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‘Baby rockers’ helping babies through withdrawal

RICHMOND, Ind. (WISH) – A local hospital is taking additional steps to help babies born addicted to drugs.

Reid Hospital now has volunteers comforting babies as they go through withdrawal.

Earlier this year 24-Hour News 8 reported that one in three expectant mothers at the Richmond hospital tested positive for drugs.

In 2016, 58 babies were born addicted to drugs. In 2015, the number was 54 babies. The problem isn’t going away, that’s why these volunteers are there to help.

“They like to be cuddled close and held tight. Somehow it calms them,” said Donna Jurgens, who volunteers her time at the hospital to rock the babies.

Jurgens is a grandmother to five and a mother to three.

“I was anxious to come back and rock babies, cause I love being around them,” she said.”It’s a blessing for me to know that I’m providing a little comfort for this baby.”

The five-day-old baby Jurgens is rocking on this day was born addicted to drugs.

“Console them a little bit as they’re going through the pain of withdrawal,” she said.

Before retiring in 2006, Jurgens worked as an OB nurse for 25 years.

She says babies going through withdrawal wasn’t a problem then.

Nurses say the withdrawal is similar to what adults would go through

“They’re just laying there and they almost shake, and then being really fussy, really irritable. The normal things you would do to soothe a baby don’t work,” said Casey Callahan, a nurse at Reid Health.

Nurses used to do this work but the babies need constant contact. There are over 50 baby rocker volunteers.

“They’re very committed and don’t mind checking in and holding that time as the time for the babies, if it’s needed,” said Becky Jewison, the head of volunteer services at Reid Health.

In 2015, the hospital started drug testing all mothers-to-be who come to the hospital. They also work with specialists to get clean.

But until then, Jurgens says she’ll be here.

“I’m sorry that there’s a need, but I’m thrilled to be able to help the babies,” she said.

Child Protective Services is notified if the mother tests positives for drugs.

There’s a waiting list to become a baby rocker.

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