We All Need a Hug

Last week I took a press trip. Not just any press trip, but a daytime visit to Victoria General Hospital (VGH) on Vancouver Island, B.C., to witness the unveiling of its volunteer baby cuddling program, designed in partnership with Huggies.

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I knew the event would tug at my heartstrings (being a new mom, pretty much anything to do with kids, happy or sad, really gets me going these days—I used to be able to get through a World Vision Canada commercial relatively dry-eyed ... those days are over), but must admit I wasn't totally prepared for what I experienced. The made-in-Canada initiative, dubbed No Baby Unhugged, has already been rolled out in two other hospitals (in Halifax and Toronto; VGH is number 3) and has caught the attention of similar facilities in the States. Based around research regarding the healing power of a simple touch, the program sees specially trained voluneers giving the most vulnerable babies—i.e., those born prematurely or with special needs—the hugs that they need to thrive.

Our group was led through the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), where we saw a cuddler rocking gently in a specially designed (and purchased with money donated by Huggies) chair, a tiny preemie girl with a breathing tube cradled lovingly in her arms. Then it was on to pediatric intensive care (the PICU), where we met Gabe—an 11-month-old with a muscular disorder so rare, he is one of only three known cases in the entire world. Gabe's mom, also present, explained that her son would, too, greatly benefit from the time spent with the No Baby Unhugged volunteers—particularly at times when she cannot be at his bedside.

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The day ended back in the media room, where a display of Huggies' new and impossibly tiny nano preemie diapers, each of which is inspected, folded and packed by hand to ensure the ultimate comfort of the under-two-pound infants they're meant for, sealed the tear deal for me. Needless to say, I returned home that night and hugged my own happy, healthy baby girl a little bit closer. —Noa Nichol

Find out how you can be a No Baby Unhugged mom (as if supporting this incredible initiative isn't enough, a free pack of diapers could be yours) and help support the program here.

nobabyunhugged.ca

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