No Baby Unhugged volunteer Sarah Byam hugs a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit at Victoria General Hospital. Island Health launched the Huggies No Baby Unhugged program where volunteers can come hug babies at the hospital during times that parents are unable to be with their child. Dawn Gibson/Black Press

Victoria General Hospital embraces new baby hutting program

Victoria’s new No Baby Goes Unhugged ensures babies get the love they need

Victoria General Hospital emphasized the importance of a hug by launching the new No Baby Unhugged program within the facility.

The No Baby Unhugged program was created in partnership with Huggies to provide support for new parents, and to ensure that all of the babies involved in the program were getting the love and attention necessary to thrive.

“It’s not an overnight success,” said Gruenwoldt. “There was a lot of communication between Victoria General and Huggies to make sure that intentions and goals and outcomes were mutual.”

Volunteers have been brought in to the neonatal intensive care unit and the pediatric intensive care unit of the hospital, who will cuddle, rock and sing to the newborns.

Cindy Dent, a mother of one of the children involved in the program, said the program is a great idea because the volunteers come and relieve her while she can’t be at the hospital.

“When I heard about the program I was ecstatic,” said Dent. “It’s hard for me to go and do daily things like run errands without feeling bad that my son is laying in his crib by himself.”

Dent’s 11-month-old child, Gabriel, was born with type 19 congenital myasthenic syndrome, a rare genetic disease that affects his breathing, swallowing and muscles in his neck, and has been living in the hospital since birth.

“It means a lot because I know when I leave he’s in good hands and I don’t feel so bad for leaving,” said Dent.

Kyla Uzzell, a volunteer that has been working with Gabriel, said it is important for someone to be with him at all times, and she is happy to be there when the parents need a break.

“It’s an amazing environment, I really enjoy it,”said Uzzell.

Emily Gruenwoldt, executive director of the Canadian Association of Pediatric Health Centres, said the program is great opportunity to support new parents during such a vulnerable stage of their life.

“I think of myself as a new mom and I think of how thankful I would be if the support were available for me at that time when my kids were that small,” said Gruenwoldt.

The program can benefit babies by stabilizing their heart rates and body temperature, help them gain weight, improve oxygen levels, and give them a better pain tolerance.

“The best part [about the program] is definitely just seeing the happy kids and babies,” said Uzzell. “They really are amazing.”

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