Frequently Asked Questions
Help! My baby is in the NICU. What can I do to help my baby, my family and myself?
The NICU can be a very lonely and isolating experience, but you don’t have to do it alone. It is vitally important to find a support network, and Hand to Hold can help.
Visit our NICU Families page for support information, helpful resources, to listen to the NICU Now podcast or to connect with a volunteer peer mentor who can guide you through this difficult journey.
I need someone to talk to who understands. When can I contact Hand to Hold?
We are here for you no matter where you are in your journey. Whether you’re just starting a high-risk pregnancy or you’re home from the NICU, there is another parent out there who understands because they’ve been through it. Contact us if you are:
- Starting a high-risk pregnancy
- On bed rest
- Mourning the loss of a baby
- In the NICU
- Leaving the NICU
- Experiencing complications
- Receiving a new diagnosis
- Considering a new surgery or intervention for your child
- Facing re-hospitalization
- Having questions about your child’s development
- Wanting to know how to support siblings
You’re not alone. We’re here and we’re ready to help.
Does Hand to Hold charge for services provided to parents and their families?
No. Hand to Hold is an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization and fundraises from individuals and organizations to cover these services and education for the benefit of Hand to Hold families.
How can I help a family member or friend during a NICU stay or after a loss?
When someone you care about is in the NICU, it’s often difficult to know just how to help them. Check in often via phone calls, text or email. Tell them about our online communities and our podcasts, created specifically for NICU families. Be available and present for them, even if they don’t respond right away.
Visit our Simple Ways to Help and Bereavement Support Resources for suggestions and information that other families find most helpful.
What is a Peer Mentor?
Peer mentors are trained NICU graduate parents who have had a premature child, have had a child with a special health care need or have experienced a loss and who are willing and able to assist other new parents facing similar circumstances. Peer mentors provide emotional support and resources to fellow NICU families as the voice of someone who has been there.
Does Hand to Hold match only parents or can caregivers also find a peer match?
Hand to Hold’s core service is our peer matching program, so that every parent has a hand to hold as they care for their NICU baby or grieve a loss. These services are valuable for any caregiver, and we can match relatives, grandparents and legal guardians.
Who is eligible to volunteer as a peer mentor?
We are looking for parents and caregivers who have had a NICU baby, have had an infant born with a special health care need or have experienced a loss. Peer mentors should also have two to three years of experience as parents after a NICU experience. We find that a peer mentor will be able to provide more assistance if some time has passed since the birth of their child. If your NICU experience is recent, you may better benefit as a recipient of Hand to Hold’s programs and services. Learn more about becoming a peer mentor.
What kind of training do Peer Mentors receive?
Peer mentors receive training to better understand the difference between peer support and a professional counselor, to recognize signs of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, to identify when a parent or caregiver needs professional support, to hone listening skills and to encourage self-care for themselves and the person they are helping. Peer mentors also go through a background check.
Does Hand to Hold and its volunteers ever give medical advice?
No. Hand to Hold is designed to help families before, during, and after NICU a stay and infant loss by providing powerful resources for the whole family, and most importantly, one-on-one mentoring from someone who has been there. Our resources are by no means a substitute or replacement for care by a physician or therapist. Volunteers and staff are specifically instructed not to offer medical advice.
What is the time commitment like for peer mentors?
The time commitment varies when peer mentors are matched with families. Once you are matched, you both can decide when, how often and for how long you will correspond. Providing support could mean phone calls each week, corresponding via text or social media, or regular emails. There are a variety of ways to connect. Both the peer mentor and the mentee decide what level of support is best for them.
Are there other volunteer roles available for parents?
Yes. Our Community Volunteer Program provides support to NICU families by allowing volunteers to give their time with hands-on and remote support to our organization. Hand to Hold often needs volunteers to staff local events and perform various administrative tasks at our headquarters. You can also connect with fellow parents and ask questions in our private Facebook group, Hand to Hold NICU Families, where NICU families can to seek out advice and share inspiration in a safe, supportive environment. Join our volunteer list to find out about upcoming opportunities.
Can health care professionals be involved?
Absolutely. We welcome the participation of health care professionals.Help us spread the word to parents you know who could benefit from one-on-one peer support and learn more about how Hand to Hold can help you enhance the support you are already providing to your families. Visit our NICU Professionals page to learn more.