Studies show that premature babies who receive lots of nurturing touch also receive measurable brain growth which impacts their learning up to 20 years down the road! That’s why hospitals around the nation consider "cuddling" a critical part of care.
Nora Chesire, is an NICU cuddler at Methodist Women's Hospital in Omaha. We talked with Chesire while she was cuddling "little pearl" born 11 weeks early
"I am privileged,” Chesire said. “I get very emotional about this, really. Mommies and Daddies allow me to come into their baby's room and hold their baby."
Many mommies and daddies ust like Pearl's don't have the luxury of being with their NICU babies 24/7.
That's why Methodist has 30 cuddlers on hand who all undergo screening, a background check, and a rigorous training program.
"I couldn't cuddle myself, because I like to sleep, and I might doze off," said Nancy Murray, staff nurse.
Murray trains cuddlers and says safely holding a baby in a calm, quiet environment is imperative for their brain growth.
”And it's important for their language development to be talked to,” Murray explained.
Chesire has talked to many babies over the years and has developed a relationship with each of them.
“I held a baby that was sleeping, but would constantly kick me," Chesire remembers. "And I’d say, 'What's wrong with you? Why are you kicking me? You're going to be a soccer player."
That baby, now a little boy, Nora has learned is indeed a soccer player!
“It can be hard, to say goodbye to each baby that leaves to go home,” Chesire said.“I wouldn't give this up for the world"
She knows they're all in really good hands. And as for little Pearl who came into this world at just 3 pounds?
“You just wait,” Chesire said. “This one's going to be a movie star. look at her!”