New Certified HUG Teacher Uses The HUG with a Newly Adopting Family

Susan McGrath, RN, IBCLC is a Lactation Consultant, Childbirth Educator and Certified Educator of Infant Massage. She works at Johnston-Willis Hospital in Richmond Virginia. She is on the hospital High Risk Obstetric Committee and heads the Journal Club and Staff Activities Committee. Susan is also a member of the Academy of Neonatal Nursing and the Virginia State Breastfeeding Task Force.


I first heard Jan Tedder speak at a CAPPA conference in Charlotte North Carolina. As soon as Jan began to speak, I thought of Dr. T. Berry Brazelton – it was like watching a female version of him. I was fascinated with the information she presented on how babies communicate with us.  I have worked with infants for 29 years and I knew I could use this valuable information since  I work with parents as a lactation consultant, infant massage instructor and as a childbirth educator.

In the fall of 2010, I took HUG Your Baby training part I and II with my sister –in-law (an L &D nurse ) and a co-worker. I wanted to learn as much as I could so that I could better serve my clients. I teach and care for clients from various backgrounds, but it is the adoptive parent group that hold a special place in my heart.

I find that adoptive parents read every baby book, watch many DVDs and take numerous  classes in order  to prepare for their new baby.  Adoptive parents are so eager to learn – they are great listeners and love hands on experience. They appreciate details concerning eating, sleeping and  crying . They want to know how to calm their baby when he is “over-stimulated” and what “zone” their baby is in.  It is wonderful to help build a parent’s confidence as they learn about the signs of over-stimulation. They want to learn how to decrease the stimulation around their baby  as they increase support in order to calm him. Parents learn to talk quietly to their baby, swaddle and sway which  helps soothe a fussy baby.  The parents themselves look more relaxed as they see their baby settle down.

HUG Your Baby can be introduced in the hospital setting as the new parents get acquainted with their new little addition.  It helps promote bonding as parents get to know their new baby’s personality.  During  The HUG we also talk about the zones (resting, ready and rebooting zone). By learning these zones parents are more prepared to help their baby sleep, eat and deal with crying (3 big  areas that parents have lots of questions and concerns.)

As one young mother pointed out after a HUG session -  “Look, my baby is in the fencing pose – I think he is trying to calm himself down.”  These parents want to do all they can to help their babies thrive and feel loved. It is such a wonderful thing to be able to tell these parents that they are doing a great job and help build their parenting skills. I watched one father melt as he softly spoke to his baby and she turned her head to follow his voice. He became teary eyed and overwhelmed by the whole experience. It was the beginning of the bonding process and a wonderful thing to witness.

The HUGS program is a great way to empower parents  so that they can connect with their babies. Many of these parents have waited a long time for their baby and they want to be great parents.  It is thrilling to watch parents interact with their babies – they actually learn from each other!  As a result,  The HUG builds their confidence and strengthens a bond that can last a lifetime!