The simple act of holding your baby whenever you want is something mums in Mater Mothers' Neonatal Critical Care Unit (NCCU) can’t always do. Soft fabric ‘Cuddle Hearts’, linking mum and baby, fill a gap when the two can’t be together.
The fabric hearts are simply two heart shaped pieces of material (soft cotton or flannelette) sewn together. One fabric heart is given to the mother and placed on her chest to pick up her scent, with the other heart placed close to the baby for the same reason. The hearts are then swapped so mother and baby are left with each other’s scented heart.
The program has been introduced to help a mother’s milk come in when she is apart from her baby, while the scent of the mother also has a calming effect on the baby.
NCCU Lactation Consultant Sue Childs said the program was introduced to improve feeding success and to help establish a connection between mother and baby through smell.
“Most mothers and babies have an immediate connection after birth, but in pre-term situations and when newborns require surgery, babies will often require emergency care and in some cases are not able to have any initial skin to skin contact.”
“It’s really wonderful for a baby to learn its mother’s scent and vice versa when they are separated for any period of time. The hearts are a comfort to both mother and baby,” she said.
Mater Mothers’ Hospital is looking for volunteers to sew hearts for our NCCU mothers and babies. If you are keen to help, please click here for the template and delivery instructions.
Cuddle Hearts are just one way that we can help with the emotional and physical challenges faced by NCCU mums.
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