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NICU Awareness Month: Why Hugs Are So Important

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Huggies Canada. I am a Huggies #NoBabyUnhugged Mom. As always, opinions are all mine.

Back when Mia was born on April 1st all I wanted to do was hug her. When they did that first blood sugar test 2 hours after birth and it came back at 1.1, then 1.3 then 1.6 within 1 minute of each other my heart sank. The blood sugar of a newborn baby here in Ontario has to be over 2.3 in most hospitals and as soon as I heard them say out loud what her sugars were, I knew she would be taken from me.

I tried desperately begging them to let me keep her. “You won’t even let me try to nurse her more and get it up? I need more hug time!” They wouldn’t have it and ended up needing to have a nurse and NICU doctor come to speak to me. I ended up having to let her go but I got to go with her. They allowed me to be wheeled down holding her and hugging her tightly. During NICU stays most babies don’t have their parents there. It was a sad but true reality I saw while there. I held Mia so tight, the whole time only leaving her side for a total of 2 hours the whole 30+ hours she was there.

Kyla, my oldest daughter, was with me and when I had to go to the bathroom she would hold Mia. During this critical stage hugs are so important and not being able to be in a room by ourselves or at home was heartbreaking for me. I wanted to do skin-to-skin and have her close to me the whole time, but in a wide open NICU room with 10 other babies, it was difficult for me. We still did it, and I kept her close the whole time – but it was difficult. Emotionally and physically as I deprived myself of rest and recovery to be at her side.After a full day and a half in the NICU when we were able to go home and were told we’d have to go back daily to test her bilirubin levels the one thing my husband told me was, “Keep her close to you, nurse her as much as you can and I’ll step aside.” At first I thought he maybe just didn’t want to bond with her? Maybe he didn’t feel as close to her because he wasn’t in the delivery room or with me at the hospital during it all to have his special time like the others? But in reality, he was helping both her and I. During that first week home and back and forth trips to the hospital for bilirubin blood draws and the hour wait to get the results her and I got to spend that time cuddling, bonding, and hugging. Because of this time, her bilirubin levels did what they were supposed to do and level off. I firmly believe that time was needed after all the NICU craziness, and it was exactly what she needed to feel better.

I went into the hospital on Sunday, April 1st to be induced with my hug plan in hand and was left for two hours after birth with Mia to bond, nurse and have our skin-to-skin time. It just wasn’t enough, and some babies need more. Had we had that opportunity from the get-go and not had her pulled away at 2 hours old I firmly believe she wouldn’t have had to go anywhere at all. That is the power of hugs.

I have been a big supporter of the No Baby Unhugged initiative for a long time now. What is this you may ask? Well, Huggies provides funding to initiate and support volunteer hugging programs in Canadian hospitals. Specially-trained volunteers hug, rock, and even sing to newborns in the neonatal and pediatric intensive care units, often for several hours at a time.  With an estimated 500 babies being admitted to these units each year, many are positively impacted by the personal interaction and stimulation hugs can offer during a critical period in their treatment plan.

Huggies diapers and wipes have been a staple in our household for 15 years. With initiatives like #NoBabyUnhugged and products such as Huggies Little Snugglers and Huggies Natural Care wipes, it’s easy to love and respect a company like Huggies and want to join in and help in any way you can. I am a proud Huggies #NoBabyUnhugged mom and can’t wait to share more with you throughout this year.

To learn how you can pledge your support for the No Baby Unhugged initiative, visit nobabyunhugged.ca. When you sign up to pledge your support, Huggies brand will donate $5 to the No Baby Unhugged initiative and in return, you’ll receive a free pack of Huggies Little Snuggles diapers and Natural Care Wipes!