New Certified HUG Teacher Reflects on Incorporating HUG Your Baby into her Practice

Meagan Shapiro is a lactation educator working in  Carbondale, Colorado. Hear how HUG Your Baby has provided her new skills to support young families. 

As a certified lactation educator through CAPPA, I work in tandem with an IBCLC and provide support to families pre and postnatally.  The HUG program has been a phenomenal addition to my quiver of tools.  I am a voracious reader and enthusiastic student of lactation, and I think that before taking the courses I had a tendency to mostly wear my "academic hat"; meaning that I shared a lot of clinical information in meetings with parents.  Often I would leave my consults feeling I hadn't really met the family where THEY were, but rather where I was.  The HUG program has given me a priceless format in which to teach parents about the development, zones, SOSs, and eating patterns of their baby without over-communicating or become too clinical.  It's allowed me to really separate my desire to digest and assimilate immense amounts of clinical knowledge from the actual face to face work I do with families.  

I can think of a few times in the past months when the HUG strategies really made an impact on families.  My favorite is of a family who was struggling while mom was at work.  The well meaning grandparents and nanny were feeding 20-28 ounces of milk during mom's 12 hour shift because they were misinterpreting baby's zones and SOSs as hunger cues.  By supporting this family with HUG strategies, the care providers felt empowered and the mother felt relieved that she could in fact pump enough milk for her son.  

Perhaps, though, the most poignant reflection I have is about myself as a new mother.  With my lactation hat on, I become so excited about the latest clinical information and I get enthusiastic and begin to share it with clients.  But this program allowed me to reflect on my own experience with my two daughters when they were each in their own respective newborn stages.  I remember feeling all of my clinical knowledge fall away from me, as though I couldn't even really reach it.  I said to my mentor, an IBCLC, "my mom brain and my lactation brain aren't speaking to each other!"  She laughed lovingly at me and reminded me that, of course, they couldn't possibly connect right now.  It was such a vulnerable and raw time, and no amount of clinical knowledge or experience could prevent me from being just that:  a raw and vulnerable mother.  So, while moving through the HUG curriculum, I thought extensively of myself in those newborn stages and how all I wanted in the world was to be seen, to have my baby be seen, to root everything that was happening in "normal newborn or feeding behavior" so that I could trust, relax, and fall in love with my baby without worry or fear.  

How ironic, that it would take this course to remind me of that and to bring me full circle to my current clients with whom, upon reflection, I can tend to be too clinical - the very thing I did NOT need as a new mother.  What a gift to tap back into that vulnerability, and to be given the amazing tools and language of the HUG program so that I can adjust and improve my ability to speak and connect with new families in a different way;  a way that allows them in turn to trust and connect with their babies, reach their breastfeeding goals, and feel seen, heard, and supported.  

I am very grateful for the program.  Many, many thanks to you Ms. Tedder!  This work has really helped me to fine tune my communication and delivery with young families.  What a treasure!