaroo care” — between newborn and parents has become quite prevalent in many hospitals and NICUs across the U.S, and for a good reason.