FIRST Certified HUG Teacher in Tasmania, Australia!

Georgia Hodges is a Registered Midwife based in Hobart, Tasmania. She works with women in labour, during the delivery, and in the immediate postpartum period. She has become a Certified HUG Teacher and shares her experiences with us today.

I work mostly nights with new mums and their babies in the immediate postpartum period from day 1 to day 5 in a hospital maternity unit. Since incorporating  HUG Your Baby's first strategy, "Start Here, not There," I can focus on baby's body changes (color, movement and breathing) and bring these changes to mum's attention.  Because the information is about her baby, it is easier for a mum to take in and has more meaning.

When I enter a postnatal room, a mum may be distressed because her newborn baby is crying/fussing at the breast and she does not know what to do. I can help mum calm her baby by using HUG's "What T.O. DO" technique: first, Talk to baby in a singsong voice while baby is skin to skin; then Observe baby and see if baby is trying to self-comfort or does baby start head bobbing and rooting for the breast. I discuss HUG's Zones (Resting, Ready, and Rebooting) with mum and explain that calming baby will help her know what her baby is trying to communicate. Sometimes the baby needs to reboot (like computers) in order to settle down.

I use several HUG techniques to help a baby in the Rebooting Zone. I will get mum to hold her baby's hands to chest, hold her baby and sway her, and sometimes wrap the baby to help bring her to the Ready Zone to breastfeed. I also like to observe if baby puts a hand to mouth to suck and self-calm. This leads to sharing with mum about her baby's behavioral changes to self-comfort (Spacing Out, Switching Off, Shutting Down). Then, once the baby has finished feeding, I can discuss the Resting Zone (both active sleep and deep sleep). Sharing information about the Zones and SOS flows well together, so it makes it very easy to keep it simple.

When I am providing information to the parents about the HUG program I spread it out over the three nights I am working so that mum is not overloaded. I try to keep my teaching relevant to what is happening in the room with mum and baby at that moment.  This way, a mum will be more likely to remember the information and to try out the techniques herself.  In my facility, mums mainly request education about breastfeeding, infant sleep, and how to calm her baby.

What I really like about the HUG program as a midwife is its attention to focusing mum and dad's attention on the cues their baby is sending them, instead of focusing on my check list. The HUG program is evidence-based, and it both honors a baby's individual temperament and gives mum the ability to get to know her baby.