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How an octopus is helping to keep preemie babies safe

Preemie baby with knit octopus

tinyheartseducation | Instagram

Cerith Gardiner - published on 10/11/23

Thanks to the sea creature's long tentacles, tiny premature babies are now able to rely on the octopus to stay safe.

A fascinating discovery has shown how a knitted octopus is proving to be the perfect crib mate for little preemies.

When babies are born very prematurely they can still get up to medical mischief. In fact, in utero — in between kicking and prodding their mommy’s womb — babies are busy tugging at umbilical cords.

Therefore, once they’re out of their mother’s uterus, they still have that tendency to grab at things, such as a feeding tube or the monitoring wires that are vital to keep them alive.

Thankfully, knitting groups have come up with a perfect solution: the octopus teddy. As one mom of a premature baby, Nahla, explained in an Instagram post for Tiny Hearts Education:

Small octopuses and jellyfish are knitted by groups such as Octopuses for a Preemie in such a way that the tentacles feel like an umbilical cord. The octopuses are placed in incubators or cots with preterm bubs [babies], allowing them to grab onto the tentacles.”

Andwith such a large number of tentacles to grab onto, the baby is less likely to pull on all those important bits of medical equipment.

Handy for mom, too

The octopus teddy is also great for moms, too, because preemies often have to stay in hospital for a prolonged period. As Nahla’s mom pointed out, when you know your baby is going to be born ahead of time, you can ask for one of these teddies.

Moms are able to place the teddies next to their bodies: “This is to make the teddy smell like you, which will then stay with baby after they’re born and go home with them after discharge.”

In this case both mom and baby are reassured when the newborn is all alone.

Nahla’s mom shared that sadly her daughter didn’t have one of these tentacled friends. But “having something like this that would’ve smelled like me and given her comfort would’ve improved my mama guilt dramatically by knowing that, even though we weren’t together, a little piece of me was still right there with her.”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Tiny Hearts (@tinyheartseducation)

Charitable aid

It is thanks to the hard work of charities such as Octopus For a Preemie UK, who regularly donate octopus or jellyfish teddies to the NHS in the UK, that babies are able to feel reassured while they fight to survive.

And as Octopus For a Preemie explained:

Parents need a break to catch their breath and to have a rest so they can carry on looking after their little bundle of joy, knowing their tiny baby will get comfort in holding the octopus tentacles instead of pulling those life-saving tubes and cables out.”

As the success rate in treating premature babies continues to rise, it is wonderful to see initiatives from these knitting groups helping along the way. If you’re handy with a pair of needles, you could try contacting your local hospital to see if they’re in need of a few aquatic teddies with their tantalizing tentacles to save the day.

BabiesHealth and WellnessPro-life
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