Integrating The HUG into Your Work with Young Families

Blog by Gale Touger, BSN, FNP, IBCLC, CHT, HUG Teacher Trainer

When professionals are first learning about The HUG it is sometimes difficult for them to imagine how to integrate the HUG Strategies and information into their practice. Folks tell me they already have too much to accomplish in too little time. I certainly can appreciate this! However, as new learners become more comfortable with The HUG Strategies, they will find opportunities to apply The HUG in the natural course of their work. Here is just such a serendipitous HUG moment:

Claire, the medical student spending time at the pediatrics practice where I work, asked me to show her how to swaddle an infant. We practiced on a stuffed animal and talked about the strategies to support an overstimulated infant and the safest way to swaddle: allowing the baby's hips to flex and avoiding overheating. We had just finished and were walking down the hall, when we saw 2-week-old Jason being checked in for a visit, along with his mom and grandmother. I asked his Mom's permission to demonstrate swaddling her baby for Claire. Mom agreed, and was eager for me to show her as well.

As the nurse lifted Jason off the scale and placed him on the measuring table he showed us an SOS (Sign of Over-Stimulation) from being awakened, undressed and now a little cold. Mom and grandma watched intently as I "broadcast" his pale color, furrowed brow and jerky movements, then "commentated" that these SOSs are one way babies communicate with us, even without crying. I swaddled Jason's upper body in two easy tucks of the blanket and explained the importance of leaving the blanket loosely wrapped around his hips and legs. In the wink of an eye Jason became still, his cheeks got pink, his eyes widened, and he looked right at my face. 

Everyone smiled in a shared "Ahhhh." I described the changes we all just saw, and explained that Jason had just moved from what we call the Rebooting Zone to the Ready Zone -- ready to play, ready to eat, or ready to have his check-up. Mom said, "I'm so glad to learn this. I had a C-section, so Jason's Dad has been doing most of his care." The experienced nurse looking over my shoulder joined in, "Thanks! I never knew how to do that!"

In just a couple of minutes today, one baby, two family members, and two professionals got The HUG. And, mom, grandma and Jason were off to the exam room, right on time, for his check-up.