New Certified HUG Teacher Helps Mother See Her Baby's SOS

Kati Nyberg is a postpartum doula in Ankeny, Iowa who works with families during the first few weeks of a newborn's life. Let's here what she has to say about incorporating HUG Your Baby into her work with young families.

The newborn period is such a vulnerable time in a woman's life. Being able to communicate with these new mothers is so important. HUG Your Baby training has been incredibly beneficial for me because it allows me to share pertinent information in a kind and gentle way with new mothers. Our goal as postpartum doulas is to help the new mother feel confident in her role and the HUG approach has been a great addition to the support I provide. 

As I think about the families I've had the pleasure of serving during the HUG training, I can think back to one particular newborn that I was working with. The family was very nervous about getting enough sleep, and I assured them I would share as much information as I could not only about baby sleep in general, but also about understanding their own baby's communication so they could get sleep as well. 

When I was listening to the family talk about their newborn, the mother mentioned that the baby loved to have her hands by her face and they shared with me that this was evident on an ultrasound they had in pregnancy as well. She was concerned because those hands seemed to be causing some problems with latching and also waking baby up from sleeping. Sure enough, I was able to see that this newborn loved bringing her hands close to her face while I was there. I began "broadcasting" this baby's movements as she transitioned from the resting zone to the rebooting zone. I then explained to the family (commentated) that she was such a smart baby becuase she was already trying to suck on her hand to settle and calm herself. Of course the new mother looked very proud of her little baby! I asked if they had tried swaddling her yet, and they had but not with her hands inside. I showed them how to do this later in the shift.

It became quickly apparent from her cues that she was hungry and sending out SOS. I broadcasted her SOS of breathing and movements and commentated that these were ways she was communicating with them. I asked mom if she new what baby was needing, and gave mom praise that she could already recognize baby was hungry. I continued to broadcast her cues until the mother had her successfully latched.

As promised, I shared information about the Resting Zone with this new mother while baby was eating. I didn't want to overwhelm her with too much info, but I knew she was really anxious to learn more about baby sleep. We talked about the difference between deep/still sleep and light/active rest. I asked specific questions about her baby and if she had noticed any of these particular characteristics of the two different sleep stages. She thought maybe she had, but she was anxious to watch for them again. I also explained that babies will transition from deep to light sleep about every hour and she was surprised to hear that. I told her to watch for the cues baby is giving before consoling her as she may just be transitioning! 
It was neat to see this mom feel more confident with her newborn in the first few days of baby's life. This relatively short conversation left the mother feeling confident in recognizing her baby's communication, and she was also thankful to learn some new tips and tricks too. This family spent MONTHS of their older sibling's life completely stressed because they didn't understand how he was communicating with them. I am excited for the next shifts with family so we can do more learning and understanding of this baby!

This is the beginning of me incorporating HUG Your Baby into my work. I look forward to having many more HUG stories in the years ahead!