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.

"I LOVE, but don't know if I LIKE my baby!"

I was rather shocked by the perspective of the young mother referred by my colleague, Gale. "Gale thought you could help me out," the young woman explains.

Lizzie was Samantha and Sarah's second baby. She was healthy and full term. Labor and delivery had gone well, breastfeeding was successful, and Samantha had two months of maternity leave. What could be that wrong? I wonder.

"She fusses all the time!" Samantha explains as she lays the baby on the exam table. "See, like now! Hear her making all those grumpy sounds!"

Lizzie is a robust, wide-eyed six-week-old. She is very busy in her movements as she wiggles and squirms on the exam table. Her level of activity is a wonder to behold. She seems to wind up a second, then one arm shoots out to the side, both legs kick upward, and she arches her back. She is also very busy with her vocalizing—a grunt here, a groan there, or was that a coo? The activity and sounds coming from her cute little body are normal and even entertaining to me. But his activity level and her vocalizing seem to be off-putting to her mothers who thinks Lizzie is fussing all the time.

"See Jessie there," Sarah says as she points to her four-year-old daughter coloring peacefully on the floor at our feet. "She is so calm and easy to be around. When Samantha and I decided to have a family we promised each other that we would have a peaceful household! But Lizzie just keeps on fussing," Sarah remarks as she hands me her baby.

Samantha and Sarah are describing a temperament difference in their children. The work by Thomas and Chess in the mid and late 1950's was important in confirming what all grandmas know: babies are born different one from another! Some are quiet and laid back, while another is busy and rather demanding. One is predictable while another is a surprise every minute. An parent's own temperament makes it easier to "hang" with one kind of child than another. Certainly issues in a parent's own upbringing also impact their ease (or not) with a certain style or temperament. If a parent misunderstands a child's temperament and misinterprets their intention, problems in the developing parent-child relationship can begin and escalate.

What an opportunity and a challenge this moment is! Can I help this mother see this second daughter through a different lens? As usual, when I feel challenged by a patient encounter, I focus on and begin to describe the behavior of the baby. (Learn more about this technique in this HUG Strategies course.) I demonstrate Lizzie's normal reflexes and get excited when she brings her hand to her mouth and begins to calm down. I pick up the end of my red stethoscope and engage the baby in a little game of following its movement with her eyes. Of course, I finish with the grand finale of having Samantha call out the baby's name. Lizzie hesitates only a moment before she turns toward her mother and—I believe she actually gives her a wink!

Samantha giggles and scoops up the baby from my arms as I discuss this high, but normal, level of activity and vocalizing. We talk about how each baby has a special temperament and style, right from birth. "Her body activity and enjoyment of vocalizing are part of Lizzie's inborn personality," I explain. Both Samantha and Sarah smile as Samantha gives Lizzie a hug. “I guess she’s just a real go-getter,” Sarah responds.

Lizzie is three years old now. Every time she and her family come to the clinic to see Gale, they stop by and say hello to me. "Lizzie's not really fussy anymore," Samantha explains. "But she's still a busy and noisy little gal!" Lizzie runs down the hall ahead of her mom who laughs out loud as her sister squeals in her pursuit

© HUG Your Baby 2016

HUG Your Baby Trainer on Journey to Become an Infant Massage Educator

Gale Touger FNP-C, IBLCL and  HUG Your Baby Trainer, began the process of teacher certification with the International Association of Infant Massage. She shares this journey with us.

Recently I have been working hard to complete certification to teach infant massage. The International Association of Infant Massage has developed a challenging array of assignments.  As I walk through this process, I am considering how the approaches to learning and demonstrating competence might inform the process we are developing for HUG Your Baby Train the Trainer.

Becoming certified to teach Infant Massage to parents began for me with a 4 day course in February 2016.  Since then I recruited five parents to bring their babies to  a class of five 1.5 hour sessions at least one week apart. There were forms to be read and signed by parents, preparation for and teaching class, parent evaluation and self evaluation.  I offered the class for free in exchange for their agreement to attend all five classes. The process was complicated and prolonged by one mom dropping out and having to reschedule a class due to babies’ illness. Other assignments have included short answer and multiple choice questions on the content of the 4 day training, reading a relevant book and submitting a book report, analyzing a relevant research study, outlining a verbal marketing presentation about infant massage, and essays on the bonding process, crying and a special situation that a massage instructor is likely to encounter.  

This process has taken me beyond the commitment and participation in a four day training and practice. It has guided me through anticipating and intellectually rehearsing situations I will likely encounter as a teacher. I have experienced, though practice teaching, my strengths, my weaknesses, what skills are familiar to me, what skills are new and I have been prepared for implementing this program in my circumstances.

Jan and I are exploring my experience and impressions as we consider what assignments would adequately prepare and demonstrate the competence of a HUG Your Baby Trainer.  We are very interested in your experience and thoughts. What assignments and experiences have you found valuable when certifying as a doula, an IBCLC, a parent educator or a trainer of Infant Massage Teachers? Now that you are moving beyond competence in your primary field of expertise, how can you best demonstrate competence to train future HUG Your Baby Teachers?

HUG Techniques Help Certified HUG Teacher Make Appropriate Referral

Wendy Wilson from Derby, Kansas has been in the birth business for 20 years.  She started off as a doula, then became a Bradley Method childbirth educator, worked as a home birth midwife assistant and a labor and delivery nurse. She is currently in graduate school to become a Marriage and Family Therapist and plan to specialize in working with couples who have had birth trauma, and pregnant and new families to help them understand the developmental path their baby takes and what will help to optimize that outcome.

I very much come from an attachment theory background.  Becoming a H.U.G. instructor is going to blend in perfectly with what I am currently doing and what I plan to do.  It is an extension of what I currently practice and will be yet another “tool in my toolbox.”  I have already added related information to my pregnancy and childbirth education classes.

I have seen firsthand, over the years, the effect that raising awareness has on a person/couple/family.  I love those “light bulb” moments when parents (and myself) understand the what, where, why and/or how of an issue.  One of my favorite moments is when I share with parents that the human brain doesn’t stop developing until about 24 years of age.  This is news to almost all of them.  Knowledge and awareness of their baby’s developmental abilities (or lack thereof because of their baby's age) help parents understand and respond appropriately to their babies.

I am so excited to put the H.U.G. techniques to use.  My belief is that if we help parents from the beginning (which our culture generally does not do) it will prevent so many of the problems that develop later with children and families, which ultimately has an effect on all of us.  The old adage, “an ounce of prevention is work a pound of cure,” seems appropriate.

Ironically, through the use of H.U.G. techniques I was able to determine that a baby might have a physical problem not related to the parent’s responses.  I was having a class reunion (I do this about 4 weeks after everyone in the class has had their baby) and one couple was having a lot of trouble calming their baby, who was one month old, that day.  She would eat and then go sleep for a while, but then wake up and be very fussy and cry no matter what mom or dad would do.  The parents, while expressing frustration and appearing tired, did not seem “stressed-out.” 

The baby was born a few days before her estimated due date, but mom was induced, so her baby may have been born a little early.  (I teach that 41 weeks and 1 day is more appropriate when figuring due dates.)  According to what I learned in the H.U.G. training, babies who are born 2 weeks early may cry even more than usual at about 4 weeks of age, which was her age at the time.

It looked to me like the couple was responding appropriately, so I asked to hold the baby, explaining that I wanted to try a couple of different things to see if they would help.  I took her to another, quieter, adjacent room, with dim lights.  She was crying, her body was stiff and she appeared to be in distress. 

I did as much of “TO DO” as I could and nothing seemed to help for any length of time and I didn’t observe any self-soothing measures on the part of the baby. I tried laying her down and holding her in different positions (over my shoulder, cradle, football, etc.), some with her hands on her chest and/or bringing her knees up, gave her a pacifier (which she repeatedly spit out) and did what I call the “mommy hip sway” … you know, how mothers, no matter how long it has been since they last held an infant, pretty much automatically start swaying when they are standing and holding a baby?   She did fall asleep for a few minutes but woke up crying again.  Even while sleeping her little face didn’t seem to fully relax.

The couple had shared with me that she threw up a lot.  I am a huge advocate for chiropractic care in pregnancy and for newborns, especially if babies are continually fussy/colicky, only eat off one breast, and have reflux and/or throw up a lot.  I shared my observations with the parents and encouraged them to have the baby adjusted.    

The parents took the baby to see a chiropractor who specializes in pregnancy and newborn/child chiropractic care, a few days later, and I am happy to report that they saw almost immediate relief.  The parents described it “as if she was a different” baby.  So, although the H.U.G. strategies didn’t help soothe this particular baby, they did help me to consider other causes and make an appropriate recommendation. 

Pediatric Nurse Practitioners at NAPNAP Get the HUG - Workshop Evaluation

 Pediatric Nurse Practitioners are highly trained professionals. Nevertheless, I was asked to present "Unlatched: Teaching Child Development to Extend Breastfeeding Duration" at their annual conference.   I was delighted to see that PNPs were eager to learn about ways that a child's development impact breastfeeding duration. And most exciting, these PNPs will change their practice based on what they learned at this workshop.
Workshop Objectives:
  • Describe Dr. T. Berry Brazelton’s theory of child development.
  • Describe developmental events and two changes in breast milk production (birth to one year) that are often misunderstood by mothers to be a breastfeeding problem. 
  • List four educational resources that can be used to enhance mother’s knowledge of normal developmental events and breast changes during the first year of a baby’s life.

Certified HUG Teacher Discovers the Magic of Sharing a Baby's Behavior

Elizabeth Allen is a doula, childbirth and lactation educator in Olathe, Kansas. Though an experienced birth and early parenting professional for years, HUG Your Baby training offered her new skills and techniques to educate and support the parents she serves.

As part of my CAPPA Teen Childbirth Educator training, I took part 1 of the HUG curriculum and immediately realized I wanted to become a Certified HIG Your Baby Teacher.  I hoped that by adding the HUG approach to my private classes and meetings with my doula clients, I would help better prepare expecting parents for their exciting, but somewhat nerve-wracking, journey into parenthood.  

 Out of the over seven years of being a professional doula, Certified Childbirth Educator, and Certified Breastfeeding Educator, I have witnessed countless women abandon their breastfeeding goals due to their lack of knowledge regarding their newborn's behavior and development, as well as the erroneous notion that they have an inadequate milk supply. Throughout the years, I have found myself becoming frustrated with my personal lack of knowledge in newborn behavior and development, particularly as it relates to the areas of calming a fussy baby, encouraging healthy sleep habits, and achieving personal breastfeeding goals. For years I would work with women to encourage and uplift them, but I felt as if I was lacking education, until I found HUG Your Baby.

 Recently I had the privilege of working with a lovely family as their Birth Doula. During a postpartum follow-up visit we discussed her frustration with her baby’s inability to sleep on her back and in her bassinet. After asking the mother a few questions and listening to her elaborate on the situation, I began to explain her baby’s different states and zones. I explained that if she would put her baby down in the bassinet while her baby was in the light sleep state, she would teach her baby to transition from light to deep sleep on her own, which is a fundamental part of healthy sleep habits. My client informed me that she was unaware of the positive affect this could have on her baby and was eager to learn more.

 I continued to explain that correctly swaddling her baby would help to lessen her baby’s startle reflex and help to provide security, which would, in turn, encourage baby to fall asleep on her own and stay asleep more easily. We then reviewed how to swaddle her baby safely so as not to cause negative side effects such as overheating or hip dysplasia. I also explained that by checking her baby’s stomach or back, she would have a better idea of her baby’s body temperature than she would get from checking her forehead or hands, which could actually feel chilly even if her baby was too warm.  

 After discussing her baby's zones I explained the different states a baby experiences and what they may look like in her baby.  I then talked about SOS's and what to do to calm her baby during an SOS, delay an SOS, or completely stop the SOS before it happens.  My client explained that her baby almost always sends out an SOS by becoming very fussy, arching her back, and turning her head away from the stimuli. She mentioned this usually occurs when her baby is signaling her need to eat. I recommended monitoring her baby during breastfeeding to note any pauses in baby’s nursing, which would indicate swallowing and to make sure her baby has a good latch and nurses well before putting her to bed. We reviewed the components of a good latch as well as how to use breast compression to encourage baby to eat better, especially when sleepy at the breast.

 The last thing we discussed was the importance of recognizing that her baby is a highly intelligent human being with legitimate physical and emotional needs. I demonstrated how to speak to her baby in a singsong voice and then asked her to try holding and talking to her baby the way I had during my demonstration. When my client held her baby and gently spoke to her I broadcasted how amazing it was that her newborn was examining her mother’s face and attempting to mimic her mother’s facial expressions. I also mentioned how wonderful it was that her baby reached out to her mother’s face and made a little coo to communicate her love to her mother. My client then made a vital connection, which was when her husband is home from work, her baby strives to turn her head and body to follow her father’s voice and figure, as he moves about the house. She told me her husband loves to hold their baby, but sometimes feels less important than she since he is not able to provide nourishment through breastfeeding. I explained and demonstrated that he can play with their baby by shaking a rattle in front of baby’s face and waiting to see if baby will follow the rattle and his voice.

 One week later I followed up with my client and learned that her baby was sleeping better and nursing more efficiently, and that she and her husband were both getting more sleep. I also learned that her husband had been playing with their baby more regularly too. The HUG Your Baby approach worked wonders for them and has opened my eyes to the truly miraculous life of the newborn. I am thrilled I have the privilege to share this information with new and expecting families and I am excited to utilize this new knowledge to help facilitate a deeper bond between mother, partner, and child. Thank you for such a wonderful program!