black_mother&babyKentucky’s Health Access Nurturing Development Services, HANDS, is a free, voluntary program for moms-to-be and first time parents who would like support and education throughout pregnancy and the first two years of the baby’s life. The HANDS program is provided in every county in Kentucky for first time parents, and in nearly every county for parents who have more than one child.

There are several reasons to participate in the HANDS program, and the positive impacts to the health of a new baby and their parents is one of the most important.

Top 5 reasons HANDS is good for babies and their parents’ health:

  1. Fewer low birthweight babies. Evidence shows that families who participate in HANDS have fewer low birthweight babies (under 5 pounds 9 ounces). Serious health problems for low birthweight babies can include developmental and intellectual disabilities, cerebral palsy, and vision and hearing loss. Sadly, low birthweight babies are 25 times more likely than those born at normal weights to die within their first year of life.
  2. Fewer complications during pregnancy and/or delivery: Families who participate in HANDS have shown to have fewer complications during pregnancy and/or delivery. Safer pregnancies and deliveries are best for the health of mother and baby.
  3. Connections to community resources: Participation in HANDS can help to better connect families to resources nearby to help ensure they have what they need to be successful. Families able to meet their basic needs are able to prioritize health and safety.
  4. Increased parenting skills: HANDS mentors teach parents how to care for, bond with, and provide enriching learning experiences for their baby, and how to create a safe and healthy home. The program teaches discipline techniques, anger management skills, and how to deal with the stress of being a new parent.
  5. Adequate prenatal care: Families who participate in HANDS experience adequate prenatal care, which is important to the health of both the mother and the baby. Prenatal care performs a variety of critical functions, including: supervising the progress of the pregnancy, screening and treatment for medical conditions, testing for potential birth defects and diseases, monitoring of the fetus’ development, and patient education on behaviors that jeopardize the health of the baby.

The benefits of HANDS are innumerable.  Check out their website to learn more.

Are you or your partner pregnant or thinking about becoming pregnant? Consider participation in HANDS. Enrollment MUST BE during pregnancy or when your baby is less than three months old. Contact your local health department for more information about HANDS.