"See, then Share" the Baby's Behavior

The HUG Strategies are described in depth in the Part II HUGYour Baby course. Because the HUG Strategy, “See then Share” the baby’s behavior, is so critical to effective lactation support, we must take a moment to review this concept.

“See then Share” the baby’s behavior means to become an expert at observing the behavior of a child and then to be intentional about sharing that information.

Many times lactation specialists make general statements to new mothers. “Your baby is so cute.” “You are such a good mother.” “Your baby looks very peaceful.” While these statement might initially seem like a compliment, they suffer from two problems. First, such a statement can seem so general that a mother might think, “She probably says THAT to everyone.” Secondly, the statements do not provide the mother with any information about her baby or her mothering.

It can be helpful to think of two ways to share information. We can either “Broadcast” or “Commentate” the information. In the sporting world, a "Broadcaster" is a person who simply describes EXACTLY what the athlete does. “He caught the ball in his right hand, spun to the left and scored with a jump shot.” A “Commentator” is the person at half-time who explains the significance of certain moments of action.

You will discover that the use of these two approaches in describing a baby and mother’s behavior will not only enhance lactation but will also promote the parent-child relationship.

Imagine you enter the room with a new mother and practice “Broadcasting” the baby’s behavior. “Oh, I noticed that when you spoke to me your baby hesitated in his suckling and looked up at you.” “It was lovely that you spontaneously reached down and rubbed her head as if to reassure her that all was well.”

Before you start asking questions about breastfeeding you might start by noticing and “Broadcasting” what the mother is doing correctly. “I see that you are holding her belly to belly and that her lip is nicely flared outward.” “When she starts to wiggle and squirm, I see that you release suction on the nipple before you move her to the other breast.”

These statements both compliment the mother AND give her information about what she is doing well. This feedback seems personal, just for her! You are also affirming her as the expert on her child (a strategy Dr. T. Berry Brazelton promotes).

But, of course you may need to give additional information. You might use a “Commentating” statement that does not disempower the mother: “Some mothers find that putting a drowsy baby skin to skin will help her to wake up for breastfeeding.”

I ALWAYS “Broadcast” at least three statements before I offer advice or correct a behavior. It is amazing to see a mother who might have been resistant to feedback, then smile and join me in admiring her remarkable baby. "Broadcasting" keeps the baby's behavior in focus and creates a special bond between me and the mother.

Why delay solid foods until six-months-old?

Over the past few years, the American Academy of Pediatrics and other international pediatric leaders have changed their recommendations for beginning solids from four months to six months. The following immunological and developmental considerations prompted this change in recommendation[i]:

A baby’s intestines are still developing.
During early infancy the intestines secret only a small amount of IgA, an immunoglobulin protein that coats and protects the lining of the intestines. Fortunately, breast milk contains a lot of IgA that offers this protection while the intestines are developing. Between four and seven months the intestines go through a developmental process called “Closure”. This process causes the intestines to be more selective about what is allowed to pass through. If breast milk is reduced and solids are added before this closure occurs, the baby’s immune system can be triggered to begin an inflammatory, allergic-type response to proteins that leak through the intestine. It is now believed that this process can initiate life-long allergies and asthma and may be a component of a child’s later developing autoimmune illnesses such as diabetes.

Babies less than four months have the tongue-thrust reflex.
This reflex protects the baby from choking. When food is placed on the tongue, the tongue pushes the food out rather than drawing it in.

The baby’s swallowing mechanism is still immature.
Between four and six months babies develop the ability to move food from the front of the mouth, to the side for chewing, and then to the back of the throat for swallowing.

By six months most babies have developed the ability to sit.
Being upright obviously facilitates the eating of solids and a baby’s ability to participate actively in the process.

Older babies love to imitate their loved ones.
By six months a baby may grab mother’s spoon or the cracker from a sibling’s hand. This imitating of behavior not only increases a child's ability to self-feed, but also contributes to the baby’s developing cognitive, social and intellectual skills.

[i] http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/feeding-eating/feeding-infants-toddlers/starting-solids/6-reasons-delay-introducing-solid-food

Newly Certified HUG Teacher Supports Breastfeeding Using The HUG!

Connie Hoffner is a long time maternal-child nurse and lactation consultant in Mount Ulla, North Carolina. She shares her experiences becoming a new Certified HUG Teacher.

I love helping mothers and families learn about their newborns. Using The HUG techniques with families has been such an added benefit. Over the years I have seen that many mothers stop breastfeeding because they do not understand normal newborn behavior. As described in my encounter with the mother below, The HUG Your Baby information enhances a mother’s breastfeeding experience.

Baby Z. and his Mother E. visited me with some questions and concerns about breastfeeding.  The baby was nursing well and had a good latch, had good output and was doing well with weight gain.  However, the mother was concerned about the baby waking up and eating frequently.  I explained to her about a newborn “Zones” and a baby’s Active/Light and Still/Deep Sleep.  She was quickly able to identify the Active Sleep “Zone” and she now realized that over the past few weeks she had assumed that the baby was hungry and needed feeding when she saw that Active Sleep behavior. We discussed suggestions to help him "sleep though" Active Sleep and ways to help him be put down to sleep. 

We then reviewed all 3 newborn ”Zones” – The “Resting Zone”, “Ready Zone” and “Rebooting Zone”.  We talked about playing with the baby during his “Ready Zone”, information she was very happy to share with her husband. 

Mother E was very interested and concerned about the baby's SOS behavior and had noticed that when he was upset he tended to "Switch Off".  We discussed that the baby was very smart to send out signs when he had too much stimulation.  We discussed comforting/calming techniques and that the baby was really good at calming himself.  We talked about the value of talking quietly to him when he showed as SOS holding his hands to his chest, swaddling him, swaying him, making "shooshing sound", placing him on his side, and letting his suck mother’s finger or the breast.  Mother E verbalized more confidence and has contacted me a couple more times with the good news, “I love breastfeeding!”