“I saved my premature baby’s life with hugs after her twin died in the womb”

Little Elsie Dutton’s family had to wait an agonizing wait to hold their beautiful baby girl, but the delay was worth it.

The Duttons are now thrilled that the premature baby Elsie is coming home from the hospital where she spent her first five months fighting for her life.

Family hugs have a special meaning for Elsie – born at just 23 weeks and weighing 1lb 4oz – after her twin died in the womb.

And it was cuddles from mom Amy, 33, that helped save the little tot’s life.

Amy was only able to hold her newborn daughter for 30 seconds before she was placed in an incubator. And at just 10 days old, Elsie underwent surgery to repair a hole in her gut.

After a month in the incubator, doctors suggested Amy hug her baby skin-to-skin for about three to four hours a day.

Studies have shown that such contact — known as kangaroo grooming — helps premature babies adjust to life outside the womb, protects them from infection, and even shortens their time in the hospital.

Amy with her little daughter after giving birth


mercury press)

Elsie pictured at home


mercury press)

Amy said: “The first time I held Elsie properly was amazing, I’ve never experienced anything like it. There is no comparable feeling in the world. I held her and I could see on all the monitors that her heartbeat was relaxed.”

Every day Amy would sit for hours and hold her baby daughter close to her chest, snuggling her and watching her gradually grow stronger.

“It was really difficult having to wait that long to hold her, so it meant so much when I did,” Amy said.

“It’s crazy to think that there was such an impact that I cuddled her – it saved her life.

“It was good for me too because it also helped lower my stress levels when I was able to hold them.”

Bridal stylist Amy went into early labor when doctors tried to separate her twins. They suffered from transfusion syndrome, which is when a baby receives all the nutrients.

At first, doctors at St George’s Hospital in Tooting, south London, thought the procedure – an endoscopic laser ablation – had gone well.

But then Amy started bleeding profusely and required three blood transfusions. She said, “We lost Dotty’s heartbeat, then a few hours later I had lost so much blood that I went into labor at 23 weeks plus four days.”

Medical professionals warned the family that Elsie might not survive


mercury press)

When Elsie was born on December 2, 2021 and weighed as much as a soup can, medics warned Amy and her husband Scott, 34, that she might not survive. Amy said the time she spent cuddling Elsie was amazing but also filled with sadness. She said: “Losing Dotty was really difficult.

“Because it was 24 weeks ago I was never able to register her as a stillbirth… she was classified as a miscarriage. That meant I couldn’t include Elsie’s birth certificate stating she was a twin either.

“Being able to have that on the paperwork would have given me closure after going through something so difficult. We managed to get a memorial certificate for her and her ashes which was very helpful in the grieving process. Her funeral was paid for by the charity First Touch. It was a really important day for us.”

Last month doctors said Elsie was finally strong enough to go home, to Barnsley, South Yorks.

There she was finally able to enjoy lots of cuddles with Amy and Scott and their seven-year-old brother Charlie.

Scott with Amy and Elsie


mercury press)

Amy said: “Bringing her home for the first time was really amazing. I almost didn’t believe it was real – the day felt like a dream come true.

“I’ve never felt such relief as when we got to leave the hospital and take Elsie home. It’s so surreal to hold your baby and think about how you could have lost him. To have her home after all this uncertainty was just lucky.”

It meant the family could put the months of fear behind them – worries that came to a head when fighter Elsie was just days old.

The surgery she needed to repair the hole in her intestines, necrotizing enterocolitis, was risky.

Even if everything had gone well, she would still be at risk of infection during recovery. Amy said: “We had no idea how long it would be because they didn’t know how much of their intestines survived until they opened them up.

“We had to wait three hours. It was the longest three hours of my life. We just kept looking at the clock.

“It was the greatest relief when we saw her again. The surgeon said it went amazingly well, the best scenario.”

Amy spent most of the week in the hospital with Elsie and the glazier Scott, and Charlie traveled to London at the weekends to see her. Children were not allowed on the ward, so they could never be together as a family. But after four months at St George’s and one at Barnsley Hospital, Amy was able to bring Elsie home.

Amy said: “She’s defied all odds…she’s just amazing.

“Just before we left, our doctor told me that Elsie was the first baby she had intubated and survived. To think that she got over that and got out of there with no problems… we’re so incredibly lucky.

“Having her and Charlie together is very special. She’s really thriving.”

What is kangaroo therapy?

Research shows that kangaroo care can help improve the lives of premature babies.

The World Health Organization endorses the mother-baby skin-to-skin method. According to a clinical study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, it can reduce mortality in hospitalized children by up to 40%.

Kangaroo therapy helps babies adjust to life outside the womb, improves sleep, protects against infection and prepares for breastfeeding, charity Tommy’s says.

dr Sijo Francis of St George’s Hospital said: “When babies like Elsie are born prematurely, clinical intervention is crucial, but parental involvement also has a tremendously positive effect.

“When mothers hold their babies for a long time, stress is reduced for both mother and baby and we see improved short- and long-term outcomes.”

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https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/i-saved-premature-babys-life-27207665 "I saved my premature baby's life with hugs after her twin died in the womb"

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