Tag Archive | "mother"

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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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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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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Raising a happy child

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Raising a happy child

Posted on 13 February 2012 by hulda

It’s never too soon to help your child develop an inner strength to deal with the inevitable ups and downs of life. Hulda Thorey, founder of Annerley Maternity and Early Childhood Professionals, midwife and mother of four provides some tips:

  • Put baby on its tummy as early and as often as you can from birth onwards.  The child will see the world from a different angle and learn to reach out to get what he / she wants instead of always finding that everything comes automatically, for example dangling toys and ready-made play solutions.
  • Be moderate, not extreme, in your communications.
  • Praise when appropriate, and give as little attention as possible to less positive behavior.
  • Give very clear messages. Do what you say you will do (both treats and threats) –  and expect the same of the child.
  • Remember that the baby copies you.  It will not be told to behave in one way and then see you do things differently.
  • Don’t constantly try to make the baby follow rules.  Confidence and creativity can be killed if you force your child to stick to the usual rules.  For example, why do they have to colour inside the box on a pre-drawn picture?
  • Encourage interaction with people of a broad age.  Grandparents offer a very different perspective on life, and alternative ways in which to do things.  This usually provides a healthy addition to parenting.

 

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Helping Helpers: Domestic Helper’s Course

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Helping Helpers: Domestic Helper’s Course

Posted on 13 February 2012 by hulda

Give you and your helper confidence in caring for your baby plus weekly playgroups.

Cultural differences between helpers and ourselves can leave a gap in communication, a gap that Annerley tries to bridge. Donna Watts, mothercraft and registered nurse explains: “In the Philippines and Indonesia It is customary to hold and rock a baby to sleep. But recent studies and research show that it is actually more beneficial to the baby if we teach them to fall asleep on their own. We show helpers how to establish a routine and signals that indicate when it’s time for baby to go to sleep.”

Many of us simply couldn’t manage without our domestic helpers, our domestic helpers at https://www.nlzcleaninglongisland.com/ can multi-task with ease, running errands, cooking and cleaning our homes. Not all of them are prepared for the huge responsibilities that come with childcare. And when it’s your baby, you want to make sure that you can give your helper all the help and knowledge she needs to look after your precious babe.

“By teaching the domestic helper’s the latest in childcare studies, mums can feel more confident that they are leaving their baby’s at home with the best care possible,” says Watts. “It’s hands on as only in that way can we see the problems. For example, some helpers misunderstand what we mean by lie a baby on its back, placing the baby on its stomach with its back up.”

The course extensively covers all the major topics concerning baby care, including:

  • Hygiene and minor ailments,
  • How to ensure babies sleep well and learn self settling techniques
  • Breastfeeding support
  • Use of infant formula and introducing solid foods
  • Developmental milestones and appropriate play for different stages
  • Infant CPR, first aid and safety.

Course materials are provided and Annerley will also provide feedback to you and your domestic helper about their progress at the end of the course.

Price: 2650 HKD

For more info: http://www.annerley.com.hk/index.php/Product/554/Domestic-Helper-s-Course.html

Maid and Baby Playgroup:

Maid and Baby happen every Wednesday morning from 10 to 12. Maids bring babies and interact with the children in a playgroup setting. Donna Watts supervises the group discussing different topics as they come up. Donna gives maids hands on instructions on how to deal with each baby. It is a great opportunity for a casual evaluation and our observations of how baby and helper interact mean we can raise any ‘red flag’ areas that parents can look out for at home. This program’s success has been written about and posted on sites like https://www.maidcomplete.com/house-cleaning-dallas.php with great reviews and comments. Anyone interested should give it a glance.

  • It’s open to all maids and babies under the age one 1 year old.
  • There’s no need to register, just drop in!
  • We also offer coffee, tea and other light refreshments.

Profile: Donna Watts

Donna runs our Infant and Baby Massage courses as well as our mother and baby groups and early development sessions at Annerley, teaching some of the domestic helpers training classes as well.

Donna is a 25 year experienced mothercraft and enrolled nurse. She worked for 17 years in a maternity hospital in Australia specializing in newborn and special care treatment prior to commencing her own baby health clinics throughout Sydney from 2005. Her experience is centred around the 0 – 3 years of age infants with focus on growth and development. She has 3 adult children and enjoys outdoor activities and meeting new people.

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A very simple game idea for a 7 – 12 months old

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A very simple game idea for a 7 – 12 months old

Posted on 03 February 2012 by Annerley

…all you need is space and a small ball…

…helps with balance, co-ordination, creativity, autonomy… and so much more…

Give it a try.  And stay away.  Let the little one discover this on his/her own.

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Home birth

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Home birth

Posted on 15 January 2012 by Annerley

Last week I was lucky enough to be there for the birth of a beautiful little boy at home, born to two of the parents that i have been seeing regularly during pregnancy in the last few months.  The parents, Arden and Michell, had prepared very well for the birth and everything was well in place for a good homebirth.  With the help from a great friend and midwife in Hong Kong, I was able to help Arden and Michell to have a safe and very much so peaceful birth.

A few thoughts always go through my head when I am fortunate enough to be a part of births like this, although i will still say that many hospital births can be absolutely lovely as well.  The first one is, that at home, the peace and quiet that comes with the environment has such a good effect on everyone.  Also the fact that I am invited to the event, rather than the woman, who sometimes feels quite scared and insecure to begin with, having to be taken to a place where she is less in control.   Also, the father gets to play a host and supporter in an environment where he actually is in control and this gives a whole lot of confidence to him.

Then, once the dilation is full and the baby is moving lower in the pelvis, giving the urge to push, it is just so relaxed and calm.  Instead of the somehow shift in the atmosphere where everyone gets “ready to push” and even stirrups are pulled out, lights come on etc.  – at home nothing really changes other than the woman who slowly starts to put pressure into her breathing and gently bear down.

I can never really resist a few tears and goosebumps when the baby finally arrives, it is just so pure and joyful.  Every time.

Thank you Arden and Michell for allowing me and Sarah to be with you and share the first moments in Shaunyos life outside of the womb.

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…some common baby q&a

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…some common baby q&a

Posted on 20 December 2011 by Annerley

Is it true that newborn babies only see black and white, and no colors?

To a certain extend this is correct.  The eyes of newborn babies are not fully developed and for a while after they are born they can not fully see colors.  They also cannot focus far away so only things around 10 – 30 cm away from their eyes are clearly visible.

My baby has got a bit of hair and it is growing fast, but there are some bold areas on the back of his head.  Is this normal?

Yes, and try not to worry about this.  This happens mainly because babies lie on their backs most of the time and the friction between the head and the surface underneath usually causes some of the hair to fall off.  Because of increased risk of cot-death when babies sleep on their front, sleeping on the back is the preferred position so most parents see bold spots on their babies’ heads after a while.  The good thing is that after the hair grows a bit thicker, this bold spot disappears and you never see any signs it was there in the first place.

When is the right time to give solid foods to babies?

The need for solid food differs quite between babies.  They also tolerate new types of food in a different way, so therefore it is important not to start too early and start really slowly.  We recommend parents to take the baby to a baby clinic and get advice from midwives or doctors on what is suitable for each child.  General guidelines from the WHO in 2005 are to wait until the baby is 6 months old and ideally to feed only breast milk until then.

How often do we have to change nappies?

As a rule of thumb, it is good to change nappies every time you feed the baby, ideally in the end of the feed since most babies will urinate/pass stools during the fees or right after.   If your child develops nappy rash, you must change more frequently than this and try and ensure some time every day without the nappy to dry the area.  You do not have to change the nappy every time the baby does a little pee unless the baby seems really sensitive to this.

Is it good or bad to warm up milk in the microwave?

BAD!!  Microwave ovens are designed in the way that temperature of fluids that have been heated can be extremely uneven.  Then when you touch the milk on the outside of the bottle it might seem the right temperature, but inside it might be a lot warmer, causing serious damage to the baby’s mouth and stomach.  Another reason is also that some of the ingredients of the Breast milk can be damaged with microwaves.

If you wish to warm up milk, we suggest to put hot water (30 – 40 degrees) in a small bowl and then to put the bottle in there for a few minutes.  The milk will warm up quickly without any risk to the baby.  Make sure to test the milk before feeding it, by putting a drop on the inside of your arm/wrist.  It should not feel hot.

Colic – what to do?

Babies often get the occasional colicky period, without developing“every day” colic.  Best way to deal with it is to try different advice and see what seems to suit your child.  You might want to try and have the baby lie flat on the stomach on your forearm and walk around like this.  Also you can make chamomile tea and cool it down until around room temperature, and then give around 2 teaspoons.  This often soothes the stomach and lasts for a few hours.  If the baby does not seem to be calmed in any way, call a midwife or a doctor to get advice.  Another treatment that has proven both very popular and useful is to have osteopathic treatment.  At Annerley, Ines De Beer is our in-house osteopath.

When can I give my child normal cow’s milk?

In the first year, if the baby is not given the breast milk, formula powder is the second best option.  When the child has been given food from all food groups and has gotten used to those, he/she can have cows milk.  This is usually around 12 months of age.  We recommend delaying giving other types of dairy, such as cheese and yogurt until 9 – 11 months, or at least give them sparingly.

How can I prevent nappy rash?

  • Most babies get nappy rash sometime in their early months.  Here are some tips about how to prevent it:
  • Clean the bottom carefully with only cotton wool and water and dry well with a cloth.
  • Leave the baby with no diaper on for a while every day, or even every time when you change a nappy.
  • Change nappies as soon as they get dirty.

If none of this works, a nappy rash cream might be helpful, especially the ones with zinc oxide in.

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Massage with mother

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Massage with mother

Posted on 16 December 2011 by hulda

The endless benefits for you and your baby with infant massage.

 

Infant massage is by no means a new fad, it has been a part of a mother and infants daily routine for centuries right across cultures around the world, and we can understand why.

That first touch between mother and child is one of the most magical moments a mother will experience, it is the most significant foundation upon which you create that bond with your child.

“To touch is to love,” enlightens Donna Watt. With 25 years of experience in early childhood development and a certified mothercraft nurse who teaches an infant massage course at Annerley in Hong Kong. As well as mother of two herself, who better to take advice from?

Donna has seen the struggle of dealing with the after effects of a cesarean or the trauma of giving birth to a premature baby can have on a mothers confidence and in her abilities in motherhood. It is a painful obstacle to overcome on top of the everyday worries and fears motherhood brings. But there is hope and Donna believes its Infant Massage that can bring about the most radical and positive changes to a mother’s outlook and confidence.

A massage is an enjoyable experience you won’t hear anyone turning down and it is no different a fact for our babies. Though what makes an infant massage so special is the fact that it is not just something done to our baby but done with our baby. It can improve that crucial bond and relationship with your infant like no other methods out there. Infant massage opens up the doors of communication between mother and child. The techniques you learn are guaranteed to teach you how to engage and relax your child, facilitating your already budding parenting skills.

Infant Massages won’t just benefit your baby, but you yourself as well. In terms of psychosocial advantages for your baby, massages will amplify your child’s sense of love and trust, promoting attachments to you as a parent. And in return you will improve your ability to read your baby’s cues and encourage synchrony connecting you together, which is what we all want with our infants.

The major physical benefits everyone is raving about is the fact that infant massage has been proven to encourage:

  • Relaxation in our babies (which inevitably mean a more relaxed mummy!)
  • Improvements to the babies’ skin with the encouragement of blood circulation through the body.
  • Digestive benefits, babies who receive massages prove to suffer less from colic and constipation.
  • Respiratory developments minimize coughs, colds, and both ear and nasal infections.

Countless studies have reiterated these listed advantages of infant massage. Studied effects on premature babies show that the effects of stroking and massaging premature newborns for as little as 15minutes, three times a day over a period of just ten days saw a massive 47% weight gain than the average premature baby that wasn’t massaged. (T. Field & F. Scafidi)

Annerley provides an excellent Infant Massage course consisting of four, 1.5hour sessions which will teach you first hand the benefits of baby massage, concentrating on specific strokes used for different part of your baby’s body. It will give you the confidence and techniques you can take home with you to improve not just your infant’s development and body system but more importantly the strengthening of your bond with your precious baby.

 

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Antenatal preparation in Hong Kong

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Antenatal preparation in Hong Kong

Posted on 16 November 2011 by Annerley

“I am 7 weeks pregnant and I have just moved to Hong Kong.  How does the system work; where do I register and where is it best to give birth?“  Calls or emails of this sort are not uncommon in our practice and every time I wish there was a concrete answers for all the parents in this situation.  There is no such answer though, and each couple finds different reasons for doing different things to prepare for the arrival of their child.

Just pregnant – public and private maternity services

In Hong Kong, every person with an ID card has the right to use the government hospital maternity services and the cost will be minimal.  The maternal health clinics generally give really good service, although sometimes English is not perfect and communication aims more for being efficient and medical than “consumer friendly”. However, in terms of staff, equipment, safety and resources, clinics and hospitals are perfectly up to standards and Hong Kong is one has one of the lowest morbidity and mortality rates in the world.

When people have insurance cover or simply chose to pay for private maternity services, there is a variety of hospitals to choose from and most of them offer all basic care, emergency cover for operation theatre and paediatric backup.  Choosing this, you will often have more choices in terms of the birth itself; less policies to worry about and can decide more who is with you during the labour.  You will also both be pampered more and given more privacy than public hospitals can offer.  I found the entire procedure very simple as I had Health Insurance In Maryland. I also find that after the birth, women that have stayed in some of the private hospitals will have more success with breastfeeding, mostly because the staff seems to have more time to help with initial challenges.

Private hospitals are usually also well equipped but it is important to know that they not be able to take care of seriously ill newborn and premature babies before week 34 of pregnancy are taken to a public hospital for intensive care.

Maternity checkups

In the beginning, you are advised to see a midwife or doctor around every 4 weeks for routine checkups and screening of risks/abnormalities.  Luckily most women come away from those without complications but depending on circumstances, some women would be recommended or offered the following screening tests and scans:

  • 6 – 10 weeks:  Early ultrasound scan to confirm pregnancy and possible due date.
  • 11 – 14 weeks:  Nuchal Translucency Scan.  This is a risk assessment to screen for Downs syndrome.  The test is often combined with a blood test to give more accuracy and if the result indicates a high risk, you might be offered amniocentesis, which then would be done around week 15-18.
  • 18 – 20 weeks:  Ultrasound to confirm due date and to check with accuracy for any physical abnormalities with the baby.  Also to check the lying of the placenta and to confirm singleton/twin pregnancy.
  • 24 – 28 weeks:  Glucose tolerance test to exclude diabetes during pregnancy.  Usually good to check iron levels at the same time (Hb and/or Ferritin).
  • 34 – 36 weeks:  A scan to confirm that baby is growing and developing well.

When the pregnancy progresses, you will see the doctor/midwife more frequently, or around every 2 – 3 weeks.  The visits are routine health checkups for you and the baby, but you can try and use the time to get to know your caregiver and introduce to her/him the ideas you might have about the birth itself.  That way you will slowly find a way to try to fulfil the wishes you have and minimize fears that sometimes arise when communication is not good.

Preparing for the birth 

When it comes to preparing for the actual birth, in some ways it can be best to not have any set ideas about how you want it to be, to avoid a complete shock or disappointment if it does not turn out the way you had planned it to.  There is, however, a great difference between preparing and detailed planning.

The birth is a journey

It is in a way similar to prepare for a marathon hike that you don’t know how long is, or where it is taking place.  You gather general information, try and think about different scenarios and how you think you would respond to those.  Other than that, the preparation is mostly about staying fit, feeling psychologically well, eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water and making sure you get plenty of rest.  This sounds familiar, since, this is what all pregnant women are advised to do anyway.

Sometimes, when planning for the birth, people tend to think that all of a sudden some new powers start to work on the body to change the way it functions, and therefore they need to learn a totally new technique to deal with this.  In my experience as a midwife, this is not the case; there are surely physical challenges that are new, but mostly you rely on already established methods that you just don’t know that you have!

What do I need to know?

To help yourself to feel more in control when you are in labour, it is useful to gather some information about the process and what to expect from the hospital staff.  Reading, talking to friends and family and discussing with your doctor or midwife is all a part of this.  If you want to go one step further, antenatal classes might be an option.  In Hong Kong, the Queen Mary hospital offers English speaking classes for parents that plan to give birth there, as well as a tour of the labour ward.  Some private hospitals also offer this, and in most cases you will find them to be specially aimed for presenting each hospitals ideology and protocols, often involving the staff of the actual labour ward – which is useful.

When deciding on preparation classes you might want to ask yourself:

1.     What do you want from the classes?

2.     Who is teaching them and what background do they have?

3.     Do they follow any special philosophy?

4.     Are they mainly giving practical information or is there any training also involved?

5.     How many couples will there be in the classes?

6.     Is there a chance for questions and discussions?

Private midwives, such as here at Annerley offer childbirth preparation classes that usually aim for more independent view, meaning that parents are encouraged to rather follow their own intuition than the hospital protocols.  This sometimes can be a challenge for parents if the staff at the hospital does not have the same ideas about what are reasonable demands and what is too independent.  Luckily though, most of us are being realistic and we help parents to find a way that suits everyone without any dilemmas.  With parents being more demanding, there have been a lot of changes towards more modern attitude in the labour room, including the option of mothers using different positions when giving birth, use of birth ball and less routine use of episiotomy and medical pain relief.

Minimizing interventions

Most antenatal classes have one of their aims to minimize the chances of negative birth experience caused by unexpected events.  A part of this is to encourage the parents to be actively involved in the process of making decisions, and being informed.  To decrease chances of medical interventions, it is also important to find a balance between physical activity and relaxation, and be upright and mobile to speed up the process of contractions.

Sometimes, however, it is necessary to step in the process and use medical interventions, such as emergency C-section, vacuum extraction or forceps.  For parents that are well prepared, this is usually not a desired outcome but it should not have to be too shocking, given that communication channels are kept open and people feel informed at all stages in the process.  This is why it is important in the preparation of the birth to not have a rigid plan, but rather ideas that then get developed when you actually feel what it is like to be in the process.

You just have to go with the flow

When I started doing antenatal classes, I soon found that parents often walked away with too unrealistic image of what might happen during the labour, so I added a private lesson into the antenatal package.  This, I found, helped greatly to clear out misunderstandings or dilemmas that often rise in group lessons and also gave the parents a chance to write down their ideas of the birth with some private guidance.  I find that most midwives and doctors will give you the chance of something similar if you ask for it, and actually value your involvement when it not too unrealistic.  In the end of the day, you just have to go with the flow, trust your instincts and make sure you at all times make your wishes clear to the ones around that are trying to help.

Hulda Thorey 2011

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