Elly Krijnen is a nurse, lactation consultant, and highly experienced educator based in Almere, in the Netherlands. Ellie has recently become a Certified HUG Teacher and is preparing to become her country's first HUG trainer.
Meeting Jan and Jim in 2014 at the ELACTA Conference in Copenhagen was my first encounter with HUG Your Baby. When I talked to them and heard about "The Roadmap to Breastfeeding Success," I was keen to learn more about this program and how mis-interpreting a baby's normal behavior often contributes to breastfeeding "struggles."
Since Jan and Jim were willing to end their world teaching tour in the Netherlands, I gathered a dozen Dutch colleagues to join me in learning more about HUG Your Baby. We all experienced a number of "Aha" moments (or, as the Germans say, Aha Erlebnis) that hot, summer day. We came to understand how a baby "Spaces Out," "Switches Off," and "Shuts Down." We learned that one good way to start dealing with an "SOS" ("Sign of Over-Stimulation") is to decrease our interaction with the baby at that time, quiet our voices, and hold the baby's hands to his chest. Exploring further calming strategies, we gained both the understanding AND the tools to help a baby transition out of this stressful state.
I remember my first consultation after the HUG training, when I saw this little guy doing the "fencing pose." The HUG training helped me explain to the mother what this behavior is, and how it helps the baby focus on his hand to help calm himself down.
Since this one-day training at my center in Almere, HUG Your Baby has become an important part of my consultations as well as my teaching and continuing education. I teach professionals to become lactation consultants or breastfeeding coaches, and now I have new language for teaching these professionals about normal behavior and how to encourage new parents. I find that sharing HUG Your Baby has so many helpful applications: the mother who sleeps better because she is no longer mis-interpreting her baby's signals; the grandma who now understands when and why her baby is not ready to interact; and the dad who suddenly sees that he CAN interact with the newborn he wants to love.
I look forward to becoming a HUG trainer, and to sharing HUG Your Baby with Dutch lactation professionals, including kraamverzorgendens (our professionals who are similar to postpartum doulas), midwives and nurses. They, in turn, will use The HUG's resources and strategies to help the families they serve better understand and care for their precious newborns.