Sharing The HUG with a Second-Time Mother

Kory Houser is a DONA-trained Birth Doula from Berryville, Arkansas. Eager to enhance the care she provides young families, Kory recently completed the Certified HUG Teacher program. She plans to offer a HUG class for expectant and new parents as well as to share the HUG concepts with new and second-time parents during their postpartum visits. "The HUG offers so much wonderful information I wish I had known with our son, now 3 years," Kory states. Read on to hear Kory's story below!

While studying for HUG Certification I shared the HUG with a number of new parents.  My last client, Jane, was a second-time mother and felt certain that she had little to learn from this HUG Your Baby visit! 

When our visit began, I was holding her one-week-old, full-term baby. I talked to him in a soft, sing-song voice and made different faces. I watched as the small baby first made his way around the outline of my face before taking in my whole face. I pointed out this observation to his mother, who then seemed intrigued. The HUG has taught me that "Broadcasting" a baby's 
behavior is a great way to draw parents in.

After a few minutes, the baby turned away from me. Jane told me how the baby often does that with her--behavior the mother feared meant that he did not really care for her. I explained, “He is sending out an SOS. He's just overstimulated.”

I now looked away from the baby and talked to Jane in my normal voice. As I swaddled the baby I gave Jane a quick run-down about SOSs (Sign of Over-Stimulation). Jane noticed immediately that her baby began looking at me again as soon as I had finished swaddling him. 

Delighted to help Jane see more about her baby's body language, I began playing with him again. After a while, he turned his gaze away from me once more. In response, I looked away and lowered my voice. I quietly told Jane to watch. Pretty soon the baby turned toward me and was back in the Ready Zone--for more play time. However, this time he was yawning a lot. As we were playing he started to drift off, or "Shut Down." I suggested to Jane that we lie the baby down while I explained the "Resting Zone" to her and the importance of letting a baby get to still/deep sleep on his own. 

Jane and I quietly watched the baby, and before long he was completely still. His eyes were not moving, and his breathing was regular. I asked Jane which sleep state he was in, based on what I had just told her. She replied, “Why he’s in that deep sleep!” About 30 minutes later he made a few noises and wiggled a little bit. When Jane went to pick him up, I suggested that she not wake the baby from this active/light sleep. Sure enough, about 10 minutes later the baby went back into his still/deep sleep cycle again. Jane was amazed. “I’m going to get much more sleep this time!” she replied with enthusiasm.

Watching an experienced mother come to all these new realizations as she learned how to understand her baby was a wonderful feeling! I can't wait to share HUG concepts and strategies with many more parents to come!

Integrating "The Roadmap to Breastfeeding Success" into HUG Teacher Certification

Ooma Priestman is a nanny and Certified Lactation Educator Counselor (CLEC) in Ontario, Canada. Having a degree in women's studies and international development, she is now busy becoming an IBCLC and a Certified HUG Teacher. In the post below, Ooma shares how she integrates ideas from HUG Your Baby's Roadmap to Breastfeeding Success into her work with young families.

Having a baby--at any age, or in any socioeconomic demographic--is a challenging pursuit. It is even more difficult if you are a young, single mother, trying to balance raising a baby while completing a university degree and working a part-­time job. By using The HUG strategies, young, determined mothers at my university have been able to ease the stress of their daily lives and make raising an infant a more enjoyable and rewarding experience.

A few months ago I joined the mother’s group at my school to gain insight into the challenges of raising a child young while trying to complete an education. Although I have no children of my own, the mothers I met were welcoming, intrigued by my goal of becoming an IBCLC, and interested in my undergraduate research in lactation with young mothers. For a few weeks I simply listened and took notes, realizing that many of their concerns and issues are addressed by The HUG's strategies. After a while I spoke to them about The HUG, and they asked me to do a small presentation on HUG Your Baby. It was difficult to address all the components in a short, 30-minute talk, but their responses were overwhelmingly positive.

During the short talk we discussed The HUG Zones (states), and put emphasis on the sleep/wake cycles. We also reviewed a baby’s SOS (signs of over-­stimulation). Even with the baby’s ages ranged from two weeks to 10 months, The HUG's ideas applied to all dyads.

The topics that most helped these mothers, and were best received by them, included: (In response to reverse night feeding) “mommy and me” time when the mother got home from school/work and cutting night feedings in half; safe swaddling for those whose babies had well established breastfeeding; the ability to put babies to sleep during active/light sleep; how and when to respond to early feeding cues and what these cues are; and, lastly and the most importantly to these mothers, how these HUG strategies could aid them in meeting their goals for exclusive breastfeeding, and for continuing to breastfeed past 6 months of age.

The positivity of my experience introducing these mothers to The HUG illustrates how helpful HUG strategies can be for young mothers in any situation. The HUG is the easiest way to comfort and guide your baby through the development milestones of infancy and childhood. It helps direct and deepen the innate desire of parents and guardians to love and care for their child in the best way possible.

Midwife Adds The HUG to Her Parent Education

Doreen Lawton, practicing in Chattanooga, Tennessee, has been a midwife for over 10 years and has taught childbirth classes and newborn parenting to many couples. She also has worked as an early interventionist with families who have special needs babies with sensory impairments. In addition Doreen has had 6 children of her own and felt that she knew a thing or two about babies! However, HUG Your Baby has significantly enhanced her ability to teach parents and grandparents. Doreen has frequently heard from second-time parents, "Boy, where was this information when we had our other children?" Here is what Doreen wants to share:

I recently had the privilege of teaching The HUG to a family about to welcome a newborn through adoption. The adopting mother, father and grandmother were in attendance during the first session. We met again once the baby had come home and they had a few days to get to know one another. Mom had lots of questions and concerns about normal newborn behavior and how to meet all the baby's needs. During the first session, the family was very excited to learn the different newborn zones, how to tell them apart, and what TO DO when the baby needs support to reboot. Of greatest concern to this mom, as with most, was what to do when baby cried. "How do I know when she needs to eat or sleep or when she is just bored?" After discussing normal newborn behavior, zones and SOS's and watching the DVD, the family said they felt much more prepared and learned a lot. Since their baby was not yet born, we used a doll and role playing to facilitate learning the calming techniques. We agreed to meet again after the baby came home. 

When we met for the second session, the baby had been home with them for about a week and was 2 weeks old. Though she had not given birth, it had been an emotional journey for this new mother and she felt every bit as overwhelmed as a mother who had physically given birth! I was happy we had already planned this second session and were able to build on previous information. 

This baby was not crying much, but was a very sleepy baby and difficult to wake to feed. (Isn't it funny how sometimes the thing we most fear doesn't happen, while the thing we had not anticipated does?) Because the baby had been born a little early, the mom had been instructed to wake her every 2 hours to try and feed her. This was proving almost impossible as it often took over an hour just to wake her, and then she would fall quickly back to sleep after drinking what mom perceived as a very small amount. Though she had been given information in the hospital NICU as to how much baby needed, she had anticipated that babies, especially small ones, needed more than that. After sharing the information from the HUG on the size of a newborn's stomach and how much they actually need, and given how well baby was gaining weight, she was able to relax a bit and accept the baby's not finishing a bottle. Seeing the PowerPoint picture of the number and amount of newborn "poos" that are normal, her confidence in her daughter's feeds was restored, since she knew her daughter was producing even more poos then shown in the picture. 

We went over the sleep stages again, as well as when and how to try and wake her. The baby cooperated beautifully by moving into active sleep as we were discussing this. I was able to demonstrate how to calmly and gently stimulate her to wake more fully, and get into the Ready Zone to eat, by unwrapping her, holding her upright, and talking to her in a calm, soft voice. Mom was amazed at how alert she became after few minutes of this and how well she ate right after. She even stayed awake for a bit after feeding and was able to show off her talents of turning to her mother's voice which brought tears as she realized that this baby recognized HER as her mother!! What a powerful moment to share with this sweet family!!

Soon I will be relocating and am excited to bring The HUG with me to share with parents and families. I also plan to include The HUG in my childbirth classes and to offer a follow-up refresher class after a baby comes, since many pregnant couples are so focused on the upcoming birth that the information presented on newborn care is often not remembered. I have encouraged many of my colleagues in the birth professions to take The HUG course and to offer its excellent information to their families as well. I'm a believer!!!

HUG Your Baby in The Netherlands

Anita Spiegels van de Ven is a pediatric nurse and lactation consultant from The Netherlands. She works in a hospital and has her own practice making home visits. The HUG helps her parents learn the behavior of their baby and understand how they can better support their child.

Marijn is a healthy, 5-month-old, breastfeeding baby. From 3 months, her parents have chosen to add eating and sleeping structure into the baby’s life as described in the book, Baby in a Dream Rhythm. The parents made this decision as the mother prepared to return to work. Mother describes Marijn as an active baby.

Because of difficulty with his sleep, the parents took Marijn to see an osteopath. The parents described that the doctor found “tension in the diaphragm.” After this osteopathic treatment Marijn seemed more settled and quiet.  Mother has taken more efforts to help calm her baby including baby massage and swaddling with one hand free. Marijn is sleeping in his own room in a crib.

When I visit this family, the mother has returned from a walk with the baby, who is asleep in the stroller. Within a few minutes there is stirring in the stroller, and Marijn moves into a quiet, awake state. The mother leans over and enjoys face-to- face time with her baby, who looks at her with wide open, bright eyes. I enjoy seeing how this mother told her baby what she was doing, such as,“Mama is going to put a clean diaper on you.”

As Marijn breastfeeds, his mother and I discuss The HUG Zones and SOSs, how to calm a baby, how to help her baby sleep well, and how to play with her baby so that he can grow and learn.

The next day I receive the following email from Marijn’s mother: “I have been searching the Internet for information about my baby. Then I found you! Your experience and positive approach was wonderful for me. You had only just left when Marijn lay in bed and fell asleep almost immediately. My husband was amazed! Now we are watching our baby and letting HIM tell us what to do! Thank you so much!

HUG International Teaching Tour begins with "Eye-Ball" Exercises

This week is the anniversary of the beginning of our first international HUG Your Baby Teaching Tour. Though I energetically chronicled our travels during that year, I later learned that many of you were unaware of the blog I was keeping. I thought I'd take you on our trip again by posting some of my favorite blogs. This trip informs the work I do every day and continues to be such a blessing in my life.  So indulge me as I re-step our journey and reflect on how HUG Your Baby and YOU can make a difference to babies and their parents in our world!

“Eye-ball exercises” is a HUG Your Baby technique that we teach in order to see more of a baby’s behavior, to notice more of a parent’s interaction, to “Gaze and Engage” more intentionally with the lives before us. I am hopeful that my own vision will sharpen as my husband, Jim Henderson, and I travel from country to country this year and meet young families.

As Jim and I begin our travels, it seems prudent to read of the experiences of my greatest mentor, Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, in his new memoir, Learning to Listen: A Life Caring for Children. As we fly toward Kona, Hawaii, I am delighted to read how Dr. Brazelton practiced what I call “eyeball exercises” while he and his family visited with Mayan (Zinacanteco) families in Chiapas, Mexico, in the early ‘70s. His fourteen-year-old daughter, Kitty, facilitated Dr. Brazelton's access to the lives of mothers and babies in a culture that restricted visits by non-family males to order to protect their child from a potential “evil eye.” Enjoying the local fashion in dress and head gear, Kitty was her father’s “ticket” into these home.

There he witnessed a Zinacantecon birth—along with sixteen relatives, chickens, and dogs, all “there for” the laboring mother. The mother was completely quiet, but with each labor pain, the attendants, and animals, all groaned, howled and crowed through each contraction. A healthy baby boy was born.

With intention to keep a newborn calm, the baby was put to the breast with every wiggle—up to 90 times in a day! The goal of a docile baby was further reinforced by being held in close proximity to the mother for several months and later wrapped in a robozo (effectively swaddled) for several more months to protect him “from losing his soul.” The Zinacantecon children had REMARKABLE alerting ability and sensitivity to visual and auditory stimuli. With muscle activity restricted, Dr. Brazelton could get a newborn to visually follow a moving toy or his face for a full 30 minutes—a feat he had never experienced with a North American baby.

Of course I must avoid making general assumptions from unique observations. But appreciating what behaviors are noticed by a parent, how that parent responds to her baby, and what those behaviors mean in different cultures will be of interest to Jim and me as we set eyes on foreign lands and engage with the families we will encounter.

(Learn more about HUG Your Baby's International outreach.)

Why Delay Solids until Baby is 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.