“I need to stroll into a room, be it a medical clinic for the perishing or an emergency clinic for the debilitated kids, and feel that I am required. I need to do, not simply to be.” – Princess Diana
There are things that evoke a powerful sense of love and care, such as rocking a baby to sleep.
After all, what’s more pure and innocent than something that’s not long been born? Something new to the world and is yet to be soiled or spoiled by it?
Sadly, millions of newborn babies are affected by an opioid epidemic. In fact, according to The National Institute of Drug Abuse, one baby is born suffering from opioid withdrawal every 15 minutes.
What’s more is that there’s a surprising number of babies being born with opioid withdrawal symptoms, through absolutely no fault of their own.
And these innocent creatures suffer in pain before they could experience anything else in this world.
The solution? Well, it could well be found in cuddling.
The newborns from mothers who suffer from addiction end up in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) – an ICU for infants, where they receive volunteer assistance from citizens who serve as ‘baby cuddlers.’
This part-time program is in place in states, including Iowa, Virginia, Massachusetts and San Antonio.
The most newborns with Neonatal Abstinence Symptoms (NAS) in Texas are born in the University Hospital in Bexar Country, San Antonio, and the hospital is looking for more help from baby cuddlers.
According to reports, these babies suffer seizures, tremors, increased reflexes, body stiffness and tight muscles. Some have difficulty breathing.
And yet something as noble and simple as a cuddle can make a big difference. Touch soothes babies and helps them sleep better. And as Vicki Agnitsch, a former nurse, says it can also reduce the need for medication.
“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.”
According to Cheryl Poelma, executive of Ladies Administrations at Fauquier Clinic, Warrenton, Virginia:
“Children in withdrawal will, in general, be bad-tempered, they aren’t facilitated with their suck, they can’t eat well, they can sniffle a great deal, have free stools — it’s everything part of pulling back.”
Within a few weeks of cuddles, the infants show signs of improvements: the eye contact is better, they feed better, they aren’t that fussy, and they start to sleep better.