Archive | Postnatal & Breastfeeding

First weeks of parenthood

First weeks of parenthood

Posted on 16 July 2015 by Kristrun

parenthoodWhen you have just given birth, a new and exciting, but also quite demanding period is ahead of you. Parents are getting used to a new role and a new person. In the middle of this it is important for the parents to remember that their relationship needs to be nourished too, and they need time on their own as well as with the baby.

The baby is the centre of attention but remember not to ignore everything else. Perhaps it is a good advice to give to parents that they should try to keep the same routines in their pre-parenthood that they found especially important. This can be things like going to the movies, taking a bath together or playing scrabble. This is not only a really valuable time together, but also an important part of living a normal family life as a couple. It is normal that the baby completely takes your breath away but it is equally important to make sure you don’t throw away everything else that you have or had.

To leave the house

It is really easy and good fun to take a newborn baby everywhere you go, as long as you have the right attitude. At the same time it is sometimes good for the. parents just to go alone sometimes, and then it is of course important to have someone to take care of the baby that you can really trust. Make sure that if you leave your baby with someone else they know good baby care techniques, understand your way of taking care of the baby and have basic CPR knowledge from youtube videos, if not the best CPR courses. Also make sure they knows how you want feeding to be done, and whether they are supposed to call you when baby is hungry.

Being together

If parents have been trying to spend time together but somehow have not had the time, now is a good period to spend some family time together, especially if some paternity leave has been given. This could be things like starting a new sport, taking walks, learning how to dance and so on. If you only spend very few hours a week like this, you might feel that you are enjoying an important quality time together as individuals but not as parents. We are not talking about many hours, but just something like 2-3 hours each week for you. Remember that each week has 168 hours, so 2-3 are perhaps not so many after all.

Being apart

As important as it may be to be together, it is also important to be able to be alone, to regain energy and just to be by yourselves. For the mother this .especially important to try to decrease risk of postnatal isolation and depression. The mother can use the time to go out to the gym, do shopping, meet friends or just be alone. The risk of isolation for the father is usually much less, since most of the time he will be working with other people and therefore gets different kind of communication from there.

Accept support

Most likely you will be offered a lot of help probably from your family or friends, or your helper, if you have one. It might be a good idea to accept this help to the extent that you feel ready. Even through the baby might be breastfeeding, the mother can perhaps try to express milk and leave behind, or simply be back in time for the baby to feed again.

One part of enjoying a baby is to also be able enjoy yourself without it, and there is no need to feel guilty about wanting time on your own. Couples need to feel that they are still a couple and sometime this can be easily forgotten in the turmoil of joy. Find a way that suits you all and try to enjoy all aspects of parenthood and partnership.

Best of luck

The Annerley team

Do you need more support? Consultation with the midwives, available on Skype (face time or other platforms), over the phone or in the office. Click here to book. More information about our services on our website.


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Tips on sleep during the fourth trimester

Tips on sleep during the fourth trimester

Posted on 01 July 2015 by Kristrun

newbornUnderstanding your baby from your baby’s perspective.

Newborn babies have just left a very dark, safe place, where they were never hungry, never cold or tired. They are one of the most vulnerable and slowest developing creatures in the world. Compared to other mammals, it could be said that they are born too early.

Try to think of (at least) the first three months of your baby’s life as the fourth trimester. Give him at least this one third of his total lifetime to get used to outside life. That is, if you possibly can. Some mothers will need to leave their newborns very soon to return to work and then they have no choice but to train them very early to get used to the new world without mom, but with someone else.

You can use a few ways to gradually introduce sleep habits to your newborn. Some say that by making the difference between night and day very clear, the newborn will pick this up sooner. This may take time to make sense to a newborn – don’t forget that one day in a newborn’s life is a very long time. One day is a very small proportion of our lifetime, but a large one for a small baby.

Try to understand your baby’s different cries during the first trimester and use all the resources available to minimize the crying. Most of the time the breast, a snuggle, a snooze, a walk – will fix it all. Recognizing the cry of a tired baby helps with sleep. Try not to put a hungry baby to sleep or a baby that is not tired.

Feed on demand and learn over time what works for your baby. Some will sleep more than others, some will nap very little during the day – others a lot! A good sleep will not rule out another good nap or a good night’s sleep. Try to understand what type of sleeper your baby is during this fourth trimester.

Make sure you understand your baby on your and your baby’s terms, and not because other people think you should be doing this or that. There are so many ways to enjoy your brand new baby. Your baby is your number one job now – try to add as little as possible to that job (if possible).

Even if you don’t do anything to implement any kind of sleep routine, your baby will gradually build one up. They will over time learn from their environment. It’s very important to remember that 50% of children will have night wakings up until the age of 5, and that this is normal. However, if your child has reached that age and is constantly waking up, you should consider a sleeping pill from before bedtime.

During the first weeks and months, try to sleep when baby sleeps. Nap with your baby – even on the bed – or in a cot close to your bed so you can touch her and she can feel that you are within a safe distance. Build up confidence for better sleep in the future.

 Best of luck

The midwives

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The Lulla doll. Sleep longer. Sleep better.

The Lulla doll. Sleep longer. Sleep better.

Posted on 23 June 2015 by Kristrun

sleep_helpWe are happy to announce the arrival of the the Lulla doll in Hong Kong. Sleep is an ongoing topic in our clinic and a day does not go by without the subject of babies’ sleep being addressed. We are truly happy to bring the Lulla doll to the market in Asia – it is such a simple, safe and practical solution for better sleep for both parents and babies.

As many of you know, Hulda and Kristrun come from Iceland – that odd little cold country way up there. The woman who invented the Lulla doll is also Icelandic. In Iceland it is very common for parents to co-sleep with their babies, and it comes very naturally to Icelandic parents to keep their infants very close to them in the beginning. Of course this is universal, but in Iceland we normally take this one step further and sleep with our babies in our beds, or at least very close to our beds – and sometimes for a long time.

Eyrun, the founder of the Lulla doll was heartbroken to see her friend having to leave her little newborn baby in the Special Care Baby Unit every night for two weeks. Eyrun went ahead and designed the amazing Lulla doll that plays a real life recording of the breathing and heartbeat of a mother at rest in order to keep the babies calm whilst away from their parents. The recording lasts throughout the whole night, unlike many white noise machines that only last for a few minutes. Lulla’s aim is to also help babies stabilize their own breathing and heartbeat, resulting in longer and better sleep.

We are so proud of Eyrun and her team in Iceland – the Lulla doll has been recognised all over the world, there has been lots of media involvement and they have received many awards and grants. The Lulla doll is now available for every newborn, and is a perfect solution for all healthy babies as well as those who unfortunately need to spend time in hospital (or anywhere else) away from their parents.

The Lulla doll is now available in our webshop – we can ship anywhere in Asia (additional charges will apply outside of HK). We are just a click away.

Do you want to know more? Consultation with the midwives, available on Skype (face time or other platforms), over the phone or in the office. Click here to book. More information about our services on our website.

The Annerley team 


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The newborn baby at birth – from the baby’s perspective

The newborn baby at birth – from the baby’s perspective

Posted on 12 May 2015 by Kristrun

Your newborn babyYour newborn baby will be fully conscious and flooded with new feelings and experiences – the feel of air, the force of gravity, the feel of your skin, the sight of shapes and colours & the sound of un-muffled noise. Her spine will stretch and extend fully and after a few moments she will take her first breath and feel air in her lungs for the first time. When she is breathing comfortable, she will open her eyes if the room is dimly lit and her body will gradually unfurl until her fingers unclench and she opens her arms in greeting. The process might take many minutes to complete. She will be comforted by loving surroundings, dim lighting and the sound of your familiar heart beat and voice, the smell of your body and the warmth and protection of your embrace.

Your baby is able to see, albeit with vision that is a little blurred, at a distance of 10-12 inches, so she’ll be able to see your face as you hold her in your arms. This is comforting – newborn babies like to focus on soft, rounded objects. Soon she will wriggle slowly towards your breast and when she touches the nipple she’ll latch on and begin to suck. Some babies turn very soon to the breast and begin to suck and taste the rich colostrum, but most need to establish breathing confidently before sucking. We recommend that you give the first feed within an hour of giving birth.

First movements

Within minutes of being born many babies look meditative and beautiful. Your baby may make the transition from womb to outside world with ease and equanimity, and with just a few cries to expand her lungs. Within minutes she may be calm, still, and alert, blinking as she takes in the new space round her.

At birth your baby has the reflexes and ability to begin to move and explore her surroundings. The sequence begins with a cry and breathing. Her eyes then open and her fists uncurl, she will touch her face and search the air, your breast and your skin. Her eyes will look to the sound of your voice and she will gaze at your face. At birth babies often remain awake, calm and alert for an hour or two to meet and greet their mum and dad.

Crying and breathing

Babies cry at birth not as a signal of distress, but as a reflex needed to expand their lungs, thus allowing the air to displace the liquid that filled them in the womb. This fluid is absorbed into the baby’s circulation and excreted in the urine. The baby’s system adapts quickly to accommodate this new source of oxygen, and her lips may change from blue to pink. The drop in temperature your baby feels in the cooler air at birth is the stimulus for the first breath. You can see the top baby monitors reviewed by Stoltzy’s Best here to see the breathing conditions of the baby.

If you have given birth in an upright position your baby will have been born head downwards, which helps mucous and amniotic fluid to drain away naturally and clear the passages for breathing. It is not necessary to routinely apply suction to the baby’s nose and mouth but if your baby needs assistance to establish breathing, it will be available.

Your baby may seem shocked or upset, take a while to breathe and perhaps cry for a few minutes. When she becomes calm and is breathing easily she will gaze at you with a peaceful expression. She’ll respond gently as you talk to her and touch her, count her fingers and toes, and marvel at her features. Skin to skin contact helps you to feel each other and creates a powerful bond.

The umbilical cord

The umbilical cord pulsates after birth giving your baby a double lifeline and source of oxygen while breathing is established. Your caregiver checks your baby’s well-being by feeling the pulsation in the cord. It is safe to do this, with your baby in your arms or on your tummy, until the cord stops pulsating; your baby’s circulation will adjust without extra blood flowing into or out of the placenta.

When the cord stops passing blood from the placenta, pulsation stops and the umbilical cord becomes white and flaccid. It can now be clamped with a plastic clamp and cut about one inch from your baby’s body (she will be totally unaware of this process) – some fathers enjoy cutting the cord as a symbolic release of their baby from the placenta into the outside world. The skin will heal naturally over the next ten days – the old cord will drop off, and a neat belly button will remain. Whether it faces inward or outward has nothing to do with the way the cord is cut. If the cord is wound tightly around the neck at birth or the baby requires urgent resuscitation, it may have to be clamped immediately.

How the baby looks

Your baby’s skin is covered in vernix, a white creamy substance similar to a rich moisturizer that protects her in the womb. It is good to leave this on the skin. Her head may be elongated from the moulding of the skull bones, and the skin on the scalp may be swollen. These changes begin to revert within hours.

Smell, listen and keep your baby very close to you to begin with. Let her gradually get used to the brand new big wide world.

Best of luck

The Annerley team

Consultation with the midwives, available on Skype (face time or other platforms), over the phone or in the office. Click here to book. More information about our services on our website.

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Mothers’ Day. Every Day.

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Mothers’ Day. Every Day.

Posted on 10 May 2015 by Kristrun

mothersMy Facebook page is today inundated with messages from everyone around me about Mothers’ Day.  As a result I am reminded of the fact that it is “Mothers’ Day”.  One more time, how annoying.  From the grumpy corner in which I sometimes sit, I cannot help but think, how many mother’s days are there per year? Or how many should there be?  I find this just as annoying as all the Valentine’s Days and whatever else they are called. There seems to be no end to all sorts of special days that actually we should be celebrating every day and not restricting to an annual and public display on social media but rather to actually focus on being nice to each other, wherever we are, with those around us.

Sorry, readers, I actually am nice to people most of the time, although these words do not sound like they come from a nice person.  I just get very annoyed sometimes in between.  A little bit like the character Dr. House, if you know him.  You can interpret it the way you like.

Nevertheless, it is, in fact, Mothers’ Day.

I just sent my own mother a rather difficult email about her flaws.  But that could have been any other day, life goes on you know.  Are we supposed to behave better on these special days?

No – we probably should all try and behave, live and think a little better every day. About ourselves, our mothers, our children, other people around us in general.  Because to be human is also to be nasty, selfish and unkind.  Greed, lust and whatever all the other sins are called…  And sometimes it can be an effort to think kindly of others, or to be grateful for what we have. Not you?  Great, but most of the rest of us could do with a little wake-up call every now and again.

There are people suffering everywhere around the world.  Of course the latest on everyone’s minds is the terrible disaster in Nepal. It makes it hard to celebrate – if you start to think about it too much – your own victories and successes and good life.  But as I said before, life does go on and we carry on the best way we can.  So we can brag about achievements and our own great children and I can tell everyone how I actually ran 5 km in less than 30 minutes (if that ever happens), without feeling too guilty about the mothers in Nepal.

So I am going to tell you about two mothers that I admire.  None of them has had a tough life as such.  But they both deserve admiration for their everyday efforts to make their children happy, to keep the ball rolling and being the ones that carry much weight of the routines and rhythms of their households.  And let’s not forget – and I think us mums all agree in this – that the routines of one’s household can be quite a task to manage.

When I was little, my mother had me, a total nightmare child that was all over the place from day one.  She was 20 years old and had moved from the capital of Iceland where all her family lived, to a very small town of 150 people in the rural north of Iceland, 650km away.  Three to four months of the year there was so much snow there, that the cars were snowed in and could not be moved, but most families did not even have a car so that did not matter anyway.  When we were out playing with our friends in the village, our parents would have a certain light turned on in the house to indicate to the other parents that we were playing at that place, because in those days there were no phones in most homes, so  it was not possible to call and check. The young families of Iceland in those days had little money and none extra, and made do with whatever they could, so my mother and grandmothers hand-made much of our clothes and fixed the ones that broke.  They baked the bread and the cakes at home and there were few days in my youth where there was not freshly baked and yummy food available for our teatime snack.  Because my mother had gone to “Good Housekeeping School” (for the lack of better translation), good housekeeping was definitely important and the standards were not dropped when my three siblings were born, two within a year, in December and January of the same year, and my youngest sister six years later.

My mother annoyed the hell out of me when she was running the household in her very organized way.  I was so pissed off as a child or teenager to have to participate in all the chores and cooking and babysitting, it must have been hard to chain me down to do all of this.  And I think the reason that I like Baby Led Weaning (another concept that pisses me off – why do we have to label everything, so that some greedy person gets royalties every time a child sticks a carrot in its mouth) is because I fed my siblings so often as a kid that I got the overfeeding-others-disease.

But she did a fantastic job in her mummying and housekeeping, my mother.  Despite me being rather un-upbringable, I did learn stuff, and I was well loved.  I learned to be sustainable and take care of myself and others at a young age.  I learned that things don’t get done unless someone (I) does them.  And that playing with your siblings is actually way more fun than playing with anyone else.  I learned to fix things, to bake and to cook, and a lot of other practical household skills that have, even in Hong Kong where everything seems to be done by a specialist, gotten me far.

I also was very much loved, despite me being annoyed by my mother. There was always time for us children, and our parents took extremely good care of us through our hobbies and school, without hovering over our heads all the time, but by supporting our uniqueness and our strengths by nurturing them further. Mostly I did not see all the little things that my mother did for the household, or for me, while I was busy playing in my worry-free world as a child.

While my mother had friends amongst the 30 or so other mothers her age in the village, there were few “me days” like we get nowadays.  There were certainly no mani–pedis and dream on about suggesting that she would go out for a little morning jog before everyone woke up. If not too exhausted by yesterday’s work, there was plenty to be done each day, other than “me” stuff.  And as it was not until I was quite old that my parents got a decent washing machine, the laundry piled up easily in a household of five and later six.  I think that my mother was happy though, and she got her me-times differently; through drop-ins between the mums in the village where they would give each other a cup of coffee and a taste of the latest bakings, gossiping about what had happened in the days before.

Funnily enough, these kind of drop-ins is something that I have often thought that the mums in Hong Kong could so do with.  Casual and non-prepared, just genuine friendship and a check to see that everyone is doing fine, while children play without the mums being in a structured paid playgroup environment.

I can only imagine that sitting down with a friend must have been great after chasing after me, taking care of my one and two year old siblings and managing all the household chores at once without help.  Just going to the shop that was open a few days a week, with snow up to your waist and having to pull and carry all three of us, to buy milk – took two hours.

You are wondering, where was my father?  Just like today, in those days, many fathers were working a full day and in the year 1976, it was more common for dads to have a social life after work than for mums to have it.  They would play Bridge, volleyball and go to a Kiwanis meeting (a mens’ club) in the evenings.  No offence to my father, he is also a great man and did lots of great things with us, but this was the atmosphere of that time.

There are so many things that I could say about my youth and my mother and I am certainly not writing this about our life to have you think that we were very poor and struggling.  This was just the life that the year 1973 in Iceland offered and everyone had to get on with it in the best way.

In 2015 in Hong Kong, we have other battles and joys, quite different ones, us mums here in Hong Kong.  A lot is shared and many feelings are the same, as when my own mother was raising us.   It may be worth it, while we moan about our helpers and complain that we cannot have a shower before lunch with our singleton child in our 100K a month flat, to think a little bit to the year 1973 in a small town in Iceland, and then perhaps moan a little less.

It may not work, again, all our troubles and emotional ups and downs may be very relevant to each one of us as we go through them – and despite all the real sufferers of this world – but it may well make our challenges a tiny bit smaller.

Happy Mothers’ Day my dear mothers in Hong Kong and around the world, I hope my own mother one day realizes how happy I am with her upbringing, love and support for all of the 42 years that I have managed to spring through.  And I so dearly hope that my own children will love me as much as I love her, despite all my flaws and grumpinesses, for another 42.

This blog entry has already gone on far longer than I planned, so I will tell you about the second mother in my next post.

From the very imperfect mum of 4,

Hulda Thorey.

Consultation with the midwives, available on Skype (face time or other platforms), over the phone or in the office. Click here to book. More information about our services on our website.

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“Call the midwife” Hulda interviewed by Playtimes in April 2015

“Call the midwife” Hulda interviewed by Playtimes in April 2015

Posted on 06 May 2015 by Kristrun

Call the midwife - playtimes Annerley“Hulda Thorey midwife from Annerley, says: “It is very common to have some spotting, especially early in the pregnancy. If [it happens] later than 20 weeks [into your pregnancy], see your doctor – it might be a haematoma or placenta problem, which needs to be watched. There are many reasons [spotting might occur] but it is always better to check.”

Hulda midwife from Annerley says: “Don’t worry. If there has been no bleeding or infection, you and baby are safe, and you should let it [your worries] go. The exact amount of alcohol that a woman can drink during pregnancy has not been fully researched. The baby is amazingly well-protected inside you. But [now that you know you are pregnant] any kind of intoxication is something that should be avoided.”

To read the full article on Playtimes - click here

Consultation with the midwives, available on Skype (face time or other platforms), over the phone or in the office. Click here to book.  More information about our services on our website.



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Pregnancy reminders by trimesters (including the fourth)

Pregnancy reminders by trimesters (including the fourth)

Posted on 20 April 2015 by Kristrun

blogremindersCongratulations on your pregnancy. Here are some timely reminders:

First trimester

  • Book an appointment with a midwife or doctor to discuss your options regarding care in your pregnancy.
  • Take folic acid and eat a lot of green vegetables during the first weeks.
  • To decrease nausea, drink a lot of water, and try not to mix fluid and solid food too much. You can also try to have dry snacks ready and available when you get out of bed in the morning.
  • A healthy mix of exercise and good sleep is important, so pay attention to both.
  • Yoga and Pilates are great ways to stay active and flexible.
  • Start finding information about pregnancy, birth, and learning everything on the fetal heart rate chart, there are endless options, and you may want to figure out your own way of enjoying pregnancy.

Second trimester

  • Make sure you have enough comfortable clothes and shoes. You will need 2-3 comfortable trousers or skirts and tops that are not too tight or thick, since hormones often make women sweat a lot and feel warmer than before they became pregnant.
  • By now you have probably decided what kind of maternity care you will be using and appointments should be every 4 weeks.
  • Book your antenatal course.
  • Around 19/20 weeks a structural ultrasound scan is performed, to confirm the length of pregnancy and do a complete check on the growth and development of your baby.
  • Attend antenatal classes in preparation for the childbirth. If you are aiming for a normal birth, perhaps do some extra classes to prepare for that.
  • Have a look at your options regarding maternity leave. The Hong Kong rules for maternity leave allow 10 weeks of paid leave, ideally 2 taken before the due date. Some companies have flexible options, but you will have to check this out in time. If your maternity leave is short, perhaps consider the option of taking an extended unpaid leave for 1-3 months, or work part time in the first weeks. Again – be sure to discuss this with your employer in time.
  • Make sure you get plenty of iron. Green vegetables, lentils, meat, cereals and berry juices are good sources of iron.
  • Think about what your options for the actual birth are, and perhaps write down your ideas, to talk through with your midwife and obstetrician.

Third trimester

  • Your pregnancy is nearing its end. Antenatal appointments are now only 2 to 3 weeks apart and will probably move to weekly appointments.
  • Shopping for baby equipment is a good idea. Find out what you can borrow and what needs to be bought. Compare prices. See what friends have bought.
  • Make a list of names, phones and emails of people that you want to contact when either in labour or after the baby is born.
  • Buy some breastfeeding bras and tops to use after the birth. You will need them in the hospital as well.
  • Think about baby names. Are you married? Are you both citizens of the same country?
  • Plan your postnatal period, home visits for breastfeeding support.
  • Do a tour of the maternity ward. Ask the midwives to show you the moms and the labour rooms, and ask them about what options you have when in labour. Even though this is not the time to discuss it in detail, it may give you an idea about the actual policy at the hospital and what views the midwives have towards birth.
  • Do a trial trip to the hospital from your home. How long does it take? Put a waterproof pad in the car (if you have one), so you can sit on it on the way. Or pack one to have in the taxi. Your waters may break and this can be stressful, if you have nothing to protect the seats. Also, it might be a good idea to place a firm pillow in the car – you might need it while having contractions.
  • Pack your bag for the hospital.
  • If you have other children at home, make sure you have plans for their care while you are away, especially if you start labour in the middle of the night.

Fourth trimester

  • Your baby is born. Find ways to sleep while your baby sleeps.
  • Breastfeed on demand.
  • Get a midwife to do your postnatal checkups at home (if not already planned).
  • Use white noise for soothing baby.
  • Lots of skin to skin contact.
  • Swaddle safely.
  • Bed share safely.
  • Eat well. Drink plenty of fluids.
  • Get to know your baby, be creative when it comes to soothing your baby. Don’t forget – your baby has been in your womb for a long time. Create the same feeling, walk around, use slings or carriers. Keep the baby close to you. Your baby will gradually get used to the outside world but right now she is used to a dark, warm, rocking environment.
  • Plan outings in small steps – go to places you know. We have a baby and breastfeeding clinic here at Annerley, for example. Ideally at first, only go where you have been before.
  • Go for short walks – wearing your baby – often a great way of soothing.
  • Enjoy getting to know your baby and try not to plan other jobs. Your baby will be your full time job for the first few months.

Consultation with the midwives, available on Skype (face time or other platforms), over the phone or in the office. Click here to book. More information about our services on our website.

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Leaving the hospital on the day of the birth – the first night at home with our newborn

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Leaving the hospital on the day of the birth – the first night at home with our newborn

Posted on 18 February 2015 by Kristrun

newbornontummyI remember clearly the first night at home with our firstborn. The labour had been very long, although the birth itself was eventually short and sweet. We were at Queen Mary public hospital in Hong Kong and if you want to know the details of my birth story, you can actually read it here, even if it’s not the subject of the day.

She was born shortly after lunchtime on a Sunday and we were fortunate enough to have no severe complications and went home that same evening. Well having said that, the pediatrician had recommended her to be observed in a special care unit for 48 hours but we had turned down her kind offer. This was a perfectly healthy baby and after consulting our midwife, we went home as planned.

We had to wait a bit after signing the discharge papers so we were working out how to give her the breast and it went OK. Her sucking ability was great and she was more or less on the breast until it was time to leave.  It took a while to get her dressed, as I had not been very practical about the clothes I chose for her. Get something that opens up widely and is easy to put on. I had bought a long dress which I had to put over her head and then try to find a way to put her arms through after it going over her head. She only wore that one once.

We took her home in a Maxi Cosi capsule, a great thing to carry infants around in, even if you don’t have a car. It protects them so well. In the taxi I was terrified, I thought everything was dirty and that she would be so scared to be exposed to all this light. I sat next to her, held her hand and was leaning over her so that our faces touched. She was fine and did not cry.

It was such a relief to be at home, it was less than 6 hours from her birth that we were in our own clean home. I was exhausted, but hubby was in a bit better shape and ready to help out. We made our selves comfortable on our big bed with her in the middle. She cried a lot and did not seem to settle well so we ended up taking turns walking around with her between the feeds. At some point very late, I fell asleep and woke up a few hours later. When I was waking up I knew something good had happened but it’s that moment where all of a sudden reality kicks in. I have a baby, and where is she? I soon found out. My husband was asleep next to me and Johanna was sleeping on his chest – one of the most peaceful  moments in my life.

We lasted that first night without great panic. But by trying to use all the resources we could think of. None of them likely to be recommended by a professional midwife, but we managed to rest and work it out. The midwife came later on that day – sorted out the breastfeeding positions and answered our many questions.  And gradually we got the hang of it.

My point is – you will educate yourself and try to get ready. And at the back of your head the resources will be there as needed. But sometimes you have just got to improvise and go with what works for you.

Kristrun Lind Birgisdottir ECE, mother of two.


Consultation with the midwives, available on Skype (face time or other platforms), over the phone or in the office. Click here to book. More information about our services on our website



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Breastfeeding.  Why the big deal?

Breastfeeding. Why the big deal?

Posted on 29 January 2015 by hulda


I have been a mother for longer than I have been a midwife.  And before I was a midwife, when I was a nurse, I remember thinking:  What is the big deal about breastfeeding? Everyone breastfeeds, right?  But if not, then surely there is a reason.  But actually, I had no real professional knowledge about it.  Around me, everyone breastfed. For a long time.  For months and over a year.

Maternity leave makes a difference for breastfeeding.

The maternity leave in Iceland is 3 months for mums, 3 months for dads and 3 months for either mum or dad.  Total, 9 months, on 80 % salary.  When you start to work, you can usually pump or go home for lunch to breastfeed. Or bring the baby into the meeting and feed while you do what you have to do.  No one raises an eyebrow. How can you have a baby and not feed it when it is hungry?  Of course you go home from work, baby needs you.  Government pays, mostly.  This is their family friendly policy.  Not perfect, and with many other problems, but maternity leave is good.

The partner – and friends – make a difference for breastfeeding.

I cannot really remember having seen any of my friends’ breasts.  When they breastfed I mean.

I have not asked my husband but I am going to guess that he would have found it mildly uncomfortable to see my friends’ breasts when they were feeding, but probably he just looked away if there ever was a moment when he could have caught a glimpse of flesh before the baby latched on.  But it did not bother him.  He was not overly in favor of breastfeeding, as in an advocate.  But he would never have dreamed of disagreeing to it.  Breasts are for babies who are just born, and all.  Why would you even discuss this?
Or whatever.
Most partners realize that breastfeeding is also an investment in health.  They are educated and up to date.

Doctors and nurses are not experts in breastfeeding.

Bottom line is that breastfeeding was for me at the age of 24 in Iceland, no big deal.  It also was no big deal when my second baby was harder to breastfeed than the first and I gave her some formula.  Not great if you ask me actually, but I did it as I had not the information or push from people around me to do it, and not enough personal enthusiasm myself.  I was a nurse and knew quite a bit about nutrition.  But nurses, and doctors also, are not really educated about breastfeeding but for around 1 to 2 hours of all their training.  Remember, their 4 – 10 years of training.  So they are generally not very good when you need advice and help about this matter. This was good and bad for me when I had troubles; I was not helped to push through to continue, which actually I think I could have easily done.  And good that at least when I found myself at that point – needing to give formula – I did not feel awful about it.  My poor husband was so relieved when this solution was found, we had tried a lot of things but somehow could not figure it out.  But he was helpless and sad when he saw me sad.bekkabrjostagjof


Yesterday I posted a link about “mummy wars” without realizing that of course, this video was a great psychology trick created by a formula company.  I think I did not watch it to the final end so I did originally not see it, but it had already planted its message in me.

What was interesting in it was how cleverly it was done (of course with the interests of the formula company in mind), by using what many of us are thinking nowadays, that there is actually a big sandbox war out there sometimes, between groups of mums and dads.  About lifestyle, sleeping, feeding and all of the stuff I have blogged about many times.  Of course people watch this formula company video because they recognize something from this video; their friends, other parents or themselves.

And, predictably in the end, everyone is united in that we should all be friends and it is all about the babies, and it is.

But someone pointed out and this is very true, that it is this clever way of reaching out to us that has become one of the problems for new parents.

Breastfeeding is normal.

Breastfeeding is not anymore  “just” the obvious choice.  In fact, the obvious choice for people nowadays is to “choose”.  Choose between:  breastfeeding or work.  Breastfeeding and the dad is out of the question in the caregiving.  Or else, his role is to change the diapers and burp. Breastfeeding or sleep.

The truth is that there is far too much analyzing and pushing and arrogance and and and… I don’t even have a word for it, out there.

Babies are born to breastfeed.  Breasts are there and they produce milk for 99 percent of those that give birth. Breastfeeding is recommended for all babies as the main source of nutrition for babies until the age of 6 months.  Then, it can be continued for as long as the mother wishes.

There are other ways of feeding a baby but there is nothing that will fully replace the milk.  Just like nothing will fully replace an apple.  Not apple juice with “pulp” in it.

There are people who do not breastfeed, for a good reason.

For those that wish to breastfeed, in the current world we live in, unfortunately, we need breastfeeding advocates.  Pushing for it all the time, and we need education and endless support.  We need not nurses and doctors to be the main support for the new parents, but midwives and lactation consultants and health visitors and then possibly nurses and doctors if they are particularly interested in the breastfeeding and specifically educate themselves.

We also need partners, grandparents and employers and everyone else in the community to stop bitching and secretly being against breastfeeding.  Not that everyone is, but those that do, they are doing damage.  We need the world to understand that breastfeeding is and should be the norm and it should never have to be stopped until both the mother and / or the baby does not want to do it anymore.  Not because of work, exposure, grandmothers’ very generous reminders of that they “never had enough milk”, or helpful people suggesting that sleep will never return to normal until breastfeeding is stopped.

We also need to understand that many people have a very hard time with breastfeeding.  There are many things that can be difficult.  We don’t all cope the same and some babies are having a harder time, some sleep less and some more…..each family, baby and person has different things to cope with.

I strongly believe that everyone should, like Nike suggests, just do it.  That there should never be any suggestion of anything else.  Not even a choice.  Of course you just do it.  And have people around you who also do it.  Have an employer that understands that you actually do a better job at work when you show up happy and maintain that happiness when your 3 month old that you left at home is happy and well fed.  You may even stay longer at work as a result.  And a partner that just does not even talk about it.  Just leaves it.  Or is very helpful, if he is that type.

Then first, will those that actually cannot breastfeed, or choose not to, for whatever reason, do so without this horrible sandbox war happening, this competition of who is better than the next etc., (pretending it is all about the children), stop, and those that actually want to breastfeed properly focus on doing just that, instead of debating which is better and who is a better parent.

This is not easy.

I spend half my working hours talking to parents, mothers and fathers that are either full of guilt or worries, or both.  Mostly because of other people and their opinions.

How can you talk about all of what I have said above, to the one that has had to give up breastfeeding or give additional formula milk to their baby, without them feeling guilty?  It is the same as talking about normal childbirth to the woman who just had to have a C section, how can you remind her over and over again that a vaginal birth is probably better for both mother and child, without her feeling just awful?  Believe me, it is very very hard. I feel very sorry for them and I understand how hard this is for them.

There is enough negative in this world already and we need not to make life harder for ourselves or those around us.

Give support.  You matter.  Yes you.

Like I said in the beginning, breastfeeding is normal and everyone should be supported to feel that way. Those that run into troubles with it and feed their babies by other means should be free to do so without the finger pointing of others.  There is a reason for why we do things the way we do them and we are all adults.  I have seen people at the point of breaking and we always must weigh the options against each other.  Sometimes, simply, the formula is a better choice than continuing to breastfeed and there is no but about it.  That a dad feeds a baby expressed milk from the bottle or formula, does not make a baby’s life worse.  It may make it much better.  It may continue the breastfeeding for much longer and it may well be an educated choice.

There are mums here that have no support from their workplace to breastfeed.  And 8 weeks of maternity leave.  This is of course totally unacceptable.  If you are an employer or a co-worker, please do what you can to make it easier in the workplace for a new mother to breastfeed her baby.

We need advocacy everywhere about breastfeeding until the world gets better.  Employers, grandparents, partners, kids, mums and everyone needs to understand that breastfeeding is the right of a new baby and its mum.  The environment needs to be supportive of it.  Unfortunately those that advocate for breastfeeding have been labeled my many as “breastfeeding Nazis” or “hippies” but please… immature.

While we are out there fighting, the formula companies win.  So please stop.
Can everyone just get on with it and make it normal.   Not “natural”.   Just the norm.

Consultation with the midwives, available on Skype (face time or other platforms), over the phone or in the office. Click here to book. More information about our services on our website.



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Meeting women on their terms through midwifery

Meeting women on their terms through midwifery

Posted on 14 January 2015 by Kristrun

Hulda og Jo CharterDear all

As some of you may know, we are celebrating Annerley´s 20th birthday this year.  This is a huge milestone for a clinic like ours, which now consists of a team of 14 professionals – all of whom have worked hard to build up our company.  We are fortunate to have an excellent reputation in Hong Kong and globally, and many of our midwives and nurses are active participants in conferences, workshops and professional services around the world.

None of this would have happened if it wasn’t for Ann Illingworth, the midwife who founded Annerley in 1995 – six years before I arrived in Hong Kong. Ann, who was a mother of six and had just retired as a sister in charge of a maternity ward, set up home-visiting, breastfeeding services and antenatal classes in Hong Kong which quickly became popular, due to her personal but very practical approach. Ann was a kind person who actually spent time with the women and made them feel like they had their mother with them, while at the same time providing professional care. It was appreciated in fast paced Hong Kong, and many partners were very grateful to Ann, for taking good care of their wives, when they needed to go to work shortly after their child’s birth.  In fact, I still meet people who remember her and it is always with fondness.

When I came to Hong Kong in 2001, it was not easy to step into Ann’s shoes. I knew not half of what she knew and it took me a while to settle in. But soon after arriving, I bought the company from Ann and changed a few things, including the name that previously was Annerley Community Midwifery Services – to Annerley Midwives.  I also set up a clinic in Central, and founded a slightly different type of business, based on the proprietorship that Ann had run. Annerley slowly became a bigger team and since 2003 when our first clinic opened, we have had over 40 midwives and nurses work with us and we still keep in contact with most of them, even long after they have left Hong Kong.

During my 14 years here, I have often asked myself what we are trying to achieve – what is our vision and goal? Not that it isn’t clear in my mind, but we do live in an ever-changing environment and we all need to keep abreast of current trends and norms. That said, I feel that I regularly need to remind myself that, despite our changing world, fundamentally, nothing has changed in what Annerley has to offer, which is basically:

To meet women on their terms

This requires that we are professionally updated and able to always provide evidence-based care but that we tailor to the needs of each woman, of each family. This can be a challenging task in an environment where people, both the professionals, and the families, come from different backgrounds and have different views on things. This is however, what we pride ourselves in doing well.  It is also one of the things that Hong Kong sometimes lacks, so it is gratifying to be able to offer personal and professional care that is well received. We have made every effort to create our centre in Central in such a way that everyone is welcome there and as many of you know, the mum & baby mornings that now are three days a week, are often busy, but a welcome oasis to come to.

It has not always been easy to go against the mainstream in Hong Kong, and there is no other private midwifery clinic like ours in this city so it is not a form of service that everyone understands. For most of us though, it is the standard for women in normal pregnancies to be cared for by midwives and pretty much every research that there is about outcomes and satisfaction regarding maternity care shows that continuity of care is important. So we have kept going through all these years and we hopefully will for a long time more. We will continue to be a bit old fashioned and perhaps a little motherly, but with the latest research and information relevant to new families and as you all have seen, we are making full use of the different social media to send out our messages and information around the world. We much appreciate your participation in our Pinterest, Instagram, facebook and google plus pages and hope that you, just like us, enjoy these new platforms.

In the year of 2015, our anniversary year, we will have different offers, giveaways and prizes each month to celebrate and to mark this important milestone. Amongst other things we will hold our very own Annerley family ‘walk & picnic’ for all the families that can join us and we will also have a Blooming Bellies session soon, that many of you know from our previous years.

I would like to dedicate this letter to Ann Illingworth who unfortunately passed away last year.  Equally, I want to thank you all, our Annerley Families for your ongoing support and loyalty.  We would really not be here without you and we hope that our partnership will be ongoing for many more years to come.

I attach a few pictures from my early years in Hong Kong, from the days when I wore a uniform and our antenatal class participants sat on the floor.

Warmest regards,

Hulda Thorey,

Consultation with the midwives, available on Skype (face time or other platforms), over the phone or in the office. Click here to book. More information about our services on our website.

Midwife and Director.

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