Archive | June, 2012

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Are you a Natural Mother?

Posted on 27 June 2012 by Annerley

Before I became a Mum, a few people told me that I would be a Natural Mother and I believed them. I didn’t see any reason not to. In fact, it comforted me to know that I could skip towards motherhood safe in the knowledge that it would all come naturally to me. But then I gave birth and realised pretty fast that they weren’t just a little bit wrong, they were completely and utterly wrong! Looking back, I can understand why I wanted to believe them but the fact is, it was never going to happen.

The truth is there’s no such thing as a Natural Mother (so if you answered the above question with a no, you can breathe a sigh of relief!). It’s true that some women have more of an aptitude for it than others but to have some kind of natural all-encompassing knowledge of something you have never experienced before just doesn’t make any sense. If I was to begin any other job in any other field, I wouldn’t expect to know it all before I began. Sure I would spend time researching and asking questions but my expectation would be to learn the vast majority on the job. It’s the same for Motherhood. The job of taking care of another human being – feeding, clothing, routines etc – is not something that we learn by osmosis from our own mothers or simply because we’re female. It’s something that we learn as we go. However, for one reason or another, we sometimes get a strange idea that we’ll just know what our baby needs when s/he needs it. Don’t get me wrong, we do reach this place eventually but no faster than we would reach a similar sense of certainty in any other situation. It takes time for all of us. Every baby is different as is every mother.

What does help is to ask, ask and keep on asking. Some responses you’ll consider, others you’ll discard but each piece of advice will help you to get to that place of certainty faster. Here, at Annerley, we want to support you in getting to that place so this July we’re introducing a whole new workshop just for that purpose. The Truth About Motherhood is a 4-part workshop for Mums-only that will give you plenty of tips, techniques and true stories about life as a Mum in Hong Kong. And because we know how precious your time is, we’re keeping each workshop to just one hour each week. So if you want to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth from someone who’s been through it all three times, simply click here!


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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Drugs or No Drugs – That is the Question!

Posted on 26 June 2012 by Annerley

OK here’s a fun question for you. Which is considered to be more beneficial – a drug-assisted labour that keeps Mum pain-free but may have a negative effect on the baby or a non-drug-assisted (aka natural) that is great for baby but may be extreeemely painful for Mum? It’s a question running through my brain as I head towards the birth of my first child!

Hulda responds:

Yes this is a fun question and if you asked 20 people this question you would get 20 different answers.  The most important aspect of planning for any birth is remembering that it is your birth, no-one else’s and that you do not need to live up to anyone’s expectations.

Take an active part in the birth, find out information beforehand, communicate with your caregivers as to how you would like the birth to go, and then be open to whatever happens.  As with anything we do in this world, for instance driving a car or getting onto a plane, we assess the benefits and risks and decide which ones we are happy to accept, and which we would prefer to avoid where possible.

The cascade of intervention is fairly well known meaning that the more intervention you have within the birthing process, the more you are likely to have.  Therefore if you want to avoid an assisted birth, either vaginal or caesarean, then the better option is to avoid interventions/ medications where possible.  There are side effects and associated outcomes with the various forms of analgesia, which generally are treatable or manageable, and you need to consider whether you are happy for your baby and yourself to be exposed to these risks.

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Boat dwelling midwife and Honorary Consul of Iceland

Boat dwelling midwife and Honorary Consul of Iceland

Posted on 22 June 2012 by hulda

Shortly after her appointment as Honorary Consul, Hulda was interviewed by Shirley Zhao for the current (June 20-July 3, 2012) issue of TimeOut Hong Kong in a personal profile of her life and her new role. How does Hulda balance being a mother of four, a business owner, a midwife, and Honorary Consul of Iceland? She says, “You only need to make a few phone calls and other people will arrange things for you…There are so many people who are good in their own industries and can help out.” Luckily, Hulda has a great team of staff at Annerley who provide clients with the support they need.

To read the article, please see below.

Hulda Thorey in TimeOut Hong Kong

How does a midwife go from delivering babies to delivering diplomacy? Just ask Hulda Thorey. The Icelander was appointed Honorary Consul of her native country for Hong Kong and Macau at the turn of the year – and she tells Time Out that she has every confidence in her diplomatic position, despite the seemingly obvious contradictions between the two roles. “I don’t see these two roles as contradictory,” she says. “In a way, they complement each other.”

Having been a midwife in Hong Kong for the past 11 years, Thorey claims she has forged a wide network of connections in the city over that time which makes it relatively easy to fulfill her fairly new responsibilities as a consul. In fact, she was approached for the job due to her connections and gladly accepted. Her responsibilities now include introducing Iceland’s policies and regulations to the SAR, offering contacts for those Icelanders who want to obtain visas here, helping to issue passports for her fellow countrymen in Hong Kong, providing trade assistance between the two places (certainly in the meat and fish industry) and helping tourists from her home country who get into trouble here. A lot for someone who is still a practising midwife.

“You only need to make a few phone calls and other people will arrange things for you,” says Thorey, alluding to how she finds the time to fit it all in. “There are so many people who are good in their own industries and can help out. And there comes a certain level of respect with the title of consul. It also helps my business in the midwifery industry. Yes, I’m pretty busy tending to my own business. But I have a lot of help in my clinic and I only have to spend about one day every week as a consul.”

A registered private midwife, the 38-year-old, who came to Hong Kong in 2001, is the founder and director of Annerly, a company which provides private maternity and early childhood care – and which, according to Thorey, has been growing successfully. “Pregnant women tend to need to see the same person who remembers them and is also professionally capable,” explains Thorey. “But, in Hong Kong, it’s difficult for them to do that.”

Thorey decided to start her company after seeing its potential in the Hong Kong market. It offers a range of services, including antenatal and postnatal care, parental training courses and home births. It’s what she describes as a mixture of ‘professional care and a personal touch’. “In Hong Kong you can get either a lot of professional care or a personal touch – but seldom can you get two of them together.” Perhaps this is why her business has been expanding. She claims she receives around 100 new clients every month. They mostly seek guidance during pregnancy, help during labour and breastfeeding suggestions.

Recent trends in Hong Kong have shown that more people (the trendy and the nature-loving) have been looking into the benefits of giving birth at home – sometimes in a pool – to create a natural environment for the newborn. Although Thorey does provide home-birth services ‘as long as they are low risk and are living close to hospitals’, she doesn’t encourage it here. “Hong Kong is not very well-equipped for home births,” she says. “We don’t have convenient transportation if there is the need to go to a hospital in an emergency. It’s also hard to get any back-up from most obstetricians here.”

Coming from Iceland, a snowy island country with a Nordic culture and a relatively small population, Thorey certainly maintains a close connection with the sea. So close,

in fact, she lives with her husband and their four children in a 70-foot-long, six-room catamaran moored up in Sai Kung’s Pak Sha Wan. They bought it in 2008 in Shekou, a district in Shenzhen, to travel in at first – but they liked it so much they decided to move in (and they felt it was a waste to let the boat sit there and do nothing, says Thorey). “We were renting a flat but the boat is ours,” she tells Time Out. “So we thought why not just live in the boat? It makes more sense, so all we need is to add some commodities like clean water and good lighting using technology anyone can find if they click here.”

Their home cost them around US$2million (HK$15.5m) to buy. But, according to the midwife, it was worth every penny. “It’s very nice and peaceful living in a boat,” she says. “It has much more space than living in a house and you can move your home at any time if you want to. When you wake up in the morning you never know what you’re gonna see because it’s always facing a different place every day.”

There are also other obvious advantages to living on a boat, says Thorey, who also rides a motorbike. For a start, it’s cheaper than buying a ridiculously priced flat here. But there are also some inconveniences, she says: “You have to get on to land regularly, so you have to get a small dinghy for that. You can hire one from the yacht clubs but only in the daytime. Other than that, I’m satisfied.” And, as midwife, consul and boat dweller, we’re glad she finds the time to be so satisfied… Shirley Zhao

Photos and article courtesy of TimeOut Hong Kong.


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Stitches & Bruises

Posted on 19 June 2012 by Annerley

With only a few weeks to go until I become a Mum, I have to admit that I have one or two particularly big worries, namely stitching and bruising. Both seem to be pretty common side-effects of birth so I am wondering what to do in terms of healing if I end up with one or both outcomes?

Hulda responds:

In terms of stitching, it is good to be aware of general hygiene and to wash the area 2-3 times a day.  This can be done by having a shower or just by having a water bottle and pouring it over yourself as you pass urine.  If you feel the healing is not as good as it could be, salt baths could be useful – but you need to put in at least a bag of salt to a normal size bath to get the concentration strong enough.  So you may be better off with a bottle of salty water that you use after you have passed urine.  Or you can use lavender or tea tree in your bath, or water bottle.  Bruising is a bit different as you need to allow it time to heal, arnica we believe is useful and you should be able to get it at homeopathic shops.  Also try feeding when lying on your side, this helps relieve pressure in that area.  Ice packs help in the first 24-48hrs but after that are not as useful.

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Classic; Common Questions and Answers After Birth

Classic; Common Questions and Answers After Birth

Posted on 06 June 2012 by Kristrun

I was just browsing through old articles and found this. Common questions and answers after birth for a new mother. June is a very busy month for us and we wish all our new moms the best of luck!

Is it true that newborn babies only see black and white, and no colors?

To a certain extend this is correct.  The eyes of newborn babies are not fully developed and for a while after they are born they can not fully see colors.  They also cannot focus far away so only things around 10 – 30 cm away from their eyes are clearly visible.

My baby has got a bit of hair and it is growing fast, but there are some bold areas on the back of his head.  Is this normal?

Yes, and try not to worry about this.  This happens mainly because babies lie on their backs most of the time and the friction between the head and the surface underneath usually causes some of the hair to fall off.  Because of increased risk of cot-death when babies sleep on their front, sleeping on the back is the preferred position so most parents see bold spots on their babies’ heads after a while.  The good thing is that after the hair grows a bit thicker, this bold spot disappears and you never see any signs it was there in the first place.

How often do we have to change nappies?

As a rule of thumb, it is good to change nappies every time you feed the baby, ideally in the end of the feed since most babies will urinate/pass stools during the fees or right after.   If your child develops nappy rash, you must change more frequently than this and try and ensure some time every day without the nappy to dry the area.  You do not have to change the nappy every time the baby does a little pee unless the baby seems really sensitive to this.

Is it good or bad to warm up milk in the microwave? 

BAD!!  Microwave ovens are designed in the way that temperature of fluids that have been heated can be extremely uneven.  Then when you touch the milk on the outside of the bottle it might seem the right temperature, but inside it might be a lot warmer, causing serious damage to the baby’s mouth and stomach.  Another reason is also that some of the ingredients of the Breast milk can be damaged with microwaves.

If you wish to warm up milk, we suggest to put hot water (30 – 40 degrees) in a small bowl and then to put the bottle in there for a few minutes.  The milk will warm up quickly without any risk to the baby.  Make sure to test the milk before feeding it, by putting a drop on the inside of your arm/wrist.  It should not feel hot.

How can I prevent nappy rash?

Most babies get nappy rash sometime in their early months.  Here are some tips about how to prevent it:

Clean the bottom carefully with only cotton wool and water and dry well with a cloth.

Leave the baby with no diaper on for a while every day, or even every time when you change a nappy.

Change nappies as soon as they get dirty.

If none of this works, a nappy rash cream might be helpful, especially the ones with zinc oxide in.  Lansinoh (the nipple cream) can also be good for healing.

In what position should my baby sleep?

Research has shown that if you put the baby to sleep on the back you will decrease the risks of a cot death.  Some parents however, have had a difficult time settling their babies on the back and if they vomit a lot the back is not the best position.  In this case, put the baby down on the side and make sure it cannot roll over to the front.  You can use wedges to achieve this. Make sure never to use a pillow except for a few minutes while settling the baby, should you feel this helps.

When the baby is old enough to turn over to the front (around 3 – 5 months) you can allow any position, whatever seems the most comfortable for the baby.

What do I need for bathing the baby?

Before you start bathing the baby, make sure you have all you need next to you because you can never leave a baby alone after you start bathing.

What you need is:  Shampoo or soap if you choose to use this, oil to use in the bath or after the bath, a clean cotton towel, diaper and clean clothes.

Make sure the room is warm enough; otherwise the baby will cry when you take him/her out of the water.

My baby has really sharp nails and scratches her face all the time.  What can I do?

To begin with, we recommend not cutting the nails, since it is really easy to cut the skin as well.  Wait until the baby is around 2 – 3 months before doing this, and then make sure the baby is completely relaxed, either sleeping or feeding while you cut.  In the meantime you might want to file, tear or bite the nails, or simply have the baby in mittens during the night time.

How soon after birth can I take my baby out for a walk?

This depends both on the weather and the health of the baby (and mother).  If it is not too warm outside and the baby is a healthy full term baby, then around 2 weeks is what we recommend.  However, it is worth it to take it slow to begin with and only go short distances.  Use a stroller and cover the opening well so that wind/sun is not coming directly at the baby.  Also it prevents other people from touching your newborn, and keeps mosquito away.    Make sure to have the baby wearing light cotton clothes and to have an extra blanket available if needed.  During winter, add one layer of clothes and have a thick blanket wrapped around the baby.

You may use baby carriers around 3 – 4 weeks after birth, or around the time the baby is 3.5 – 4 kg, and holds head slightly better than in the early days.

How often do I need to breastfeed my baby?

Most babies feed around 8 – 12 times per 24 hours to begin with.  A one-month old baby usually feeds less often, or around 6 – 8 times.  The more often you feed, the more milk is produced.

What is colostrum?

Colostrum is the ‘milk’ that is produced towards the end of pregnancy and in the first days after birth. This is the first nutrition that the baby gets and is therefore really important as it gives the baby protection against bacteria in the first few days. Colostrum is produced until around the 3rd or 4th day after birth, but the baby does not need any more than nature provides until the ‘real’ milk comes in and the volume increase.

When the baby is getting breast milk it first gets the foremilk:  thin, watery, sugary milk that contains a lot of amino acids.  After some time of sucking, the milk changes to be thicker and has much more fat content.  This is called hind milk.

Colostrum is mainly important to clear out the meconium (black, sticky stools that the baby passes in the first few days after birth), protecting against infections and preventing jaundice.  So even though the quantities are small and most babies loose about 5 – 10 percent of their birth weight, the colostrums is important and enough food until the breast milk comes fully in.  The more often you feed, the quicker the breast milk establishes, so demand feeds are recommended.

I have been breastfeeding for 4 days and my breasts are rock hard.   It seems like my girl has a difficult time latching on and I wander what this is and if it will go away by itself? 

What you are describing is called engorgement. This happens in the breasts when the colostrum changes over to become breast milk, usually around day 2-5. Just after the birth, there is an increased flow of fluids to the breasts, both milk and blood flow, and they become both hot and swollen. This is often uncomfortable. To relieve the condition, it is best to feed often and take a hot shower just before you feed.  Between feeds you can also use cold packs to ease the swelling, but make sure you then change to warm pads or shower just before feeding, to open up the ducts.  This condition usually clears by itself around day 5 – 6.  If not, call a midwife immediately to get assistance before the situation worsens.

How hot should the bathwater be when I am bathing my child?

You must be really careful when bathing your baby not to have too hot water.  Around 37 – 38 degrees is what we recommend, and make sure that the temperature in the room is warm enough; around 25 degrees or more.  You can use a thermometer or your elbow to measure the temperature, but your hands are not sensitive to feel with accuracy whether the water is too hot or not.

2007 Annerley Midwives






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