Australian Certified HUG Teacher Discovers that Tic Tacs Can Be Critical to Extending Breastfeeding Duration!

Megan Ritchie is a midwife from Sydney, Australia. She provides antenatal care, delivers babies, and makes home visits for up to 6 weeks postpartum. Megan took the HUG course with hopes that using these ideas and resources would help mothers extend breastfeeding duration. Since starting and completing the course she finds herself talking more about a newborn’s body language to her pregnant patients. Information about the baby’s sleep/wake cycle and SOS signs leads seamlessly to further discussion about breastfeeding. Megan admits that, initially, “Broadcasting” a baby’s behavior sounded a bit contrived to her. But parents responded so well to this approach that she has continued with it. In the process Megan also discovered that effective breastfeeding support postpartum can begin in surprising ways, as described below.

Today I visited Baby Jon, a 6 day old Chinese baby born via LSCS for Pathological CTH at 9 cm. Apgars were 6 and 9 and baby spent some time in the NICU due to low cord PH. Grandmother is worried the baby “was brain injured at birth and would never be any good!” And, since Mother’s milk is not in, Grandmother insist on feeding the baby formula in a bottle. 

When I enter the room Grandmother is sitting in the corner energetically giggling the baby who is tightly wrapped. Anticipating a prolonged visit, I turn off my phone and head toward Grandmother with my Tic Tacs! (The HUG course showed me that red Tic Tacs make a good tracking ‘toy” for a newborn). Grandmother and Mother thought he was "very clever” when they saw him follow those Tic Tacs with his eyes.

After seeing how “clever” this baby was, Grandmother and Mother agreed to unwrapping the baby and placing him skin to skin.  In no time the baby had moved himself to The Ready Zone and Grandmother and Mother could hear audible suck and swallow.  Seeing the baby’s readiness to breastfeed reassured both Grandmother and Mother that breastfeeding was going well even though the birth had not gone as hoped.  I was able to end the visit discussing how to help a crying baby and Mother took notes so she could tell her husband what they had learned.  Tomorrow I plan to discuss SOSs since this Grandmother might be expecting him to be doing math a little too soon.

"Starting Here, not There" Empowers Parents and Enhances Parent Learning

Carol Pywell (shown here on the right with a "graduate" of her HUG class) is a Maternal and Child Health Nurse in Victoria Australia and a newly Certified HUG Your Baby Teacher!  Although she has years of experience and training as a Australian professional, she has discovered that "Giving a HUG" complements the skills and information she uses everyday!

The HUG your baby course has been an empowering and fantastic tool to utilize as a  I work in a busy practice where we have limited time (30minutes) for each consultation and a lot of information and anticipatory guidance on childhood development and health to cover. The concept of “Starting Here and not There” and not trying to teach the entire HUG course in one consultation had been really useful to me.

I see most families frequently in the first couple of months so I have opportunities to teach snippets depending on where the family is at and also by following the opportunities that their baby presents. If a baby is crying and clearly demonstrating the Rebooting Zone on the change table then I can talk about Zones and how parents can help their infant move from one zone to another. Reassuring parents that crying is their infant’s form of communication and that by tuning in to their infant’s communication this will enhance the bond that they have and also ensure more effective feeding and sleeping by the infant.

In my previous practice I usually always talked about the crying peak in the early few weeks, I didn’t however relate that to gestational age and alter the crying peak accordingly. When I see a baby that is lying on the change table bright eyed and tracking beautifully with his eyes, I now “Broadcast” (“See and Share” Strategy) this fact to the parents rather than just making a mental note myself for the child’s health record. Parents just beam when you give a compliment about their infant (rather than just that they are wearing a cute outfit!)

The HUG Your Baby DVD encapsulates in one DVD the amazing talents of the newborn as well as practical suggestions for calming the infant and encouraging good sleeping patterns. I am a very practical person so I love the practical suggestions that you can give to the families. Some are so simple yet very powerful such as holding the infant’s hands to help the infant calm. Since doing the Hug training I have suggested this numerous times, especially when the infant is being examined, being able to demonstrate this if the infant hasn’t calmed to mum’s voice or hasn’t been able to initiate any self-calming behaviors has been very easy to integrate into practice.

Waiting and watching some infants however is also a powerful tool, I have observed many infants in the fencing position but hadn’t realized that it was used by the infant to calm.  I now take a breath and pause when an infant is crying and give the infant a chance to initiate some self-soothing behaviors. I have noted the infant suck vigorously on a finger and some turn to the side and self-settle. Broadcasting these behaviors is now part of my everyday practice.

Thanks very much for giving me the opportunity to complete this fantastic course I am excited about learning and developing new ways to integrate the HUG information into my daily Maternal and Child Health Nurse practice.

New Certified HUG Teacher Helps Parents Avoid Some of the Challenges She Experienced as a New Mother

Susan Schwiering has been a Certified Lactation Educator (CAPPA) in Jupiter, Florida for three years. As a busy mother of three, she finds time to both enjoy and raise her children as well as serve young families in her community. Though required to take only Part I on the HUG Courses, she made an effort to successfully complete ALL HUG courses including the Certified HUG Teacher program. She shares her experiences with us today

When I had my first baby, I was extremely overwhelmed by the stress and pressure to do everything perfectly. When my baby and I began to have trouble nursing, I was extremely frustrated by the lack of personal one-on-one help available in my area. Although our local hospital did have a Lactation Consultant on staff, she was unable to make house-calls. It took me three days to find a doula who would travel to my home and give me the help I needed. This help made all the difference. Reflecting on my experience caused me to make the decision to become educated and certified in order to help other new moms.

The HUG program is amazing and really spoke to me. I remembered well the problems I had with my third child who was a terrible sleeper. We were up every 2.5 hours until 7 months when, in desparation, I resorted to letting her cry it out. I remember her crying for hours until by the fourth night she finally "gave up" and slept twelve hours.  Although our household became a much more pleasurable place, it was heart-breaking to listen to her cry and not the route I had wanted to take. After watching the HUG DVDs I just kept thinking, "if only I knew about light and deep sleep cycles when my baby was born." I knew then that this information needed to be shared wit other young families.

From the first days working with other moms, I realized how breastfeeding, sleep, soothing and enjoying your baby all coincide. Those who constantly make comments regarding their babies being fussy, difficult or a terrible sleeper, usually begin supplementing with formula. The HUG information helped me recognize this connection and gave me information to help mothers prevent and/or solve these problems. I love how the HUG principles have been laid out and are easy to explain and remember.  Though I had offered parents techniques on soothing their baby, I now feel a lot more confident giving teaching tips to also help parents enjoy their baby.

While watching the HUG videos and completing the readings I continually thought back to how I could have helped my babies and myself. Now that I am a Certified HUG Teacher, I hope to continue spreading the HUG message, helping parents avoid some of the difficulties I had and strengthening their attachment to their baby.

Certified HUG Teacher takes The HUG to "The World's Greatest Baby Shower"

Kimberly Severson is a doula, lactation educator and childbirth educator in Titusville, Florida. In addition to being the mother of four sons and the wife of a supportive husband, Kimberly reaches out to expectant and new parents in her community with special attention to the needs of teenage parents. Though she has years of experience and multiple training certifications, she made it a priority to become a Certified HUG Teacher. Kimberly describes some of her HUG Your Baby experiences below.

I have enjoyed becoming certified in the HUG Your Baby program and using these resources and techniques with private couples and with large groups. The largest class I teach is at our community's "Worlds Greatest Baby Shower." Every year The HUG class has the HIGHEST attendance and is the TOP CLASS at this event.

When clients come to see me privately, they are usually at their wits end as to "what else to do" with a crying baby. Most of the time the baby is loosely wrapped with his feet sticking out of the blanket and is crying intently. Once the parents are shown how to make a more secure swaddle and watch their baby's response, parents are overjoyed that they can now read what their baby is telling them. A teenage mom I worked with recently said she was at the point of considering leaving her baby at a "Safe Haven" and giving up on parenting. But, watching her baby respond to our comforting efforts encouraged this young mother and inspired her to go on to help other young moms. 

The fathers I teach are usually first-time dads who have never held a baby. They say they are clueless in just about "everything baby." But once they are taught to handle their baby, and to see their baby's ability to interact, the confidence of these new fathers increases. One father told me that when he tried to interact with his son, the baby would get fussy and turn away. Remembering about those "Spacing Out" SOSs helped this father know what to do. After the baby woke up from a short nap, the father would quiet his voice, comfort his son, and notice then that the baby was more available for interacting.

When I am out at stores or with my family I am often approached by young couples and told how much The HUG helped them survive (and thrive) during those first few weeks as new parents. It is so exciting to see the parents’ faces when they describe those "ah ha" moments.  I look forward to more opportunities to share HUG Your Baby and to help young families in the years ahead.