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Thought leadership, insights, and success stories

CEO Perspectives: Changing the Standard of Care in Maternity


It’s almost too terrible to contemplate, but hundreds of newborn deaths and serious injuries occur every year due to falls. My daughter could have become one of those statistics two weeks after birth. Thankfully, she’s a healthy, happy child now, but the terror of that moment released my inner entrepreneur.

The Birth of an Idea

Like many new mothers, I was determined to give my child the best start in life I could. After she was born, she was immediately placed on my chest for skin-to-skin contact. While I wasn’t thinking about the science of mother–child bonding at the time, I knew it kept her quiet and happy. It also kept me happy. I loved having her in my arms, with nothing separating us.

Two weeks to the day after she was born, she was sleeping peacefully on my chest. She seemed stable, so I took my hands off her for just a moment to text my sister Ashley. As soon as I did, my daughter startled and rolled off me. It took no longer than a split second, but I still remember the sound of her hitting the floor.

We rushed her to the emergency room, feeling like unfit parents, but the doctor told me it happens all the time. It’s true. However, while in-hospital falls are estimated to occur at a rate of ~1 in 660 births, there is virtually no data about how often they happen at home. We then went through a well-rehearsed checklist, starting with “Did she cry?”

After we got home, I knew I didn’t want it to happen again. I spent money on all kinds of baby-wearing products: wraps, carriers, slings, baby-wearing shirts – anything and everything we came across. Don’t get me wrong – these are all wonderful products, but none are designed for intentional, easy skin-to-skin contact. Exhausted with a newborn, I also wanted simplicity. I didn’t want to deal with buckles, zippers, hooks, or anything else.

From there, Joeyband™ was born.

Healthcare’s Positive Reception to Joeyband

I invented the Joeyband™ out of personal need but didn’t anticipate the reception we’d receive in healthcare. As a Class 1 medical device registered with the FDA, we see the drive for increased skin-to-skin touching on many areas:

Breastfeeding – For something so completely natural, why is it so hard? The Joeyband™ helps keep mother and baby in the proper position, ensuring that the baby can both breathe and latch on properly.Almost immediately after we announced the Joeyband™, we had an email from La Leche League International, the world’s largest breastfeeding organization. They told us they were recommending our device in their book Sweet Sleep. Nighttime and Naptime Strategies for the Breastfeeding Family.

C-Sections – Approximately 30% of babies are born via C-Section and can also reap the benefits of skin-to-skin contact. However, these babies are also more susceptible to falls, as the mother is usually under greater levels of anesthesia. Joeyband™ helps promote mother/child bonding while helping to keep the baby safely on mom’s chest.

 Premature Babies – The WHO recently announced that 153 million babies were born prematurely in the last decade and encourages Kangaroo Care (skin-to-skin) as often as possible. This contact can help regulate the baby’s body temperature, reduce the baby’s stress during medical procedures, stabilize the baby’s heart rate, and strengthen the immune system. It also helps get babies home faster, as increased Kangaroo Care helps reduce length of stay.

Withdrawal Babies – Babies born with an addiction need a lot of touch as they go through withdrawal. Skin-to-skin contact combined with the unique deep-pressure touch of the Joeyband™ can deliver comfort to the newborn and help reduce pain and crying.

Father/Child Bonding – Being a new dad can be disorienting and stressful. Many dads want to help, but they aren’t sure how – skin-to-skin is a great option. It can allow mom time to rest and heal, while dad cares for their newborn. Research has shown that just 30 minutes of uninterrupted skin-to-skin can help rewire dad’s brain to bond to their child.

People with Disabilities – People who cannot stand or have trouble using their limbs require an easy-to-use solution that doesn’t require dexterity. Joeyband™ has been strongly embraced by the Adaptive Parenting Association in the United States for parents with disabilities like ALS.

The Economic Benefits of Joeyband™

So far, we’ve primarily explored the physiological benefits of Joeyband™, but as Sarah often points out, in-hospital implementation of the Joeyband™ has significant economic benefits:

Prevent Falls – Aside from the cost of care for an infant fall (~$14k for an MRI and day in the NICU), legal settlements were said to be around $10 million for a skull fracture and up to $42 million for suffocation (death).

Shorten Hospital Stays – As noted earlier, skin-to-skin care has been shown to help regulate a newborn’s body temperature, heart rate, and breathing, leading to a reduced need for medical intervention and shorter hospital stays. Given that each day a preemie spends in the NICU can cost upwards of USD 12K, the savings can be substantial.

Reduce Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) NEC is an intestinal tract disease typically affecting smaller, premature, and already sick infants. It occurs when the tissue lining the intestine becomes inflamed, dies, and sloughs off. Addressing NEC can cost upwards of USD 600K for each case, but studies have shown that breast milk can significantly reduce the incidence of NEC in premature infants.

Reduce Sudden Unexpected Postnatal Collapse Sudden Unexpected Postnatal Collapse (SUPC) occurs in healthy term or near-term newborns who are born healthy and have 5-minute Apgar scores of 8 or more but then experience cardiorespiratory collapse within the first week of life. No one knows what causes SUPC, but stabilizing a baby’s vital signs through skin-to-skin contact appears to have a preventative impact.

Reduce Maternal Hemorrhaging – Postpartum hemorrhage accounts for approximately one-quarter of all maternal deaths worldwide. In fact, it is the number one cause of maternal morbidity. Skin-to-skin care immediately after birth, especially when coupled with successful breastfeeding, releases oxytocin, which helps the uterus contract and reduces bleeding.

Lower Rates of Postpartum Depression – Additionally, oxytocin released during breastfeeding blocks the stress response and decreases the circulation of catecholamines, which can lead to a reduction in maternal stress. One study found that after a “kangaroo mother care (KMC) intervention,” the percentage of mothers with depression decreased from 37.3% to 16.9%.

Improve Long-Term Health Outcomes – Breastfeeding can save families and insurers money by decreasing the likelihood of future medical expenses related to common childhood illnesses. Breastfeeding is also associated with a lower risk of chronic diseases in adulthood, thus providing long-term economic benefits through lower healthcare costs.

Finding the Right Partners

Joeyband™ is woman-owned and self-funded. By keeping company leadership internal, we can focus on our mission of changing the standard of skin-to-skin care.

We seek out partnerships that share our vision and align with our goals. RGAX has been one such partner. The team co-hosted our first Infant Fall Symposium in New York in 2018, where we had many wonderful conversations with hospital leaders nationwide. One of these leaders, a service line director for a hospital system that handles 40,000 births a year, launched a study on how the Joeyband™ may help reduce hypothermia and hypoglycemia in preterm babies. RGAX has stepped up to support this study, keen to see how Joeyband™ can help families and insurers avoid NICU stays and enjoy improved outcomes.

In addition to helping forge new connections, the RGAX team has been a valuable sounding board. We’ve had numerous whiteboarding sessions to lay out our plan and determine our next steps. Our life insurance strategy is a critical piece to making the Joeyband™ accessible to families worldwide, and our partnership with RGAX has provided us with invaluable insight and support.

About the authors:

HM JB Hayley Mullins -  inventor of the Joeyband™ and now a subject matter expert on the topic of infant falls. Hayley has collaborated with the likes of GE Health, Dräger and Hospital News to bring awareness and education to others. 


SC Joeyband Sarah-Almaza Cox -  has a background in healthcare informatics and product through working in the US, Canadian, UK and APAC healthcare markets for over ten years, in three different successful start-up companies. Sarah is certified in skin-to-skin care. 


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Written by: Hayley Mullins and Sarah-Almanza Cox

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