Cuddle Care Volunteer Programs: Opioids continue to ravage every corner of the country, impacting everyone from senior citizens to newborn infants. That’s right – some babies are even born addicted to drugs, and the numbers are growing daily.
- According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), a drug-addicted baby is born in the United States every 25 minutes.
NIDA reports that the number of drug-addicted newborns skyrocketed by 500% between 2010 and 2012, while stats from the Centers for Disease Control confirm that the problem has hit epidemic proportions.
The CDC says that over a 15 year period between 1999 and 2013, live births of babies who showed signs of opioid addiction had tripled in the 28 states that track the problem.
What Happens When a Baby is Born Addicted?
Babies that are born addicted to heroin, methadone, oxycontin, or other controlled substances are usually diagnosed with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, or NAS.
NAS is a complex condition that can include a variety of symptoms. The type and severity of the symptoms depends on factors such as:
- What type of drug or drugs the mother used
- How long the mother was using drugs
- Whether or not the baby was premature
- Whether or not the mother detoxed prior to delivery
In most cases, the symptoms of NAS emerge within 1 to 3 days of delivery, however, some babies can even develop NAS up to 7 days after their birth.
Symptoms of NAS can include diarrhea, fever, and rapid breathing. These babies are often exceptionally fussy; they cry almost constantly, and they are slow to thrive.
Cuddle Care Volunteer Programs – Treating Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome With TLC
While Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome babies certainly face a tough start in life, the good news is that treatment is relatively simple – in most cases, NAS babies thrive when given extra TLC – that’s where you can help.
Across the United States programs match up screened volunteers with hospitals that need “baby cuddlers” – specially-trained volunteers who spend their time gentle rocking, cuddling, and comforting these drug-affected infants.
These volunteers hold infants for periods ranging from 45 minutes up to 4 hours following an intensive screening and training program that covers issues like infection control, safety, and confidentiality.
Volunteers are not responsible for medical care of the infants – they simply hold the newborns, read to them, or gently rock the babies.
Research has shown that this simple, yet time-consuming treatment gives these drug-addicted babies the best shot at not only surviving, but thriving. Doctors believe that simple cuddling helps to calm over-active nervous systems of these babies, providing relief from the uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that NAS-affected newborns often suffer from.
In most cases, NAS babies show rapid improvement within a few weeks; however, some infants require extra care for up to six months following their birth.
How To Find A Program to Volunteer
If this sounds like the perfect volunteer opportunity for you, start by doing a simple online search using terms such as “baby cuddle hospital volunteer,” “hospital baby hugger,” or “NICU cuddle.” This should help you find local hospitals in your area that operate baby cuddling programs.
- The best way to try and find cuddle care program is to Google: cuddle care volunteer programs near me
For example the St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center in Pueblo, AZ recently put out a call for baby cuddlers, as did Miami Valley Hospital in Ohio and the Tulane-Lakeside Hospital for Women and Children near New Orleans, Louisiana.
- Currently there is no national database of hospitals with neonatal abstinence syndrome cuddling programs
The best way to try and find a volunteer program is by calling nearby hospitals and ask to speak to the volunteer coordinator. Remember, not all hospitals have baby cuddling programs, so don’t feel discouraged if it takes some work to find the right volunteer opportunity for you.
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