Cuddlers are essential part of babies' survival in NICU - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Cuddlers are essential part of babies' survival in NICU

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Thousands of newborns are sent to the neonatal intensive care unit every day.

In many hospitals, including Women's and Children's in Lafayette, there are people who stay to hold the babies and give them the warm touch and embrace they need to survive.

A mother of three and a grandmother to three more, Effie Waguespeck loves baby Loyalty like he's her own, but they're not related.
Effie is a member of the Komfort Krewe, offering a tender touch to NICU babies at Women's and Children's Hospital.

"All the babies are beautiful; everyone I held is so beautiful," said Waguespeck.

Lucky for Effie, the most precious baby she's ever held is here in the NICU as well. "My daughter is a doctor here, Doctor Zeringue," Waguespeck explained.

Dr. Amy Zeringue is a neonatologist at the hospital and says her mother's work is reflective of the love she shares with her family. 

"It's great to see her every week with the babies. I know she loves it. She's always loved holding my girls," Zeringue said.

Waguespeck's granddaughters are 10, 6, and 2-years-old and have grown too big for Effie to hold. Now, her cuddles are essential to the growth and development of other babies.

"When they hold the babies, babies sleep deeper. When they're awake and alert, they're actually calmer, and that helps the babies to allow all their calories to go to growth and development and increases their social development. And it also allows our nurses to have more time to be able to do the medical care," Zeringue said.

The Komfort Krewe brings a sense of peace to mothers as well, like Salene Cabrera who cannot always be with her son.

"There has been a day or two when I haven't been able to come. I know he's in good hands, you know; everybody's been great to us here," said Cabrera.

The best part for the moms-- the babies going home-- is bittersweet for the cuddlers, who have high hopes for the bundles of joy that once occupied their arms.

"You can think about what's going to happen with these when they're older and what they're going to grow up to be. You never know; one of them might end up back here," Waguespeck said.  

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