Hobart Hospital’s volunteer ‘cuddlers’ are supporting parents by comforting their premature babies when they are unable to visit.
Parents of premature babies are often faced with the agonising reality of going home without their child. While most try visit the hospital every day, there can be times when other responsibilities make it impossible.
The volunteer baby cuddling program at the Royal Hobart Hospital aims to support parents whose babies are spending an extended amount of time in care. A dedicated team visit premature babies at their parent’s request and spend time holding them, providing much-needed comfort.
A Helping Hand
Lauren Miller, whose daughter Mackenzie spent almost six months in hospital after she was born at 23 weeks, told the ABC that the program made the experience a little more bearable.
“We knew that giving that positive touch was incredibly important to balance out the touches that weren’t as lovely,” she said. “It meant so much to me that there was someone available to give her some love.”
The program, started by retired neo-natal nurse Judy Stove, is now so popular that there is a waiting list for parents who wish to have their baby visited by the volunteers.
Comfort And Security
A paper published by The University of California revealed that the effects of regular cuddling on premature babies were significant.
“When preemies are held and touched, their vital signs often improve, and researchers have found that it also boosts neurodevelopmental outcomes and stimulates growth,” it said.
“Cradling a baby gives them more than just a sense of security. It’s precious medicine for premature babies who often come into the world with weak immune systems and underdeveloped lungs.”
We think that volunteer cuddling programs are such an amazing idea! Knowing that your baby will be given the cuddles they so desperately need, even when a visit is impossible, must be such a source of reassurance for parents during a challenging and emotional time.
What do you think of volunteer cuddling programs for premature babies? Let us know in the comments.