Tag Archive | "pregnant"

Your Relationship Plus a New Baby: See Allison’s advice on Sassy mama

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Your Relationship Plus a New Baby: See Allison’s advice on Sassy mama

Posted on 04 May 2015 by Kristrun

SassyRelationsihpallisonYour Relationship Plus a New Baby: What to expect and how to support your partner

 ”A baby neither makes nor breaks a marriage; a baby can, however, highlight the weaknesses and strengths of a marriage and will inevitably change it. How a couple chooses to respond to this change can set the tone for years to come — for better or worse, in sickness and in health.

What changes after the baby arrives:

Labour arrives and so too does the baby. The initial moments and months can be an intoxicating, maddening mixture of delight and frustration. Who is this soul, and how do we care for him/her? How do we care for ourselves? And, what happens to the marriage?”.

To read the full article on Sassy Mama - click here

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

 

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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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A good birth

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A good birth

Posted on 15 October 2014 by Kristrun

Epidural during labour can give good pain relief but requires monitoring throughoutEver since I came to Hong Kong, now 14 years ago, I have been helping women to go through the journey of pregnancy and birth in such a way that they, their partner and their baby may have the potential of the best possible outcome, physically and emotionally.  What has become obvious to me is that somehow the whole birth event – when preparing – is often something that people look at in a black-and-white way, so when it comes to actually going through the process, most are surprised and are not well prepared at all.

So what is a good birth?
My opinion is that a good birth is a birth where you and your partner feel you have had your baby safely, where your wishes were treated genuinely well and you feel that you were supported to enjoy the experience in a respectful way.   This is usually achieved when you are in charge of your own birth i.e. allowed to do what you want while you go through labour, whilst professional staff also ensure that you and your baby are safe.  When I was at the very first birth in my midwifery training, my mentor at the time told me that my role in that room was to make sure that the woman and her baby were safe and they needed to be monitored and helped to continue to be so, but I was not allowed to order that woman to do anything.  If she wanted to crawl on the floor, sit in the corner, leave the room, take a bath etc., she was allowed all that, but I just had to chase her with my equipment, should I need to do any medical tests or checks on her.  I was not allowed to tell her to change whatever she was doing to make herself comfortable.

The reason for this is that when women go through labour, they gradually find ways to cope with it in a manageable way, as long as they are left to it and perhaps helped a little bit every now and again.  Similar to animals, if disturbed, they will often feel scared and anxious and lose the focus to cope and help themselves to have an easier birth.  Adrenaline takes over and the birth feels more painful and also is often described as “out of control” by the women.

Factors that may contribute to  making the birth easier for women are  things like:  moving about, eating and drinking, changing the environment in any way that feels best (lights, the setup of furniture is very important and you can learn more on Reclinercize about how to make it idea with cushions, birth balls etc), using toilet and shower, having the people around you that you want, having privacy (believe it or not but in many hospitals, staff just wander in and out of the labour room as they wish, without even knocking -  and often there is a half naked labouring woman in there).  Many women also complain that they are treated as if they are expected to just “do as they are told”  and “behave”  -  for example not to make any noise, or to lie down when it does not feel comfortable but the staff feels they should and so on, and this puts stress on them.

A good birth = natural birth?  
Perhaps, but it depends on how you define natural.  There is a common belief amongst women that a good birth is a natural birth only.  Anything not natural means that the birth has gone wrong.  Other women define a good birth as a pain-free one, and many define it as a birth where they feel in control.  I would say that if your expectations for a good birth are as rigid as this, it may be hard to meet them.

A birth where you are mostly in control is usually the birth that is remembered afterwards as a good one.  Control can mean so many different things,  but in labour if it means that at all times, explanations are given to you, you are supported to make decisions on your own, within safe limits, and regardless of the TIME the labour and birth takes and the INTENSITIY of the labour,  there is support available to you.  Much effort has been put into researching this and it is generally the view of labouring mothers that non-support in labour equals non-control AND a less positive birth experience. Similarly, good support through labour and birth, equals control and a good birth experience.  Take note that this is more or less regardless of pain, length of labour, or medical interventions.

Different types of labour
Many mothers are unaware of some factors in our modern world greatly affect the outcome of the birth.  In Hong Kong, one of the biggest factors is how labour starts.  A labour that starts at home, on its own, with contractions gradually building up, membranes intact and a normal, full length pregnancy and the woman can stay at home for most of her early labour, has a very good chance of a normal vaginal birth, with almost no medical intervention or unexpected surprises.  It is likely to be similar to most of the births that preparation books and classes have portrayed.  Where the onset of labour is more complicated, the rest of the labour is likely to be more complicated.  So you are to conclude that this will mean that you will not be able to have a good birth, you are in trouble!  Thinking out of the box is very necessary here and it is very important to focus on making the birth a good one – given the circumstances you are in.  So you have to ask yourself, what is REALLY important to you, apart from a healthy baby?

Birth is a journey that can be long, rough and totally different to what you expected it to be.  Still, it can be a very good one, as long as you have solutions and help available when you meet your challenges.  And fewer challenges do not always mean a better trip.

Given this, I would suggest, before the birth to ask yourself the following:

1.    What kind of birth do you want and WHY?
2.    What are the circumstances that have been proven to maximize the chances of that kind of a birth?
3.    What is your view of pregnancy and birth in general?
4.    Why did you pick your doctor/midwife/hospital?  Have they been supportive during the pregnancy?
5.    Have you realized the difference between the labouring stage and birthing stage?
6.    What about the subject of pain?   Should it be there or not?  How to avoid it?  What are your opinions based on?
7.    Control.  How would you define this?
8.    Your partner & support people.  Will they be supportive?  How do you know?  Have you discussed your ideas?
9.    If you want a totally natural, non-intervention birth, have you prepared this way? How?

Safety and Comfort
Birth is an event that happens very differently to different people.  If you are going to have a good one, it is important to remember that doctors and midwives care very much about safety.  If you have picked your doctor and hospital, trust that they will genuinely do the best for you in this regard.  You are the one to take care of your comfort – and to make the birth a good one.  This you do by self exploring, preparing realistically and looking at all the different options you have regarding the birth, not only before, but also during the labour.  This means that despite the length or strength of labour and the hard work, at all times you keep matters in your own hands, get help when needed and make sure that the team around you is one to be genuinely devoted to what you want.

Hulda

(Slightly edited from first publication in the Parents Journal, Hong Kong)

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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A quick guide to exercise and sex while pregnant

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A quick guide to exercise and sex while pregnant

Posted on 26 June 2014 by Kristrun

shutterstock_78585802Informed choice during pregnancy and childbirth is something that all parents should be able to make.  Unfortunately, it seems like many parents are being advised to change their lifestyle drastically when they get pregnant, for example in regards to exercise and sex.  Normal, healthy women who become pregnant can usually continue their lifestyle in a similar way as before as long as they feel good and their body sends no message otherwise.  We have written many articles about this and research done on this supports the same as stated above.  This is a very quick guide for pregnant moms and dads to be:

  • Sex is safe at all stages of pregnancy for a normal, healthy pregnant woman. Enjoy it.
  • If you have any complications such as low lying placenta, vaginal bleeding, sexual diseases – consult your midwife or a doctor.
  • Many women and men feel insecure and stressed about sex while pregnant. They are afraid their baby will be harmed in some way, but this is not the case as the baby is very well protected within the womb, with amniotic fluid, the membranes and cervix for protection.
  • If a woman is considered high risk for premature labour, it is better to avoid sexual intercourse.
  • After giving birth many women will enjoy sex even more than before.
  • Most forms of exercise are fine to continue, as long as you are careful and don’t overdo it.
  • Pre-natal yoga and pilates are wonderful ways to increase flexibility, strength and stamina – just the things you need when preparing for birth.  We advise you go to classes where the instructor has experience and is properly trained to deal with  pregnant women as some exercises can be non-appropriate at certain stages of pregnancy and after birth.
  • You should always talk with your doctor if you have a pre-existing condition such as asthma or diabetes, or any structural problems.
  • Exercise may also not be advisable if you have a pregnancy-related condition such as a low placenta, recurrent miscarriage, history of early labour or an incompetent cervix.

Listen to your body and make sensible choices. When you are pregnant it’s not the best time to start kickboxing or wakeboarding. Continue doing what you are used to be doing if you feel like it. Don’t overdo it and remember there is a little person growing inside of you. You may need more rest than before and be sure to keep a close eye on any unusual changes.  The relaxin hormone that assists you to stretch more and have an easier birth sometimes makes all ligaments and some body parts more relaxed during pregnancy too, so running on uneven surfaces, jumping etc. is not a good idea, plus your pelvic floor is likely not going to get any stronger with these types of exercises.  The baby itself will not be harmed, but this is to ensure that your own body recovers well after birth and to prevent any damages that otherwise may occur.

Two very useful and more detailed articles about the sex when women ask themselves, what is sizegenetics? And when women ask themselves how to exercise while pregnant:

http://www.annerley.com.hk/blog/exercise-during-pregnancy/

http://www.annerley.com.hk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Playtimes.-November-Lets-get-physical.pdf

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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Testimonial from Regina

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Testimonial from Regina

Posted on 18 September 2013 by Kristrun

I just wanted to let you know how supportive the staff at Annerley have been during my pregnancy & now in caring for my daughter. When I moved to Hong Kong, I was 12 weeks pregnant. It was a bit daunting to be pregnant in a foreign country where I wasn’t familiar with the medical system and had limited social support. From the start, through Belly to Belly Workshops and antenatal classes, the staff at Annerley provided me with opportunities to learn about the maternity system in Hong Kong, gave me the tools hlep me to advocate for myself within the system, and provided me with all the information I needed for a healthy pregnancy and delivery. In working with Sofie during Belly to Belly workshops, one to one meetings, and the positioning class, I had a very fast labor and was able to have the non medicalized, drug-free birth I wanted. Given my history as brain tumor survivor, it would have been easy for the highly medicalized physicians in Hong Kong to convince me that I needed a scheduled c-section. However, the staff at Annerley taught me what questions to ask the physicians, how to express my wishes, and how I would know if and when medical interventions would be necessary. It was very useful when Sofie taught me about the importance of posture during pregnancy to help with the baby’s position. I was thrilled with my labor and birth, being able to labor in the different positions Sofie taught and even deliver standing up.
The midwife visits after returning home from the hospital with my daughter helped my husband and me feel more comfortable caring for our daughter and more confident in our parenting. The night we arrived home, my daughter was having some difficulty eating and it was very comforting to know that Rowena would be visiting the next morning to help sort us out. During those early weeks, having Rowena and Conchita visit helped us get through difficult days and nights. Breastfeeding was difficult for me due to my medical history and without the support of Annerley and the visiting midwives, I would not have been able to breastfeed at all. With proper planning before my daughter’s birth and support afterwards, I was able to provide breast milk to my daughter for 10 weeks. While that might seem like a short time for many mothers, for me, it was a major accomplishment. During those 10 weeks, when things got difficult & I wasn’t sure I could continue, support from Conchita helped very much. Her family centered and strengths based approach helped me to think through what the goal was for me, my baby and my family and what was going to make for a happy mom and happy baby, without any pressure to continue breastfeeding. Since giving birth, I have come to clinic, had home visits, and one to one meetings with Conchita. I appreciate that I can ask any parenting, childcare or medical question, no matter how big or small. And unlike visits with pediatricians, Conchita focuses on our entire family’s wellness and happiness, not just our baby’s. It is very comforting to know that Conchita and the staff at Annerley are available through all the stages of my daughters development. I am looking forward to discussing the next milestone with Conchita, starting solids. Conchita has been able to provide the medical support and emotional support that all new parents need.
My helper took Conchita’s course, “Caring for 0-12 month old babies” in the spring. My helper has over 20 years raising Western children but my husband and I felt strongly that she take a course from the same professionals who were teaching our antenatal and childcare classes. When my helper came home from the course each day, she was energized and shared with me the different things that she learned. It was fantastic that Conchita taught her new things and sent her home with “homework assignments”. It encouraged her to have conversations with me about what she was learning. Some of the highlights for both of us included baby proofing the house, how to encourage language development, and starting solids. It was wonderful that Conchita could make this information exciting to such a seasoned child care provider. Additionally, Conchita stressed to helpers in the class the importance of communication with employers. This ended up being a helpful reinforcement for both my helper and myself when after the baby arrived we realized we needed to communicate differently than we had before. I would highly recommend the course to all helpers who will be working with infants regardless of how much experience they have.
The services at Annerley fill the gap many of us feel without local family and give new parents the opportunity to get support on childcare and parenting, which is something the medical system does not routinely provide.
Thank you for all that you do,

Regina Karchner September 2013

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Prenatal Charges & OB-GYN Fees in Hong Kong 2013

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Prenatal Charges & OB-GYN Fees in Hong Kong 2013

Posted on 21 August 2013 by hulda

Pre-natal Charges & OB-GYN Fees in Hong Kong 2013Published in Geobaby – 3 May 2013

Having a baby in Hong Kong? Our list of OB-GYNs and their charges will be a good start for you as you embark on your journey to mommyhood.

For your convenience and quick reference, we’ve compiled a list of doctors who deliver in Hong Kong, and their basic fees. In the table below, you will find the hospitals the doctors deliver in, and the fees for the consultation, ultrasounds, and the price of natural vs. c-section deliveries.

There were some data that we were unsuccessful in obtaining, so if you’ve just had a baby please share your doctor’s fees with us. All of these doctors can be found in our directory, but if your doctor isn’t listed here, drop us a line at editor@geobaby.com.

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Exercise during pregnancy

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Exercise during pregnancy

Posted on 09 August 2013 by Kristrun

Feeling great and staying safe

bekkabumbaIt was not so long ago that pregnant women were encouraged to cut back on exercise, if not stop altogether. We now know, of course, that the right sort of physical activity is only ever a good thing.

Maintaining a regular exercise routine throughout your pregnancy can help you stay healthy and feel your best. Pregnancy can drain your energy, so the boost of feel-good hormones which result from exercise can really help your mood. It can improve your posture and decrease some common discomforts such as backache and fatigue. There is evidence that physical activity may prevent gestational diabetes, relieve stress, and build more stamina needed for labor and delivery.

“Maintaining an exercise programme which is right for you can only ever be beneficial, and will also help you prepare for labour, birth and beyond” says Annerley midwife  Sofie Jacobs.

Even if you have been a couch potato up until now, you can still begin an exercise regime whilst carrying your baby. Just take it easy and start slowly – walking is a great way to begin – and always consult your doctor if exercising is something new for you and how to chose the best nurses stethoscope for home usage.

What exercise is safe during pregnancy?

Actually, as it has been made evident on sites like FitnessTrainer.com, most forms of exercise are fine to continue, as long as you are careful and don’t overdo it. Activities with low risk of injury, such as swimming, brisk walking, indoor stationary cycling, step or elliptical machines, and low-impact aerobics or dancing can be continued until birth.

Tennis, badminton and other racquet sports are also usually fine, but as you grow larger and your centre of gravity changes, your balance may be affected as you make rapid movements. If you were previously a jogger, then carry on with care. Just listen to your body and don’t push yourself to the point of exhaustion.

If you are an athlete or have been working with a personal trainer before your pregnancy, then it is usually fine for you to carry on as before. One point to note with cardio-vascular exercise is that the “talk-test” is far more important than monitoring your heart-rate, as you may have been used to doing pre-bump. In other words, stop before you reach the point where breathing becomes so laboured that you can no longer hold a conversation easily.

Pre-natal yoga and pilates are wonderful ways to increase flexibility, strength and stamina – just the things you need when preparing for birth! But it is important to make sure your instructor is qualified in this field, as the hormones produced during pregnancy can cause the ligaments which support your joints to loosen and stretch. This helps your baby to enter the world come the Big Day, but can also increase your risk of injury during exercise. The same goes for the extra and varying distribution of weight which can lead to stresses and strains and increase the risk of loss of balance.

Exercises to avoid

Common sense would tell us that any activity which has a high risk of falling or injury is not a good idea, so maybe save the skiing or horse-riding until after baby has arrived. Contact sports such as football, volleyball, hockey, basketball etc have the double risk of injury from a fast-moving projectile coupled with a lot of jarring movements and rapid changes of direction both of which can cause abdominal trauma.

Activities often advised against are those which require extensive jumping, hopping, skipping, bouncing, or running as well as certain movements such as deep knee bends and leg raises. However, if you were doing this kind of thing before, it may be perfectly fine for you to carry on as normal so always check with an expert first.

Bouncing whilst stretching is never a good idea, pregnant or not, and exerting yourself in hot, humid conditions is of course discouraged. Better swap the Hong Kong summer hikes up hills for something cooler!

Avoid exercises which involve lying flat on your back for prolonged periods of time. This can cause compression of a large blood vessel called the vena cava and cause dizziness and discomfort.

When you should stop

It’s very important to listen to your body and only do what feels good for you. You may not be able to continue with the same level of exercise which you were used to back when the only “body” you had to consider was your own! Stop exercising and consult your midwife or doctor if you feel anything out of the ordinary, other than breathing a little faster and the familiar feeling of muscles working.

Most pertinent to pregnant women would be any abdominal or pelvic pain/contractions, an absence or decrease in fetal movement, headache, vaginal bleeding or leaking, sudden swelling of any part of your body, difficulty in walking or muscle weakness. As well as, of course, the regular signs to watch out for such as chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness etc.

When it’s not a good idea

You should always talk with your health care provider if you have a pre-existing condition such as asthma or diabetes. Exercise may also not be advisable if you have a pregnancy-related condition such as a low placenta, recurrent miscarriage, history of early labour or an incompetent cervix.

If you have any questions to ask regarding exercise during pregnancy, or after birth, why not book a private consultation with one of our midwifes. Available in the office, on Skype or over the phone.  

Related article: Brazilian Jiu Jitsu In San Diego.

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Thank you Emma and Olivia!

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Thank you Emma and Olivia!

Posted on 29 March 2012 by hulda

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

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

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

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

Emma Saunders, 2012

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A Natural Birth Story

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A Natural Birth Story

Posted on 20 March 2012 by hulda

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

Heather from Pangea shares her story:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Natural births in Hong Kong

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Natural births in Hong Kong

Posted on 20 March 2012 by hulda

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

Natural birth

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

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

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

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

Where to give birth in Hong Kong

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Home births

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

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

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

Doula care

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

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

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

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

Prepare well

To all pregnant women I would suggest:

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

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

Hulda Thorey, 2012

 

Points to remember regarding hospitals:

Public hospitals: 

Possible challenges:

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

On the positive side:

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

C-section rates much lower than in private hospitals.

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