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About Grandparents

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About Grandparents

Posted on 07 September 2015 by Kristrun

Most of us were lucky enough to grow up in a loving family and environment.  Most of us have parents that we love and who love us back.  As mentioned in my last blog, parents can be helpful, and also unhelpful, when it comes to the first days with a new baby, partly because when they were raising their children, the environment and advice was very different to now.

It is hard for parents to abandon their beliefs and habits and they do not always understand the way our generation does things as parents – all the access to courses and information, how we research and investigate before we do anything.

In fact, our parents are often of the belief that despite it being great to be able to get support from the internet and our friends, the overflow of the same is only making our lives more confusing and frustrating. Taking away the independence and “get on with it” parenting.

Of course, we all know this and probably agree to a point, but we cannot go back in time.  And to be honest, there are so many things from the past that we are grateful to not have to go through. I am not even going to start the list of comparison.

What I wanted to remind us all of was that grandparents, despite their perhaps different opinions and other difficulties (the typical MIL issue), are not something we should take for granted.

The day will come, and has already come for some, that the grandparents will say goodbye for good. There will be no more remarks or comments, no more unrealistic demands or opinions, no more decisions on how to split the holidays etc. 

And in my opinion, to have grandparents in my children’s lives, is such a treasure.  They add such tremendous value and richness into the lives of those kids – they teach them so much by just being there.  By their manners, their personalities, the way they speak, think, the things they have gone through in life, their way of handling situations, money, travels, how they hold books when they read and how they patiently cut the food for the children.  How they have time, and make time, and quietly teach them without teaching them.

Everything about the grandparents is different and not easily emulated by those of a younger generation.  It is something that comes from living through the times they lived through, growing up amongst larger families and more generations of people under the same roof. Having gone through the times where money, electricity, heat, access to all sorts of products and services was limited, travel was not an option so easily and more and more.

If we grew up in a loving household where our parents were kind to us and did their best, our parents deserve, however annoying they may sometimes be (I mean this in a humorous way), that we treat them with dignity and kindness back. Perhaps they can sometimes just have their way with the kids, without us getting annoyed.  Perhaps it will not do any harm to our children.  And perhaps, we need sometimes to slow down and remember to enjoy all the moments that we have with our own parents too. 

Every year I try and “let go“ of my kids for a few weeks and they grow up in the arms of their grandparents. I try and let them not be guests in the homes of their grandparents, but rather to live with them. I am lucky, as the grandparents have health and the willingness to offer and welcome this.  They get something out of it too, of course.  But it is not something I take for granted. 

 

Of things in life that my children have, I rate this amongst the highest of all things.

 

Hulda 2015

 

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Routine checks and tests for babies – the first six months

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Routine checks and tests for babies – the first six months

Posted on 08 August 2014 by Kristrun


IMG_0676At birth, your baby will be assessed by the midwife caring for you and will be given an Apgar score at 1 and 5 minutes following birth. This involves assessment of your baby’s behavior, heart rate and breathing, the score is out of 10 and most babies will be given a score of 8 or 9 by 5 minutes following birth. Your baby will also be weighed, and have head circumference and body length measured. She may also be bathed. A Vitamin K injection will be recommended.

In hospital you will have a paediatrician assigned to you/chosen by you. He/she will check the baby & discharge you from the hospital usually between days 3 to 5 after birth. Vaccinations will be commenced including Hepatitis B & BCG(TB). You do have a say in whether your baby receives these vaccinations, however if you are choosing to decline the advice, make sure this is based on independent research and be informed about what it is that you declining. You will also need to discuss this with the paediatrician prior to discharge.

Your baby needs a checkup around day 7-10. Your midwife/health visitor can perform this check up during a home visit, unless the baby has jaundice or other problems when they left the hospital. Baby will need a weekly check (roughly) for around one month, then every two weeks, and then monthly from 2-6 months. If you have a private midwife to help you at home after the birth, she will weigh the baby, check reflexes, and do a PKU test. Her visits usually finish around week 3-4 and then you can see a doctor for vaccinations and Well Baby Clinics for weight checks between vaccination appointments. Baby needs a hearing test before one month old (usually done in hospitals at birth) and a thorough developmental check around 6 to 8 weeks.

In private clinics, it is usually doctors who do the vaccinations – can be a paediatrician or a family doctor (GP). Your doctor will start the 6-in-1 vaccination at 2 months, with two more injections at 4 and 6 months. The 6-in-1 (DPT-polio-Hib-Hep) protects babies against 6 diseases: diptheria, pertussis (whooping cough), tetanus, polio, HiB (haemophilus influenzae type b), and hepatitis B.

If you are using government services, all check-ups and vaccinations are available there for free (4-in-1: DPT, polio) but will not include the HiB vaccination – this you will need to get at a private clinic. So if you want to have the HiB vaccination, it may be worth considering going privately for the whole 6-in-1 series as although you can have most for free, you will still need to pay for the HiB privately, plus the consultation fee, which will work out only slightly less expensive than having the whole series privately, and will result in more trips out, plus an extra injection for baby.

The government clinic will give the Hepatitis B vaccination at 4 weeks; private doctors give it at 6 months (included in the 6-in-1 vaccination).

Well Baby Clinics are available every week at Annerley for weight checks, consultation and development assessment and you can choose this option for regular weight checks in between your vaccination appointments. This is a lot less expensive than a trip to a private doctor and you will have access to our Health Visitor and midwives who can help and advise you on any of your baby related concerns or questions.

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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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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Raising a Good Eater

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Raising a Good Eater

Posted on 28 February 2014 by Kristrun

stimulating-baby-indoorsMy children eat fruit and vegetables. They eat salad and sushi, spinach and seaweed. They eat curry and cabbage, kimchi and cauliflower. They eat pretty much anything. What’s more, they enjoy it. OK, some things more than others, but there is very little they will point blank refuse.

I’m not taking all the credit for this. I think I’ve been pretty lucky in so much as they genuinely enjoy food. I know this is not the case for many others. I would also like to point out that picky eating due to a disorder, such as that resulting from a child on the autistic spectrum, bears no resemblance to regular fussiness, and any healthy eating guidelines are not applicable in these cases.

I would like to share with you some things I have learned with my three children. Take what you fancy, and ignore what you don’t. What you are reading is based purely on my experience, nothing more. No research involved at all.

Make it tasty

Toddlers and children enjoy tasty food just as we do. I remember when my eldest was small and I was feeding her cold baby food from a jar. She was fussing and spluttering and spitting it out. I was staying with my sister in the UK at the time (jetlag and fussy eating – oh the joy) and she said to me “have you tried that stuff, Ailish? it’s revolting”. And so it was. My sister mushed up some vegetable stew with mashed potato, warmed it nicely and my daughter lapped it up. It simply had not occurred to me that a baby would have any preference when it came to how food tastes. How strange that seems now!

Don’t be afraid to cook with vegetable or chicken stock. Use a little butter. Add herbs, spices, garlic, ginger, a splash of soy sauce, a touch of chilli or curry powder. These are not adult flavours, they are just flavours. Go slow and easy and gently build up your child’s repertoire.

This may have worked a little too well for my youngest, who at age 9, adds tabasco to a worrying number of savoury dishes. What will he do for a chilli kick aged 20……?

Involve your child

The sooner you do this, the better. A baby can sit in a high chair or on the floor playing with a carrot, whilst the carrots are being chopped. Give a pan and a wooden spoon. Let them see, smell and touch whilst the food is being prepared. Before long, they can help to stir a pot or add the seasoning. A child who has had an active part in preparing a meal is far more likely to eat it. When they are old enough to appreciate it, take them to the market where they can see the food before it reaches our kitchen and allow them to make some choices. Shall we have chicken or fish? Potatoes or pasta? This involvement really does work and rather than presenting a finished meal out of nowhere with which the child feels no connection and therefore has little interest in, give them some insight, some input and a little control.

 

Use your fingers

Finger food is always a winner. I’m not one for terribly fussy food, and those images on the internet of children’s food as works of art on a plate give me hives. But various different foods, chopped smallish, always worked for us for a quick meal. Grapes cut in half, small cubes of cheese, carrot sticks….. this kind of thing generally appeals to most children. They can use their fingers to eat which is very important so that they learn about the different textures, and it is fun. Let your toddler make their own sandwich – give the bread, and the filling, and let them get on with it. A bit messy, but worth it. I used to also give my toddlers a blunt knife, a small tub of hummous or cream cheese and let them spread it onto crackers. An activity in itself! Filled a whole hour! Touching, feeling and dare I say it, playing with food, is very important to children so they learn it is nothing to fear. They are going to put it inside their mouths, which is a very personal thing, and they need to learn to trust. So let them explore it as much as possible.

Eat together

We all know this works. Children ultimately copy adults and eating is naturally a social time. Eating on your own is no fun, especially while feeling pressure to perform! Commonly in Hong Kong, Daddy is returning home late from work and Mummy would much rather eat a civilised dinner with him at 8.30pm, than feeding-time-at-the-zoo at 5.00pm (I don’t wish to generalise, but I know this to be true for a lot of families). This is perfectly understandable, who wouldn’t? But it is still important to sit down at the table with the children at meal times, maybe eat a few vegetables at the same time, talk and listen – make it comfortable and a time when they know they have your attention. A time to look forward to. It may be worth thinking about having your full meal at this earlier time once or twice during the week, and make a point of doing it all together at the weekend. And if it is impossible for either parent to be there, have your helper have dinner with the kids, rather than her only ‘feed’ the kids.

The chicken nugget trap

Try not to think in terms of kids’ food versus adult food. It’s all just food. Your kids are more likely to eat if you’re all eating the same thing and this is very possible once your child reaches the 12 month mark. You may need to adapt your child’s portion in some way (adding yoghurt to curry, taking a small portion out before adding chilli etc) but starting young with regular food will avoid them getting addicted to bland “kiddy” food and developing anxiety towards anything novel or with a strong flavour.

Back off

Nobody likes to be scrutinised while performing a task. Try taking the pressure off your little muncher. Offer the food, give a mouthful, and then take the focus off. Look to your own food, or chat to another child. You may just find they eat that broccoli when you are not watching them like a hawk. Especially if you are eating broccoli too!

Stay calm

Children pick up so easily on our mood. If you feel the tension rising as meal time is approaching, then so will they. Stay light hearted and strive towards making dinner time a time to enjoy. If they eat almost nothing, keep calm, smile, clear it away and try again tomorrow.

Firm but fair

I love food, and good food is important to me. So it was important that my children learned to love food too. Now, all children are naturally picky. I know some are pickier than others, but all children like to stick to what they know. This is normal. Encouraging new foods is a slow and gradual process, and it starts very early. My kids know they have to try something quite a few times before they are allowed not to like it. There are many things they have proclaimed they hated (no. 3 child is the best at this) and have ended up loving. Spinach fried in garlic. Roasted sweet potato. Beetroot. I could go on. So, don’t give up at the first hurdle. Offer tiny amounts of new things to try. However, I do respect them if they really cannot bear something after a valiant attempt. Child no. 1 doesn’t like celery. Child no. 2 doesn’t like pumpkin. Child no. 3 doesn’t like cream. And none of them will touch a mushroom.

For very small toddler munchkins, reasoning is not really an option, and so then I can see the value of “hiding” vegetables in food and there are many fabulous ways of doing this. But as they get older, this is, well…. quite boring, and I think they should have an idea of what they are eating.

Give some control

At meal times, in our house, there are certain things the children have little control over. They must come to the table at dinner time and they must try anything new. But, they can choose how much they eat. Taking this pressure off is sometimes enough to stop the battles.

Eating away from home

I cannot tell you the number of times I have had other people’s children at my house to eat and their Mums have been aghast when I tell them what we had for dinner. “Oh, but Johnny wouldn’t eat that.” Well, he did. Quite happily.

Children do all kinds of things differently when they are in different environments, away from familiar triggers and routines. So, don’t reject the restaurant, or the neighbour’s place for fear that your fussy eater will create a scene. They just might not.

Start small

A huge dish of food is a very intimidating thing to a small child. Offer small portions which they won’t feel threatened by. Better still, once they are old enough, let them serve themselves or choose how many carrots they want. This way, they are far more likely to be able finish it and you won’t be left with the “don’t waste food” argument. Personally, I never make my kids finish their food, but ask them to stop when their tummies feel full. Quite frankly, forcing food into a child does not seem better to me than putting it in the bin or feeding it to the dog. We just got our dog its preferred by dogs.

If they finish and ask for more, then great!

Eat local when travelling

I’m passionate about this. My children were born in Asia, and like most expat families, we have been fortunate to travel quite a bit. Travelling and food for our family go hand in hand. Memories of different places become entwined with the fabulous food we ate there. Pho in Vietnam. Nasi lemak in Malyasia. Chicken rice in Singapore. Hoppers and curry in Sri Lanka. Seafood in Australia. Pies in New Zealand (!!). Having good eaters really comes into its own when travelling. To be able to eat anywhere and try anything is such a joy in a foreign land. To have to trawl in search of spaghetti bolognese wherever one goes is tedious. And expensive.

Educate

Most kids like to eat junk. If we are being honest, most of us like to eat junk. In a few short years, you will have no control over what your child chooses to eat. All we can do is educate them about making healthy choices and why that is a good thing. My biggest bug-bear is sugary drinks, and it worries me when my children tell me how many cartons of iced tea, or cans of soda their school friends drink on any given day. If my kids choose not to do this, I will be happy.

Everything in moderation

I don’t believe in banning any foods; rather teach that some foods are for every day, and some are for special occasions. Party food is to be enjoyed at parties and life is too short not to eat chocolate and ice-cream.

 

I am well aware that some children have no interest in food and just view it as fuel, just as some adults do. I have a very dear brother-in-law who would be happy to see out the end of his days eating only cornflakes and chocolate. I am also willing to accept that I just struck lucky – both my husband and I enjoy good food, and therefore it may seem reasonable to assume that our children would be interested too. Be that as it may, but I am going to give myself a smidgen of credit; I put in the effort. My children are now 13, 11 and 9. My work is almost done. Start early and be confident.

Ailish Cotton

Mum of 3

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crying baby tongue

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Soothing a Crying Baby

Posted on 27 February 2014 by Kristrun

Keep calm skin to skin

Congratulations on the birth of your baby!

Your baby is an individual that you need to get know and unfortunately, he or she does not come with a manual. It can be exhausting and devastating when your baby is crying and you don’t know why or what to do. You may have already fed the baby, burped him and changed his nappy and still he isn’t settled. Why won’t he stop crying?

Remember your baby is new to this world and experiencing a lot of new things: now she needs to breath on her own, digest, pee and poo and is dependent on you for all of its needs. There are a few simple things that you can easily do that might sooth your baby and give her comfort.

Skin to skin contact is a great way to sooth your baby and can be easily given by both mom and dad. Skin to skin contact is the placing of your baby, unclothed (or nappy only) onto your chest, under a blanket or your clothing and it will usually be enough to calm your baby down. Even a hungry baby will be soothed when he can smell your skin and hear your heartbeat. In utero, your baby was used to hearing your heartbeat, so patting baby on the butt while giving skin to skin can calm her down quite quickly. Skin to skin also helps with digestion as well as giving a sense of security and feeling loved which is one of the basic needs of all babies.

Holding your baby and rocking him, bouncing, walking or dancing can also help to sooth. Remember that your baby has been rocked and walked to sleep whilst inside you and probably was quite awake and kicking when you were going to bed in the evenings and wanted to go to sleep!

While holding your baby, sing a song or talk in a calm voice. Your baby loves listening to your voice, he is used to it and it is something familiar. You won’t spoil your baby by holding her or attending to her needs.

The single most important thing for you to remember is to stay calm when your baby seems distressed because your baby is very in tune with your feelings and stress levels. So stay calm and your baby may follow suit.

Hafdis Runarsdottir

Annerley Midwife

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Screen time and Toddlers

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Screen time and Toddlers

Posted on 07 February 2014 by Kristrun

Most of us are guilty of using Peppa Pig or Thomas the Tank Engine as a pseudo baby sitter. Or these fantastic apps that can keep little ones occupied for indefinite periods. I’m putting up my hand, here – I use screens in my house to buy peace and quiet, some quality time for me and often just that one email or a cup of coffee. I do it despite knowing that when I remove the screen, they will cry, there will be a fight and they will beg for “just one more”. It’s amazing how addictive this screen is to these little creatures and how difficult it can be to balance screen-time and non-screen-time. The very fact that this term “screen-time” has so quickly become a part of our vocabulary is alarming in itself.

How much screen time is safe?

Research has suggested that if you introduce the screen too early, language development may be affected. Some even say that the child can be six times more likely to develop speech problems. Teachers and early childhood educators know that a child’s vocabulary can vary greatly from one child to another, and that can often be linked directly to screen time versus oral interaction with real human beings. People ultimately do not learn language from a TV. Expression, emotion, tone, pitch, and the myriad of subtleties linked with any language comes from human interaction. I recommend less than 1 hour total screen time per day per child from the age of 1-5. None, or as little as possible, for babies younger than 12 months of age.

Screen time and Sleep

We know that screen time close to bedtime will affect sleep. The lights from the screens – especially screens that are kept very close to little faces will have an impact on their sleeping patterns. Try to balance the routine around bedtime so that watching anything on screen is kept as far from the actual sleeping time as possible. Easy way to do it is to use the screens to quiet things down, then switch off, play quietly, have dinner, then bath, read a book and go to sleep.

Screens and meals

As tempting as it may be, we all know it is not a good habit to allow children to be in front of the screen when having a meal. It can affect the amount of food they consume and their overall eating habits. They may eat like robots and completely out of balance with their appetite. Children want to copy everything adults do – including eating. If you have fussy eaters or children not interested in meal times, the best advice is to eat with your children or have your helper eat with them, if it is impossible for you to do so. This will help in making them interested and engaged during feeding times. Eating should be a social time, and it is never too early to instill this association.

Stick with what works

Some will argue that there are many educational apps and TV programs that can be very good for children. That may be right – there are certain programs that are very well designed and can stimulate and teach children all manner of things. But children learn far more from interaction with you, or others around them. Focus on labelling your surroundings – talk about size, shapes, colours, emotions, distances etc. Also focusing on stimulating their senses by allowing them to touch and feel their environment, and make an effort to have them exposed to soil, sand, grass, stones, pebbles – as many different environments as you can. This varying stimulus is so important to a baby’s development. Good old fashioned books, nursery rhymes and songs, always work. One of the biggest problems society will face in the future will be children who have severe problems socializing and they will be hiding behind their computer screens, unable to cope with the world around them in all its unpredictable, messy, disordered, wonderful glory. By focusing on communication, verbal interaction and stimulation, we will help build a foundation for life.

Bear all of this in mind whilst being realistic. Sometimes the screen is a lifesaver for everyone. When travelling with my children in the double buggy- the small screens makes us capable of doing these long haul flights with layovers. And when they are sick – it completely saves everything to have Peppa Pig with us to shorten the day. But let’s make it an exception, rather than a rule. A treat, rather than the norm. A conversation with Mummy or Daddy beats Peppa Pig, hands down, every time.

Kristrun Lind – Mother of two toddlers

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

kristrun@annerley.com.hk

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Pregnant

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A Breastfeeding at Work: Tips for Working Moms

Posted on 20 April 2012 by hulda

Jennifer Williams returned to her job at a leading financial company after the birth of Gemma and, through thick and thin, has managed to make it to six months breastfeeding at work.

How much maternity leave did you take?

In the end I took 14 weeks maternity leave which I know is good for Hong Kong, but it didn’t seem good for me. It was all too soon and as  Gemma is my first child I wasn’t the most organised in my first weeks  back at work; I missed the network of friends and family who might have forwarned me of how tricky it all would be.

How did you deal with trying to express at work?

I work at an international bank and we are lucky enough to have what they call a nursing room. I imagined a comfortable room with sofas and sterilizers, but in fact is a little cubicle which you reach by walking past a whole row of people.  And it wasn’t that private – One day a workman walked in and got the shock of his life.

But it was very hard, and exhausting. I would do an hour’s work and then go to do some expressing which, with my original single pump, could take as long as an hour. After a while I invested in a double “hands-free” pump which made things so much better, and meant that I could write notes and work while I was expressing. My single biggest tip would be to invest in a double pump at the outset.

Were there any disasters?

Yes – and this is an indication of the level of preparation needed. I was rushing home late one night and left the milk that had been expressed that day in the taxi, and then learned that I was running low with my stock at home.  I was devastated as it meant I had to stay home the next day, and also start Gemma on formula.

Did you make use of the Annerley Working Mother’s Group?

I go when I can; it makes the day so much better.  The group follows on from the Helper & Baby Group so it means that I can slip out and feed Gemma myself. It gives me a much-needed break from expressing it was good to be able to talk to other working mother’s to see how they were coping.

And now?

I did get into the rhythm, and now at six months I am slowly winding down to one breastfeeding session a day. Although “Breast is Best”, I have to say to other mothers that you cannot be hard on yourself. You are doing your best in extremely challenging circumstances.

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Thank you Emma and Olivia!

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Thank you Emma and Olivia!

Posted on 29 March 2012 by hulda

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

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

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

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

Emma Saunders, 2012

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A Natural Birth Story

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A Natural Birth Story

Posted on 20 March 2012 by hulda

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

Heather from Pangea shares her story:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heather Cogan
Head Pilates Teacher
Pangea – Align Fitness
www.pangea.com.hk 

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Natural births in Hong Kong

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Natural births in Hong Kong

Posted on 20 March 2012 by hulda

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

Natural birth

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

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

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

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

Where to give birth in Hong Kong

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Home births

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

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

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

Doula care

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

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

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

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

Prepare well

To all pregnant women I would suggest:

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

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

Hulda Thorey, 2012

 

Points to remember regarding hospitals:

Public hospitals: 

Possible challenges:

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

On the positive side:

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

C-section rates much lower than in private hospitals.

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