HUG Techniques Help Certified HUG Teacher Make Appropriate Referral

Wendy Wilson from Derby, Kansas has been in the birth business for 20 years.  She started off as a doula, then became a Bradley Method childbirth educator, worked as a home birth midwife assistant and a labor and delivery nurse. She is currently in graduate school to become a Marriage and Family Therapist and plan to specialize in working with couples who have had birth trauma, and pregnant and new families to help them understand the developmental path their baby takes and what will help to optimize that outcome.

I very much come from an attachment theory background.  Becoming a H.U.G. instructor is going to blend in perfectly with what I am currently doing and what I plan to do.  It is an extension of what I currently practice and will be yet another “tool in my toolbox.”  I have already added related information to my pregnancy and childbirth education classes.

I have seen firsthand, over the years, the effect that raising awareness has on a person/couple/family.  I love those “light bulb” moments when parents (and myself) understand the what, where, why and/or how of an issue.  One of my favorite moments is when I share with parents that the human brain doesn’t stop developing until about 24 years of age.  This is news to almost all of them.  Knowledge and awareness of their baby’s developmental abilities (or lack thereof because of their baby's age) help parents understand and respond appropriately to their babies.

I am so excited to put the H.U.G. techniques to use.  My belief is that if we help parents from the beginning (which our culture generally does not do) it will prevent so many of the problems that develop later with children and families, which ultimately has an effect on all of us.  The old adage, “an ounce of prevention is work a pound of cure,” seems appropriate.

Ironically, through the use of H.U.G. techniques I was able to determine that a baby might have a physical problem not related to the parent’s responses.  I was having a class reunion (I do this about 4 weeks after everyone in the class has had their baby) and one couple was having a lot of trouble calming their baby, who was one month old, that day.  She would eat and then go sleep for a while, but then wake up and be very fussy and cry no matter what mom or dad would do.  The parents, while expressing frustration and appearing tired, did not seem “stressed-out.” 

The baby was born a few days before her estimated due date, but mom was induced, so her baby may have been born a little early.  (I teach that 41 weeks and 1 day is more appropriate when figuring due dates.)  According to what I learned in the H.U.G. training, babies who are born 2 weeks early may cry even more than usual at about 4 weeks of age, which was her age at the time.

It looked to me like the couple was responding appropriately, so I asked to hold the baby, explaining that I wanted to try a couple of different things to see if they would help.  I took her to another, quieter, adjacent room, with dim lights.  She was crying, her body was stiff and she appeared to be in distress. 

I did as much of “TO DO” as I could and nothing seemed to help for any length of time and I didn’t observe any self-soothing measures on the part of the baby. I tried laying her down and holding her in different positions (over my shoulder, cradle, football, etc.), some with her hands on her chest and/or bringing her knees up, gave her a pacifier (which she repeatedly spit out) and did what I call the “mommy hip sway” … you know, how mothers, no matter how long it has been since they last held an infant, pretty much automatically start swaying when they are standing and holding a baby?   She did fall asleep for a few minutes but woke up crying again.  Even while sleeping her little face didn’t seem to fully relax.

The couple had shared with me that she threw up a lot.  I am a huge advocate for chiropractic care in pregnancy and for newborns, especially if babies are continually fussy/colicky, only eat off one breast, and have reflux and/or throw up a lot.  I shared my observations with the parents and encouraged them to have the baby adjusted.    

The parents took the baby to see a chiropractor who specializes in pregnancy and newborn/child chiropractic care, a few days later, and I am happy to report that they saw almost immediate relief.  The parents described it “as if she was a different” baby.  So, although the H.U.G. strategies didn’t help soothe this particular baby, they did help me to consider other causes and make an appropriate recommendation.