Hand to Hold to Host 2022 NICU Community Conference

September 20, 2022

Hand to Hold invites all NICU parents & NICU professionals to be part of unlocking change for the NICU families of today and tomorrow at the 2022 NICU Community Conference.

Hand to Hold NICU Community Conference

Hand to Hold, a national nonprofit that provides early intervention mental health support for Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and bereaved parents will host its national NICU Community Conference November 2 – November 4. This free 3-day virtual conference for NICU parents and professionals will take place during Prematurity Awareness Month. Sessions will be offered in English and Spanish. 

The NICU Community Conference is the only conference bringing together NICU parents and NICU professionals to learn, discuss and inspire advocacy to improve the immediate and long-term mental health of NICU families. Continuing education credits will be offered for RN, LCSW and LMFT.


“The mental health of NICU parents can have a profound impact on their baby’s long-term mental health and development,” said Kelli Kelley, Hand to Hold’s Founder and CEO. The NICU Community Conference serves to elevate the conversation about the need for improved mental health support for NICU parents to ensure better outcomes for babies and their families.”

The conference will feature leading experts in parental mental health, trauma, bereavement and more. The opening day will feature keynote speaker Sue Ludwig, founder and president of the National Association of Neonatal Therapists and author of Tiny Humans, Big Lessons. Ludwig will share life-changing stories and lessons from a career working with the tiniest, most vulnerable infants.

Other featured speakers include:

  • Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD, is a researcher, author, speaker and leading expert on restoring wellbeing in the workplace. Dr. Dalton-Smith has been featured on TED.com, FOX, MSNBC, Women’s Day, and others. 
  • Jennie Joseph, a 2022 TIME Woman of the Year, is a health advocate for women and babies, and founder of Commonsense Childbirth, Inc. She is founder and director of the first Black owned MEAC accredited school of midwifery and is creator of the JJ Way ® model designed to be an effective way of reducing disparities and improving outcomes for all mothers.  
  • Sue Hall, MD, author of “For the Love of Babies, One Doctors Stories About Life in the Neonatal ICU,” is a retired neonatologist and serves on the advisory board of The Wellness Network.
  • Tiffany Willis, PhD, is a NICU psychologist and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine.

Session topics at the conference include:

  • Family-centered care
  • When to ask for help as a NICU parent
  • Invigorating compassion in times of burnout
  • Importance of self-care as a parent
  • Communicating with parents during stressful times
  • Mental health of siblings & NICU grads
  • Importance of connection & community during the NICU journey
  • Having another baby following the trauma of a NICU stay or loss
  • Addressing health inequities in the NICU
  • Advocating for your baby in the NICU and beyond
  • Supporting Dads & their mental health in the NICU

The closing session of the conference will feature a presentation of Hand to Hold’s NICU Hero Award. The award will honor a NICU nurse, neonatologist, social worker or other NICU professional currently supporting parents in a NICU that exemplifies compassion and kindness while providing excellent medical care. Learn more about the Hand to Hold NICU Hero Award.

Across the country, one in seven babies born in the U.S. spends time in the NICU1. When babies need the specialized medical attention of the NICU it is emotionally traumatic to the parent and disruptive to traditional parent-baby bonding. Because of this, NICU parents are more likely to experience postpartum depression, anxiety disorders and PTSD.2 

To register for this free conference visit www.handtohold.org/conference

About Hand to Hold®:

Hand to Hold® is a national nonprofit 501(c)(3) that is dedicated to providing personalized emotional support, education and community to parents who have had children in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or the loss of a baby.  Hand to Hold is removing barriers for support by growing a hybrid model of in-person and virtual support in service to their mission. Support is provided in English or Spanish to parents at no cost to families and all support is designed with the emotional, physical and social needs of the NICU parent.  For more information, visit  HandtoHold.org.   

1 Source: National Perinatal Information System/Quality Analytic Services; www.npci.org. Prepared by March of Dimes Perinatal Data Center, 2011.

2 International Journal of Women’s Health (2014). Postpartum depression in the neonatal intensive care unit: current perspectives