Social Worker Adds The HUG to the Services She Provides

Mary Gillett is a social worker and birth doula in Greensboro, North Carolina who is helping her friends develop a birth center. Let us see how she has begun to incorporate her HUG Your Baby training into her work with the families she serves.

My highlight of HUG training was not only the specific feedback that HUG has added to my postpartum visits as a birth doula, but the potential for facilitating multi-generational support in families.  It is an excellent way to start discussions and “broadcasting” offers a way to specifically affirm positive behaviors without appearing intrusive.

I chose to conduct my “practice” HUG class for two birthing couples in December, after a joint baby shower.  The couples share one set of grandparents.  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.