The National Institute of Drug Abuse states that a baby is born suffering from opioid withdrawal every 15 minutes. Human touch and feel goes a long way in curing baby with opioid withdrawal symptoms.
There's a drug epidemic all over the world and it's affecting the unlikeliest of humans - innocent newborn babies. In the U.S. alone, thousands of babies are suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), an opioid withdrawal symptom that affects babies because his or her mother was a drug addict. Fortunately, there is still a way to save these babies. More than medicines and therapy, they require the care, closeness, and touch of humans. That's why hospitals all over the U.S. and in Canada need people who can be with these babies and cuddle them as part of a 'baby cuddling program.' A number of hospitals have in fact greatly publicized such cuddling programs so that people volunteer with such services. In many places, the responses have been so overwhelming that people who have registered have had to wait for a while to get a chance to be a baby cuddler. This just goes to prove that while there is indeed a lot of bad in the world, there are still a lot of people who care. The National Institute of Drug Abuse states that a baby is born suffering from opioid withdrawal every fifteen minutes reports KCCI News. All over the country hospitals in U.S. states such as Iowa, Virginia and Massachusetts have also started the program.
When a baby with NAS is admitted into a hospital they are immediately put on intensive care. However, one cannot stress enough how the human connection does not have a substitute. There is simply no replacement for the care provided by another human being. For such babies, the touch, feel and care of another human being works like medicine. Vicki Agnitsch, a participant in the cuddler volunteer program at Blank Children’s Hospital in Des Moines, Iowa knows all about baby cuddling.
Two of our third-year medical students started a "baby cuddling" program, providing skin-to-skin contact for babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at The Bristol-Myers Squibb Children's Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital.... https://t.co/Ubh7NIu02N— Rutgers RWJMedSchool (@RWJMS) March 8, 2019
This is quite the program, and I've witnessed it in action. Thankfully we were able to do this ourselves when our son was in NICU, but not everyone is able to: "'It hurts the heart': Volunteer baby-cuddling is not for everyone" | @CBCNews @CBCManitoba https://t.co/VRrpTFtx09— Brett Williams (@WPGlawyer) April 24, 2018
She has been with the program for more than three years and has cuddled many babies out of their withdrawal symptoms. “Touch is so important for babies. Without that, there would be a failure to thrive,” said Agnitsch, who was also a former nurse. She added, “When they know someone else is touching them, it gives them that warmth and safety and security that they crave. They had that inside the mom, and then they come out into this cold, bright world. They don’t have that, so all of that swaddling, touch, and talk helps their development."
Being with the newborns can have a major effect on their overall health, well being and improve their recovery it in a big way. Agnitsch further said that more cuddling and physical touch for such babies is directly proportional to a lesser amount of administered medications needed. She also says that the human connection provided through these cuddling programs support the immune systems of babies born with NAS. Agnitsch described being with babies as the “the best part of my week.”
In Canada, Saint Boniface General Hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba, recently launched its own baby cuddler program to help give premature babies with NAS human companionship, according to scarymommy.com. “Babies can really benefit from someone holding them, talking to them, singing to them,” said Sue McMahon, program team manager for the Baby Cuddler program. Lucette Parent, one of the first volunteers for the program at the hospital said. “I love babies, so when I heard about the program, I said, ‘Sign me up'."
Parent added, “When I come in for my volunteer shift, I know I am going to give out a lot of love.” A Facebook post about an elderly man cuddling babies as part of a program at a hospital in Atlanta became very popular on social media, last year. The elderly man went viral as 'ICU Grandpa' and it was found that he had been volunteering as a cuddler for a decade. The Facebook post read: They call him the ICU Grandpa. On Tuesdays, he visits the PICU to hold babies whose parents can’t be with them that day. On Thursdays, he makes rounds in the NICU.
The man's name is David Deutchman, and he was greatly lauded for the service that he was offering. Back in the U.S., the University Hospital in Bexar County, San Antonio in Texas has the highest number of babies with NAS according to Texas Public Radio. In the last five years, the numbers have gone up by 60 percent. The university has therefore put out information of a baby cuddlers program where Doug Walters, an Army Veteran is a volunteer.
He was in fact, one of the first persons to respond to the call. Having volunteered for three years now, Walters said he has recognized NAS babies by their peculiar cry that is different from that of any other baby. He said, “You can tell when kids cry because they’re mad, or they’re hungry. When babies with NAS cry, it ’s just… A very sad cry. They don’t understand what’s happening, and they don’t understand why things hurt."