HUG Your Baby is Taking Off in Japan!

Yoko Shimpuku, RN, CNM, PHN, PhD has worked clinically as a nurse midwife in both hospitals and birth centers in Japan and conducts research in Tanzania for the education of pregnant women, adolescent girls, and local midwives. She is an Assistant Professor at St. Luke’s College of Nursing, Tokyo. Because Yoko believes that Japanese parents have much to learn from HUG Your Baby techniques and resources she has agreed to serve as HUG Your Baby's country representative for Japan. She has created The HUG for Japan website, Facebook Page and is translating many HUG materials into Japanese.  

My first encounter with Jan and HUG Your Baby was January 2013 when I was visiting my friend from graduate school at the University of North Carolina. In hindsight, it seemed like a miracle! If my friend didn’t get a job in North Carolina or if I didn’t get the funding to go abroad at that time, I would have never know about HUG Your Baby.  After only a brief introduction to this program, I could imagine how mothers in Japan would benefit from the program. Jan and I connected well and  decided to develop HUG Your Baby resources for Japan.

In July 2014 Jan and her husband, Jim, came to St. Luke’s College of Nursing (now called St. Luke’s International University) where I am faculty. I asked several graduate students to bring their babies in order to demonstrate The HUG techniques. Jan immediately started observing the babies and pointing out what each baby could do.That day I witnessed first hand HUG Your Baby's wonderful effects on Japanese mothers who were happy to learn about their babies and to be relieved from many worries.

Yoko with little friend in Tanzania
During the next year, Jan requested that I serve as the Japanese representative to The HUG. We kicked off our Japanese outreach by collaborating on an article about HUG Your Baby which was published in The Japanese Jo. of Nursing Education [(2013)54(12): 1114-1118.].  A nursing professor who had attended Jan's St. Luke's HUG presentation asked to make the Japanese HUG DVD available to public health nurses. This request motivated me to develop a Japanese website and later the HUG Your Baby Japan Facebook page. As word about HUG Your Baby started to get out, nurses, midwives, and OBs started asking, “What is this program about?” “How can I learn more?” I realized even more that, the HUG is really needed in Japan!

Over these past few months I began making home visits on friends with young babies in order to complete my "parent visits" for the Certified HUG Teacher course. Since evaluating babies older than one month is not a usual part of my work,  I worried “Could I explain these ideas well?” “What if I don't understand the baby’s behavior?” However, I soon realized that the HUG's online course had well prepared me for these visit. When I looked at a young baby I could now see and understand her SOSs, his increased crying, and her self-calming behavior. The mothers stated, “The HUG is really interesting! It works for my baby! Now my life is easier because I understand my baby and know how to comfort her.”

The voices of these mothers has encouraged me to bring more HUG Your Baby resources to Japan: an online course for professionals, “The Roadmap to Breastfeeding Success” handout and poster and a handout to accompany the Japanese DVD. I am happy to have the opportunity to use The HUG to connect with mothers and learn with these mothers about their babies. I hope more mothers will come to know HUG Your Baby and gain new information and resources to care for and enjoy their lovely babies!

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.