Volunteers offering their time to cuddle premature newborns in this Australian hospital.
Doctors at the Royal Hobart hospital say this simple solution is making a big difference for these babies who need sophisticated medical attention.
“Medically they’re a bit more stable. Social interaction – your interaction with the world, just having that human connection – it’s really important for that. And in some studies we’ve looked at things like growth, which have also, yeah, benefited from having sort of constant human touch”, said Dr. Naomi Spotswood at the Royal Hobart Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Judy Stove has spent more than 40 years working as a nurse in Australia’s public healthcare system.
Now, she’s returned to cuddle babies in Tasmania’s biggest public hospital.
“Well he’s just a lovely little fellow who needs cuddles and his mum is very good with cuddles and we fill in the time when mum goes home,” Stove said.
For parents nursing premature babies, the programme is a needed relief.
“When she’s upset, we give her a cuddle. And – it sounds bizarre – but honestly it’s what calms her every time. It meant so much to me that there was someone available to give her some love,” Lauren Miller said.
The cuddling programme is now so popular that there’s even a waiting list.
Doctors here have encouraged parents to hug their babies as much as possible and also use cuddlers if need be.
The cuddle programme isn’t peculiar to the Royal Hobart hospital. There are similar programmes at hospitals in many parts of the world.
It is a pretty simple gesture, along with modern medicine, that is helping keep young babies happy, healthy and calm.