If you love babies, you’ll love this volunteering opportunity. For some babies, life is a struggle from the moment they’re born.
These poor babies are born with a drug addiction, but luckily, lots of cuddling is proven to help these children. Unfortunately, drug addiction rates are rising around the country, which is resulting in an increase of neonatal abstinence syndrome, where the child inherits the mother’s addiction in the womb.
As a result of their addiction, they require a lot of extra care when they are born, as they are going through withdrawal. However, specially-trained volunteers can help these babies learn to comfort themselves..
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that incidents of NAS have increased 383% in the United States since 2000.
To help these children, cuddle care programs have popped up across the country to help babies born addicted to opioids. The volunteers are a welcome respite for the already-overwhelmed nurses.
Pennsylvania nurse Jane Cavanuagh knew she had to do something to help as substance-abuse rates soared in her home state. So, she started a volunteer program at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
“These babies going through withdrawal need to be held for extended periods,” she explains. “They need human touch.”
Maribeth McLaughlin, chief nursing officer and vice president of Patient Care Services at Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC in Pittsburgh couldn’t agree more. She also oversees a group of cuddle volunteers at Magee, who help soothe at-risk babies who can’t soothe themselves.
From what she’s seen, it works. McLaughlin reports that, on average, babies in withdrawal who are held often require less medication and go home sooner than babies who aren’t.
“[Cuddling] is helping them manage through these symptoms,” she says. “They are very irritable; they are hard to console. This is about swaddling them and giving them that comfort and safe, secure feeling.”
If snuggling babies sounds like something you want to be a part of (I mean, really, who wouldn’t?) then you’re in luck. Most states now have some form of cuddle care program in place, and a quick Google search should help you narrow down programs in your area.
Good luck, and enjoy those cuddles!