Tara has been a neonatal nurse and caregiver for 24 years. She goes on to state that, “between the years 2008-2013, there has been a 235% increase in babies that are diagnosed with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome”, and she feels the numbers are more likely even greater since 2013. Babies born with NAS suffer from a range of withdrawal symptoms that can include tremors, vomiting, loose stools, modeling of the skin, inability to sleep, inconsolable crying, sneezing, excessive yawning, and in some cases seizures, and need to be cared for differently. It is not uncommon for NAS babies to be given morphine to aid in their withdrawal.
Because she has experienced the Opioid Epidemic as a caregiver to NAS babies, Tara discusses the importance of controlling Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, how the drug withdrawals can be dangerous, and why the neonatal intensive care unit is not the right environment. According to Tara, babies with NAS are extremely hypersensitive, and when dealing with withdrawals, they need to be contained, not just rocked or cuddled. She created Hushabye Nursery, a recovery center that specializes in newborns withdrawing from substances that the mother has taken during the pregnancy, babies that will need to be medicated. It is staffed with both highly skilled professionals and volunteers that are trained to handle the drug withdrawals these babies are suffering from in a calming environment, away from all the lights and alarms of a neonatal unit.
As her answer to the Opioid Epidemic, Tara Sundem, believes Hushabye Nursery will make the difference in these babies’ lives, lowering seizures and allowing for attachment between the babies and caregivers. Tara remains positive and inspired through the knowledge that this is the right thing to do – fighting for this fragile population, providing the right care, and hoping to make a difference in their future.