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We All Need a Hug

The healing power of a simple touch

Jennifer Delic of Stouffville, Ontario, already had two beautiful children—Madison and Avery—when her third daughter, Jade, was born.

“She came a month early, at just over three pounds, and had to spend some time, about two weeks, in the NICU,” she says, referring to the neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital where she gave birth. “When I was discharged and Jade had to stay—that was really hard.”

The following weeks were challenging for Delic, who wished to spend every waking moment with her tiny baby but needed to tend to other duties at home, too.

“I was constantly feeling torn, like I wanted to be in two places at once,” she recalls. “It helped so much that Sherri, the volunteer [with the No Baby Unhugged program], would come and hold her and cuddle her when we couldn’t be there.”

Baby cuddling programs

The program, launched in 2015 in association with the Canadian Association of Paediatric Health Centres (CAPHC), aims to give babies the hugs they need—even when parents can’t be there—by providing funding to hospitals to help them put cuddling programs in place.

Proponents of the program cite hundreds of medical studies that show the importance and healing benefits of skin-to-skin hugs between mom or dad and their newborn. These range from stabilized heart rates to improved sleep and lowered response to pain.

With the No Baby Unhugged program, when parents of newborns in the NICU are unable to provide hugs, volunteers help fill the need by providing parents with confidence and the comfort of knowing their baby is not alone.

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