Born Dependent (NAS)

“I am humbled by the opportunity to comfort each infant who is distressed and may be crying from an array of factors from tremors, breathing difficulties, tense muscles in their arms, legs, and back, irritability, and even to digestive challenges that are so painful and limiting. I approach each child and task with a sense of gratitude that this baby's issues may be eased for the moment by the warm, comforting trained touch of a Cuddler who cares and is committed to making things better for this infant. Perhaps a change of diapers, a soothing feeding, a gentle, neonatal massage, and a soft hum or lullaby will nudge this infant into a long awaited sleep.

As I begin to cuddle the baby I sense the tremors, rigid body, and tense arm, legs, and back. The shrill cry accents the baby's anguish, and I hope that the crying will soften and perhaps subside as the baby wiggles to locate that special place, snuggles into my arms, and begins to relax a bit.

While each baby is an innocent victim, the discomfort, pain and struggles are no less. I am filled with awe, respect, hope and anticipation for each baby I cuddle, and I believe that each baby can sense the love, care, compassion and tenderness of each Cuddler, nurse, caregiver  and person in the circle of life. I believe the baby will grow in this cocoon of nurturing. I always hope the parents will appreciate and treasure the gentle, secure, relaxed child centered ways of the Cuddler and staff, and I savor the anticipation that the parents may adopt the "cuddler ways" to comfort  their baby in the NICU and at home.

Each baby's determination to succeed in instilled in my heart, and I know that I want to do everything in my abilities to match their determination to succeed. I am so fortunate to be on their team for success.” 

-- M.K.S.
An Indiana volunteer “Cuddler” of babies born dependent

Women who abuse prescription drugs during pregnancy put their unborn babies at risk of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS).

NAS is a group of health problems that occur in a newborn who was exposed to addictive illegal or prescription drugs while in the mother’s womb. The symptoms and signs of NAS depend on the drug the mother used, how much of the drug she used, how long she took the drug, and how the mother’s body broke the drug down.

Babies who suffer from NAS may have some of the following symptoms:

  • Blotchy skin coloring
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive or high-pitched crying
  • Skin irritation from constant rubbing
  • Fever
  • Poor feeding
  • Rapid breathing
  • Seizures
  • Vomiting
  • Trembling

There is still little research on how to prevent and treat NAS.  What is known is that NAS can lead to lengthy and expensive stays in the neonatal intensive care units (NICU) at hospitals, while the newborn experiences withdrawal from the drug its mother was addicted to.

NAS is gaining national attention. CNN covered this issue in its article “Hospitals seeing more babies born exposed to prescription drugs”.

Upon determining a growing need awareness in Indiana, A Department of Child Services Region 7 Prevention Grant funded this very important educational video message entitled, When I Abuse, We Both Lose.

For more information on NAS, download the NAS Toolkit.

The Indiana Attorney General’s Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force is actively working on measures to help with education, legislation, prevention and treatment of this problem.