Canadian Sleep Consultant Incorporates HUG Your Baby

Kim Sopman is a Sleep Consultant in Ontario, Canada. Though she has supported young families for a number of years, she finds that HUG Your Baby increased both her understanding of newborn behavior and her ability to teach parents. Here she shares her work with one young mother . . . 

When I reflect on the wonderful families I have worked with during the HUG training, I beam with pride. I think of one mom in particular who was having a really rough time not only with breastfeeding her baby but also with helping her overtired baby get the sleep she needed.

Since breastfeeding was challenging in the beginning, this mom had an overtired baby from the word GO and couldn’t tell if the baby was hungry or tired or maybe both. Though this mom felt completely overwhelmed, she wanted to be the best mom she could be. However, I could tell she was lacking confidence, and I wanted to help her achieve success with her little baby.

When we first met, I could tell that three-week-old Chloe was having trouble regulating. Mom was holding her tightly trying to calm her down. When she turned to me in desperation, I suggested that she sit down and chat as she tried to offer Chloe a feed. She looked at me with relief, as if I might suggest something different for her to try. 

I realize that in my line of business, some sleep professionals are trying to eliminate feeds, not encourage them.  It is difficult not to jump in with advice right away, but rather to focus on the now and on the positives that are clearly in front of me with this mom and her new baby. I was able to "Broadcast" how clear it was that this mom and baby already had a deep connection as they looked into each other's eyes while the baby nursed. Chloe seemed very comfortable, and mom was relaxed. When I told mom this, she smiled and said that breastfeeding was going much smoother now, but sleep was still a struggle.

Mom then said that Chloe was always hungry, even while she slept! "Chloe would be moving around and wiggling with her eyes closed," this mother stated. I asked Mom if she ever waited a couple of minutes to see what Chloe might do? Mom said she hadn't. 

I then spoke about how babies have both active and light sleep, and that during light sleep babies may move around or make noises as they transition into a deeper, still sleep. Mom found this information very useful and said she would try this during Chloe’s next nap time. Mom was upset that she could have been misreading Chole's body language. I reassured her that she was a great mom, and now that this information was brought to light, she could wait and watch what Chloe might do before rushing to feed.

Chloe’s mom called me a couple of days later, very excited. Chloe was becoming more and more rested and less irritable. Mom had watched Chloe a couple of minutes and saw that the baby was now able to transition, on her own, back to deep sleep! 

Something so simple had such a huge impact for this parent, as the whole family were now getting more rest. By incorporating the HUG Your Baby methodology, I felt I was really able to listen to the mother before giving advice and also to boost her confidence to try my simple suggestion. I look forward to incorporating the HUG into all my sleep consultations!  

"Gaze, then Engage" HUG Strategy

When professionals are first learning about The HUG, it is sometimes difficult for them to imagine how to integrate the HUG Strategies and other resources into their practice. Nurses, doctors and doulas tell me they already have too much to accomplish in too little time! I certainly can appreciate this feeling of being pressed for time; however, as new learners become more comfortable with The HUG Strategies, they may find (as I have) that opportunities frequently arise for applying The HUG in the natural course of a work day. Here is just such a serendipitous HUG moment:

Claire, the medical student spending time at the pediatrics practice where I work, asked me to show her how to swaddle an infant. We practiced on a stuffed animal and talked about effective strategies for supporting an overstimulated infant and the safest way to swaddle: allowing the baby's hips to flex and avoiding overheating. We had just finished this short teaching session, and were walking down the hall, when we saw two-week-old Jason being checked in for a visit, along with his mom and grandmother.

I noticed that Jason was none too happy about being weighed. I “gazed” at mom, whose wrinkled brow and anxious face signaled that she was equally uncomfortable with her new baby lying there, uncovered and fussing. Grandmother wondered aloud how long the staff was going to leave poor Jason exposed in the cool room. The stress on both mother’s and grandmother’s faces told me that now was a good time to implement the “Gaze, then Engage” HUG Strategy. I “engaged” with mom by acknowledging that it is always upsetting to see a baby fuss a few minutes. I then asked her permission to demonstrate swaddling her baby for Claire. Mom agreed, and was eager for me to show her as well. 

As the nurse lifted Jason off the scale and placed him on the measuring table, he showed us an SOS (Sign of Over-Stimulation) from being awakened, undressed, and now a little cold. Mom and grandma watched intently as I "broadcasted" his pale color, furrowed brow and jerky movements, and then "commentated" that these SOSs are one way babies communicate with us, even without crying. I swaddled Jason's upper body in two easy tucks of the blanket and explained the importance of leaving the blanket loosely wrapped around his hips and legs. In the wink of an eye I was able to “broadcast” that Jason was now still; his cheeks were pink; his eyes were wide, and he looked right at my face. 

Everyone smiled in a shared "Ah Hah" moment.  I “commentated” about the changes we all just saw by explaining that some babies need help controlling their motor activity before they can calm down. With a little help, Jason had just moved from the Rebooting Zone to the Ready Zone -- ready to play, ready to eat, or ready to have his check-up. Mom said, "I can’t wait to share this with my husband. I had a C-section, so Jason's dad has been doing most of his care." The experienced nurse looking over my shoulder joined in, "Thanks! I never knew how to do that!"

By applying the strategy of Gaze, Then Engage, in just a couple of minutes, one baby, two family members, and two professionals got The HUG. And Jason, his mom and grandma were all off to the exam room, right on time, for his check-up.

By Gale Touger, FBP, IBCLC, CHT-Trainer

©HUG Your Baby 2017

CAPPA Nurse Shares Her Experience with HUG Your Baby Online Course

It is always interesting to learn what professionals from different walks of life have to say about their experience taking the HUG Your Baby online course. "11,000 babies" later and still a lot to learn . . .

I am a Neonatal RN of 12 years, and have had clinical experience with over 11,000 newborns. In addition, I have taught newborn nurse clinicals and lectured at a local university in their Bachelor of Science Nursing Program. Needless it say, I have a lot of experience with newborns. I watched the HUG Your Baby video, and learned an amazing amount of new evidence-based information about babies. Even with all my knowledge, I took home new information that has been extremely helpful in my practice as a nurse, and as the owner of a postpartum doula service where we educate new mothers on how to care for their babies. I highly recommend any parent, newborn caregiver, or mother baby educator watch this video, as it shed light, and gave nuggets of helpful information about newborns.  Rachel Ramsey, RN, BSN

Health Educator Incorporates HUG Your Baby into Her Work with Young Families

Mary Gillett,  MS, CD(DONA), is a Health Educator in Greensboro, North Carolina. Though she has years of teaching new parents, she discovered that HUG Your Baby further enhances the care she provides. She describes her process of becoming a Certified HUG Teacher.

Not only has HUG Your Baby Teacher Certification enhanced my postpartum visits as a birth doula, but it has also increased my potential for facilitating multi-generational support in families.  “Broadcasting” offers a way to affirm positive behaviors without appearing intrusive.

I chose to document my “practice” HUG class after I attended a joint baby shower for two young families. Their situation is special because they have one set of grandparents in common.  My intended class of four shrank immediately to three because one birth father decided not to attend, but within a few minutes it grew exponentially when an assortment of grandparents, close family friends, as well as a young teenaged aunt and her best friend decided to pile in for the class.

It was heartening to see that the three young parents were comfortable with their parents and family friends attending, and even wanted them there to help understand some of their needs and desires as parents.  It was also great to see two teenagers curious about the needs of their sister and sister-in-law and what they could do to support them.  

I was pleased that the older members of the audience listened with patience and support, and offered personal comments and relevant input on their own parenting journey, without dominating the conversation.  They all just wanted to be on the same page with the pregnant couples, but it was clear that this experience always calls back your most vivid memories as a young parent with a newborn.  It is extremely challenging not to jump in and give advice, especially when so many things change from one generation to another (safe sleep, breastfeeding duration, going back to work, birth choices, etc.)

I am confident that those in attendance were open to learning and to offering support, while allowing the parents autonomy to make their own decisions.  As I have followed one couple through their birth and first week of breastfeeding it has been gratifying to see the support of the extended family as they take the HUG principles and are able to support these practices as they care for their daughter and granddaughter.

Japanese Nurse Incorporates HUG into her PhD Research

Development of a Web-Based Comprehensive Educational Programme for Nurses to Facilitate Mother-Infant Bonding
Yasue Otal,  Mari Takahashi 
 Juntendo University graduate school of health care and nursing Doctoral course 
 Juntendo University Faculty of health care and nursing
Juntendo University graduate school of health care and nursing

Yasue Ota on right
The acknowledgement of the importance of the role nurses can play in facilitating mother-infant bonding during the very early postnatal period has created many interventions. But most of them don’t seem to function as well as expected due to low availability, and requirement of rigorous training and certification. This motivated us to develop a user-friendly, easy-to-access, web-based comprehensive training programme for nurses to effectively enhance their responsiveness to postnatal mother-infant bonding.

First, observations of nurses and mother-baby dyads were conducted. Then, semi-structured interviews with those nurses were implemented to generate a structural nursing care model for facilitating mother-infant bonding during the early postpartum period. Finally, this model and a literature review were synthesized. And then the theory of the ICE model (F. Young) and the Reflective approach model (G. Gibbs) were applied to design our educational programme. It was pilot-tested with ten midwives at a birth centre.
Results: Our educational programme comprises a web-based programme and a case study through reflection on clinical practice. The web-based programme has three following steps: Step 1, application of HUG Your Baby programme (J. Tedder) to enhance knowledge and skills about infants’ behaviours; Step2, construction of effective communication skills and sustainable childrearing support to engage as an “Attacher”, who helps enhance mother-infant bonding and; Step 3, case studies for incorporation of acquired knowledge and skills into clinical practice. The process evaluation generated positive feedback regarding its course length, interestingness and levels of difficulty.

This comprehensive educational programme for nurses has the potential to contribute to facilitating nurses’ responsiveness to infants and mother-infant bonding in the early postnatal period.
Keywords: early postnatal nursing care, mother-infant bonding, educational programme

Yasue Ota, Mari Takahashi (2016). Nurses’ support to facilitate mother-infant attachment during the early postpartum period. Japanese Journal of Maternal Health, 56(4), 618-625.

"Opening Our Hearts" - HUG Your Baby's Outreach to Muslim Americans

HUG Your Baby honors the goodness in every person and strives to meet each new baby--and all those who serve expectant and young families--with an open and welcoming heart. At this time of national strain and division HUG Your Baby wishes to reach out to colleagues who might find themselves, or the families they serve, targets of anger and disrespect.

Belinda M.., a childbirth educator, was inspired by HUG Your Baby. She contacted me to say that she was grateful that "people who look like me" are included in the current edition of the HUG Your Baby video. Our conversation moved me to create a special opportunity for American Muslims who work as birth, lactation, and parenting professionals. 

HUG Your Baby is delighted to offer an 75% discount to qualified professionals taking HUG Your Baby online courses. Qualified professionals are: 1) Muslim Americans, who are 2) practicing doulas, nurses, early childhood educators, lactation specialists, or infant massage and childbirth educators, with 3) a desire to begin or complete HUG Your Baby training.

30 scholarships are available. To request this scholarship, please email Jan at  She will send you a brief application so that she can learn about your hopes for incorporating HUG Your Baby into your work with young families.

CAPPA Gets The HUG at their National Conference!

It was my pleasure to speak at the 2016 national CAPPA conference and to share HUG Your Baby with birth and parenting professionals committed to innovative, evidence-based care. What a joy to reconnect with colleagues I have known for years and to meet new professionals eager to learn a family-friendly approach to helping parents understand and bond with their newborn! After my presentation my exhibit table was a buzz with enthusiastic professionals wanting to further their HUG training and to access effective resources for their clients.

Here are the stats and feedback comments CAPPA sent me about the 2016 HUG presentation:

“Fabulous! Bring Jan to every conference!”

“Great information! I can’t wait to bring this all home and share with my co-workers and families.”

“Understandable, in-depth, lovely teaching manner.”

“My favorite speaker! Love her personality, her teaching techniques, and her expertise and knowledge on the subject!