Indiana Mom Pampers NICU Parents With Free Beauty Treatments

Sleep-deprived and stressed parents can find relaxation and connection at Riley Hospital’s ‘Beauty Bar,’ where blowouts and scalp massages help many recenter self-care.
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By Wyndi Kappes, Associate Editor
Published October 12, 2022
Sarah Pulley doing a mother's hair in NICU beauty bar hair salon
Image: Courtesy of Ronald McDonald House Charities of Central Indiana

From stressful-sleepless nights spent worrying to days spent in the hospital waiting to bring baby home, having a baby in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) can be a difficult journey.

In hopes of making the time NICU parents spend in the hospital just a little better, Indiana mom Sarah Pulley recently opened a “Beauty Bar” on September 14, inside one of Riley Hospital’s Ronald McDonald House Family Rooms.

The owner of Three Seventeen Hair Design, Pulley, a professional hair stylist, offered to lead the salon initiative, donated a chair from her own salon and contacted her distributors, who donated hair care supplies and other products. At the Beauty Bar, parents can take time to focus on themselves and recenter their self-care so they can bring their best home to baby.

NICU moms and dads, and any patient who delivers at Riley Hospital, can relax in a HydroMassage chair, doze in a nap pod and snack on fruit and granola bars daily in the Ronald McDonald House Family Room. And on the second Wednesday of every month, Pulley comes by to provide scalp massages and blowouts for free.

Pulley was inspired to open the Beauty Bar after her own experience being a NICU parent. Four years ago, Pulley’s daughter Amelia was born premature and had to spend four months in the NICU at two different hospitals.

“You completely lose all sense of yourself when you have a baby in the NICU,” Pulley told TODAY in an interview. Noting how exhausted and run down she had felt, Pulley emphasized her wish that she had taken more time for self-care—and now how she is committed to bringing that self-care moment to others. “My first mom completely relaxed in the chair; she just closed her eyes and breathed. My second was completely exhausted.”

The restorative benefits of the salon experience go beyond a new blowout.“There’s something about the connection between moms and the power of touch,” Pulley said. The hairstylist hopes to truly empathize and sit with every parent who feels isolated so she can let them know, “You’ve got this.”

“There is hope in my story because my daughter is thriving,” said Pulley, who welcomed a son named Joey two years ago. “We made it.”

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