Australian Midwife Shares HUG Your Baby

Denise Harris is a midwife from Melbourne Australia. She has incorporated HUG Your Baby into her postpartum work with new mums. She shares this essay to give us a taste of her experiences using HUG resources and techniques.

I am a registered midwife, in Melbourne Australia. I work in a hospital where my main contact with new parents is birth and the first two nights, as I work permanent night duty. Therefore, I have contact predominantly with Mums and not the whole family. I find this often puts these Mums in a very vulnerable position as they only have me to rely on for education, information and extended care of their newborn, after family members have left for the day.  These Mums are tired and feel the overwhelming reality of caring for a newborn. 

I was first attracted to the Hug Your Bay conference because of its name. I was finding that many women did not want to hold their babies because they were scared of spoiling them! I needed to find more information to try and convince them this is okay. Though it was interesting to learn more about normal newborn behaviour, the greatest thing I learned was about MY behaviour. I learned that no one wants to hear what parenting is like for everyone, but only  what it is like them and their baby. After learning the baby's name, my nest step was DO actions instead of all talk. 

I would ask the Mum if they thought they knew what was going on with their baby, and most Mums at this stage would answer that"my baby is hungry and I'm worried I don't have enough milk". I would agree that the baby's behaviour can be confusing and then go on to explain the process of initiating lactation and the baby's role in this. I would also take time to use the techniques I learned to calm the baby.  I try to keep this all very brief, and condensed as it is usually the middle of the night and these Mums are all getting very tired, some even exhibiting S.O.S.! I try to speak in a calm reassuring manner and I find a much more positive response from these Mums.

The other most common problem I encounter is that the baby will fall asleep at the breast the moment he latches on. then waking up the minute they are taken away from the breast. I usually have six women and newborns in my care, and cannot spend a great deal of time with one mum. However if a mum is struggling, I do my best to spend more time with the mum and bub to show further settling techniques such as patting the baby in bed and rocking the baby. This seems to give these mums more "tools" in managing their babies and increase their confidence.

The very first time I made an effort to incorporate The HUG into my practice,I discovered three of the mothers I had been caring for had gone home a night earlier than planned discharge. I hope that my new approach contributed to their confidence about going home earlier than planned. 

In the near future, I hope to my further my education and become a Maternal and Child Health Nurse. In this field I will see mothers and babies for the first few years of the lives instead of the first few days. I hope to also run first time mother groups where I can incorporate and teach Hug Your Baby. This will hopefully help many more new parents become the good Mums and Dads they want to be!