"See, then Share" the Baby's Behavior to Support Breastfeeding Duration

By Jan Tedder, BSN, FNP, IBCLC; President of HUG Your Baby

Case Study: The lactation consultant is meeting with Sally, a first-time mother of a two-week old. Though this mother had attended a prenatal breastfeeding class at the hospital, she calls the LC with many questions and concerns about her baby and breastfeeding. The new mom sounds like a mother on the verge of adding formula. The LC knows that time spent with Sally is critically important to helping her meet her original breastfeeding goals. The lactation consultant hopes that the HUG Your Baby techniques will make a difference.

“See, then Share” Concepts:
The “See, then Share” HUG Your Baby Strategy has two components: Broadcasting and Commentating. Obviously,these terms are borrowed from the sports world and, as you will soon discover, they are concepts that have magical powers in the baby world!

Broadcasting a baby’s behavior means saying exactly what you see the baby doing.
·       Example #1: The Lactation Consultant (LC) sits with the young mother who has just changed her baby’s diaper, is settled into a chair, and now is trying to get her baby to the breast. The LC Broadcasts, “Camille is squeezing her eyes shut; her breathing is getting a bit choppy; her face has both a pink color and a little pale color around her mouth; her movement is jerky.”
·       Example #2: The home visitor sits with the mother of a two-week-old and Broadcasts the behavior of the baby asleep in his crib. “Johnny just wiggled a little. His right arm jerked once. His breathing is a bit faster than a minute ago. His eyes flashed open for a second, and he puckered his lips.”  
·       Example #3: The midwife is sitting with a new father and his one-week-old baby. She Broadcasts, “When you reached for your teacup, Yoko turned her head toward you and her eyes followed your face. Her eyes are bright; her body is still; her hand is relaxed, and the fingers are slightly open.”

You might think, “Well, this isn’t rocket science!” But, reflect for a moment about the impact of what you are doing. By Broadcasting this behavior you are:     
  • Showing parents that you are totally focusing on (and very interested in) THEIR baby
  • Giving parents specific information about their baby’s body language
  • Teaching parents how their baby’s body is responding to actions the parents take.
Now let us consider Commentating on a baby’s behavior. As in the sports world, Commentating means explaining the importance of the behavior you see. Commentating might seem similar to more traditional teaching, in which you, as "the expert," provide information. However, Commentating is most effective when it follows Broadcasted information. Let us return to the three examples above and now Commentate about these behaviors.

·       Example #1: The Lactation Consultant (LC) sits with the young mother who has just changed her baby’s diaper, settled into a chair, and now is trying to get her baby to the breast. The LC Broadcasts, “Camille is squeezing her eyes shut; her breathing is getting a bit choppy; her face has both a pink color and a little pale color around her mouth; her movement is jerky.” 
Now the LC goes on to Commentate, “I believe she is having one of those ‘Body SOSs’ we saw on the video. She must be slightly over-stimulated right now from all the excitement of having her diaper changed. Let’s try putting her skin-to-skin a few minutes to see if that helps her get to the ‘Ready Zone’.”

·      
Example #2: The home visitor sits with the mother of a two-week old and Broadcasts the behavior of the baby asleep in his crib. “Johnny just wiggled a little. His right arm jerked once. His breathing is a bit faster than a minute ago. His eyes flashed open for a second, and he puckered his lips.” The home visitor now Commentates, “Johnny is doing a great job demonstrating Active/Light sleep. You don’t need to take any action now. In a few minutes you will see him move into Deep sleep. His body will get completely still; his eyes will stay shut; he won’t make any sounds, and his breathing will be soft and regular. New babies actually spend more time in Active sleep. During this cycle they get more blood supply to the brain, which helps it grow and develop. He will usually wake up after one or two Active and Deep sleep cycles.”

·      
Example #3: The midwife is sitting with a new father and his one-week-old baby. She Broadcasts, “When you reached for your teacup, Yoko turned her head toward you and her eyes followed your face. Her eyes are bright; her body is still; her hand is relaxed, and the fingers are slightly open.” The midwife now Commentates, “Your baby is showing us her remarkable ability to interact with you. She already knows your face and your voice. This ability to engage face-to-face with you is a sign of a very mature nervous system. Science shows us that this kind of interaction is the foundation of your baby’s emotional and intellectual growth. You can tell when she needs a break from this playing because she will send out one of those SOSs we saw in the video.”

Consider the power of Commentating after Broadcasting the baby’s behavior:
  • Critical information about a newborn is offered, but it’s now relevant because it is connected to what the baby is doing.
  • The parent can see that the professional knows and understands a LOT about his/her baby.
  • The baby is an active participant in the process of parenting. Watch the baby, and you’ll learn how to be an effective parent. Your baby can be your greatest teacher!
Go to this link for more training about using the HUG Strategies (See Part II). 

Case Study (continued):
Sally is eager to spend time with the lactation consultant (LC). Though the LC has lots of information she wants to share with the young mother, she (wisely) begins instead with "Broadcasting" the baby's behavior. Sally glows with delight, takes a few deep breaths, and seems to relax into her chair as she glances down at her son. She looks calm, feels safe, and knows she is with a person who cares about her baby. After "Broadcasting" a few behaviors, the LC then "Commentates" about early feeding cues and reviews the baby's weights. By two weeks, Sally's little one is clearly past his birth weight. The LC is impressed how "Broadcasting" and "Commentating" on the baby's behavior seemed to set the stage for the mother to actually hear the information she needed to communicate. Using HUG Your Baby's "See, then Share" techniques gave Sally the confidence and information she needed to stay on her road to breastfeeding success! 

More information on HUG Strategies such as "See, then Share" available in the HUG Strategies and Skill Building, Part II course.

See Roadmap to Breastfeeding Success Online Course

©HUG Your Baby 2015