November 10, 2017

A Hug Back for the NICU Nurses

Huggies, NICU Nurse, Helena of Brooklyn Blonde

Before I got pregnant with Nate, I’d always hear people say, “I don’t care what I’m having, as long as my baby is healthy.” Of course, that seemed like the most logical way to think, but I never realized the gravity of that statement until I witnessed one of my friends go through one of the scariest periods of her life. Her son was born 10 weeks premature, with many complications, and spent the first few months of his life in the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit). My friend and her husband took months off work, spent every waking moment in the hospital and during one of our conversations, I clearly remember her telling me, “You envision bringing your baby home, ready to start your new family, but spending the first few months in the hospital is never part of that dream.” As a friend, it was painful to witness so I can’t even begin to imagine being in the actual situation.

Thankfully, after a few months, they left the hospital with a healthier baby boy and one thing my friend would repeat over and over again was, “Thank god for those NICU Angels!” Anytime she’d tell her story, she would always reference the incredible NICU nurses who were taking care of the most fragile patients. Since then, I have witnessed numerous friends deal with similar situations and one thing remains: the NICU nurses are the angels in each story.

Over the next few months, alongside Huggies, I’m honored to be able to share some incredible stories. Today, is about giving a “Hug Back” for NICU nurses. Huggies feels so passionate about the great work that NICU nurses and volunteers do to ensure babies get the hugs they need. This is why they are currently giving away grants to establish and support hugging programs in hospitals through their No Baby Unhugged program.

Huggies, NICU Infant, Helena of Brooklyn Blonde

In honor of my friends story and Huggies’ program, we had the opportunity to interview Denise and Fran, two registered nurses in the Regional Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network. I’m sharing some of their questions and answers below:

Q: Could you tell us a little about what being a NICU nurse means?

A: (Denise, RN): NICU nursing is more than taking care of the smallest and most fragile patients. You are taking care of and helping to create new families who, for the most part, are living through some of the most stressful moments in their lives. We encourage parents to celebrate all the milestones no matter how small. Our NICU offers scrapbooking sessions (for a baby book) to help document these very special days such as when a preemie is first breathing unassisted without machines, breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, or being held.

Q: What have you found to be the most challenging part of being a NICU nurse?

A: (Denise, RN): To me, the most challenging part of being a NICU nurse is also the most interesting. You never stop learning each day. Because we are a Level IV Regional NICU, we take care of the most critical babies. As a NICU nurse you need to be prepared, sometimes on an hourly basis, to manage all the potential uncertainties that could arise with our babies. Our neonatologists are some of the most respected in their field and having the opportunity to collaborate with them in caring for our babies is a privilege.

Q: What have you found to be the most rewarding part of your job?

A: (Denise, RN) The absolute best part of any NICU nurse’s job is discharging a baby home to their family. We call this the “Victory Walk” to the front door. It can be a very emotional time for the family, particularly if their baby has been with us for a long time.

Q: How have you seen these little babies thrive from something as simple as a hug? Being so heavily involved with these babies, whydo you think the act of hugging and affection makes such a difference in their development?

A: (Fran, RN) Kangaroo care, which is when a mom or dad holds their baby, is skin-to-skin bonding. You might call it a wonderful hug that helps calm the babies and their parents. This then helps with emotional wellbeing, often called attachment and bonding. This attachment is very necessary for the positive outcome of a child’s emotional growth and also helps with the baby’s physical growth and development. They thrive, spending less time in a hospital and going home to their families in their parents’ arms, where we want them to be, where they belonged, healthy, healed and strong!

Mother & Child, NICU, Helena of Brooklyn Blonde

The biggest thanks to Huggies, to Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital, and to all of the NICU nurses for doing what you do! A special thanks to Nurses Denise and Fran for allowing us to interview you. 

Visit Huggies here to learn more about the “No Baby Unhugged” program.

Huggies, the fastest growing diaper brand in U.S. hospitals, believes deeply in the Power of Hugs, which is why every diaper and wipe is inspired by a parent’s embrace. The Huggies No Baby Unhugged program helps ensure all babies get the hugs they need to thrive by supporting hugging programs in hospitals and donating diapers across the country. Learn how you can help at #HuggiesCouncil 



  • Francine

    Thank you, Helena, for this lovely post! I very much appreciate you sharing stories and reminders such as these. My niece was born 13 weeks early and the story is similar. My brother and sister in law still keep in touch with the NICU nurses (angels indeed!), sharing emails and pictures of their now, very robust and thriving, 2-year old little toddler.

    Enjoy the weekend!

  • Briana

    What a thoughtful and endearing post!


  • Simply Sory

    Es un trabajo verdaderamente lindo.

  • Elaine gold.

    I understand why you did this, to give back and bring awareness. But you got paid for this, that was your motive. Which makes it completely insincere. Unlike other bloggers i frequently read, like “wendyslookbook” or “Carriebradshawlied”, when they post something near and dear to them; they do it because it comes from the heart, not a paycheck. As a mother of two babies who were in NICU, i can’t express how much this hurts. I get it, you’re a blogger, you need money. I understand why yhe sudden influx of “sponsored posts”, but this is appalling.

    • Helena

      Hey Elaine,
      As a mother, I’m sorry you had to go through having two babies in the NICU. Could not imagine how difficult that must have been!

      I completely understand where you’re coming from, but there’s a bit more to it than me taking on this project than just for a paycheck. I’m working with Huggies on a much bigger initiative: NICU, diaper banks, etc and I do plan to donate the money to a few of these charities that work with families in need. I guess I cannot expect everyone to just know that, but that is the case for this project.

to the newsletter