Archive | March, 2014

Birthing Guide: Six steps to giving birth in Hong Kong

Birthing Guide: Six steps to giving birth in Hong Kong

Posted on 28 March 2014 by Kristrun

SassysixstepsCongratulations, you have a new bun in the oven! But what now? Here’s a simplified six-step guide to giving birth in Hong Kong:

1. Maternity Care – The first step is to decide whether you want to use private or public maternity care.  Factors which may affect your decision include:

  • Your medical history
  • Previous experience
  • Cost and insurance
  • Where you live
  • How you would like to give birth

The government system provides all basic and more high-risk care for a limited cost (less than $500 usually) including pregnancy checkups, tests and ultrasounds, labour, birth care and aftercare for you and your baby.  The hospital as well as Maternal and Child Health Centre you are assigned to is determined by your location.

In the government hospitals, most of the births are attended by midwives but doctors will deliver the baby if the case is high risk. These teams of professionals work in shifts so you may not know the doctor or midwife attending you (decide whether this is an important requirement for you beforehand.) The birth is restricted to one birth partner and only in the delivery room.

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What do you have for dinner on Christmas Eve? Parenting and relationships.

What do you have for dinner on Christmas Eve? Parenting and relationships.

Posted on 27 March 2014 by hulda

curly friesIn Iceland, this is a very important question as most people want to hold on to their traditions.  Yet this question is usually not asked on the first date.  Or the second.  Some people never ask it, and before they know they are proud parents of two kids.  And realize that they have very different ideas about how to bring them up.

Most days I see around 5 to 10 women in my clinic.  They come for pregnancy checkups and consults.  For many of them, no one has time to talk to them, so as long as I have enough time, which I usually have, after the routine of exams, I will listen to their stories and concerns.  Sometimes the partners are with them, sometimes not.  It seems like the Hong Kong friends that they have are either not suitable listeners or not close not to share these thoughts with, nor are family members, who often do not live in Hong Kong.

The more I listen, the more I realize how important this question is.

Because it reflects on so many aspects of relationships, parenting and more.  Either you have got to change your habits, hope that the partner has the same ones, or come to some kind of a compromise or conclusion that satisfies both.  But if it comes clear that you cannot, then it is very possibly too late to go back to the first date.

How you manage and enjoy your relationship and furthermore, bring up your children, has to be something that stems from similar beliefs, vision and goals.

 

So, what do you have for dinner on Christmas Eve?

 

Best regards,

Hulda

 

 

 

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Parenting Strategies

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Parenting Strategies

Posted on 26 March 2014 by Kristrun

How to create your parenting strategiesCOSLEEPING

I know this sounds like a project that can’t be resolved without doing a lot of research or by consulting a professional. Of course there are plenty of professionals out there who can help, but you can also do it yourself, and it’s easier than you think. It will save lots of conflict in your relationship with your partner and other caregivers in your family. In Hong Kong, parenting strategies actually become more important than in many other countries as it is very common to have 2, 3 or even 4 caregivers in your household.

When and where do you start?

Try to start bringing your views together before the baby is born, even before you conceive. How were you raised? What do you want to avoid? Who are your role models in child care? Try drawing up the big picture together and do some reading if you think it helps. If you are completely new to childcare, simply focus on simple advice that is easy to find online. Make it yours – if you don’t like some of the advice, then don’t use it. Personally, I would never use time-outs for example, but I like the rest of that list.

Focus on the outcome

Let’s say you want your child to be confident more than anything else. Take time to consider if your parenting methods are likely to achieve this outcome. Firm discipline will not work, fear will not help and a screaming and frustrated parent is unlikely to result in raising a confident child. This is just an example; the main thing here is to focus on the outcome and try to work towards that and to understand what builds the foundation in order for the outcome to be anywhere close to what you hope for.

Beat the Peer Pressure

Try to understand what is age appropriate behaviour. Young children are often expected to behave in a way which is simply not appropriate for their age. For example, a one year old does not understand the word sorry and they don’t understand about sharing toys. So if you are striving towards building confidence in your child, keep praising them for their good behaviour and ignore the peer pressure in the playgroup.

Make time

Make time for your parenting strategies. Make sure all caregivers understand what type of care you expect and help them putting it into practice – all your work will go down the drain if you are doing one thing but your helper is doing another. It is time consuming to do the training but it will help a lot. Make time to spend with your children – it sounds obvious, but you are much more likely as a parent to make a difference with your presence than anything else.

Relax and try your best

There is no such thing as a perfect parent. Don’t forget to live your life at the same time as you work hard on being a good parent. Do fun things together, even if it means staying out past bed time. Use common sense, try to form a united front with your partner and remember that you are the biggest role models in the life of your children. Your children may not hear or remember everything you say but they are constantly learning from what you do.

Best of luck

Kristrun

B.Ed, M. Ed. (Iceland, HK)

C.E.C.E. (HK)

For guidance on creating your parenting strategies – let us help – consultation available in our office, on skype or over the phone

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shutterstock_40760569

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Hush Little Baby

Posted on 26 March 2014 by Kristrun

Babies can’t do a great deal. But they can suck and they can cry. So it is no great surprise that one is commonly used to stop the other. Sucking soothes most babies, even when they are not hungry, but it can be painful (and inconvenient) to always resolve this need with the breast.shutterstock_40760569

Pacifiers, dummies, soothers, binkies – it seems each family has their pet name – and they have been around in one form or another for centuries. Loved and hated, it seems, in equal measure, let’s look at the pros and cons.

Feeding patterns

Pacifier use in very small babies can cause some upset with breast feeding patterns. Initial milk supply is very much dependent on sucking and babies can gain satisfaction with a pacifier even though it is not filling them up. “It is therefore”, says Conchita, not recommended to introduce the dummy for the first few weeks until breast feeding is well established at around one month and your milk supply has adjusted to the needs of your child”. It used to be the case that breast-fed babies were discouraged to use a pacifer to avoid any nipple/teat confusion. There is however, no real evidence of this, and bottle fed babies can use a pacifer from the get go.

Fall out

Babies will quickly settle with a dummy, but conversely will wake and fuss when it falls out resulting in the (familiar to many) night-time routine of waking-dummy out-dummy in! Some parents will go to extremes of stashing several dummies in the cot or tying them onto the cot bars in an attempt to avoid the ‘lost dummy’ syndrome! In light of this, it would seem preferable, in a perfect world, for your little one to settle without a pacifer.

Habit

It creates a very hard habit to break. Children do get very dependent on their beloved dummies and this can cause great upset when mum and dad decide the time has come to lose it. However, it is possible to do with some planning and there are some wonderfully creative ways to do this – to leaving it for fairies to take or sending it other babies who need it more than your big boy or girl – and there are many children’s books based on this. It has to said that freeing a child of a dummy is a lot easier than doing it with their own thumb which is available at all times and forever! Conchita reminds us that “tired dummies are dangerous” and it is important to check for any perishing of the teat which can be a choking hazard. Similarly, the practice of cutting a hole in the teat (to discourage use) is also not recommended when weaning from the habit (ideally between 6 and 12 months).

Ears and teeth

There is some evidence that dummy-suckers suffer a greater number of ear infections. Although it is not known why this is, the changes in pressure between the ear and the throat due to prolonged sucking is thought to be a contributor. Strong, prolonged sucking is also thought to cause dental and speech problems in older children (contact Dentist Near Me Directory for more details). These are reasons to take away the dummy as your child becomes a toddler, or at least to limit to bed time only so your child is not constantly talking with an object in his mouth. Conchita also recommends the exclusive use of orthodontic pacifiers.

Missing signals

Such is the soothing and calming effect of the pacifier, that a real risk is that other reasons for fussiness are missed, such as pain or illness. It can also decrease interaction and communication between carer and child.

Super suckers

Some babies really do need to suck past the point of nutrition, and a dummy satisfies this very real need.

SIDS

There is some evidence that pacifier use can decrease the risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), perhaps by inducing a lighter sleep or, it is thought, by opening up the space between the nose and mouth. “Dummies can regulate blood pressure and heart rhythm in small babies” says Conchita “although supporting evidence for this is not clear”.

Peace

A fussy baby can be very difficult to soothe and a dummy can provide a solution which will improve the lives of the whole family. Peace is priceless. A pacifier will also bring comfort during times of stress, exhausting long haul flights, unfamiliar situations or simply when a child is over-tired or overwrought.

In short, current research suggests dummies to be pretty harmless in babies, if not actually beneficial. Try it if you feel you need to, and let’s be honest, during those first few crazy weeks home with a new-born, many parents are willing to try most anything to soothe their crying bundle. Just try to limit awake-time sucking, move towards an association with sleeping and start researching successful ways of encouraging its removal for later on!

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Putting kids to sleep

Putting kids to sleep

Posted on 20 March 2014 by hulda

Recently my girls have been sick so I have spent more time at home with them.  This is of course a little sad, that they have to be sick for me to stay at home more, but such is sometimes the life of a working mother.

During this time, I have completely let go of the urge to work  and I am just enjoyed the cuddles and cosy time with them.  Watching TV, reading and colouring, telling stories and listening to theirs.

Putting the children to sleep

What brings me to write this now, is that I all of a sudden remembered several conversations that I have had with people regarding the kids and sleep times.  Or, to be precise, putting kids to sleep.  Many around me seem to feel like it is the worst habit to have to spend long time (more than a few minutes) to put the kids to sleep.

Because this should be time with husband/wife, and they should be able to put themselves to sleep.   So from very early age, it is considered a bad habit to spend any time on this.

Pretending I could not read

But for me, when looking back at my childhood, this time, being put to bed, – was always amongst my favourite times of the day.  In fact, so much so that I pretended for months that I could not read myself, just so that my parents would actually come and sit by my bed and read me a story.  And when I think about this, I come to the conclusion that this was probably the only time during the whole day that I could have peace and quiet, alone with one of my parents.  There was something utterly calming and nice about it and still to this day, I can remember it from around the time I was 5 years old and onwards.

Quality time

I work and therefore I am often not around during the day.  Some school duties are hard for me to do and sometimes I cannot stay at home with my kids when I would very much like to.  So when I do come home in time in the evening, I like to put them to sleep.  Not so that I can feel like a good parent as such, but I too, enjoy this time, to lie down with them, listen to them talk about their day and enjoy as their little bodies relax and slowly drift into sleep.

It takes a long time, usually at least 40 minutes, sometimes longer.  Sometimes one wakes up the other, and sometimes they just want to jump on the bed and I have no control (but, actually, this bed is so comfortable, that even I wish to do that; just check out the best murphy bed, that we have bought). Sometimes they just cuddle up on my shoulders, one on each.

Bad habits or time well spent

I have never felt that any of this was a bad habit.  Half the time I fall asleep with them, sometimes I manage to get up and have some time with other family members.

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As has been mentioned in other articles of this sort, before you know, your kids grow up and there will be no chance for this kind of time together.  I have two grown up teenagers that are far away in a boarding school and I would very much like to be putting them to sleep as well, but hey, – the time has passed and there is not much chance for that anymore.

So for me putting the kids to sleep, for me is a privilege, a quality time and well spent.

I just wanted to share this, perhaps someone else feels the same.

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Pushing through when you don´t feel equal – runs and births

Pushing through when you don´t feel equal – runs and births

Posted on 13 March 2014 by hulda

Some years ago when I was “between babies” I decided that even if I was one of those women that curves would always belong to,  I still did not want to be unhealthy.  So despite the obvious fact that 20 extra kilos are probably not the healthiest to carry when you go out for a run, with good running partners, my sister and sister in law, running and hiking became a part of the routine most days.

To stay motivated and have some fun, we signed up for regular races each month  in the Hong Kong area, and – well, – usually came in about last, but we always made it.

Joining the race but lacking full confidence

In one of the first races that we took part in, where most of the competitors were quite the athletes, it soon became obvious that we would really have to keep up to not be the very last ones.  So we did all we could and finally made it, pushed through and passed the two last ones in the race and marginally made it before them.  This was a 22 km race in the mountains and it took us almost 5 hours.

Just as we were coming through, full of victory and endorphins and joy, absolutely hyped that we were not last, and that we indeed finished, if I remember correctly we were both breastfeeding at that time and our boobs were really bursting, – the organizer of the race was overheard where he was marking down the time:  “What on earth are people like this doing in races like this – all they do is to keep the rest of us waiting, this is  a competition after all” – or something really similar to this.

Lacking the support of those in charge

When my brother (who heard it) told me this, after my sweat was starting to cool off, I had very mixed feelings.  Firstly, I was slightly embarrased and kind of bowed for the man, after all it was “his” field, – he was in charge, the expert, and knew what was “appropriate” and who should take part.  Secondly, it was a little bit true, yes, it was a real struggle for us to finish this and we were not in the best shape, so I knew perhaps we should have come more prepared for it, – possibly a little bit ashamed of the wobbly bottom and abdominal extras on myself.   But as soon as I started to think about it, I became very angry.  How dare he say something like this, – after all I 1) Paid for participating, 2) Showed up (which was more than many), 3)Made it within the cut-off time.

Strengthened by unsupport

For all those years, this has really sat with me and I think I will never forgive those words.  The strangest thing is that I continued to do races with this organizer and now, although I am still not in the front pack of the competitors, I am at least far away from being last and in a weird way, I always look at the man and think – “huh, see I am not keeping you waiting now am I?” So in his unsupportive way, he has actually been responsible for pushing me through the races.

 

We can also run!

We can also run!

Now, has this anything to do with childbirth?

 

Yes, in fact, – those of you who already gave birth, you may be able to understand this.  Those still pregnant, you may not fully get it yet:   The scenario:

  • You are not in your own “area” or comfort zone, you are a guest
  • In fact, you are a sick person, a patient
  • You are being looked at as less than equal, i.e. you are not the expert in the matters (your birth)
  • You have paid someone to be your expert and lead you through this
  • The support you are getting is in the form of:  Well, we will see how long you can manage
  • You already were slightly doubtful that you would go through labour easily, but you were really hoping for the best
  • When you slow down or show signs of being tired or in pain:  “well I told you so, there is always another way”
  • When you give birth:  Congratulations, luckily you and baby are OK.
    Struggling but not

    Struggling but not

    Struggling but not

Luckily, most doctors and midwives are nice people, professional and can be very supportive.  They will think about safety first and ensure you and baby are indeed OK.  If you want something more, and to be fully supported to finish the birth, slow as it may be, on your terms, – you may have to choose your doctor and hospital well.  There are plenty of good options in Hong Kong, but you do have to be strong and confident, even if everyone else does not fully believe in you, and this even includes those around you, friends and family.

 

I am doing the race for myself, not others

At least my race organizer did not suggest that I quit the race, but it was really sad that he could not share and enjoy my happiness, my joy, my enormous victory, on my terms.  But this is his loss, I still get to experience my own high and enjoy my victory.   And lesson learned, all he really wants is for the race to be finished, safely, on time.

I just want a little more than that, but I have learned that this is something that I create myself, I can not expect others to do that.

Until next, H.

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