Tag Archive | "home birth"

Early labour and then Vaka is born in Queen Mary Hospital

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Early labour and then Vaka is born in Queen Mary Hospital

Posted on 20 August 2014 by hulda



Birthing pool

It takes around 20 minutes to get the pool ready


Everyone participating in getting the pool ready
For labour

The boat looked like a war zone, – not a birthing unit

I had my last baby three years ago.  It was a challenging time in my life for various reasons and I had no time really to think about preparing for it.  Like everyone else who´s career and family are busy, I was juggling too many things at the same time and had to rely on family members and new staff members in my clinic to support me during these times. It worked out fine, but it was stressful and made me realise that all of what I keep preaching to other mums, really applies to myself as well.


Pre labour and preparation of the birth of Vaka

Pre labour and preparation of the birth of Vaka

I had wanted a homebirth.  The main reasons were that I wanted my family around me and I wanted no restrictions to mobility and I wanted quiet and calm surroundings.  I did not need to hear that I was a high risk case, obese with huge baby and liver problems and risks of all sorts of things, because I knew most of it (aside from the BMI) was not a problem.  Although I knew certain precautions were needed, I was hoping to get safe care but the birth environment that suited. The only midwife in Hong Kong who would support this was away for the Easter holiday but this was no problem for me, as I was not due till 10 days after Easter and with all three older kids I had been induced and very overdue.  So I told the midwife not to worry, I would wait for her.  I also had a friend of mine coming, a midwife who was doing her Phd and was going to help me and my family around the birth.


All three of my previous births had been annoyingly late and as much as I really tried not to be induced, it became reality in all births.  I will write about each of them later, but essentially, I got to feel supported during most of it, which was really important and made my birth experience more pleasant.


Vaka is born in QMH

Labour is long and boring

My office manager at work had just resigned and a new one taken over and I had so much work to finish before the Easter holiday that I was rushing that Monday morning, to go to work. It was a beautiful day and I decided to take the motorcycle in, so I was going to wear my bike boots on the way.  For the very first time in my life, I could not get my socks on.  Something kept bothering me every time I leant over and tried to squeeze my toes into the socks, so eventually I gave up.  Everyone was busy in the boat (where I live); my in-laws had just arrived the night before from Iceland, my other kids were going to school, my husband and my father were preparing to leave to China, where they were going to spend the next three days. I laid down for a few minutes, trying to comprehend what was going on.  Something totally new to me.   I was 39 weeks pregnant and it just dawned on me that likely, I was in labour.

Trying to get my motorcycle gear on was not going to work.  Trying pretend that I was not in labour was not going to work, but I did feel like I was very much in an early stage and I really did not want the whole family all over me in this early stage.  Yet, I did need to try to stop my husband from driving 300 km north of Hong Kong in the next 30 minutes.


Lying down can be great at times

Lying down can be great at times

I walked out of the room and announced that I needed some help with something in the bedroom, could my husband help me.  He yelled back that he was in a rush to leave, what is it? Well, the cabinet needs a bit of fixing.  Cabinet?  Ask the boatboy to help, I really must leave now.  By this stage my mother in law looked at me with suspicion.  She could obviously sense that I was in labour.  So I gave up soon and told them that I was having some mild contractions, and perhaps my husband should not go to China.  He looked at me, tired.  Really, sure? I told them I thought that I was not doing anything much, but I just could not go to work. So could everyone just continue what they were doing and let me potter around.  Fair enough, they all started to do some boat maintainance.  Basically, tearing down the ceiling covers.  And soon, the boat was without any electricity, the water heater was not working and there was no way to even manually warm up the water.

My father, together with my husband, 3 children, in laws and the three helpers, was not wanting to leave either.  This was a real family feast!

My older kids opted out of school (13 and 14 years old), and my 3 year old was happy to inflate the pool.

I tried frantically to find a midwife who could help me to stay at home during this early stage.

It was Easter time and no one picked up the phone.  Even my doctor friends were away or unable to help.

In any case, I was not in all that much pain, and the main project was to try to find water to fill up the birthing pool for my first stage of labour.
Everything was a beautiful chaos, it was a good day and I had a good feeling.


…to be continued…

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Home delivery – Hong Kong

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Home delivery – Hong Kong

Posted on 14 March 2012 by hulda


Annerley home-delivery births hong KongThis article interview with Hulda on the subject of home deliveries was featured in the March issue of Playtimes Magazine.

Use a search engine to look for information on ‘baby home delivery HK’ and you get a list of companies delivering anything from diapers to organic baby food, but not babies. This is not surprising as home deliveries in Hong Kong are extremely rare for many logistical as well as safety reasons.

Hulda Thorey, registered HK midwife and director and founder of Annerley, one of Hong Kong’s most established maternity and early childhood centres is possibly the only midwife in Hong Kong who will perform a home delivery.

Unlike in Thorey’s native Iceland, and other European countries where home delivery is more common, Hong Kong’s midwives are generally reluctant to perform a home delivery. Thorey explains that home delivery is not encouraged by the Hong Kong Midwives Association, nor the Nursing Council of Hong Kong, and if performing a home delivery, most midwives would prefer the back up of a physician in case of unexpected complications. However, such back up is extremely difficult to get, partly because of insurance restraints, and partly down to time commitments of medical professionals.

Thorey is well known for her passion for natural birth, but even she views homebirths with caution in Hong Kong as Hong Kong throws up some special logistical problems. “In the rare event of an emergency, you have to consider that transport can be a problem since ambulances and ambulance staff are ill-equipped or trained to handle emergency situations,” says Thorey.

“Location must also be a consideration – even down to the size of the lift as you don’t want to try to squeeze  a woman on a gurney, in the throws of  labour in an emergency situation into a tiny lift.”

Thorey describes her ideal candidate as a healthy mother, who is on to her 2nd or 3rd delivery, who is considered low risk with a healthy pregnancy, has good home support – and lives near a hospital. Thorey says: “I would also want to be sure that she had realistic expectations so that there wouldn’t be any resistance if we did need to transfer to a hospital.”

If a birth does go well, the Immigration Department is the next hurdle as they are particularly demanding with their requirements to prove that the baby was indeed born to this particular mother, and in Hong Kong as claimed. “You need two witnesses to the birth, usually the husband and myself,” says Thorey.  “It is a myth that a police officer is required to attend a planned home delivery. This is only mandatory in an unexpected home delivery when an ambulance is called for.”

However, the birth has to be clearly documented with a set of before, during and after photographs showing amongst other things the umbilical cord connected, and the delivery location.

However, the birth has to be clearly documented with a set of before, during and after photographs showing amongst other things the umbilical cord connected, and the delivery location

Besides a camera, surprisingly little equipment is required for a planned home delivery. Thorey’s midwifery ‘bag’ contains such things as a clamp for the cord and of course disinfectant, but also equipment that may or may not be required such as a TENs machine, equipment for administering stitches, a suction pump and oxygen for the baby.  In addition, some mothers may choose to rent a birthing pool; in which case a liner would be required ­– and possibly a change to the plumbing.

Thorey does not arrive dragging cylinders of nitrous oxide nor vials of tranquilisers. “I’ve rarely found the need for further pain relief in a home delivery beyond the TENS machine, water, hot packs, massage and a little more of TLC than usual,” she says. “Perhaps a woman who chooses a home delivery would typically have had a relatively easy first birth, but it is also down to the mindset of a woman who makes this choice. Research have also shown that the environment, and knowing your caregiver plays a big part.”

For mothers looking for such a homely environment in which to experience the birth of their child, the options in Hong Kong can seem frustrating. Private maternity beds are over subscribed, home delivery is discouraged and while thoroughly professional, government hospitals cannot offer customized care. Thorey says: “This is where the role of the midwife is so important in Hong Kong. We can help mothers manage expectations and make the most of their delivery – wherever it takes place.”

Given Thorey’s experience, it is not surprising that Annerley are in the process of setting up a Birth Centre where women can give birth in a more homely comfort, with the care of professional midwives, and presumably with a good-sized lift.



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Government maternity wards and positions during labour

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Government maternity wards and positions during labour

Posted on 19 February 2012 by hulda

Hello all, thanks again for reading.  Exciting things happening and I wanted to share them.  Some of you may be aware of the fact that Franklen and Miranda shared their homebirth story in the Ming Pao newspaper earlier this week and it has raised endless response.  Poor Franklen has had little time to anything else but to keep the home running and take phone calls/emails, and the response is not all good!   Of course, such a controversial topic as a homebirth will always raise more questions and people have strong feelings about this.  To me, this is simply an option in addition to many other good options that Hong Kong has to offer, – it is not a statement to say that other services are not good.

Franklen´s blog: http://continuum-fathering.blogspot.com/

In any case, as a result of demand for more birthing options,  our Annerley Birth Centre will hopefully open not too long from now. Preparations are in full swing and we have felt so much support, thank you all very much.  Any comments, suggestions and birth stories are very helpful to us as we use these to help us make sure the birthing options in the centre will include pretty much EVERYTHING that a woman and family can ask for.  So keep your comments coming, we are listening.

birth options in Hong KongAnother really great thing that I wanted to share with you is that this week I am conducting a midwive’s workshop at the Queen Elisabeth Hospital, where around 30 midwives from the government hospital wards will come and learn how to assist women in giving birth in various different positions, other than semi-upright.  We will cover the squatting position, standing, kneeling, lying on your side, and on all fours.

They are all very excited and I am too. I truly hope that this will help the midwives to continue the great work that they have already started, i.e. to offer more options within the maternity wards.  For women to be able to give birth in a position that they choose is an absolute right in my mind, so if we can equip the midwives to feel comfortable in assisting, then there is nothing holding us back any more!

So this Thursday, the workshop will be on and hopefully all of you going to QMH, POW, QEH, PMH, PYH, KWH, TMH will have access to midwives in the future who will happily assist you in whatever position you would like.

Additionally, together with Katrin — the Icelandic doctor who has been with me for the last 3 weeks in her internship here in Hong Kong — we did a workshop at the Prince of Wales last week for all the midwifery students that are graduating this spring, covering the same topic – positions during labour.  They were very inspired and the class this year was big, 43 students, so this means that the wards will now be filled with students and new midwives that are eager to promote these new positions.

So that this development will continue, it is however, of uttermost importance that all of you, dear pregnant mums, further express your needs during labour, rather than relying on the options that are offered to you.  You must initiate what you are after, and be confident in trying various things.  Then this will inspire the midwives, who will work with you at an advanced level.

So to conclude, more and more birthing options in Hong Kong, positive developments and many great things happening in hospitals and in the community.

I welcome any discussion, please join in!

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