Second time expectant mama, Amélie Dionne-Charest of AD MediLink dishes on her cravings, hosting a maternity conference and what every woman should know before pregnancy…!
Amélie Dionne-Charest is the Co-founder and CEO of AD MediLink, a boutique consulting firm that provides medical insurance advice and brokerage services to individuals and SMEs based in Hong Kong. Its expert knowledge of the healthcare sector, public and private, plays a decisive role when advising clients on the right medical plans. AD MediLink supports its customers throughout the insurance policy term with any healthcare questions or concerns they may have. The team works with an exclusive database of over 500+ local health providers, as well as an independent Medical Advisory board composed of accomplished medical experts.
Last year, AD MediLink hosted the first ever maternity conference held in Hong Kong. The event was promoted through Sassy Mama and it was such a success among prospective, expectant and current parents that AD MediLink is organising their second maternity conference on Saturday, 15 October, 2016. Stay tuned for more information in the near future!
What was your reaction when you first found out you were pregnant?
I was thrilled. My husband and I were ready for a second child and the timing was right for us. At the time, I was organising Hong Kong’s first Maternity Conference. Although I didn’t tell anyone about the pregnancy until after the conference, it was quite unique to experience my professional and personal lives coming together so perfectly.
Any great books and resources that are preparing you for when your babies arrived?Actually, my bedtime ritual is to read a few paragraphs of a pregnancy book. I alternated between the three books below as I like to compare different approaches:
– J’attends un enfant, by Laurence Pernoud (a French classic)
– What to Expect When You’re Expecting, by Heidi Murkoff & Sharon Mazel (an American classic)
– Your Pregnancy Week by Week, What to expect from conception to birth, Professor Lesley Regan (a UK classic)
I also recently finished reading Siblings Without Rivalry: How to Help Your Children Live Together So You Can Live Too, by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish. The practical tools they give are particularly useful and the book made me better understand my own brother and sister family dynamics.
What was the easiest trimester and which one proved most difficult?
I love being pregnant and I have had easy pregnancies so I have nothing to really complain about. There are so many women I know who have had it a thousand times harder than me and that changes the whole pregnancy experience. In my case, the first and third trimesters were by far the busiest times at work so I just felt extra tired.
Do you have any weird and wonderful cravings?
Well, I craved all of the things that pregnant women shouldn’t have or should be careful about. Not so much because they are “forbidden” but simply because they are some of my favourite foods (poached eggs, sushi, tartare, raw milk cheese, oysters, charcuterie, rare steaks and rosé!).
Otherwise, I definitely over did it with Robuchon’s croissants and pains au chocolat, the best in town in my opinion.
Read more: Great Cafes and Bakeries in Hong Kong
What has been your funniest memory over the last few months?
Pregnancy hormones make me relaxed and I laugh a lot more at my husband’s jokes (which makes him very happy). There was one time when I called my three year old daughter via FaceTime from the office to tell her that I was stuck at work all evening and I would not be able to put her to bed. My helper told me that after we finished our call, she said: “Auntie, Mommy is stuck inside the office. We have to rescue her!” That made me laugh a lot.
What have you struggled with most since being pregnant?
Not much but if I had to pinpoint something it would be physical agility and emotional availability.
I was not able to physically take care of my daughter as much as I would have liked to (giving her a bath, helping her put on her clothes, carrying her in my arms for longer periods, etc.). She saw a difference and wasn’t shy to let me know.
Being in my pregnancy bubble and extra tired during the first and third trimesters meant I was not as available for my husband and he wasn’t shy to let me know either!
What are your thoughts about finding out the sex in advance?
I admire people who can keep it a surprise. I can’t. I like to plan and I definitely wanted to know.
What was your experience delivering in Hong Kong?
Whether you decide to go private, public or both, there is no right or wrong option. I decided to go private because I had very good insurance coverage and did not have a high-risk pregnancy.
While I had a positive childbirth experience in New York City for my daughter, my experience of delivering in Hong Kong exceeded my expectations. I was extremely lucky as all went smoothly and quickly. I felt extremely well taken care of. It was quite magical in fact.
I gave birth not too long ago and like all mums I am still adjusting. Breastfeeding is not easy. In my case, the postpartum period is always more challenging than the prenatal period.
What do you think every woman should know before getting pregnant?
On an emotional level, there is no right or wrong way to experience pregnancy. This is your pregnancy, your story.
On an expectation level, keep things in perspective and try to avoid putting too much pressure on yourself (i.e. non-flexible birth plans). Not so long ago childbirth in developed countries was a major cause of death for women and it still is today in developing countries. Approximately 830 women die each day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. Whether you choose to have a “natural” or “medicalised” birth, we are lucky to have access to a safe and modern healthcare system.
On a financial level, plan 10 to 12 months ahead if you wish to opt for private healthcare. Hong Kong has one of the most expensive private healthcare systems in the world. If you have poor or zero maternity coverage through work, you should purchase private health insurance at least 10 months before becoming pregnant (because of waiting periods, your coverage will only kick in after several months).
But my ultimate recommendation of course is to attend the 2016 Hong Kong Maternity Conference on 15 October, 2016! There will be so many maternity-focused experts, healthcare institutions and practitioners all under one roof to showcase their services and to inform parents on maternity and healthcare options in Hong Kong. It’s also a fun way to meet hundreds of existing and expectant parents!
Did you follow a fitness programme while you were pregnant?
Not this time around, unfortunately. It was a conscious decision though as I was already too busy. To compensate, I walked a lot.
Any fashion tips and tricks for maternity dressing?
If you are up to it and feeling well enough, dress up! I love chic pregnant women and find dresses to be the most comfortable thing to wear when being pregnant. As for the puffy face (I get hamster cheeks) pregnant women often get, I find that big, glamorous sunglasses are the way to go. The bigger, the better.
Read more: Stylish Summer Looks for the Bump and Beyond
Name a mama you find inspiring and why?
I can’t limit it to one, so I will name the two moms who most inspired me:
My mother. I have always been particularly close to my mum but motherhood has brought us even closer. She inspires me to have a balanced life and make sure I take care of myself.
My grandmother. We spent a week just her and me in Florida last year and it reminded me of how unique and modern she is. At 86, we can still go out for a dry martini and talk about politics, Almodovar’s artistic choices and the value of mystery.
What are your hopes and dreams for your baby?
A happy and healthy baby is of course at the forefront of my mind. There is so much of our lives out there today that I particularly enjoyed keeping the pregnancy secret the first trimester. My more intimate hopes and dreams for my children and family are part of my little secret garden…
Congratulations to Amélie, Julien and Lea as they welcomed baby Adrien to their family on
9 May, 2016!
Thanks to the talented Janelle of ByJanelle Newborn and Maternity Photography for all of the beautiful images above!