HUG Newsletter for the Newborn

Getting to Know Your Newborn – A family’s story . . .

Becky and Sam are very prepared for childbirth. They attended all the classes, practiced the relaxation exercises, and talked to friends who had recently had babies. After learning about the amazing components of breast milk  Becky and Sam were committed to being a breastfeeding family. Becky delivered at a Baby-Friendly birth center and knew all about the Baby-Friendly Ten Steps to Successful Breastfeeding. She was especially keen to practice skin-to-skin care, breastfeed immediately after birth, and avoid giving anything to her baby but breast milk. But, “WOW!” Sam laughs. “I couldn’t believe they let us go home from the birth center without one of those nurses!”

But the midwife prepared this young family well. The baby latched right on, and Becky was comfortable breastfeeding in several positions. The parents knew that only a few drops to a teaspoon of colostrum per feeding was the expected intake for the first day or two, when mother’s milk “came in.” Becky left the birth center knowing to call them if she experienced any pain with breastfeeding. “We’re BOTH learning to breastfeed!” the new mother exclaimed. And, they knew what to expect, and when to call for help, until they saw their midwife again in three days.

Both parents describe this first week of their baby’s life as the most exhilarating, miraculous, precious–and exhausting–week they ever lived!

“If he could just TELL US what he wants,” Becky laughs. “I just can’t tell what will happen next!” she says. “Are you awake or asleep? Is it time to eat, or time for a nap?” she wonders. “I worry that I won’t do the right thing for my baby.”

Though friends, family, and professionals will help, their baby can be this mother’s and father’s greatest teacher! Mother has had nine months to get to know her baby inside, and she now can easily learn to read his body language. Mother and Dad will become the experts on their baby in no time!

The Science – Two skills parents need

1. Read your baby’s ZONES. Newborns’ stages of wakefulness and sleepiness (their states, or “Zones”) are still developing. This can be confusing to parents. Learning to read what “Zone” a baby is in will help a mother know when to feed her baby, when to play with him, and when to help him sleep. Babies have three “Zones”: the “Resting Zone” (the sleep states), the “Ready Zone” (alert and ready to eat or play), and the “Rebooting Zone” (fussing or crying).

2. See when a baby sends out an SOS (Sign of Over-Stimulation). All babies are at times over-stimulated, either by sensations inside their body or by sounds, sights, and temperature changes outside their body. There are two kinds of SOSs: body SOSs (changes in color, movement, or breathing) and behavioral changes (“Spacing Out,” “Switching Off,” and “Shutting Down”).

If a baby is born even two weeks early, wise parents realize it’s especially important to be sensitive to these subtle body changes. (Watch this mother describe how she learned to read the body language of her newborn.)

A baby’s brain develops step-by-step and in response to his environment: “I am stressed,” or “I am comfortable.” Sensitivity to a baby’s body language allows his neurological system to develop optimally so that he can take in and learn from the new and exciting world he has entered.

How The HUG information helped this family . . .

Becky was surprised to see how quickly she came to identify what “Zone” Theo was in and to notice his SOSs. When Theo got a bit over-stimulated, Becky would put him skin to skin, quiet his surroundings, and watch for him either to move back to the “Ready Zone” to eat or to fall gently into the “Resting Zone.” Now, Theo cries less when his parents respond to an SOSs early on. Equipped with keen insight about their baby, this new mother and father feel like parenting pros after just two weeks “on the job”!

© HUG Your Baby 2018