On the Job: Baby cuddlers

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — This week, the Good Morning Richmond crew is going where you live to try all sorts of different jobs.

First off — baby cuddling! Roxie Bustamante and Whitney Harris were able to go to Henrico Doctors’ Hospital to find out what that job entails and shadowed volunteer Anne Williams.

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“I introduce myself to the families as ‘Grannie Annie,’ so they know I’m here to help,” she said.

The first thing they did was wash their hands thoroughly and put gowns on. Whitney and Roxie then introduced themselves and got right to holding a baby.

“Make sure we get his head and his feeding tube — he’s in the process of being fed right now,” Grannie Annie said.

“Feels like a natural role for you” she told Whitney.

When Roxie first held a baby…not so much. The baby sneezed.

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“That means he’s nervous,” Grannie Annie said to Roxie.

But by the second baby, cuddling came as second nature to Roxie.

“He just had the biggest smile,” Roxie said.

But cuddling babies isn’t all just cute. Sometimes it’s hard work, and it’s an important job.

“The other day I walked into PCN and a nurse said, ‘I’ve got two babies cranking’ and I said, ‘tell me which one first,” Grannie Annie said.

Many of the babies that need cuddling may have health complications and are struggling to gain weight.

“Sometimes we have little ones, like 1 pound 3 ounce ones, so sometimes they’re tiny tiny,” said Amber Price, VP of women and children’s services.

On average, they deliver almost a dozen babies a day at Henrico Doctors’ Hospital.

“Some days more than others, we can have anywhere from 5 to 25 babies born a day but the average is 11 babies born a day,” Price said. “More moms choose to have their babies here than any other hospital in this area, the next biggest hospital is close to DC. We deliver 3,800 babies a year here.”

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With so many babies being born there, it’s clear to see why volunteer cuddlers would be important.

“We want to make sure babies are nurtured while they are here and we know that moms can’t always be here with their babies,” Price said.

She says they also want to make sure that when their babies need to be held, there’s someone here to hold that baby.

“So not only is the baby comforted, but the parents can be at home or at work knowing that their baby’s needs are being met when they come here,” Price said.

And parents agree.

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“I really like having someone being able to hold him when I’m not here, just because when he gets upset or something there’s someone to comfort him when we can’t be here 24 hours a day,” said Madeline Barker, the mother of a newborn baby named Brooks.

Being a volunteer baby cuddler is something to consider. Even Roxie came around.

“Do you think you could hold more babies?” Whitney asked. “I think I could hold more babies,” Roxie replied.

Currently, the Henrico Doctors’ Hospital has a 40 bed NICU and Progressive Care Nursery and a 29 bed nursery as well. There are major renovations underway right now, as construction is underway on a brand-new wing.

The new NICU with all private rooms is slated to be done in September of 2017.

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