Just give me a hand to hold
One of the most isolating and traumatic experiences for parents is having a baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). On top of the fear and anxiety over the health of their babies, NICU parents are at greater risk for postpartum depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Factor in the financial stress of a NICU stay, and the experience can be devastating.
Founder and CEO, Hand to Hold
Kelli Kelley knows firsthand. In 2000, Kelley had an emergency c-section at 24 weeks gestation to birth her son, Jackson. She recalls, “Despite being surrounded by friends and family, I truly never felt so alone. I searched for support groups and online discussions, but a void remained. I longed for someone to hold my hand and light my way through this difficult journey.”
Kelley went on to found Hand to Hold, a peer-to-peer support network for NICU families. Hand to Hold pairs NICU parents with trained mentors and parents who have been there.
Support for parents
“Our focus is parents’ needs – Hand to Hold fills a huge support gap.”
“NICU care is outstanding, and hospital staff is rightly focused on babies’ medical needs. Our focus is parents’ needs – Hand to Hold fills a huge support gap,” Kelley said.
Hand to Hold serves more than 3,000 families in Austin through their direct support program at St. David’s Medical Center, St. David’s North Austin Medical Center, and Seton Medical Center. The team of more than 180 trained NICU graduate peer mentors serve families across the country and around the globe.
Effectively serving women of color
higher rates of preterm birth
and postpartum depression.
Women of color have higher rates of preterm birth and postpartum depression, and Hand to Hold is using grant funding from the Focus on the Fourth Women’s Health Initiative to more specifically meet the needs of families of color.
The funding allowed Hand to Hold to recruit more mentor parents of color and to develop a training curriculum for NICU staff that helps them understand the roadblocks that women of color often face.
“It’s all about meeting parents where they are and offering what they need.”
“We want to support the widest range of parents and meet the diverse needs of all families. It’s so important to diversify our mentor corps because these parents share unique cultural factors and can experience the stresses of a NICU stay differently,” Kelley said. “It’s all about meeting parents where they are and offering what they need.”
– Kristy L., Hand to Hold client