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Volunteer for Baby Snuggles and Help Fight the Opioid Addiction Epidemic at the Same Time
Nov 7, 2017
You read that right, snuggle with cute little babies while simultaneously doing your part to help combat the opioid addiction epidemic in this country - where do we sign up? With an influx of babies being born addicted to opioids and other drugs, NICU units across the country are opening their doors to snuggle volunteers to help the babies through their withdrawal process.
Volunteers Needed. The story isn't as sweet as one might hope. Yes, you get to snuggle babies and be a part of their healing, but you also have to witness first-hand the effects of a mother's drug abuse on newborns. Sadly, it is a rising epidemic nationwide.
The Opioid Crisis. There are unprecedented cases of heroin overdose every day in every single corner of the country. News reports have shown parents who overdosed in the front seats of their running car while their children remained in car seats in the back seat.
Out of Control. Addiction levels are so strong it is nearly impossible to break free of the hold once heroin has its grips on you. Pregnant or not.
Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS). When a baby is born of a drug addicted mother, the baby is born addicted as well. The scenario is known as neonatal abstinence syndrome or NAS.
Recovery. The recovery process for a newborn who was born addicted is a long and terrifying road. Babies experience all the same symptoms of a recovering adult, while fighting for their first breaths after birth.
Awful Symptoms. Babies suffering from addiction will go through a series of withdrawal symptoms while their tiny bodies recover. Some of which include uncontrollable shaking and seizures, racing heartbeats, cold sweats, and excruciating pain and confusion for a tiny life to endure.
Easing the Process. Doctors and nurses have come up with the volunteer snuggling program in an effort to help ease the withdrawal process for babies born addicted. The idea is to keep the babies warm and comforted at all times while they go through the horrifying recovery process.
Volunteers. Allowing volunteers to come in and sit with the babies to try and comfort them while they're in distress helps ease their pain and allows the medical staff to continue tending to other patients as well.
Needed Contact. Nurses and medical professionals everywhere agree there's no substitution for the comfort of human touch. "These babies going through withdrawal need to be held for extended periods. They need human touch," Jan Cavanaugh a nurse in Pennsylvania stated.
Making Them Feel Safe. The goal of having the volunteer program is to maintain as much human contact and snuggling as possible. One nurse explains, "Cuddling is helping them manage through these symptoms."
Volunteers of All Kinds. Many hospitals across the country offer similar volunteer programs for their NICU units. It is important for the babies to feel comforted and loved. Drug-addicted newborns need additional comforting than healthier newborns because they are extremely difficult to console as they go through their healing process.
Healing. Maribeth McLaughlin is the head of the nursing program at Magee-Womens Hospital in Pittsburgh. She explains, "They are very irritable; they are hard to console. This is about swaddling them and giving them that comfort and safe, secure feeling."
Kangaroo Care. Many facilities practicing the volunteer program are supporters of what is known as "Kangaroo Care". This is the belief that skin-to-skin contact for newborns has the ultimate healing effect for newborns going through traumatic events.
Skin-to-Skin. The contact is believed to create a warm and soothing bond between a newborn and the person holding him or her. Usually, newborns are placed immediately with the mother to achieve this, but in cases where this is not feasible, volunteers are often utilized.
Opportunities Near You. If this sounds like something for you - and let's admit, who doesn't love to snuggle a baby - hit Google. There are opportunities for volunteers across the country. Be a part of the solution to the opioid crisis.