Archive | March, 2012

Supplements whilst breastfeeding?

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Supplements whilst breastfeeding?

Posted on 30 March 2012 by Annerley

Our clients asked: Is it safe to take supplements like Vit C, Omega 3s etc when breastfeeding? Also is it ok to take paracetamol and other painkillers if I have a headache or period pain?


It is safe to take supplements whilst breastfeeding but as with most things, less is better.  If you are taking a multivitamin that contains Vit C, that’s fine. However if you are taking large doses because of a cold, it has been found to cause diarrhoea in some babies. There is no problem that we are aware of at the moment with Omega 3s. In fact, they are being added to formula to make it more like breast milk.  With analgesics, less and the simplest are definitely better. Paracetamol is safe and simple. Anti-inflammatories are fine as long as they are not for regular long term use.  If they are only for the occasional headache or period pain, then at present we know of no problems for babies who are getting these drugs via breastmilk.

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Thank you Emma and Olivia!

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Thank you Emma and Olivia!

Posted on 29 March 2012 by hulda

Emma Saunders, who recently gave birth to Olivia, had this to say about her experience with Annerley:

“After hearing such positive feedback about Hulda and the team at Annerley I had no hesitation in booking my package when finding out I was pregnant. The antenatal classes with Fiona were perfect in preparing us for the birth of our baby. It also gave us an opportunity to meet other parents, who in fact have become great friends.

When Olivia was born I had a tricky time with breastfeeding.  The first stages of motherhood were quite daunting and the visits from Fiona and then Hulda were an amazing support. The help and advice were incredible and I can really say it is what got me through the first few months. It really is such a great comfort to know there is someone there to reassure and guide you. I felt much calmer when Hulda arrived and so did Olivia! Watching her with Olivia was very special and I learnt so much. It really is like you’re sitting with a member of your family and how amazing to have that when your family are so far away.

Thank you so much for everything; I don’t know what we would have done without you and the whole team at Annerley.  What is so special is that you always feel there is somewhere to go to and even at 3 months I am still reassured to know that Hulda and her team are only a phone call away. I will continue to enjoy the expertise and courses that Annerley have to offer now and in the future.  I recommend Annerley to all new parents. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed but just ecstatic that you have found the best support network in HK to see you through your pregnancy, birth and first stages of motherhood!”

Emma Saunders, 2012

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Loosing the Pregnancy Weight

Posted on 27 March 2012 by karin

So, its 2 months since I have had baby Rio and the extra kilos are still hanging on for dear life to my hips and backside, HELP!I am the nutritionist, these extra kilos were supposed to “fall” of with the placenta in the delivery room (or “spa” as they call it in HK).

This time its taking me much longer to loose these extra kg’s. They say it takes 9 months to make a baby and 9 months to loose the weight and regain your pre-baby weight, so I guess I still have 7 months to go?

So what are the reasons it is taking so long to loose the weight?

  • My body obviously needs the extra fat for the breast-milk supply, breast-milk is a very fatty form of milk (baby needs the fat to form his brain, outer ends of the nerves, joints, hormones….), so maybe I should not rush to loose this weight and let my body do whats best for the baby (just a thought)
  • I am sleep deprived, I have no time to exercise, I have no time (or desire) prepare lots of salads, instead I crave carbohydrates in all forms- all this is leading to my metabolism slowing down.

So, what can I do to make the weight drop quicker?

  • Eat super clean: no sugars, processed foods or  junk foods. Stick to lots of veggies, steamed wild fish, fresh fruits, whole grains, raw (and sprouted) nuts and seeds.
  • Sleep when ever possible, if you don’t get enough sleep, you end up eating more, according to new research at Mayo Clinic:
  • Exercise, hit the gym, walk with the pram, do yoga in your living room- anything will do at this point.
  • Drink 3L of water a day, important for our breast-milk supply & also boosts our metabolism.
  • Take an omega 3 supplement high in DHA.

Remember if you are breastfeeding you burn an extra 500 calories a day, that’s really not that much, so its no excuse to polish off the box of chocolates + the doughnuts that you just did.

On a positive note, I do have this amazingly adorable baby with deep blue eyes giving me non stop smiles every time I look at him, but damn, I miss my skinny jeans….

Karin, Annerley’s newest Nutritionist


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Baby Conspiracy

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Baby Conspiracy

Posted on 26 March 2012 by Annerley

You may not know this but there’s an unwritten rule amongst mothers not to reveal the whole story about motherhood to their pregnant sisters. I know it sounds a little hard to believe but it’s true. From the moment we discover we’re expecting, we hear many amazing stories about all the good stuff but next to nothing about the challenging side. If you ask a woman who’s already a mum how she’s getting on with baby, she’ll most likely tell you that it’s all good and that baby is doing great. But if you listen carefully, you’ll notice that her reply has nothing to do with how she is feeling. She’s not doing this out of a desire to withhold information from you – not at all. She’s just doing what so many of us have done before her and keeping quiet about her true feelings.

So why is this? Why does she feel this need to keep her feelings under wraps? Let me put it this way. Say for example, your boss tells you that you’re going to start a new job in a new department and suggests you go and meet the people who are already doing this job. You’d like to think that these people would be happy to share any information that you need. That they would give you the full story. So, how would you feel if, on day one and the following few weeks, it slowly dawned on you that they had kept half of the story from you? And that the half they have kept from you is the half that needed the most preparation? Not happy, right? In fact you would probably start wondering if you were the victim of some kind of conspiracy. One that is designed to make you question your own abilities. “Why am I finding this new situation so difficult? Is it me? Am I incapable of doing this job? Have I done something wrong?”

And so it is with Motherhood. We all arrive at this place in our lives with no prior experience so when it looks like we’ve only been told half the story, we start to wonder why? And because we can’t understand why, we think that there must be something wrong with us, that we are not ‘doing it right’. And that we had better keep quiet about the whole thing. If no one else is talking, why should we? What if it turns out that everyone else is doing a great job and we’re the only one who is finding it challenging? So, understandably, the pattern continues. Each woman experiences a similar situation and in the confusion of that situation, decides to say nothing. It appears to be the safest option.

Unfortunately, it’s quite the opposite. That fear of expressing the full story of how she’s feeling may cast a shadow on what is also one of the most joyful times of her life. You see, my belief is that she has every right to express how she’s feeling and more importantly to ask for and receive assistance so that she can truly understand that she is not alone. She is simply experiencing what every new mum experiences – the very normal ups and downs of early motherhood. It’s just difficult to see that when you’re dealing with nappies, feeding schedules and lacking a few hours of sleep!

I can’t stress enough how essential it is to look after yourself while you are looking after baby. Just because baby comes first does not mean that you come last. It may sound like a cliché but a calmer mother really does help make a calmer baby. Don’t be afraid to talk about the whole experience including any challenges you’re facing. Most importantly, ask for help if and when you need it. Motherhood is the most amazing job on the planet and you have the right to do whatever it takes to make the transition to motherhood as smooth as you can for you!


Workshop Facilitator & EFT practitioner, Orla Breeze works with new parents and parents-to-be here at annerley where she runs her popular workshops Daddy 101 & The Truth About Motherhood

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Maternity leave in Thailand – Antenatal classes at Annerley

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Maternity leave in Thailand – Antenatal classes at Annerley

Posted on 23 March 2012 by hulda

In between being the laziest person on earth, I like action.  So kickbox has been my type of sport for the last 12 years . I have tried, various times to take on something different and somehow everything else has been so boring.  Especially normal gyms.  I did take a yoga class with Nealy Fisher at Pure while I was pregnant and that was actually good, much more action than I thought, and obviously did me good, but partly I think the fact that it was Nealy who I know, made the class fun too.

So here I am in Thailand, on this yoga and health resort, VERY BASIC one!  All we do is to meditate, do yoga at this Marianne Wells Yoga School and drink some liquid fruit and vegetable leftovers that apparently will make us healthy.  And don’t forget, I am also on maternity leave, and doing some work for Kristrun, my crazy boss.

Every morning starts with the yoga practice.  INCREDIBLY funny!  Never before, have I felt like I was in the “loosers” class as much as now.  What I mean is that we are all very obviously NOT yoga people.  And the poor instructor tries very hard to be very professional, – well he is very professional, but I can only imagine how he must be holding his laughter.  Half of the class are at least 20 kg overweight, the rest so skinny that they are falling apart.  Half of them have so much sunburn that it must be very uncomfortable just to move.  And tattoos, my lord, all over!  Most of them have just finished their last cigarette around 2 minutes before practicing and three people have such bad cough that they can hardly do any exercise.  There are three ladies that are Muslims and are fully covered in fabric, but they are actually doing really well in keeping up, despite the fact they must be SO hot!

And then there is me, who usually falls down in every pose, with lots of noise and taking forever to find the pose again, most of the time to discover that they have long gone to the next pose.  But slowly and steadily I have managed to learn most of the routine, and now I can do my shoulder stand straight and every now and again my forehead can touch my knees.

The thing is, as so often before, I started the sessions feeling like, O my G how booooring can this be.  So slow and all that.  Then, remembering that I have actually often meditated and felt good, I added the breathing into the practice.  Then I thought, well whatever I am here, I may as well do it.  And ta ra:  This is just like the antenatal classes!

How incredibly boring they must sometimes be for parents to come to.  They come as they want to learn about these things, and they need to learn certain breathing etc.  but sitting there for two hours at the end of a day, of course you are tired and want to go home.  And I always keep telling them during the meditation training:  Just do it, like Nike says.  You just have to go ahead and after several times of doing it, all of a sudden you are good and you see the benefits.  But to begin with it does not feel like that.

So this is what I did in my Yoga training here.  Now I have had 12 hours of Yoga and I just do it!  Not that I am good, and for sure I would not like to be under any evaluation, but at least this routine is now clear to me, I feel much better and I totally can understand how practice really makes perfect!

So that is all I wanted to say in this long blog:  Please please, antenatal class people:  start your breathing practice now, it will work if you just do it again and again!

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Epidural Headache

Posted on 22 March 2012 by Annerley

I have heard that an epidural can sometimes lead to a pretty bad headache for several days after the birth. How would I know the difference between an epidural headache and a regular one? Also what causes it and what can be done to fix it?

The cause of an epidural headache is a small hole in the next layer of the spinal column, and it can be bad enough to confine you to bed and stop you caring for your baby.  It is possible to identify it as a dural headache by checking if it gets worse as you sit up and improves when you lie down, as the cause is a fluid imbalance.  There are a few things you can try like analgesia or caffeine, however the most successful is called a blood patch.  This is where the anaesthetist repeats the epidural procedure and inserts some of your own blood in to clot over the hole.  This is a very safe and effective procedure and generally fixes the headache instantaneously.

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Another letter from Thailand: mummy-itis

Posted on 21 March 2012 by hulda

I never really give myself time to write as many blogs as I would like to.  Of course I am responsible myself for how  want to use my time and all that, but hey, it is sometimes really hard!  So staying here is so great, I actually have time to do things.  

So following up on the mummy guilt from yesterday, I wanted to share with you the “ordinary mummy” thing that I went through just before arriving here. 

The whole family that usually is never ill, has been off for the last month or so with all sorts of lingering coughs and colds.  Really annoying , some days worse, some days not there, and then really bad colds in between.  Finally we are slowly getting better and unfortunately Vaka (the 10 months old) is also a bit sick although not all that bad. 

Comes the night before I am supposed to be going to Thailand with her and she gets this high temperature.  It is middle of the night and she is really not like herself, throwing herself in bed and very hot.  Luckily my kids are rarely sick and I tend to be relaxed even when they are, but this time, I all of a sudden got really worried.  What if it was meningitis, I am being too relaxed, missing the signs, perhaps she has the awful flu that has killed two people in the last weeks, – basically rather hysterical. 

She fed normally and woke up the morning after just fine.  But I marched into Dr. Hendersons office and demanded an all-clear, told him I was going away and wanted to be sure.  He looked at me with that look and despite really always spending all the time in the world listening to worried mums, he could not really hide the little smile on his face.  She looks normal, she eats and drinks, she plays happily…  The lot.
He pointed out cheerfully that it was probably a case of “mummy-it is”.

Of course, looking back at it – she was fine all along.

And when I landed in Koh Samui, – what did I find that I myself always suggest first to mothers when such symptoms are there?  A tooth.

Enough from the normal mummy on a 1 week maternity leave. 

Ps.  I am loving the breastfeeding on demand again!  How is that for the schedules!

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A Natural Birth Story

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A Natural Birth Story

Posted on 20 March 2012 by hulda

Do you have any natural birth stories to share? We’d love to hear your stories. Email your story to us at

Heather from Pangea shares her story:

My name is Heather Cogan and three months ago I gave birth to my first son, Noah. I choose to deliver naturally (so no drugs) and after 14 hours of labour gave birth to our baby … all 4.5 kg of him and left the hospital the same day. On the way to the hospital my husband John and I felt calm, excited and prepared for what was to come and I put it all down to the help we received from the Annerley team and the daily Pilates routine I followed at Pangea.

I have been teaching Pilates for 8 years and started my own training 12 years ago. So Pilates and I go way back. Having taught over 62 pregnant women in the past, I knew a lot about what to expect and how to prevent many of those nasty pains related to changes the body goes through whilst being pregnant. To name a few, sciatica, lower back pain, upper back pain, shoulder and neck tension, hip displacements and so on. So I was looking forward to practicing what I preached.

I practiced pilates anywhere between 15-60 minutes daily. The aim was to keep my spine as mobile as possible and strengthen certain areas in my body to cope with all those changes. I also regularly practiced a few of my chosen birth positions recommended to me at the natural birthing course at the Annerley.

One of the most effective methods to reducing aches in my body was correct standing, something so simple yet so many pregnant women fall into terrible posture which leads to real discomfort and pain. However, its easier than I had imagined to let gravity have its way and draw you into bad posture whilst pregnant so brining your awareness to standing correctly is essential. I thought about it as much as I could, in the shower, standing in line and at the beginning and end my exercise and it made such an amazing difference. It kept my awareness deep inside my body so that I could cope with the huge weight spread round my center, rather than giving into gravity waddling like a duck.

No one can really describe to you what your pregnancy, and birth experience will be like, because like our children, they are all so different but once you meet the baby that has been kicking your ribs, keeping you up at night, pushing down on your bladder and caused you embarrassing episodes of flatulence, it all seems worth it.

Three months down the track Noah is already wearing 6-9month old baby clothes. I have enrolled him in a baby massage course with the Annerly team which I know he is looking forward to. I have upped the intensity of my own pilates training and I am feeling fit and mobile once again, and can fit back into my skinny jeans. Hurrah!

Heather Cogan
Head Pilates Teacher
Pangea – Align Fitness 

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Natural births in Hong Kong

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Natural births in Hong Kong

Posted on 20 March 2012 by hulda

Every pregnant woman wants a healthy baby and a good birth experience and many women also say they want a ‘natural’ birth.  The term ‘natural’ can mean anything from a vaginal birth to an undisturbed home birth and for women in Hong Kong – depending on various factors such as budget and where you live – there are several different options available:

Natural birth

If we are to assume a natural birth means a birth where there is no intervention, most midwives will agree that preparing well for the birth is important. Also, the location and those selected to be present will strongly influence the outcome. Choosing a doctor and midwives that have good statistics for normal birth (for example, a C-section rate below 25 percent), and also a hospital that not only has staff but also facilities to support a natural birth is obviously important too.

Other factors that will contribute to a the likelihood of a natural birth are, for example, whether you can stay at home during the early stages of labour, being mobile and active at this time, eating and drinking regularly and choosing a position that feels good when you are actually giving birth.

Many women are quite vulnerable when they are in labour and as a result they fall into a role of a patient rather than following their own instincts – which in returns makes all of the above hard for them.  Furthermore, even though it has been long proven by research, some hospitals and doctors have a policy that all women must be in hospital right from the earliest signs of labour, lie in bed during the whole labour and birth, have continuous monitoring of the baby’s heartbeat, give birth in a hospital bed (and sometimes in stirrups) and have a routine episiotomy.

Many women don’t even dare to question this as they may have been told that this is the safest way to give birth. One only needs to look for evidence-based guidelines about maternity care, such as the NICE guidelines that are used in the NHS in the UK, to see that this practice is no longer recommended for women who are not classified as high-risk patients.  So if you are truly seeking a natural birth, it is useful to look at the birth places available in Hong Kong and what they have to offer.

Where to give birth in Hong Kong

In Hong Kong, people have the option of private or public health care.  The public hospitals here offer excellent maternity care and are both professional and have good statistics when it comes to natural birth and interventions.

Their main disadvantage is probably the fact that they are busy and the staff cannot provide continuous care which means that it is not as personal as some would like. Also, there are quite a few “rules” and protocols that are followed more strictly than in private hospitals.

One of the main advantages of public hospitals is that they are very well equipped with staff and tools for serious conditions, and for babies that are premature or ill — although luckily most babies are born healthy and well.

Also, in the recent years the public hospitals have started to offer more support for natural birth, providing birth balls, yoga mats, and the option for hypnobirthing methods and being mobile. The routine use of episiotomy has now finally been discontinued, which is great news to all childbearing women.

Private hospitals tend to be good here too. Care is usually given by a doctor you have chosen yourself and consulted with throughout pregnancy.  This means that you know who will deliver the baby, although the doctor is only there at the final part. Those who are considering private care will need to look at the budget, since private health care here is expensive and insurance does not always cover the cost.

In addition, although often very good, being at a private hospital does not necessarily mean you have more chance of a natural. In fact, the statistics for most private hospitals show us that C-section rates, epidural use, induction, and forceps and vacuum deliveries are much more common there, with C-section between 50 to 85 percent.

Either way, in my experience, both models are good for different reasons; in a private hospital the most important part is to choose a doctor who will truly support you, and regardless of where you give birth, you should prepare yourself since no one else will do the actual work for you AND – not less important, that you prepare yourself really well.

Home births

In some countries, home births are becoming increasingly popular and have been proven to be a safe option for healthy mothers in low-risk pregnancies. Those that fall into this category can expect to have an undisturbed birth in a private and quiet environment; and they should not expect to be induced, use medication or have any other intervention, since should these be needed, they would be transferred to hospitals.

Women who want a truly natural birth often opt for this and prepare accordingly. Outcomes are generally good, with only 5 – 10 percent of cases requiring a hospital transfer because of medical complications.

Many believe that home births are illegal in Hong Kong. This is not the case, although they are not supported here, nor is it easy to find staff that is willing or trained to assist.  As a result, home births are probably not as safe an option in Hong Kong as they would be in many other countries. This does not mean that it is impossible and with the help of skilled midwives and the correct preparation, a homebirth can be an option for those women who are low risk.

Doula care

To have appropriate support while in labour is so important and that person can be a husband, family member, friend, midwife, or doctor – but whoever it is, good support is invaluable.  And by good support I mean support that is on your terms. This is why it is important for those that are with you during labour and birth know you and understand what you want.

Doulas have existed for centuries and their role is to be exactly this; to provide support on your terms. They provide everything from psychological support, to physically massaging and coaching you through the birthing journey. Doulas help women to stay at home as long as they feel comfortable and then continue to help them while in hospital.

I have been a registered midwife here in Hong Kong for many years now but since midwives do not have admission rights in private hospitals and have to speak Cantonese to work in the public wards, I have not been able to provide a one-stop pregnancy and birth care service.  I have however, found myself in the role of a Doula, or birth support many times. The experience of doing this has been invaluable and given me insight into all the different birthing options that Hong Kong has – including all those that I have explained above.  It has also frequently reminded me of the fact that we professionals so often forget; that each family is unique and each birth is too. It is not just an event that results in a safe birth, but a family event that has an everlasting imprint on everyone involved and it should be treated with such respect.

More doulas are now available in Hong Kong which is a fantastic thing.  Donna Watts, our excellent early childhood nurse has just done her doula training and within Annerley. Donna, Eugenie, Rovena (and Tamara on South Lantau) and myself can offer women continuous support through labour at home, and sometimes even in the hospital. We also work with other very good doulas to provide excellent care.

Prepare well

To all pregnant women I would suggest:

  • Before the birth, ask the doctor/midwives about their statistics and how they routinely work.
  • Ask how much they will be there during the labour.
  • Tell them in advance what your thoughts are.
  • If you do a birth plan, make sure that it is short and only contains the things that are very important to you, but not the details of medical care.
  • Be firm, but polite.

If medical intervention is offered ask:  Why?  Can we wait?  Is the baby in danger?  Are there any other options? Remember that the staff takes usually extremely good care of safety but they pay less attention to comfort – this is something you must do.

Hulda Thorey, 2012


Points to remember regarding hospitals:

Public hospitals: 

Possible challenges:

  • You can only have your husband / one support person with you when you are in established labour, i.e. after around 3 cm of dilation.
  • Sometimes mobility is a bit restricted.
  • Drinking and eating is no encouraged, but you can do it anyway.
  • You cannot take showers or baths during the labour, there is no access to toilet or bath.
  • Episiotomy is very common in some hospitals, but you can usually say no to this.
  • There is less privacy and sometimes staff will come and go.
  • When your baby arrives, it is usually taken away for a check-up. Again, you can suggest otherwise.
  • Breastfeeding is supported but sometimes the staff do not have much time to assist.

On the positive side:

  • The staff are very professional and practical, and being teaching hospitals, the staff follow protocols; things are not done for personal convenience or financial gain.
  • Most public hospitals do have private rooms and allow “props” to be taken in, once you are in established labour.
  • Most wards have TENS machines and the midwives are trained to give massages and support natural births.
  • You can usually get your way if you are polite and resourceful.
  • Major medical interventions are much lower than in private hospitals.
  • Epidural rates are much lower than in private hospitals, but they are available.

C-section rates much lower than in private hospitals.

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Letters from Thailand – my late maternity leave

Posted on 20 March 2012 by hulda

I have always taken on too much.  Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.  My kids suffer, my family suffers, my clients suffer and of course I suffer.  But most of the time all is good and the enthusiasm, the ideas and the usual energy have always been by best friends. 

In the last three years, my life has been rather more hectic than usual though, so much so that the two additional run-arounds-in-the-house (Saga and Vaka)  are almost self raised and Annerley that has been going through it’s growth spurts as well is bursting on it’s seams.  Luckily, there is help everywhere and I am fortunate that my family is big, very loving and helpful and everyone just makes things right.  And with the excellent staff at Annerley things are smooth there too. 

Now, i am writing this as I sit here on a beach in a little cottage in Koh Samui, where I “escaped” to two days ago.  Escaped, as there is so much to do and so little time!  And one of the things I realized that i had not done was to have my maternity leave with little Vaka, who was born almost a year ago.  For all of you mums and mums-to-be out there, i certainly do not recommend this and for sure I did not intend it this way, there were a combination of factors that brought this on, but again, lucky me, I did manage to slow it down for a while and till now always bring Vaka with me to work.  Now that I am here in Thailand, i have a little time for just the two of us to relax and enjoy a quiet time.  And it is absolutely gorgeous here! 

And what happens?  The usual mummy thing.  Guilt.  As soon as the feet step down on the ground from the plane, the massive guilt that the other kids are not here and that i have left them at home.  This is so typical, and although I knew I never would be able to do this type of a relaxed trip where there is just yoga, healthy food, beach, wind, sun, baby, breastfeeding and me – with all the family around, I still feel that I should have.  All mums that I know are the same.  They just cannot enjoy the downtime by themselves, they always start to think about the kids. 

As all working mothers that either choose or need to work, of course I am no different.  Comments from others like “I would never want to leave my kids with a helper, what is the point of having them then” are totally understood by me, I know why people say it and share some of the feeling about it.  But still, at the end of the day, I am a working mum and will continue to be one, so I have long time ago learned to accept that whatever time i DO have with my kids, I must make the most of.  And be happy. 

Hence this trip.  And it is making me VERY happy!

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