When you’re living in another country as an expat there’s a lot to adjust to. Add to that having babies and finding your feet as a parent, and the challenges might seem overwhelming at times. Without family support, and with Hong Kong’s very short maternity leave policies, new mums often turn to a nanny to get the help they need in the early days. We spoke to Rent-A-Mum to get the lowdown on their services.
Back in the day, before domestic helpers were a common fixture in Hong Kong homes, there was an agency that helped expats hire nannies to care for their small children. Fast-forward over 40 years and that agency still exists – as Rent-A-Mum – having been owned and run by Shirley Robinson since 1998.
This has long been known as the go-to agency for nannies in Hong Kong – no small feat. Shirley puts the success down to the people she works with, and her strict quality control. “Many of our personnel have been with us long term and are very loyal,” she says, “which is a huge bonus for any potential client. As an agent, I have to have complete faith and trust in the people I use.”
Melinda Hunt, a maternity nurse and herself a mother of five (including one set of twins), has worked with Shirley for a number of years. “Shirley really understands what her client’s needs are,” says Melinda. “She spends a lot of time finding the right match between clients and the maternity nurse. It’s imperative to have an in-depth knowledge of a new mother’s needs, especially a mother who is juggling a career and going back to work.”
In addition to nannies, Rent-A-Mum provides short-term maternity nurses, which is an excellent option for mums who need help with newborns – from helping to establish a routine, to getting up to bub in the night, these ladies move in and guide you through the early weeks. Maternity nurse Edith Lemardelee has been with Rent-A-Mum for nearly 20 year; she says, “My goal is to help a new mum embrace her role, to know her baby and enjoy being a mother. I always meet the parents beforehand to talk about their expectations: what they want from me, their feeding plan (breastfeeding or bottles), what sort of routine they like, and so on. I try to get the family dynamic in place so everybody is happy.”
Melinda agrees: “The role of a maternity nurse is essentially to support – but also often to teach – new parents how to care for their newborn baby. You cover everything from changing nappies, bathing, burping and bottle-feeding to sterilising, safe sleep practices, colic, reflux and how to settle and soothe your newborn. As a maternity nurse, my role not only encompasses that of newborn educator but also as a breastfeeding counsellor too.”
Both Melinda and Edith agree that the relationship between a mother and her maternity nurse is a special one, as the nurse becomes a source of not only practical, but moral support too. They’ve both had repeat clients, with some mums booking their services as soon as they find out they are expecting again. Placements last anywhere from a few weeks to several months, but the important thing to remember is that you should hire someone you feel completely comfortable with.
To help mums who are returning to work after maternity leave make a smooth transition from maternity nurse to nanny, Rent-A-Mum provides extra peace-of-mind with its new “Maternity Nurse + Nanny” package. It’s also more cost-effective than hiring two carers separately.
At such an important and vulnerable time in your life you need to ensure that the nurse you hire is someone you trust. So how do you know which nurse is right for you? Shirley says, “Hiring a good maternity nurse should be done with due diligence; the last three references, at least, should be checked, especially if you’re not using an agent. A maternity CV should list a history of solid work that is usually a minimum of four weeks.”
Melinda suggests that once you have established that you want to employ a maternity nurse you should book well in advance – “I’m already taking bookings for January!” she says. She adds that you should also meet your potential maternity nurse and that establish you’re on the same page in terms of parenting styles – you want to make sure you mesh and have an easy rapport with your maternity nurse.”
To find out more, call 2523 4868, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit rent-a-mum.com.
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