DISCLOSURE: This post is sponsored by Huggies.®
Could you leave a baby unhugged?
Donna can’t. That’s why the mother of five volunteers in the Huggies No Baby Unhugged-supported neonatal intensive care unit at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, spending 12 hours a month visiting the born-before-term babies to make sure they get the love, care and hugs they need.
Once a week, Donna (who asked that we only use her first name) takes an unpaid shift in the NICU, often staying longer than the 3-hour commitment requires, to hold and cuddle these special infants who are receiving the extra health care they need to survive. The program follows the crux of a recent Canadian Association of Paediatric Health Centres study that found human touch helps babies sleep better, helps prevent against infant illness, and encourages weight gain and growth.
“It’s a gift. I love to love, and to see how this benefits the babies and their families makes me so very happy,” says Donna, whose passion shines through her voice, breaking with emotion. “It’s personally enriching.”
Huggies is awarding $10,000 grants throughout this year to launch new volunteer hugging programs or expand support for existing programs at up to 25 hospitals nationwide. In addition, the company has donated more than 200 million clean diapers to young families in need and helped to establish the National Diaper Bank Network, helping to grow it from just 20 diaper banks nation-wide at its start to 320 today.
Donna and her colleagues at Lurie Children’s Hospital went through intensive training to become volunteer huggers. They learned not just their responsibilities, but about how hospitals work, the medical jargon they’d hear, and even technical knowledge about the various machines and equipment in the wards.
These volunteers also ease the burden on overworked doctors, nurses and medical staff. Their presence in the wards also helps ease the minds of the families of the children in the NICU. Few people can quit a job to stay in the hospital with a sick child, after all, and knowing that someone is there to at least hug their baby and let them know they’re not alone is a source of great comfort to moms, dads and other family members.
I know on a personal level how important it is to show hospital patients how much they’re cared for. Long story short, I once ended up in the hospital for two months. That was not an easy time. But what got me through it were daily visits from friends and family, letting me know that I was cared for.
Care. Care is what everything is all about. You’re in a hospital to receive care. We do things in life, we have families, children, friends, because we care about them. It is the most basic of human needs. And we enter this life needing someone else to care for us.
So people like Donna provide an enormous service to a great number of people, without charge and with only love. To say that her attitude blew me away is the understatement of the year. In the words of my friend and colleague Lance Somerfeld, when he wrote about the No Baby Unhugged program in 2016, “I know I’m a fortunate parent.”
Other parents are not as fortunate. And if we are to truly be good people, if we are to truly care about the children of this nation, then we should help them receive all the care they need.
Help Leave No Baby Unhugged
Would you like to learn more about how you can get involved? Or, if you have Huggies Rewards points, would you like to donate them to the No Baby Unhugged Program? Then go to this link.
About our sponsor
Huggies believes deeply in the Power of Hugs, which is why every diaper and wipe is designed to emulate a parent’s embrace. The Huggies No Baby Unhugged program helps ensure all babies get the hugs they need to thrive by supporting hugging programs in hospitals and donating diapers across the country. Learn how you can help at Huggies.com #HuggiesCouncil #ad