A mother’s touch is often enough to soothe a baby – but for premature newborns that all-important human contact can be fleeting. For one mother, watching her precious premmie baby struggle through his first 150 days of life prompted an incredibly clever creation – weighted gloves, that can carry a mother’s scent and envelope a baby in a soothing and healing touch.
Fifteen years ago, Yamile Jackson gave birth to her son Zachary 12 weeks early, as a result of pre-eclampsia, and she stayed by her tiny boy’s side for up to 12 hours a day. But her heart would break each night as she left him, with Yamile saying she wished she could leave her scent and loving touch so he wouldn’t feel alone. She created a set of ‘hands’ using cotton gardening gloves filled with pellets, which she held close to her body during the day, so they carried her smell when she wrapped them around Zachary at night.
“Before, I would come to the unit and stay for 10 to 12 hours. And I realised that my baby might never be touched except for getting shots or something else painful,” Yamile explained to SFGate. “I began to hold him for five to seven hours a day, and when I had to leave him at night, I’d take a cotton glove and fill it with pellets, which the nurse and I would place next to him.”
After prompting from Neonatal Intensive Care Unit nurses, the industrial engineer created The Zaky, to help other premmies. They are weighted gloves, designed to mimic a mother’s or father’s loving arms, wrapped around a premature baby. Research into the Zaky found that those babies who had Zakys that had been scented by their mothers had no apnea or bradycardia episodes. Those who had an unscented Zaky still had about a third less breathing episodes than those without a Zaky.
This brilliant creation is now being used in more than 32 countries, including Australia. If you purchase a Zaky, Nurtured by Design will gift a Zaky to the hospital of your choice. You can also buy the Zaky through the exclusive Australian distributor, for $85 for one hand or $149 for a set. What a beautiful way to ensure that all premmie babies have the chance to feel the healing touch of a mother.