My dear friend and colleague, Josette Sticher, conveys the same thing as I do, only through a different way. Through touch… and even more her magical voice. Wonderfully calming – not just for babies.
Josette and I met each other in Stuttgart where I had first lived and worked. Our therapist-patient relationship turned into a friendship. Josette works and lives in Stuttgart. Why is she doing what she is doing? When she came from UK to Germany, she was pregnant and didn’t speak any German, which motivated her to support families who have moved to a non-English-speaking country, facing the challenges of becoming a parent with no extended family for emotional, mental or physical support.
Baby massage is a tool enabling you to meet, to welcome, to care for your baby as well as possible, thus establishing a basis for a good future relationship. It’s about trust, non-verbal communication, emotional warmth and stability, and good energy. Babies are known for their ability to feel energy like small antennas.
In this wonderful interview, you can find out the importance of touch and connection with your newborn.
Have fun while reading!
1. You teach hypnobirthing. How would you describe it, and what are the benefits during labor?
Hypnobirthing is using Hypnosis- a method which can help one to cope or manage positively with different situations through being in a natural state of consciousness and a powerful way to reframe the mind positively. Our brains are exposed to A LOT over our lifetime and when those experiences are negative, and we have not addressed how those negative thoughts and experiences make us feel, it is then that it impacts our future decisions and experiences. Our fears from negative experiences then have an impact on our body. When applied to birthing, Hypnobirthing aims to help build one’s confidence to manage fears or anxieties around labor and birth using various visualization, affirmations, relaxation, breathing, scripts and particular language. When these are practiced and applied during labor and birth it allows the mind, body and baby to work in harmony, releasing fear and tension.“
2. You are a pediatric nurse, B.Sc. (Hons). Do you miss your work in the hospital?
I am, I qualified in 2007 and worked for 6 years at Birmingham Children’s Hospital in the UK on the Neonatal Cardiac High Dependency Unit. I also experienced working in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) and Accident and Emergency (A&E).
I very much miss nursing, everything about it. From bathing babies and making their cot beds to taking out wires which are directly placed in the baby’s heart. The responsibility was huge but the reward-bigger. The knowledge and experience gained will forever be with me and helps me to shape my current job.“
3. You also teach baby massage. Why is touch so important for the babies?
I do indeed teach baby massage. I had my first experience whilst I was a student nurse, I then wrote my research proposal on ‚The effects of baby massage on the sick neonate‘. Through lots of research and my own experiences, in a nutshell (as it is a huge area) touch is so important because it shapes the baby’s future. Touch is the first receptor to develop in the womb and this sense increases and gets stronger as baby grows and develops. Touch shapes our brains positively (or negatively) and we need touch to continue to survive and thrive.
4. What do parents take away from a baby massage, other than having learned the strokes?
They learn 40 strokes and why each stroke is beneficial for their baby’s development. That’s a lot of information however the massage itself is repetitive and parents also receive a PDF with all the strokes with those benefits. So beside the process itself, parents learn how to slow down and be in the moment with their baby. To get a clear and deeper understanding of how powerful their touch is for their baby AND for themselves. They learn the importance of the bonding and attachment process through the release of those feel good hormones in the body and how this connects them. Learning how to read their baby’s body language, their cues. Building and strengthening trust and confidence between parent and baby. Parents also learn how to ask and how to accept the non-verbal answer from their baby and why this has huge significance.“
5. What is the most important feeling for you that you want to convey in your courses?
I want to convey that baby massage is more than just a ‚tick box‘ baby activity to complete. I want to let parents know that they can feel the connection through their touch not only physically, but emotionally and mentally too and how important this is to the parents.
6. What significance does working with parents and newborns have for you?
Working with parents, especially in a country where their extended family are not usually around is so important. Because it is not all about a wonderful looking class but the mental impact this has on the parents. When parents feel mentally held they are able to parent and do the essential job of parenting. This is so significant because I was once that parent- I still am to an extent. I was that parent in a new country, not able to understand the language, birthing in a very foreign system and mothering alone, without any family or friends. I needed someone to hold me physically, mentally and emotionally, and I did not have that support. Therefore, I work with parents and babies because I do not want any parent to feel how I did and if they do, I want families to know there is someone out there to hold them.
7. Do you talk to babies during the massage? How important is that?
I always encourage parents to talk to their babies during the massage session- especially when the baby is showing signs of wanting that verbal engagement. If the baby is starting to fall asleep then the baby is massaged to sleep without verbal stimulation. Talking and communication helps the baby’s brain to further develop. They also learn from facial expression when their parents are engaging with them and this contributes to brain development and shaping them as individuals.
8. What do you think of the often heard statement: The baby should be able to self-regulate – for example calm down when they cry?
How can you leave a baby to self soothe when for 9 months they were soothed 24/7? If you were used to one thing every single day for 9 months and then all of a sudden, it is taken away would you want to be left to ‚figure it out?‘. I feel that self soothing is a transition which should be taken slowly, using methods and ways to support this- it is a weaning process. So finding those ways and having that balance is important to achieving the desired outcome of having a baby that will eventually be able to self soothe sometimes and other times need their parent. Ultimately, having the understanding of what self soothing is and the impact this can have on the developing brain of the baby is important.
9. What are your thoughts on Baby Osteopathy?
I think Baby Osteopathy is a truly amazing and very much needed practice especially for newborns as the birth process can be quite eventful and impactful to the development of the baby in those first weeks and months. Bringing about that body alignment/symmetry to aid the further development of the baby is so beneficial.
10. Are there any fun facts about yourself that you would like to share?
Ooooh fun facts… I love tattoos! I have a lot. I love singing, and I sang tenor! Which is usually seen as a male section in a choir. People say I make them laugh. I love visiting the Alps- the feeling is very humbling to be amongst such nature. I also love making things look pretty. I will invest in wrapping gifts to the point where they look so lovely that I do not want anyone to open it! which leads me to my most favorite season- Christmas. I am looking forward to wrapping gifts and putting lovely bows on them.
„When something is organic it’s; kind, friendly, gentle, safe, healthy. Nourish your baby’s body, mind and soul with your gentle, loving organic touch“. – Josette
Dear Josette, thank you for this outstanding interview!