The power of role modelling for new parents | HelpMe Feed's treasure trove of observational videos
Karina Ayers, Head of Maternal and Child Health at HelpMe Feed is a midwife and lactation specialist with over two decades of experience.
It’s often challenging for new parents to figure out how to communicate with their baby and determine what they want and need. Non-verbal signals and different patterns of crying can be intimidating, especially when coming from such a tiny creature. It doesn’t help that today’s families are spread out with the wise counsel of a grandmother often far away. This isolation contributes to the sometimes-daunting experience of early parenthood.
As a lactation specialist and midwife, I often counsel women who at times are left worrying if they are doing the right thing and reading the signs right. Having time with parents and showing them how to interact and stimulate communication with their baby is invaluable. These demonstrations are often enough to boost a parent’s confidence and allay their fears.
The value of visual guidance
While a visit or a phone call with a health professional can ease their concerns as to whether they are doing the right thing, often the best way for a mother to learn is through observation.
That’s why at HelpMe Feed we have created a treasure trove of short videos that can guide a mother through these first few months of interaction.
The videos provide a visual tool they can watch to see how a newborn and mother can interact to strengthen their bond and calm the baby. Our experience illustrates that when a mom can see how another mother responds to her baby in a calm manner, using gentle touch and eye contact then she begins to form a picture of herself with her own baby.
Repetition, repetition, repetition
The role of the health professional remains critical for new parents and babies, but often time constraints and distance between visits leaves a gap. Mothers are inundated with information in a short period of time, and not able to perfect an exercise during a short visit.
By sharing short videos of a mother and baby demonstrating a behaviour or practicing a skill, the learning moment is much richer and they can be used well after the session with the health professionals is over. The mother is better equipped to focus on her own baby and how she responds to their individual needs by watching examples from other mothers. It means the videos can then be watched on demand when needed, as often as necessary.
If you can’t see, you can’t be
I remember many times when seeing new parents for baby health checks at 6 weeks old, how they would watch closely as I talked to their baby. Frequently their baby would be listening and then start to smile. They would be surprised and reflect that “he’s never done that before”. More likely, they had likely never seen the back-and-forth of communicating with a small baby or understood how nature has babies primed for these social interactions from birth.
The HelpMe Feed videos based on best practice, serve to reach mothers from all walks of life, who often need the right old counselling. They provide an invaluable digital resource for both health workers and professionals, helping mother and baby bond during the first few months of life and beyond.
For more information: