"See, then Share" the Baby's Behavior

Lactation specialist have a LOT of information they can offer a new breastfeeding mother including: the benefits of breastfeeding, how to breastfeed, how to solves problems with breastfeeding and motivations to continue effort to breastfeed. Patient education research confirms that much of the information shared with patients is simply not effective. How do we "get through" to a new mother is a way that inspires her to begin and continue the efforts it sometimes takes to be a successful breastfeeding mother.

The HUG Strategies, described in depth in the Part II HUGYour Baby course, were developed as a way to provide effective parent education.are . The second HUG Strategy, “See then Share” the baby’s behavior, has been seen by students of HUG Your Baby to be especially helpful to effective lactation support.

“See then Share” the baby’s behavior means to become an expert at observing the behavior of a child and to share the baby's behavior in a way that will engage and empower new parents. 

It is common for lactation specialists to attempt new mothers with statements such as: “Your baby is so cute.” “You are such a good mother.” “Your baby looks very peaceful.” While these statement might initially seem like a compliment, they suffer from two problems. First, such a statement can seem so general that a mother might think, “She probably says THAT to everyone.” Secondly, the statements do not provide the mother with any specific information about her baby or her mothering. This mother will not know WHAT you are seeing that causes you to conclude that she is a "good mother".

Borrowing from a sports metaphor, those of us wanting to teach new parents might cosider two ways to share information. We can either “Broadcast” or “Commentate” the information. In the sporting world, a "Broadcaster" is a person who simply describes EXACTLY what the athlete does. “He caught the ball in his right hand, spun to the left and scored with a jump shot.” A “Commentator” is the person at half-time who explains the significance of certain moments of action.

You will discover that becoming aware of how you use these two approaches in describing a baby and mother’s behavior will not only enhance lactation but will also promote the parent-child relationship.

Imagine you enter the room with a new mother and practice “Broadcasting” the baby’s behavior. “Oh, I noticed that when you spoke to me your baby hesitated in his suckling and looked up at you.” “It was lovely that you spontaneously reached down and rubbed her head as if to reassure her that all was well.”

Before you start asking questions about breastfeeding you might start by noticing and “Broadcasting” what the mother is doing correctly. “I see that you are holding her belly to belly and that her lip is nicely flared outward.” “When she starts to wiggle and squirm, I see that you release suction on the nipple before you move her to the other breast.”

These statements both compliment the mother AND give her information about what she is doing well. This feedback seems personal, just for her! You are also affirming her as the expert on her child (a strategy Dr. T. Berry Brazelton promotes).

But, of course you may need to give additional information. You might use a “Commentating” statement that does not disempower the mother: “Some mothers find that putting a drowsy baby skin to skin will help her to wake up for breastfeeding.”

I ALWAYS “Broadcast” at least three statements before I offer advice or correct a behavior. It is amazing to see a mother who might have been resistant to feedback, then smile and join me in admiring her remarkable baby. "Broadcasting" keeps the baby's behavior in focus and creates a special bond between me and the mother.