Postpartum Doula Gives A BIG HUG!

Phyllis Huesman, PCD,(DONA), is a postpartum certified doula in Harrison, Ohio and will soon be teaching monthly HUG classes. Though an experienced professional, she is enjoying sharing new information with the families she serves.

As a Postpartum Doula, I often see how tempting it is for new parents to spend precious moments observing the screen of their favorite device, rather than the signals from their new favorite person, their baby. I love sharing the HUG with parents and grandparents because it helps them to SEE their baby in a whole new way. Using what they see to increase the very real “communication” between parent and baby. Helping them realize that their baby as also their greatest teacher in this shared journey. 

I love that the evidence based information presented through the HUG program empowers parents to stay ahead of and actually prevent many common causes of stress for their baby. How wonderful it is to see a parent picking up on an early hunger cue such as; their baby’s body wiggling and squirming or a baby bringing fist to mouth and responding lovingly before baby gets so upset that he or she is left to engage the last resort of crying for his/her meal. While most parents will not need more reasons to look at their precious baby, the HUG program does provide them specific benefits to observing what their baby is communicating to them through both body movements as well as changes in behavior.

Many new parents also benefit from what HUG Your Baby teaches them about the developmental stages that bring on changes in a baby’s behavior and eating habits. How gratifying to see the look of relief on a new mom’s face when she learns that most babies experience an increase in crying at around six weeks or the equivalent of 46 weeks gestational age and therefore this increase is a normal phase and not necessarily an indication of milk supply or parenting skill.

As I work with newborns and their families, I am aware that when stress does creep into the blissful baby world, it is often ushered in by either too much crying or too little sleep. The HUG,  not only teaches ways to head excessive crying off at the pass, it also provides concrete techniques for calming a baby such as gently bringing a baby’s hands to their chest or a safe swaddle and sway when they are crying.
By helping parents learn baby’s sleep patterns and how to recognize when their baby is in Active/Light or Still/Sleep, parents will be less likely to misread normal sleep as restlessness, resulting in an increase of safe sleep time which helps everyone in the family get more rest.

I have a personal fondness for the areas of THE HUG that help parents learn to play and engage with their baby in a way that provides both family bonding as well as healthy cognitive development for their baby. Understanding the behavioral changes that come around significant developmental advancements can also boost parent confidence.

It is a true joy to share the HUG!

Oregon Early Head Start Professional Becomes a Certified HUG Teacher

Monica Oyola is a Early Childhood Educator and has worked for Early Head Start for eight years.  She serves low income families in Washington County (Oregon) as a Home Visitor Teacher. with Early Head Start. Through the years the community she serves has changed. She now serves more young moms, refugees and those from diverse backgrounds.  She hoped that the Certified HUG Teacher course will help her promote and support breastfeeding based both on the family’s needs and on the growth and development of their baby.

Having the opportunity to take this course was really great. I feel more confident when I talk to parents about breastfeeding.

Previous to this course, my knowledge about breastfeeding was fairly basic. Being able to observe a mother and her baby more deeply and apply what I learned has been great. I feel proud when I see a mother’s face light up with the satisfaction that she has provided what her baby needs.

I am fortunate to work with a diverse population and I have come to understand and to respect the varied beliefs of others. Completing this course has improved my ability to work with families from different backgrounds. This understanding allows me to provide families with the support and education they want and need. Some local organizations cut off services when a baby turns 12 months old. We are lucky to continue offering breastfeeding support and advocacy for families for a longer period of time.

Thank you, HUG Your Baby, for making this course available.

What Australian Colleagues say about the HUG Your Baby Workshop!

It was  a joy to share HUG Your Baby with birth and early parenting professionals in Adelaide, Cairns and Brisbane. These professionals had important questions to ask, inspiring stories to tell, and exciting plans to share for how they might incorporate HUG Your Baby into their work with young families!

Here is what they said about this workshop:

What was your favorite aspect of the HUG Your Baby workshop?
·       The interaction with participants
·       Practical tips – especially “broadcasting & commentating”
·      Resources to better equip parents in their journey to parenting
·      Identifying baby cues, SOSs and how to encourage engagement with fathers
·      Workshop was fun, interactive and relevant that fits well with my core beliefs
·      Videos of young parents
·      A very good day - interesting, informative, never boring. Excellent. Thank you.
·      Jan is so wonderfully passionate about working with families and it definitely shows! 
·      This was a most enjoyable day
·      I have already used The HUG techniques with babies that were only 2 to 4 hrs old-- and it works!

You can read all about our July 2016 Australian/New Zealand HERE.  

HUG Your Baby Comes to Brisbane, Australia

It is a great joy to find our way to Brisbane and our final Australian HUG Your Baby training. The Brisbane River, twisting its way through the city, accessible transportation, and a diverse population (both in people and animals!) contributes to Brisbane being identified as one of the most “livable” cities in the world. All they seem to need is a big HUG!

CLICK HERE to watch a YouTube from these participants!

A large crowd of nurses, midwives, lactation consultants—and even a nanny who fosters newborns—join us to learn tools and resources that give parents the ability to see and understand their babies’ body language.

Among other issues, we review the rising incidence of anxiety and depression in today’s parents and how those parents often misread what a baby is communicating. Participants agree that HUG’s family-friendly language (such as a newborn’s “Resting, Ready and Rebooting Zones” and how a baby “Sends out an SOS—Sign of Over-Stimulation”) will increase parents’ confidence and enhance attachment to their babies.

Because “sleep training” of infants and babies has become popular (and controversial) in Australia, HUG trainees were relieved to consider how The HUG’s information on Active/Light and Still/Deep sleep, and on normal sleep patterns, might help decrease the need for more aggressive parent training.

Our red TicTacs were popular once again as a simple tool to demonstrate a baby’s capacity to engage visually. Participants were reminded that many infants have a normal hesitation in the movement of their eyes as they begin to orient. Specific techniques were shown to equip HUG trainees to help all babies be a star as they demonstrate how ready and able they are to engage with their parents, and the world!

I was especially happy to meet Ann Thistleton, who had taken HUG Your Baby online courses to become Brisbane’s first Certified HUG Teacher. She shared with the group her experience using HUG Your Baby with Australian parents and expressed delight in the ideas that were offered in this one-day workshop.

Jim and I LOVE Brisbane, and we hope to return here in the future, when we expect to find even more Certified HUG Teachers working with fortunate families in Queensland!

Cairns, Australia Gets a BIG HUG!

We had a quick flight from Adelaide to Cairns and were greeted by the most amazing "dead of winter" weather. We shed our fleeces, hats and gloves and put on lightweight shirts and sunscreen to enjoy the tropical climate!

I felt immediately at home when I unpacked my HUG workshop gear in the Cairns Base Hospital, where health professionals are trained at the James Cook medical school. Since Cairns health professionals must often travel far and wide for relevant continuing education, they appreciated our Australian host holding a HUG workshop here.

During the past two workshops I have spent more time demonstrating actual techniques to engage a newborn to look at a toy or face and respond to a voice. I presented my highly valued developmental assessment tool: an AU$2 box of red TicTacs! I explained that not only do they have a great sound, you can eat them if you forget your lunch!

I remind participants that most newborns have a moment of hesitation before their eyes start to move in response to visual or auditory stimulation. “Be still and stop shaking the rattle or moving your head a few seconds when you see this hesitation,” I explain. “If you don’t, the baby may send out an SOS and just 'Shut Down'." I warned that it is likely to require practicing this technique with at least 10 babies before getting comfortable with it. But as we are fond of saying, "It takes courage to learn something new!"

Several of the nurses, midwives and LCs expressed concern about how to respond "if the baby just can't do it."

Since it is our job to see EVERY baby as a success, I show and discuss video of a baby’s steps to gaining this skill. When a baby does not orient as expected, the professional can say, "I see your baby gets quiet and still when she sees the toy. That's great! In the next week or so she will be able to look at that toy with her eyes and later be able to move both her eyes and her head as the toy moves." Such information reassures parents and gives them the ability to see their baby grow in her engagement with the world.

The "Broadcasting and Commentating" practice session was especially fun in Cairns. Participants' comments included: "I noticed I started to see more as I was Broadcasting"; "Broadcasting is like learning a new language"; and, "I'm sure a parent would feel I've really connected with their baby." What at first seemed like a simple idea, now seemed, to some, as simply amazing!

I finished my day having a special conversation with a maternal-child health nurse who travels by small plane to visit isolated Aboriginal and Islander villages. She has remarkable pictures, videos, and stories to share about her patients, who have strong family bonds, significant struggles with poverty, and amazing passion for their babies. We brain-stormed about the possibility of collaborating on a HUG video mades especially for Australia's indigenous families.

And of course, no trip to Cairns is complete without a snorkel trip to the Great Barrier Reef. It was indeed a privilege to see a reef system of this magnitude. As exciting as that was, it did not cause Jim and me as much joy and laughter as watching each other squirm into our wetsuits!