Archive | August, 2013

The marathon of birth – and other marathons

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The marathon of birth – and other marathons

Posted on 25 August 2013 by hulda

Many say that birth has nothing in common with a marathon.  While I appreciate that births are a very different experience from one person to the next, I feel that there are many things that marathons and births do have in common.  Without debating this – as I can actually go and dig into the research and find lots and lots to support my thoughts, but I will not – I am just going to share a few of my recent marathon feelings.

I prepared for Racing the Planet 250 km walk/run in Iceland in Hong Kong for 4–5 months before the race.  I was not in the best physical condition to take on such a race and had never run/walked anything beyond 25 km in my life. Most people around me were not convinced that this was a good idea, and few had done anything like it.  Those that had, however, found it not all that difficult and somehow seemed to be moving onto their next projects easily – usually an even longer run.  Some found it absolutely amazing and following these people was the thing that inspired me. Plus, I was curious to know whether I actually could do it?  Why not?  And then when supported and encouraged by two amazing ladies who also were inspired to do it, I had no more reasons to say no.  It was a fantastic way to “find inner strength” (is this not what we all try at some point), get fit and have lots of fun, plus do something new and hopefully inspire others in the way that others had done for me.

I knew it would be very stupid to do this without preparation — both physical and emotional.  I also knew, according to experts, that I was on the borderline of meeting the criteria. I was overweight, very busy, had one knee that was really in bad condition after four surgeries, although strong I was not generally fit, had little endurance and had never ran fast nor far.  And it was expensive as hell!

How was I to fit this into a schedule where four children (I admit that helpers run my home way more than I do, and husband is very patient and often works from home, so with help, yes),  very busy with work — busier than usual as we had a sudden decrease in our employees due to retirements etc. — and just generally trying to stay afloat in a life where there was already plenty to do in.  And why?  I did not have to do it after all.  Most people just run normal trail runs here in Hong Kong, or do a short version of the Hong Kong Marathon.

In any case, I signed up.

So many doubts go through your head when you are training and when it does not go well, you have to stay focused, or do as I did and NIKE says we all should, “just do it”.  Don’t think too much, just go ahead, one step at a time, and remind yourself that the easy way is to quit and in fact, you have that option. But you can also have a drink of water and an energy bar, and remind yourself to enjoy the view and the company.

When the time finally comes, you are sure that you have not trained enough. No matter how much fun and enthusiasm, pure joy over this newfound health and happiness is all around you, all of a sudden, you realize that this actually WILL HAPPEN.  Like — possibly — tomorrow!

You buy all the best gadgets, employ the best experts for information, training and gear, speak to all your friends who have done something similar, and you over-educate yourself on blogs and books regarding nutrition, training, philosophies, best strategies for each section, what to do if…

And many, many people come to you and tell you horror stories of their or their friends’ experiences.

Some tell you success stories, because this is how they are — either SUCCESS or NOT  (finish or not).  They don´t all realize that success is not only there when you cross the finish line in a race;  there are many other ways to enjoy success and in any case, this is a very wrong word to use.

Finally, you wake up on the day.  You do all the right things that you remember, but realize that you have also forgotten a lot of the advice you were given and you learned in the books. And there is no time to pull your notes and books out again,  or call your friends. It is the middle of the night anyway.   Your very own worry all along was right to be there. After all your planning, you realize that you have woken up after only four hours of sleep, you feel tired and half nauseous, you’re not really in the mood to eat, you remember that you were washing the trousers that you are going to wear and they are still wet, your other half is absolutely NOT in the mood to cheer you on at 5am, and you start to worry about all the things that will happen next.

But, you go ahead, drive to the start line, look around and realize that it is actually a beautiful day. Although all the other runners seem fitter and better equipped than you, you realize that you have prepared well in many ways, at least you are color coordinated (which was the case in my preparation, the team I was in made all the effort to keep a happy spirit and full color coordination and war paint!).

And you choose to go ahead.  Why not try?  Happy faces all around and anticipation is there, the drugs ha552967_10150814581217743_1193151073_nve not yet been pulled out and everyone is ready. You start to feel a little happy too. Your team partners, that you so very carefully selected, knowing their reputation for keeping up a good mood, for endurance, support, knowledge, experience…. are joining you in happiness.

If you are pregnant and about to give birth, please read the above and apply it to yourself.  Or if you have already had a baby, I am sure you understand.

More to come.

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Bringing the Outdoors In

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Bringing the Outdoors In

Posted on 23 August 2013 by Kristrun

Stimulating Play for Babies and Toddlers

stimulating-baby-indoors

In our June Newsletter, Kristrun outlined the importance of giving our children the opportunity to play outside. The exposure to different textures, smells and sounds is so important for brain development from a very early age.

But dang, it’s hot. And it just may not be so easy for some of us to do this on a regular basis, especially if we live in an apartment block with little access to a park or other suitable outdoor area. Indoor playrooms are great fun, and super convenient, but these sanitised plastic paradises offer little in the way of sensory variation.

So don’t be afraid to bring the outdoors in. And by that we mean offering lots of different textures to touch, crawl and walk on. Not exactly the same as being outdoors, but stimulating nontheless.

Set up an area where mess is OK. A playpen maybe, or a sand-pit, or an area cordoned off by a baby-fence, in the bath, or even in the high-chair if you need to keep an eye on bubba whilst busy in the kitchen. Then just let your imagination run and let little one feel and explore and play. No need to buy anything special (maybe some play-sand if you have no access to a beach) – there are many household items that can provide this sort of stimulation.

  • Wet, dry and slimy sand (mix with washing up liquid)
  • Crawling or toddling around on different textures – a slippery shower curtain, a rough door mat, fake grass, old clothes and scarves…
  • Cover a ball with double-sided sticky tape, sticky side out. Infants are fascinated by this!
  • A basin full of old bangles or necklaces (watch out for any choking hazard)
  • Scarves are great – silky, soft, woolly
  • Strip your sofa of cushions and pile or scatter them on the floor.
  • Throw your kitchen utensils in the playpen – whisks, wooden spoons, ladles, rolling pin, measuring cups etc. Add a pan and you will have music too!
  • Water. An inch of water in a basin to pat and splash. Add some gravel or sand on the bottom.
  • Crinkly plastic bags. Babies love the noise they make.
  • Egg cartons, scrunched up newspaper, magazines.
  • Shoes. Lots of different textures.
  • Soil, grass and leaves.

In today’s sanitised world, where clean equals good and dirty equals bad, we can struggle to allow our children to get “dirty”, or even messy. Try it; it’s fun and there’s not a lot that a hose-down in the bath can’t fix.

Annerley offers consultation on how to stimulate your baby, book a session with our specialists – available on Skype or over the phone

 

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Healthy Snack Ideas for Babies and Toddlers

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Healthy Snack Ideas for Babies and Toddlers

Posted on 22 August 2013 by Kristrun

Healthy Snack Ideashealthy snacks for babies

Most toddlers love to snack

Indeed, for some parents it feels like their children do nothing but snack. This is normal. But even if your toddler eats well at meal-times, you will find that snacks are still an important part of their day and indeed they should be.

Snacks can fill nutritional gaps, provide energy for a busy bod, make up for unsuccessful meals and let’s face it, keep the little monkeys busy for five minutes while you have your own meal!

It is a rare parent who leaves their home with a toddler for more than half an hour without packing something to eat whilst on the go. And if you are attending any kind of playgroup or activity, there is usually a scheduled break in which to refuel.

Be prepared, take more than you think you will need and remember that tissues and wipes (or a wet cloth) are always a good idea where toddlers and food are concerned. It’s a good idea, also, to stick to familiar foods when out and about; best to keep experiments with variety to the safety of your own home!

So what to bring?

There are plenty of packaged convenience snacks on the market and so you would rarely be stuck with nothing if anywhere near a supermarket, but for better nutrition, as well as value for money, home-made is always going to win. Another reason for this is that snacks should, ideally, not stray too far from what your child would normally eat at meal-times. The odd packet of crunchy, shop-bought goodies is not going to do too much damage, but given on a regular basis your toddler could develop an aversion to “real” food. Ideally, it is best to let this type of shop-bought snack remain unsampled for as long as you can while your child develops his foody repertoire and while you remain in control of it.

Home-made doesn’t have to mean hours of preparation. Keep it simple, healthy, easy to eat (and non-sticky if possible!) and snacks will be a valuable addition to your child’s diet.

Good snacks provide carbohydrate, protein, fibre and healthy fats. Generally speaking, protein and fibre-rich foods help kids stay fuller for longer.
Depending on your child’s age and developmental stage, some good snack ideas are:

  • Squares of pre-toasted bread, pita-bread triangles, bagels (all minimum crumb factor)
  • Lightly steamed or blanched veggies – carrots, green beans, broccoli etc.  Or raw if your child is older.
  • A small tub of hummous or bean dip to go with the veggie sticks keeps toddlers busy, but does increase the mess factor.
  • Peas and corn (good fun for tiny fingers!)
  • A box separated into compartments to hold various small goodies – blueberries, whole-wheat cereal, dried fruit, chopped grapes etc
  • Sticks or cubes of cheese
  • Wholegrain crackers
  • Fruit. Bananas are nature’s ultimate fast food.

So keep it simple, fun and healthy. Good snacks are a piece of cake.

If you have any questions regarding nutrition, or need help with a picky eater, why not book a private consultation with health visitor Conchita Amende. She’s our resident expert.

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Prenatal Charges & OB-GYN Fees in Hong Kong 2013

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Prenatal Charges & OB-GYN Fees in Hong Kong 2013

Posted on 21 August 2013 by hulda

Pre-natal Charges & OB-GYN Fees in Hong Kong 2013Published in Geobaby – 3 May 2013

Having a baby in Hong Kong? Our list of OB-GYNs and their charges will be a good start for you as you embark on your journey to mommyhood.

For your convenience and quick reference, we’ve compiled a list of doctors who deliver in Hong Kong, and their basic fees. In the table below, you will find the hospitals the doctors deliver in, and the fees for the consultation, ultrasounds, and the price of natural vs. c-section deliveries.

There were some data that we were unsuccessful in obtaining, so if you’ve just had a baby please share your doctor’s fees with us. All of these doctors can be found in our directory, but if your doctor isn’t listed here, drop us a line at editor@geobaby.com.

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Is it risky to get pregnant if you’re over 35?

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Is it risky to get pregnant if you’re over 35?

Posted on 21 August 2013 by hulda

IS IT RISKY TO GET PREGNANT IF YOU’RE OVER 35?

By Hulda Thorey –  Published in SassyMama – 1 March 2011

Q. I’m 37 and finally thinking about having a baby but I’m worried about possible complications. Is it really risky to have a baby at my age and if so, what are the risks involved?

A: The simple answer to this is that no, it is not risky to have a baby at 37, in fact for a variety of reasons in today’s society it is becoming more common for women to wait to start a family until they are over 35yrs old.  In one Sydney health area in 2003 approximately 30% of all births were to women over 35 yrs old.  It is important to remember that although there are some risks associated, there are also benefits for both mother and baby by waiting.  There is a number of aspects to consider in answering this question fully, so I will try to give you a summary of the information.

The risks associated for having a baby at 37 are wide-ranging and specific to each individual.  In the first instance there is a higher possibility of couples finding it more difficult to conceive, however in many situations technology is assisting families in this area.

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Preparing for birth in a public hospital in Hong Kong

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Preparing for birth in a public hospital in Hong Kong

Posted on 21 August 2013 by hulda

PREPARING FOR BIRTH IN A PUBLIC HOSPITAL IN HONG KONGBy Hulda Thorey –  Published in SassyMama – 20 September 2013

In Hong Kong, every person with a Hong Kong ID card has the right to use the government hospital maternity services at a minimal cost. The maternal health clinics generally provide adequate services, staff, equipment, and resources to ensure your safety. The facilities are up to standard and the delivery rooms are big and very well equipped. It can be a great experience to give birth in a public hospital but we highly recommend parents educate themselves so they know the politics, preferences and the procedures within each hospital.

Before using the services at a public hospital you will need a referral letter to confirm your pregnancy, so the first step is to visit a doctor or obstetrician to get that letter. The antenatal checkups at the public hospitals are free of charge and they will let you know how often you need checkups, roughly every month initially, then every two weeks. The checkups can take a bit of time, so allow at least 3 hours, but if you are lucky it will take less time. Many of our clients supplement the public system with a private midwife or doctor, which saves time and gives them a chance to get answers to their questions.

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Breastfeeding in government hospitals in Hong Kong

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Breastfeeding in government hospitals in Hong Kong

Posted on 21 August 2013 by hulda

BREASTFEEDING IN GOVERNMENT HOSPITALS IN HONG KONGBy Hulda Thorey –  Published in SassyMama – 10 April 2013

Breastfeeding is promoted, encouraged and supported in Hong Kong government hospitals in principal. However, in practice, the level of support offered can vary. Although well meaning, some staff may want to follow routines that are not necessarily in the best interests of the breastfeeding mother, but an informed and prepared mother can confidently stand her ground to get what’s best for her and her baby. Here, Hulda Thorey, midwife and founder of Annerley, provides advice on how to prepare for breastfeeding in the government system. 

Breastfeeding immediately after birth

Nowadays, if everything around your baby’s birth is normal, most hospitals will not take them away for the traditional initial check; and a request to have the baby given straight to you means that you can usually initiate immediate breastfeeding. Of course, on the rare occasion a baby is not doing so well straight after birth and the hospital wants to transfer the baby to the special care unit for neonatal help, most parents are more than happy for the quick response.

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Natural birthing in Hong Kong

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Natural birthing in Hong Kong

Posted on 21 August 2013 by hulda

By Hulda Thorey –  Published in Geobaby – 30 May 2013

What’s to stop you from getting a natural birth in Hong Kong? According to Hulda Thorey, founder and head midwife at Annerley, it can be many things but not a lot if you know how to ask for it.

Natural birthing in Hong Kong

The first thing a mother-to-be should know is that having a natural birth experience in Hong Kong is not necessarily a matter of finance and being able to pay for what you want. Whether you go public or private, it’s more about having the knowledge and the confidence to work with the doctors or the system, and being able to ask for the right things at the right time.

A simple way to put it is that doctors and hospitals are programmed to use their medical skills and technology to get patients through procedures following the route of minimal risk, least pain and in the quickest timeframe.

On first investigation, natural birth doesn’t appear to match these criteria. With the best intentions and without your consent, doctors usually follow the path they feel most comfortable with.

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7 propular birth myths exploded: Hulda Thorey presents some real facts of childbirth

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7 propular birth myths exploded: Hulda Thorey presents some real facts of childbirth

Posted on 21 August 2013 by hulda

7 POPULAR BIRTH MYTHS EXPLODED: HULDA THOREY PRESENTS SOME REAL FACTS OF CHILDBIRTH

By Hulda Thorey –  Published in SassyMama – 29 July 2013

If there is one area where old wives’ tales abound, it’s on the matter of childbirth! Hulda Thorey, Head Midwife, Founder (and Chief myth-buster) at Annerley gives us some truths about what to really expect come D-day.

Myth 1: The most painful part of labour is when the baby’s head comes out

Truth: This might look like the most painful part – and it might be one reason that some doctors rush to give an episiotomy, as they struggle to trust that a woman’s body was built to give birth – but most women find this the least painful part of the process, as the perineum is stretched and numb so pain is greatly reduced. In addition, because you are at the end of the birth journey, the emotion of relief and excitement can also help dull any pain.

A useful midwife’s trick of the trade is to apply a warm compress to the area to further ease pain at this stage.

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Antenatal care in Hong Kong

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Antenatal care in Hong Kong

Posted on 14 August 2013 by hulda

By Oláfia Aradottir – Published on Geobaby.com – 25 July, 2013

In Hong Kong, as in much of the rest of the westernised world, when you learn you are pregnant, you take it for granted that you will follow a programme of antenatal visits. After the initial excitement it can feel that the checkups are a bit tedious and over-fussy, especially when all that the healthcare practitioner seems to do is check your weight, urine and blood pressure, but it is exactly these checks that provide the first indicators of a problem.

Why antenatal care is so important?

Much research has shown how important antenatal care is for improving mother and baby survival rates, and a World Health Organization study published this year shows that even skimping on visits can have scary results, even for low-risk mothers.

Antenatal visits are important because in most cases, the indicators for some of the rare but serious conditions that cause death for mother and/or baby can easily be detected in the early stages, and this means that the condition can be treated or managed safely to reduce risk and prevent the condition escalating and causing further complications.

Who provides your antenatal care depends on where you live. In Europe midwives are generally the prime carer for low-risk pregnancies, even doing most deliveries, whereas in the US, care is more obstetric-led.

Antenatal care in Hong Kong

In Hong Kong’s private hospitals care is obstetrician led, but midwives take care of the women throughout labour with the obstetricians making all major decisions and then delivering the baby. However, in government hospitals, midwives usually deliver the babies having taken care of the mother throughout labour.

This involvement of midwives is important because for a vast majority of women, pregnancy is not a medical condition, but is an important life transition. A famous piece of research (Cochrane) has shown that, compared with women who were cared for under other models of care, women who received midwife-led models of care were less likely to be admitted to hospital during pregnancy, less likely to receive regional analgesics during labour and childbirth, and to have an episiotomy. In addition, women who received midwife-led models of care were also more likely to have spontaneous vaginal birth, to feel in control during labour and childbirth, and to initiate breastfeeding. And if that wasn’t enough: babies born to women who received midwife-led care were less likely to die before 24 weeks of pregnancy and were more likely to have a shorter length of hospital stay.

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