Using The HUG Strategies

Certified HUG Teacher, Colleen Morrison with
Baby, Aria, and Mum, Kathryn
Colleen Morrison is a Maternal Child Health Nurse and Midwife from Victoria, Australia. Though she has worked with young families for more than twenty years, Colleen is delighted to share with us today her joy in learning about The HUG Strategies, techniques and resources—and using them with the families she serves.

The knowledge and understanding I have gained from doing the HUG course gave me wonderful new tools to empower new parents. I utilize this information while working both as a Midwife in an acute care setting and as a Maternal and Child Health Nurse.

“Starting Here, not There” has been a fabulous concept for really watching a family and discovering what their needs are at the time of the consultation. If a baby is clearly in the Rebooting Zone on the change table, I use that opportunity to talk about the three zones and what parents can do to help the baby move from one zone to another. Using the "See, then Share" HUG Strategy, I “broadcast” the baby's competence when I see him calm down by “Switching Off” or “Spacing Out.” When I “commentate” on the baby’s behavioural and body “SOSs” (Signs of Over-Stimulation), I see an "aha" look on the parents’ faces and sense their relief as they come to understand their baby better.

As a midwife working in both postnatal and special care nursery settings, I have observed many babies "fall asleep" at the breast. In the past I would have encouraged mum to further stimulate. Now I using simple, gentle talking and swaying to show a mum how to bring her baby back to the Ready Zone for feeding.

When the baby is up on the change table for examination, I take time to just watch the baby before I engage the parents by "broadcasting" the competencies of the baby. Soon the parents are watching the baby more closely, looking for these behaviours themselves, and tuning into their baby using the HUG language and techniques.

Much of my work is providing anticipatory guidance. During our Key Ages and Stages visits at 2 and 4 weeks (which correlate very well with Dr. Brazelton's Touchpoints ideas), I see parents who are distressed about their baby’s crying often jiggling their babies or raising their voices above the baby's. Demonstrating effective calming techniques is important for such parents. In addition, describing sleep cycles and using the “Roadmap for Breastfeeding Success” enables parents to anticipate upcoming changes in their child’s behaviour as the baby’s brain develops. If my consultations are short, I am mindful not to give the parents too much information but will direct them to further reading on the HUG Your Baby website, blog, and free parent newsletter. 

Using The HUG Strategies and resources is so satisfying when I realize that I have enhanced a parent-child relationship and increased the skills and confidence of mothers and fathers at a most vulnerable time in their lives. Though I have 21 years’ experience working with parents, and as a midwife, completing the Certified HUG Teacher program has increased my knowledge and skills, giving me even more effective tools to support and encourage the new parents I work with.