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!

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 delighted 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!

Adelaide, Australia, Gets The HUG!

We were met at an airport in Australia by the cassowary, a (wo)man-eating bird who apparently is NOT interested in Getting a HUG. Walking beside a beautiful beach the next day in Cairns we learned that CROCS, instead of humans, enjoy frolicking in that particular surf. So we are happy to meet Australian colleagues who are a LOT friendlier and less threatening than some of the Aussie wildlife!

Australia has the benefits, and sometimes the challenges, of being an enormous continent with a great diversity of population, including significant numbers of refugees and immigrants.
A maternity nurse attending our HUG session in Adelaide reported that over 130 languages are spoken in her hospital each day. “I do a lot of pointing and hardly speak English on some days,” she said.

CLICK HERE to watch this one-minute YouTube video to discover what HUG learners most enjoyed about this workshop.

Once again professionals attending a HUG workshop are impressed with the concepts of “Broadcasting and Commentating” on a baby’s behavior. Though easy to understand, our practice session proves that it is harder than it looks! Participants are especially impressed with how using these techniques for breastfeeding support will enhance mum’s confidence and help to engage fathers.

After thousands of miles of travel and a number of days of non-stop teaching, Jim thinks we deserve a refreshing Adelaide break. So off we go on a tasting tour in the Barossa Valley wine country. Jim smells a 100-year-old port, while I nip into a 10-year-old one. (Not surprisingly, my white wine that evening taste like water!) Tomorrow we leave this chilly, wet weather behind as we head off to Cairns, Australia.

HUG Your Baby Goes to New Zealand

After a very LONG flight (or three), Jim and I find ourselves beginning our second HUG Your Baby teaching tour in New Zealand and Australia. Yesterday we met experienced midwives, nurses and lactation consultants in Rotorua, NZ. Though NZ in known worldwide for the excellent care it offers mothers and babies, it was exciting to hear, at the end of the day, that these professionals felt that incorporating The HUG into their work will significantly enhance the care they provide. Thanks to Barbara Glare for bringing us on this HUG Your Baby teaching tour!

New Zealand birth and parenting professionals enjoyed my favorite way to review the morning's HUG material - Catching The KOOSH. We all laugh at our uncoordinated efforts to both catch a Koosh ball and respond to my questions: 'What are the 3 Newborn Zones?" "Demonstrate the Rebooting Zone." "And, show us what the 'Spacing Out SOS' looks like!" Incorporating physical activity into the learning process is not only fun; it also primes our brains for an afternoon of more new information. 

We spent a lot of time yesterday discussing the value of "Broadcasting a baby's behavior" and using techniques to demonstrate a newborn's amazing capabilities. Extra time was devoted to specific skills required to help a baby orient to a toy and to a parent's face and voice. We also broke into groups and practiced "Broadcasting" the behavior of babies captured on video. Though these HUG concepts are easily understood, professionals often report that GIVING the HUG is more challenging than understanding the concepts! 

The grand finale for our NZ HUG Your Baby Workshop was HUG's Jeopardy Game. After dividing into teams, the participants worked together to come up with the right question to the answer that was given: "Body and Behavioral" (Question: What are two types of SOSs?), "Smacking lips, bringing hand to mouth and wiggling" (Question: What are early feeding cues?) Our Dutch colleague, Elly Krijnen, gave us the Jeopardy template, and our USA HUG Trainer, Gale Touger, worked hard to make this final review of the HUG Your Baby concepts and resources both fun and instructive. 

Follow us on the newly created Instagram named: HUG Your Baby. It's a quick and easy way to Get a HUG!

CLICK HERE to read blogs about our 2013-2014 International Teaching Tour to New Zealand.

First Certified HUG Teacher in South Korea

Min-Sung Kwon is a registered nurse and lactation consultant from South Korea. She received her Master's degree in mental health nursing from the University of Sydney in 2013 with a thesis focusing on postpartum depression. During her Master’s degree, she found out that mothers need practical support from professionals, and Min-Sung wanted to gain the required knowledge and skills to help these mothers. Therefore, she continued her study in perinatal nursing with a particular focus on lactation support. She shares her story with us . . .

During my ongoing professional development, I met Jan Tedder and her husband, Jim, in 2013 when they started their international HUG Your Baby teaching tour in South Korea. My first impression of Hug Your Baby was that the concept of a newborn’s language was evidence-based. In addition, I thought that it would be very helpful in future to incorporate the HUG's ideas into my antenatal classes and my counseling sessions with mothers. 

After the lecture, Jan, a few of the participants and I had a chance to visit a newborn unit. During the visit, Jan carefully examined the babies and explained which Zone each baby was in. I saw the warmth and love Jan has when caring for babies. I was  also impressed by her enthusiasm to teach other professionals about a newborn’s "Zones," "SOSs" (signs of over-stimulation), and amazing abilities.

As a lactation consultant in a South Korean newborn hospital, I used The HUG to help mothers with 3-5 day olds understand their baby's behaviors. I found that The HUG provided very important opportunities for mothers to see their babies as capable individuals. After sharing the baby's behavior I saw happiness, bonding, and love in these mothers' eyes. Currently, I live in Brisbane, Australia, where I work as a home-visiting lactation consultant and provide antenatal classes every two weeks. Since I learned about HUG Your Baby, it has become easier for me to understand every baby’s behavior and to provide evidence-based advice to the mothers I serve.

Many research studies confirm that misunderstanding a baby’s behavior can lead to various issues, including breastfeeding problem, and postpartum depression. I hope that my use of The HUG as a lactation consultant encourages mothers to learn more about their babies and to breastfeed successfully. Furthermore, I believe that The HUG can boost the confidence of mothers and decrease their risk of postpartum depression. I am really thankful, and blessed, to help mothers and babies with Hug Your Baby.