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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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About support

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About support

Posted on 28 August 2015 by Kristrun

hthorey

Most of us have many loving family members and friends that surround us when we have a  baby. Even if we are living away from home, often our nearest and dearest will come to visit to offer their help and support and of course many others want to feel involved and offer advice. I remember it being so nice when the extended family offered to help and even just spend some time at home with us and the new baby, once some time had passed and we were getting used to this new reality. Luckily for most new parents, the support is genuine and needed.

Last month, I was seeing a woman at home to help her with breastfeeding.  She was having a hard time adjusting her sleep to the baby and breastfeeding was more tiresome than she had expected.  I guess we have all been there at some stage.  What caught my attention was that she kept repeating to me how supportive her family was and that she really should be grateful.

She had a little bit of – again what most of us have unfortunately – the ‘good girl’ syndrome.

She felt she should be grateful, even though actually the support that she was getting was entirely on the terms of the givers – not the receiver. The kind of things she was hearing, I have heard many times before….

“He is just hungry, I really think we should give him some formula, you have had no rest“

“If you want us to help, we need to be able to soothe him, and obviously we cannot breastfeed him.“

“You really should go out more, it will do you good, plus we have not seen any of Hong Kong during our stay here…. let’s go for lunch.“

“A baby should self settle, crying does no harm to them“

The thing is, all of the above can be said and may sometimes be appropriate, but it is NON-SUPPORT when it is given in this format.  It is not actually helpful, especially in a case like this, where the mum was just in a very normal situation – baby was sleeping well but waking up reasonably often, gaining loads of weight and nothing wrong with him.  But what has got to be remembered is that our parents’ generation grew up in a different environment to us.  They received very different instructions and advice from those in the know and sometimes, despite their best intentions to support, they just don’t actually know how to.  Hence the comments that don’t help.  So it is important, before inviting them, to ask yourself if they will actually be helpful, i.e. are they happy to just hang around you on yours and your baby’s terms.

Another comment I had from a lady not so long ago threw me completely.

“My husband is so happy how everything is going well but he really thinks that I should stop breastfeeding now“.

The couple had a two months old baby that was happily breastfeeding, no problems at all.  The opinion expressed, was because the husband was uncomfortable with his wife breastfeeding right from the start – happy to tolerate it for a certain amount of time – but was of the opinion that it was inappropriate and unnecessary. He was formula-fed himself, as his mother had reminded him, and he really did not see the need for it.

A part of me wanted to scream.  Sorry – but I really feel that that this is simply not even something that anyone, but the mum, can even have an opinion about, let alone express it to the mum. How dare anyone suggest that she should not feed her infant when everything about it is going very well?

A part of me remembered that this is actually, all about how people are raised, what information they are given and so on.  Of course this dad really must not know any better.

So parents, we really do need to educate our kids well.  Raise them up in an environment where this is not even a debate.  That they understand that breastfeeding is normal for babies for as long as mum and baby want it and nobody should question that.  Equally, that when someone bottlefeeds their baby, they are not entitled, as kids or adults, to judge that.

And when we grow old ourselves, let’s try and remember, when our kids have children, that we can support them a lot.  But it is not our role to tell them how to do things.

“Surely this kid needs to socialize“ – I was once told about a 3 week old.
Seriously!

Hulda x

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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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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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Recommended Immunisations in Hong Kong

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Recommended Immunisations in Hong Kong

Posted on 03 November 2014 by Kristrun

blockforVaccinationsARrticleThere is not much difference between vaccinations in the public health system and the private health system in Hong Kong. A few things to consider are:

The Hong Kong government schedule recommends to give Hep B and BCG at birth. Some parents have a preference to delay those vaccines and then usually the Hep B is given at 1, 2, and 6 months as a part of a combined vaccine with DaPT and HIB (Haemophilus Influenza B).

The BCG (only one dose is needed), is then usually given in the buttock instead of the other option of the upper arm if given by the Government hospital staff.  There is not any obvious reason for this except that many parents feel that the scar will not be visible there as in the arm (the BCG is the only vaccine that always produces a scar, which is usually circular and can be 1 to 2 cms in diameter).  Some doctors claim that there is more risk of an infection by the BCG vaccine, or in the pimple that it gives before the scar is formed (the first three months or so there is a pimple that may burst, with some pus, but then eventually heals) – the infection being caused by rubbing of the diaper on the area, urine, stools etc.  

The HIB part of the 2, 4, and 6 months vaccine is not available in the public health system and therefore if you wish to give this to your child, you must see a private doctor.   For this you will pay a consultation fee and the fee for the vaccine.  Because the HiB can be given as a part of the 5 in 1 mentioned above, many parents then choose to give all of these together, instead of having the DTaP and Polio in the Government clinic, and then HiB in the private clinic, at the same time (2, 4 and 6 months).  It is more expensive to get the full 5 in 1 than it is to just get the HiB but it saves a trip and one injection (the actual needle).  In terms of giving many vaccines at the same time, this is a discussion of a different story, – in developed countries it is considered the safest to give these vaccines and they have been on the market for a long time, so they are not considered unsafe because of heavy metals, interactions, etc.

  • In the past, the Hepatitis B vaccine contained Mercury as a preservative, but nowadays, in Hong Kong, the vaccine used is a Mercury free Hepatitis B (ENGERIX).
  • Both private and government doctors recommend to give the MMR vaccine around 12 to 15 months.    This is the only vaccination given that contains live vaccines, and usually has side effects (the actual symptoms of all three diseases, or at least some fever and usually rashes, around 10 to 14 days after injecting it).
  • It is very important that the child is free of any diseases, colds etc. when being vaccinated, and as some get a little sick and feverish, and it may be a good idea to have some paracetamol on hand, doses depending on age and weight of baby.
  • All vaccines, can cause side effects, but they’re generally mild and short-lived and the benefits outway the risks of severe illness or fatality due to disease.

Below is information about the most common vaccinations in Hong Kong:
The 5-in-1 vaccine, the DTaP/IPV/Hib vaccine, is a single injection which protects against five serious childhood diseases. These five illnesses are diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, (pertussis) Polio and Haemophilus influenza type b.  In the government system, this vaccine is a 4 in 1 (without the HIB), as there are not many outbreaks of HIB in Hong Kong, although other countries see a reason to vaccinate against this.  Private clinics in Hong Kong offer this as a 5 in 1, vaccinating against the following diseases:

Diphtheria is a highly contagious bacterial infection that mainly affects the nose and throat. Less commonly, it can also affect the skin. The bacteria spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes and droplets of their saliva enter another person’s mouth or nose.  Diphtheria can lead to potentially life-threatening complications, such as breathing difficulties and problems with the heart and nervous system.

Tetanus is a serious but rare infection caused by bacteria. It usually occurs when a flesh wound becomes contaminated. The symptoms include: Stiffness in jaw muscles usually the first symptom, also known as lockjaw. Muscle spasms and stiffness then spread from jaw into neck and limbs. Other symptoms include high temperature (fever), sweating, rapid heartbeat (tachycardia), and high blood pressure (hypertension).  Muscle spasms in neck can make swallowing difficult (dysphagia). In the most serious cases, severe breathing difficulties could develop. This may lead to suffocation and death.

Whooping cough (pertussis), Whooping cough is a highly contagious bacterial infection of the lungs and airways. The condition usually begins with a persistent dry and irritating cough that progresses to intense bouts of coughing. These are followed by a distinctive ‘whooping’ noise, which is how the condition gets its name.  Other symptoms include a runny nose, raised temperature and vomiting after coughing. The coughing can last for around three months. Whooping cough is caused by a bacterium called Bordetella pertussis, which can be passed from person to person through droplets in the air from coughing and sneezing.

Polio, in the past was very common it caused paralysis and death. Since a polio vaccine was introduced in 1955, the number of polio cases has dramatically reduced. There are now only a few countries in which the condition remains a serious problem.

Haemophilus influenza type B. HiB is a bacterial infection that can cause a number of serious illnesses especially in young children. Many of children who get HiB infections become very ill and need hospital care.  HiB can cause any of the following infections: meningitis (lining of the brain and spinal cord), pneumonia (lungs), pericarditis (lining surrounding the heart), epiglottitis (epiglottis – flap that covers the entrance to your windpipe), septic arthritis (joints) and cellulitis (skin and underlying tissues). Some of these infections can lead to septicaemia (blood poisoning), which can be fatal.

Side-effects of the 5 in 1 vaccine:   
The 5-in-1 vaccine is very safe but some babies do have side effects. Your baby may have any of the following side effects after receiving the 5-in-1 DTaP/Td/IPV infant vaccine.

Very common reactions include:  pain, redness and swelling at the injection site, irritability and increased crying, being off-colour or having a fever.

Common reactions include: loss of appetite, diarrhoea, vomiting,

Rare reactions include:  febrile convulsions (fits) and floppiness.

Pneumococcal infections are caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumonia which can lead to pneumonia, septicaemia (blood poisoning) and meningitis.

Side effects of pneumococcal vaccine

Although the pneumococcal vaccination is safe, both the childhood and adult versions of the vaccines can cause mild side effects, including:

a mild fever, redness at the site of the injection, hardness or swelling at the site of the injection

Occasionally, the childhood version of the vaccine may lead to more serious side effects including:

high temperatures sometimes leading to convulsions (febrile seizures)
mild allergic reactions in the form of itching skin rashes
In very rare cases, children and adults can have a serious allergic, anaphylactic reaction and it can cause life-threatening breathing difficulties and collapse. It’s a serious side effect and is very alarming at the time, but it can be completely treated with adrenaline. The doctor or nurse giving the vaccine will have been trained to know how to treat anaphylactic reactions and, provided they receive treatment promptly, children and adults make a complete recovery.

Rotavirusis a highly infectious stomach bug that typically strikes babies and young children, causing an unpleasant bout of diarrhoea, sometimes with vomiting, tummy ache and fever. Most children recover at home within a few days, but nearly one in five will need to see their doctor, and one in 10 of these end up in hospital as a result of complications such as extreme dehydration. A very small number of children die from rotavirus infection each year. The rotavirus vaccine is expected to prevent four out of five cases of vomiting and diarrhoea caused by rotavirus and there could be 70% fewer hospital stays as a result.

Side effects of rotavirus vaccine

Common side effects: restless and irritability, mild diarrhoea
Rare side effects: As with all vaccines, there is a very rare (approximately one in a million) possibility of the rotavirus vaccine causing a severe allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is very serious and a medical emergency, but with prompt treatment most people make a full recovery. All health professionals responsible for giving vaccines should be trained to recognize and treat anaphylaxis. In very rare cases (about two in every hundred thousand babies vaccinated), the rotavirus vaccine can affect the baby’s lower gut and they may develop a rare gut disorder called intussusception. The symptoms of intussusception are tummy ache, vomiting and sometimes passing what looks like redcurrant jelly in their nappy. If this happens, contact your doctor immediately.

The Meningitis group C bacteria, can cause two very serious illnesses: meningitis and septicaemia.  The Men C vaccine does not protect against meningitis caused by other bacteria or by viruses such as meningococcal group B, so it’s important for parents to be aware of the symptoms of meningitis.

Side effects of Meningitis C vaccine

The Men C vaccine has an excellent safety record. The most common reactions tend to be minor and very temporary.   Many children and adults have no side effects at all after having the meningitis C vaccine, and in those that do, any side effects tend to be mild and short-lived.

Common reactions are: swelling, redness and pain around the injection site, mild fever, vomiting and diarrhoea (more common in babies and toddlers), crying, irritability, drowsiness, disrupted sleep and going off food (more common in babies and toddlers), headaches and muscle aches (teenagers and adults).
Rare side effects:  A baby can have an allergic reaction soon after the injection. This may take the form of a rash or itching that affects part or all of their body.
In very rare cases, an anaphylactic reaction – a severe allergic reaction – within a few minutes of the vaccination. This can cause breathing difficulties and collapse. It’s very alarming at the time, but the doctor or nurse giving the vaccine will have been trained to know how to treat these reactions and, provided they receive treatment promptly, children and adults make a complete recovery.  Very rarely, vaccine may trigger dizziness, fever-related seizures, fainting, numbness and a type of muscle weakness called hypotonia.

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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Vaka’s birth – part two

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Vaka’s birth – part two

Posted on 17 October 2014 by hulda

Sorry for the long wait.

Baby on the way

Moving the boat to the pier

My father is running around to find some kind of heating solution.  My husband moves the boat closer to a pier closer to the hospital so that the drive to there will be easier.  Soon, all the people in the Yacht Club are aware that a baby is about to be born in the Icelandic boat.  Helpers almost looking through the windows – quite funny.  My father runs off to Sai Kung to buy a gas cooker so that we can heat up water, but the rest of us all are in the boat relaxed and calm really.  The electrics are not getting sorted but the pool is up and a little bit of hot water. It is lunchtime on the 18th of April.  I call a midwife who I know and she is willing to come and cancel all her plans and help out a little bit, although of course a homebirth is not an option.

Slowly the labour moves into a little more stronger gear and my father and mother and law continue to boil water and pour into the pool, that I now am using.  It is such a great feeling, I just cannot imagine doing any birth without water myself.  Every time, it has been amazing.

Baby is kicking plenty, midwife is checking the heartbeat and I check my own dilation.  All normal, no change.  Soon, my 2 year old insists on jumping into the pool and we do some gymnastics in there for a while.  Such great pain relief to have the joy of a toddler, that finds all of this quite amazing.
Every now and again I get out of the pool and my oldest girl is massaging my back and putting a hot pack on there during the 5 min. apart contractions.  It is really nice to have them there.  Fruits and tea and pool and lying on the floor and comfort, great music and time passes and I feel that the dilation is not at all getting any more, although contractions are stronger.  At 7 pm I am still 3 cm dilated with bulging membranes and I can feel that they just need to break and then the baby will be born quickly.

 

Leaning forward during contractions

Leaning forward during contractions

Back Camera

One more dip in the pool, breathing and Saga (my 2 year old) climbing on my back in the water, AC/DC and Leonard Cohen mix of music and finally we decide to go to hospital.

Just in time, says my husband who has finished fixing the electronics on the boat, the water is now running and everyone has had their dinner at the back.

We do receive lots of greetings and bright smiles at 10 30 pm when we walk on the pier and every time I have a contraction I must lay down on my side for a minute.  I am wearing my bikinis and a wrap, and the group consists of me, my husband, two children, father, father in law, mother in law and the midwife.

After around 15 minutes of slowly making it to the car (my father in law quite embarrassed as he finds me, very pregnant in a bathing suit amongst other people, lying on the side on the concrete, not appropriate) we leave Sai Kung and drive to Queen Mary Hospital.

 

Kids helping out with the contractions in QMH

Kids helping out with the contractions in QMH

Labour slows down, like usual when you go to the hospital but we make it in 30 minutes and check in.  Very warm greetings and nice staff allows my kids and husband to stay with me for a while while all is checked and I tell them that I really want to break my waters myself as I did not want to do this at home but I know the baby will be born soon if that happens.  Freyja, my daughter massages my back and Starri tells me funny stories.  Holding my hands across the bed was like an anchor to me that I really did not want to let go of.

Finally I am moved across the hall to the delivery ward and was again greeted with the most amazing team.  As soon as I come in, they dim the lights, put on the music from Titanic (I have to smile a little) and offer me a massage, which I accept.  They are very good but then try to get my husband to do it and I know he would be better doing plenty of other things, so they just continue.

After about an hour of slowly moving into more active labour, I ask them to break my waters and in comes a very unfriendly doctor who tells me she will do nothing to help me if I am going to lie down, stop eating and have IV drip.  A little discussion and we agree on breaking the waters.

Soon after that I feel the urge to push.  And what a good feeling.

I know my kids are waiting in the waiting room and really wish they could be there but me and my husband have a lovely quiet time and he is in control of the TENS machine every contraction.  Each time he misses it, I  jerk and remind him and it is quite a funny thing when he in return jumps up from his half-asleep condition and presses the button.

Finally, the urge is so strong that I can not resist it and lying on my side, feeling the head with my hands, she is very very slowly, born.  The two midwives hardly said a word and just sat there in the corner, completely respecting my birth wishes.
She is born around 1 am on the 19th of April, perfect and beautiful, although her face takes hours to become normal color (her head was born in 3 contractions, so she was all very purple), she is of course the most beautiful thing.  We lift her to my chest and she straight away breastfeeds.

Still in this quiet room and no lights, middle of night, we are given an hour or so, until we go to the postnatal ward, and then home in the morning.

Just born in QMH

I manage to SMS my friend who lives nearby to instruct for her famous brownies to be made, and she manages to make them and my sister brings food and when I made it home to the boat, everything was just perfect.  Like at my previous births, the sight of the other kids when they saw their little sister was absolutely amazing.

 

4 kg

Coming home to the boat, the family and the joy was also something I never forget.

This time will never come back but I remember it like it was yesterday.  And the days after, and the weeks after, in a haze, feeding, cuddling and smelling this absolutely tiny thing that I wanted never never to stop being small.   So I just kept her in my arms all the time although I soon had to go to work, I took her with me and atnight she slept between me and my husband.

2 days old

2 days old

 

Every now and again we look at each other and think, well, should we put her in her own bed.  And we even did it a few times.  After an hour or two, he always goes to fetch her.

I am a busy mum, I work full time and I travel and do sports.  I give my kids far less time than most mums.  I try to make it a nice time.  I also hold onto them as hard as I can when they are little and cherish the moments.  I am so grateful for that time, and all the moments I have with them.   Every now and again, I think of the births and I miss them.  It was hard, long and tiring, this birth.

But it was absolutely worth it and every time I think of it I smile.

I will never let you go

I will never let you go

 

So does my father in law, and the whole of Hebe Haven Yacht club, I think.

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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Water in Hong Kong and its use in making up infant feeds

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Water in Hong Kong and its use in making up infant feeds

Posted on 12 September 2014 by Kristrun

Here at Annerley, we are frequently asked by parents for information on which water to use for making up bottles of infant formula and for using on its own for baby to bagsofBreastmilkdrink. This is a very difficult area to look into with no definitive evidence for blanket recommendations. A quick search on the Internet will show you that there is a lot of confusing and contradictory information which does not help in any way to quell the concerns of many parents with young babies.  The following information is based on our research into this area and we hope that it will help to answer some of your questions. Nicole Edwards, Peadiatric Dietitian, has worked with us to provide the following information.

Choosing which water source to use for making up infant feeds can be a difficult and confusing task for parents in Hong Kong. In most countries using boiled, cooled tap water to mix with feeds is the ideal choice but many people in Hong Kong express their concern over the quality of our tap water, in particular how it is delivered to the domestic tap. Some parents have opted to use bottled or mineral water. However, this option does not come without its own potential problems and costs. There are no international evidence-based guidelines regarding the use of mineral or spring waters in infant formula feeding therefore it is difficult to make  recommendations regarding which brand to use.

The responsibility of which water to choose still falls on the shoulders of the parent especially as there is essentially no ideal solution to be recommended.

It is important to note that in all cases, any water which is to be used for making up infant feeds (tap/filtered/bottled/spring/mineral) MUST be boiled and then cooled prior to using.

If parents are happy to use tap water, they may want to invest in commercially available water filters which are fitted to the domestic tap and consist of an activated carbon filter through which the water flows. It is important to note however that they are not recommended by the Water Supplies Department (WSD) as it is felt that they may become an ideal breeding ground for bacteria and may represent a health hazard if not maintained properly. If these filters are used, it is recommended that parents follow the manufacturer’s instructions and ensure that the filter cartridges are replaced regularly (at least once a month). It is essential that water from the tap (even if it first passes through a self-fitted filter) is boiled before it is used to make up infant formula feeds.

Reverse osmosis (RO) filters claim to be a more effective type of filter, removing pathogens and chemicals from the tap water. The system is permanently fixed to the domestic tap. Specialist companies in HK provide this service and will return to check and replace the filters. The installation and service of these filters is considerably more expensive than attaching a commercial filter to the domestic tap. The filter process removes chemicals, 95% of the water’s mineral content and metals and pesticides. Some bacteria and viruses are also removed however, this is not guaranteed and thus RO water should still be boiled if it is to be used for making up infant formulas.

Regarding distilled water, there is conflicting advice (none of which appears to be scientifically based) on whether distilled water has the ‘leaching out’ effect of minerals in the body. Distilled water has been said to act like a ‘magnet’ which collects rejected, discarded, and unusable minerals in the body and, assisted by the blood and the lymph, carries them to the lungs and kidneys for elimination from the body (from the book “Fit for Life II: Living Health” by Harvey & Marilyn Diamond) The same authors feel that it is impossible for distilled water to remove minerals which are already part of the cell structure, thus the ‘leaching out’ of essential minerals does not occur as these are already part of the cell.  It is uncertain whether adding minerals back into the water (for example in a brand such as Watsons Water with Minerals) after the distillation process would counteract this suggested property of distilled water.

Guidelines on maximum mineral concentrations acceptable for drinking water (UK Dept of Health figures)

Bottled water is not recommended to make up a feed as it is not sterile and may contain too much salt (sodium) or sulphate. If you have to use bottled water to make up a feed, check the label to make sure the sodium (also written as Na) level is less than 200 milligrams (mg) per litre, and the sulphate (also written as SO or SO4) content is not higher than 250mg per litre. It is not usually sterile, so it will still need to be boiled, like tap water, before you prepare the feed.  However you may need to use bottled water to make up a feed if:

• your drinking water has been contaminated because of flooding
• you’re travelling abroad and drinking the local water is not recommended.

(Ref: NHS 2012)The mineral composition of many mineral/spring waters does however fall well below the guidelines above thus parents may question why these cannot be used. As there are no other guidelines apart from the DOH ones above, parents must know that  they use mineral waters at their own risk, but assuming they choose waters which conform to the above standards, the risk of solute overload may be small. Due to this lack of clarity on the suitability of various waters whose mineral content actually does fall under the above recommendations, plus the large variety of waters on the market, it is impossible to endorse or recommend specific brands.

In summary:

  1. All water used for infant formula MUST be boiled and cooled before using to make up infant feeds.
  2. The quality of HK Water is considered safe for use in making up infant formula feeds provided the pipes and holding tanks within the building structure are up to standard which is the responsibility of the building management and parents to check.
  3. If parents opt to use tap water for feeds it is probably a good idea to fit a commercial water filter or Reverse Osmosis water filter to the domestic tap. If this is the chosen option parents must be aware of the potential hazards of the filter becoming a breeding ground for bacteria. Commercial filters therefore must be changed as regularly as recommended by the manufacturing company. The RO filter will also need to be cleaned and checked regularly by the providing company.
  4. Distilled bottled water with added minerals may be a safe alternative to tap water provided parents are aware of the conflicting advice given regarding its suitability and safety when bottled in plastic bottles. There is insufficient scientific information, as noted by the WHO, on the benefits or hazards of regularly consuming distilled water.
  5. Choosing other bottled waters for the regular use of mixing with infant formula may be confusing and costly. It is likely that choosing water which is simply labeled ‘bottled water’ (as opposed to spring or mineral water) may be the safest option as these waters are expected to conform to essentially the same standards as the public water supply and they are therefore suitable for giving to infants or for preparing feeds.
  6. If it is absolutely necessary to use ‘spring or mineral water’ for example if one is abroad and the tap water is not safe, then the composition of the water should be checked and avoided if the levels of minerals exceed the guidelines given above. As generally bottled water is not sterile, this MUST be boiled before use with infants.

Thanks to Nicole Edwards BSc RD, Clinical & Freelance Paediatric Dietitian based in Hong Kong, for her contribution to this article, first published in 2008 in the Annerley Newsletter.  

Comments regarding NHS guidelines added by Conchita Amende, 2014.

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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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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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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