Helping Hands Comfort Forth Valley Babies

Premature babies at Forth Valley Royal Hospital are now being cradled in comforting hands, thanks to the generosity of a local woman and the fundraising group she set up after her daughter was born 16 weeks early.

Tiny Tabitha Fund, which is a small group of dedicated people who raise funds for the neonatal unit, has purchased what are known as Zaky Hands – larger than life padded hands which wrap around a tiny baby to make them feel secure.

Zaky hands were designed by a mother and ergonomic scientist Yamile Jackson whose child Zachary was born prematurely weighing under two pounds. She noticed nurses would use items like blankets to create a soft firm boundary to help babies feel safe but realised that none of these involved the mother or father.

The Zaky hand was developed to carry the scent of the parent, helping baby bond when they could not be together. The Zaky hand has been proven to reduce adverse physiologic and developmental behaviours of premature infants in a neonatal unit.

NHS Forth Valley Neonatal Sister Bean James said:

 If a baby is restless we would ‘contain’ them by gently placing a hand on their head or bottom to make them feel secure. It’s the womb feeling. It would be impossible to stand like that all day so that’s where the Zaky hands come in, because the hand is padded it gives baby the impression of being held.”

The Forth Valley Royal Hospital neonatal unit currently has around 15 hands in various colours, for girls and boys, which have all been donated by the Tiny Tabitha Fund. However the Zaky hands come at a cost with each one costing approximately £90 to £100.  Despite the cost Tiny Tabitha Fund are planning to buy more as soon as possible. They hold a few events annually to help fund this, with the next one being a sponsored 20 mile assault course which Tabitha’s older brother John and four friends will attempt on Saturday  11th May 2013, Then a  Fancy Dress fright night on Saturday 2nd November 2013 at the Carronshore Club.

Amanda Rutherford, founder of Tiny Tabitha Fund said:

 Touch is the first sense to develop and for our vulnerable sick and premature babies it is even more vital they can feel safe, nurtured and loved. The Zaky Hand contributes to all of these needs, it helps reduce stress levels , improves vital deep sleep where growth and repair occurs and reduces the need for staff to handle the baby unnecessarily . Baby can be re positioned by moving the Zaky thus reducing further stress on the developing brain.

“I truly believe early intervention should be offered where ever possible and if the Zaky hands can help to reduce the impact of possible future developmental needs, and babies get discharged home earlier, then they are worth their weight in gold.

“The Tiny Tabitha Fund can not do this on our own and we are extremely grateful  to everyone who has attended past events and also to individuals who have  fundraised independently and donated the money to Tiny Tabitha  Fund to help keep providing this vital item not available through the NHS.”

From September 2012 the Tiny Tabitha Fund linked with Scottish charity So Precious SC042125 who give support to the Funds efforts to continue to provide developmental care resources, equipment and training to FVRH neonatal unit.