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Pregnancy & Birth

The beautiful initiative helping NICU babies and their families

A little colour goes a long way.

By Rebel Wylie
Preparing for the arrival of your new baby and imagining the day that you get to bring them home from hospital is a pastel-filled dream for any parent-to-be. As we pack our hospital bags with their very first outfits we often have a very definite idea of what the whole experience will look like.
But for those parents whose babies decided to make an early entrance, the reality looks vastly different from those dreams.
For these preemie babies, the carefully chosen outfits go unworn as they battle it out in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
Rather than sweet little onesies, their first fashion is the complex tangle of tubes and wires that help to keep them alive until they are as robust as they would have been had they been born closer to their due date.
For their parents, the celebration of birth is often overshadowed by the sterile and often underfunded environment they now find themselves in.
NICU departments get little to no money to fund their units with comfortable and beautiful bedding for these tiny newborns. Traditionally they use wraps or sheets that are several years old. Babies are placed in a "baby nest" made from a simple white blanket to keep them warm.
Determined to make the experience as close to what it would have been had their baby made it to full term, new mum, Belinda Fitzpatrick discovered that the Snuggle Hunny Kids blanket she had purchased for her son, Callan was the perfect fit for the incubator bed, and got in touch with the company to thank them for helping her get through the journey in a more positive way.
And from that simple message, a beautiful initiative was born to bring some colour to Australia's NICU departments and to help new parents celebrate the life of their tiny new additions.
When new mum, Belinda Fitzpatrick shared the story of how Snuggle Hunny Kids changed her whole NICU experience with son Callan, a beautiful idea was born. (Image: Supplied)
Touched by the message, Snuggle Hunny Kids founder, Monique Hession began chatting with Belinda who told her how special it made her family feel to be able to use the wraps they had been looking forward to using, and how much more "normal" it made the experience feel.
"I put it up on my social media and immediately heaps of nurses got in touch with us about how they would love to receive wraps for their babies too, as the units were underfunded and only ever had tough old swaddles and bedding to use in their cupboards," Monique tells Bounty.
"We had parents telling us how incredible the nurses and units were, and how sad they were that they couldn't spoil the babies in their care because there was nothing to spoil them with."
Monique thought about how she could help.
"We put a call out asking who would like some Snuggle Hunny goodies for their neonatal units and we got inundated!"
Rachael Longman's son Finley was also blessed to have Snuggle Hunny Kids goods in the NICU. (Image: Supplied)
"We knew then that we could bring a more joyful experience to these parents on this beginning of their parenting journey," says Monique.
"Particularly because it's already such a worrying time for these parents who were not able to bring their babies home."
Monique and Snuggle Hunny Kids began sending out packages of 20 or so wraps to the NICUs who had reached out.
"It was so nice to give back and spoil these mums in ways they didn't even know they needed. And it's been really special to give back to the nurses who were so happy to have beautiful swaddles in their units to spoil their babies."
Beautiful heart, Monique Hession donates swaddles to NICUs across Australia to brighten up the days of preemie babies and those who care for them. (Image: Supplied)
Snuggle Hunny Kids have received thousands of thank you notes about how their swaddles and sheets have helped to brighten up days spent in the NICU.
"They make parents feel more normal about their journey with their sick or preemie child, and it brings them colour in a hospital ward that is generally sterile and white," says Monique.
WATCH: Meet preemie baby Piper. Continues after video ...
"We simply didn't realise how much this would mean to mums who were concerned and emotionally stressed in NICU and how underfunded these hard working units are."
Today Snuggle Hunny Kids is committed to sending out a generous donation full of colour and love once every month to a new NICU unit.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a beautiful thing.

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