HUMANS ARE BORN INTO MANY DIFFERENT SITUATIONS. HOWEVER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES MAKE YOUR HEART WANT TO CRY OUT. IN THIS CASE, BABIES BORN ADDICTED TO DRUGS.
The first few days are a battle simply to stay alive, and babies will require special care in the hospital to help them to endure the excruciating withdrawal process of getting their tiny bodies off whatever opiate they are addicted to. And to make matters worse their mothers will be going through their own version of hell with their own addiction and may be unable to help their baby when they need their mumma the most.
Now, here’s the uplifting bit. There are schemes in America (we are currently trying to find any UK based ones for you) where you can go in and spend some quality time cuddling these babies! These loving cuddles can actually help them to heal better and faster.
This idea was established by a nurse in Pennsylvania, Jane Cavanaugh, who felt the need to do something so she started a volunteer program at her local hospital to help. “These babies going through withdrawal need to be held for extended periods,” she said. “They need the human touch.”
And surely that stands to reason. As adults, when we are poorly we still appreciate an extra cuddle from your loved one, surely these babies will mend better when they feel safer, happier and more secure.
We have various posts on this website about how skin-to-skin contact helps premature babies to gain weight faster, about how it regulates their breathing and heart rates, and how the exchange of pheromones, scent, antibodies etc is so beneficial to baby that I am sure that you are not surprised that this contact is so great for these babies – but what an idea, right?
The point to it is that you snuggle and soothe the at-risk babies who aren’t capable of soothing themselves. And, it seems to be working. According to a VP at a hospital in Pittsburg, babies in withdrawal who are held regularly need less medication and go home sooner, on average, than those who are not. “[Cuddling] is helping them manage through these symptoms,”. “They are very irritable; they are hard to console. This is about swaddling them and giving them that comfort and safe, secure feeling.”
You still may be able to help in your own area. Contact your local hospital to see if they have any volunteer programs – a quick web search should let you know everything you need to. And if your hospital doesn’t have a newborn cuddling program, you could look for local women and children’s shelters, which may offer services for mothers battling addiction. There is always a way that you can help.