Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Raspberry Leaf Tea

Am waiting for the doctor and the midwife to communicate with each other as we have come up against a little obstacle when it comes to having pain relief at the home birth. The midwife says the GP should prescribe it and the GP says that the midwife will bring it. Meanwhile, I am wondering if I can cope without it!

I actually am hoping not to use it - just thought it would be helpful to have for peace of mind!

Have brewed up a nice cup of Raspberry Leaf Tea while this sorts itself out...

It's commonly believed that drinking raspberry leaf tea or taking raspberry leaf tablets will help to induce labour and as such this supplement is taken by many a pregnant woman keen to speed up their baby's arrival into the world. Unfortunately this is a misconception; raspberry leaf tea doesn't actually help to bring on labour at all. Having said this it is thought to have many other benefits for the birthing process and has been used as a labour-aid for hundreds of years.

Raspberry leaf tea is nutrient rich and contains many of the vitamins and minerals necessary for a healthy pregnancy including vitamins A, C, E and B, magnesium, calcium and iron. Consuming raspberry leaf tea not only helps mother and baby to get all the nutrients they need but can also help to replenish a new mothers stores after the birth.

Raspberry leaf tea also contains the alkaloid 'fragine' which is said to strengthen and tone the muscles of the uterus, helping them to contract more efficiently during labour. Research has found that taking raspberry leaf during the weeks prior to delivery helps to shorten the second stage of labour by making contractions more effective. Some studies have also found that it reduces the need for an assisted delivery (i.e. an emergency cesarean or use of forceps or ventouse).

Sipping raspberry leaf tea during and after the birth is also said to help the uterus contract back down to size, reduce after birth bleeding and help initiate the let down of breastmilk.

While there hasn't been a huge amount of research into this area, the general consensus does seem to be that drinking raspberry leaf tea during the latter stages of pregnancy can help to make for a 'better' labour with few side effects.

How to take raspberry leaf tea

Raspberry leaf tea can be taken in tea bag, loose leaf, tablet or tincture form and is available from most herbalists and health food stores.

It is advisable to wait until the 32nd week of pregnancy before trying raspberry leaf tea as there is a concern that consumption before this time in the more fragile, earlier stages of pregnancy could lead to problems. Once you have reached the 32nd week of your pregnancy you could begin with one cup of raspberry leaf tea a day and gradually increase up to 4 cups or tables a day (although this may vary in accordance with the strength of the blend and the manufacturers' instructions).

Monday, 28 November 2011


My sister has been amazing with ensuring that we have everything we need for the arrival. She has been incredible. The last time I went to see her, one of her lovely friends supplied us with a car seat (which MrM installed into his car when I was out yesterday - what a sweetie), lots of toys and a pregnancy pillow which has brought sweet, sweet sleep back to me.

Thank you sis!

The only thing I need now is a pushchair. So poor MrM gave up his lunch hour today and we met at the retail park. Who says romance is dead?

What I haven't mentioned here is that we were here on Saturday but it was so busy and someone in a brand new Merc was so rude to me (after stealing our parking space as he was in a desperate rush to get to Homebase) that I lost my temper (for the second time in a week - hormones?). I think the phrase "threw my toys out of the pram" is doubly apt here. I refused to go shopping, I didn't get out of the van and I think I may have stamped my foot. Cake was all that I wanted at that moment.

So, this little tantrum meant that we were back at the retail park again today. I met MrM in Mothercare. Now is this the most ironic use of the word "care" in a shop's name? The last time we were here, I think I mentioned that one shop assistant refused to give me an invitation for their late night shopping night; another quoted "elf and safety" at one of my family members and when I called their head office to complain they were not remotely interested.

So why did I go back??? Is it because it's virtually the only place in town that sells pushchairs? We looked at the display for a while and in the meantime, a shop assistant watched our increasing bafflement with her arms folded.

After a while, MrM asked her for help which seems to astonish her. Still with her arms folded, she guided us around the selection, using the word "obviously" all the time.

"Obviously this is for rough terrain".

"obviously this is the car seat and it unclips"

"Obviously this folds up small to go in a boot"

"Obviously you don't have enough money for this one here."

I jest about the last one, but "obviously I am going to buy our pushchair somewhere else" may have popped out of my mouth. All I wanted was something simple. If you have to spend 10 minutes explaining how to fold it, then it's too complicated. We're going to stick to the sling until I find a way of buying a pushchair that doesn't involve a trip to the retail park or cost more than £200. Think my wonderful sister has spoiled me....

Last NHS class

These free classes have been surprisingly informative and as this was the last one, MrM agreed to accompany me.

Everyone in the class is offered a drink and he happens to select tea in a branded mug that says "VAGIFEM" on the outside. I find this much funnier than he does.

Today's session is about the possible complications and various pain relief options which are enough to make you want to close your legs, your eyes and your ears.

We're all handed a piece of equipment to represent the start of the chain of interventions that take place if your baby is late or not progressing as it should. She explains how induction is done - via a pessary, and I'm given a hospital gown that somehow scares the bejesus out of me - that is until I pass it along and get given something that looks like a cross between an instrument of torture and a crochet hook.

"For breaking your water" the midwife explains.

Then she shows us a razor, a ventouse suction cup, a catheter, an epidural and other items. I know the session is not designed to scare us, rather to let you know what could be expected, but I lose all of the confidence that I've been building up. I've been feeling relatively calm about the birth, but somehow I now have developed this feeling that I just can't do it.

We're then talked through the different pain relief options.

TENS machines, entonox (one side effect is that you say silly things - as if I don't do that already), pethidine/diamorphine (which I might not actually be allowed at home - wish someone had told me this earlier!) and epidurals/Caesarians.

However, my doubts in my ability seem to lift slightly in my bid to avoid an epidural or a Caesarian. I can't imagine having a massive needle put in my back (especially as my mum remarked that she had one when I was born and it didn't work) and really can't even think about the idea of a catheter or a Caesarian- with lots of people in the room and the fact that you can feel the sensations in your womb.

Why did I not look into this BEFORE? Adoption is one analgesic that appeals today....

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Fear release

As part of our hypnobirthing course, I had a one-to-one session to finally release any fears about the birth. It actually dawned on me how far I'd come as I feel ok about this now and it's the next 18 years that I am now worrying about.

It was a wonderful session which started with a gentle talk on some of the fears that I'd written down. Some of these I'd already dispelled myself and the others seemed to be a bit silly after talking them through. I was then asked to crumple up the paper and throw it away.

I then had a very deep relaxation session which was so intense that I firstly woke myself up with a snore, then my fingers went tingly and then finally I started crying and dribbled all over the blanket. I am such a disgrace sometimes that this puts all of my stupid fears into context.

I should add though that these were happy tears. Claire addressed the baby and talked through the birth and its first moments. The baby responded with some strong kicks and some really visible wiggling proving beyond doubt that it knew what she was saying. She talked about how the baby's mum and dad will love it so much and do everything we can for it and at that moment I imagined MrM holding it for the first time. I know he and I will be very emotional when we hold it for the first time and lo - that's when the tears wouldn't stop!

Despite the total embarrassment, I actually felt a million times better afterwards. Think we're nearly ready to go!

Working bumps breastfeeding

Tonight was my third breast feeding session but there's still lots to learn!

Breastfeeding, the Mum's perspective

•The realities of breastfeeding
•How to prepare for breastfeeding your baby
•Dads and breastfeeding - you're important too!
•Practical tips for positioning
•What to wear
•Feeding in public
•What to buy
•Where to get help & support

Thank you so much for coming tonight. I hope you found it useful and helped make breastfeeding a little more real if possible.

Good luck to those of you due in the next few weeks.

We'd covered positioning in the past, but I found tonight's session practical and memorable - hopefully. Apparently youtube is a great source of useful videos and tips on putting your baby tummy-to-tummy and tilting the baby's head back with your hand cupping its head.

The cross cradle position: use a cushion to raise the baby to the nipple and hold the back of its neck.

However the best one and one for me looks like "biological nurturing" where you simply lie back and let the baby crawl to feed itself. Easy!

There's also the rugby ball hold for larger ladies (ahem - me) or if you've had a Caesarian or if the baby hurts on one side.

She also demonstrated feeding while you lie down which again looks perfect for me as it implies minimal effort.

What I was also interested in that was also covered was the UK Association of Milk Banks It seemed a bit wasteful to me to throw expressed milk down the sink, so you can actually donate it to hospitals and milk banks.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

The baby's coming!!!

Or so I thought....

On Friday morning I absolutely and completely lost my temper. The previous day had seen our road under traffic management and roadworks everywhere. However, there was not one workman to be seen. I called Thames Water to find out why the road was still half closed (thereby causing irate motorists to sit outside my window revving with their radios blasting when I was trying to write a lengthy press release). I had a conversation with a woman who wanted to know my name, address, phone number and whether or not I owned the house. She got annoyed when I was whether it was relevant that I owned the house (I told her I don't, which is true as technically, the bank owns it), and she got even MORE annoyed when I asked her for her name, address, phone number and whether or not she owned her house.

Anyway, the upshot was that the roadworks disappeared fairly quickly. The next thing that happened of course was that people started speeding at about 80mph past our house. One of them missed me by an inch causing me to flail my arms, screaming and resembling an obese windmill.

And then my belly started seizing up. It felt like someone was pulling my insides in and took my breath away. The good thing is that I live in Newbury and the people are so wonderful that when they seem a woman lying the road in distress...they do absolutely nothing.


In fact, one person sped up, and again, nearly flattened me.

I inched back into the house where the "contractions" faded and I didn't get any more. I am now prepared for the real thing. The people of Newbury however, are not.


I've been so focused on the labour and birth that I forgot that we're going to be parents!

I can only cope with one thing at a time, so we have booked onto a course to ensure that our baby (once it arrives) is calm and relaxed...

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Home appointment

The new midwife came round to the house today to terrify me. Did I say that? I mean she came round to the house to check that the dining room and my body are ready for the birth of the little bean.

I'd actually taken the little one to a gig last night where it seemed that it shares the same taste in music, dancing vigorously to a folky band that I love. When I got home to tell MrM, he put his hand on my belly and the baby gave such a massive kick that it took his breath away and slightly scared him! It was doing much the same this morning, much to her amusement.

So it transpired this morning that my eating meat has fortunately helped increase my iron to acceptable levels, so the home birth looks like a goer. Or is it? The midwife said she wanted to make me aware that if there aren't enough staff on duty, then into hospital I go. She also said she wasn't entirely sure whether I was going to get any pain relief -good thing I checked! I have to ask the doctor who will prescribe it and then I have to return what's left to the pharmacy as they don't seem to trust me with it! Believe me, I am only going to use it if necessary. The point was to know it's there for peace of mind.

In other news, not long to go at work. My successor has been appointed and my boss told me to book him in at our client for an induction. Not the best word to use in my earshot at the moment.....

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Penultimate antenatal class

I decided that the way to meet as many prospective parents as possible, it would be a good idea to attend all of the antenatal classes I could get my hands on, so even though we finished the NCT ones last week, I attended an NHS birth skills class. To get a rare return on my tax, you see.

MrM decided he couldn't take any more, so he agreed to stay at home and do some DIY. This discussion meant that I was late for the class, so turned up to where I thought it was but found a darkened room with people huddled around a table having a meeting.

It wasn't until I walked away and got called in that I realised this was the class. Are NHS cuts so bad that lights may not be switched on?

So in the dark, I took more notice about WHEN you call the hospital. I have been told this loads of times but have zoned out, thinking that this is MrM's job to remember and implement.

However, this is what I learned:

Stay at home for the latent bit. Contractions are erratic.

Then they get strong and regular and occur every three minutes lasting for a minute. This is when you call the hospital to let them know you're coming in.

Also go in if the waters break or the colour is brown or green.

Go in if the pain is unbearable.

Go in if there are fewer than 10 kicks from the baby in 10 hours.

Go in if you're bleeding or feeling unwell.

What else did I learn today?

1. Put towels and blankets in the car just in case you give birth on the way. Apparently this is very unusual.

2. Labour lasts on average 10 to 20 hours.

3. That they give you a PARKING PERMIT!! If I had known this I might not have gone for a home birth ;)

Friday, 11 November 2011

Bounty website

There are many, many websites dedicated to supporting you throughout your pregnancy. I signed up for lots but ultimately, I find them terrifying!

I do like Bounty though and today while refreshing my brain at work between writing press releases, came across the gender predictor. You enter your age and the month the baby is due.

This is what they said.....

We'll see!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

The birth plan!

I have wondered whether it's sensible to put my birth plan here, but to heck with it, it's called "a plan" and we all know what happens to the best laid plans.

So here it is in all of its glory. I'd be intrigued to know how closely the birth of your child resembled the plan and what you would do differently next time. If there is indeed a next time.....

Comments welcome!!

General wishes: If all is well with the baby, we'd like to do all we can to give birth at home in a water pool.I'm going to try to keep active where possible and would like to try to have the baby naturally if at all possible, but this being my first, I think it might be sensible to have gas and air, and pethidine on hand just in case.

My main concern is that the baby is healthy.

I have attended a hypnobirthing course and would like to try, as far as possible, to give birth naturally if everything is going well.

I don't mind medical interventions if they are necessary for the well-being of the baby, but would like to be consulted beforehand. If I am not in a position to decide, MrM will step in. We're going to try to keep the atmosphere as calm and peaceful as possible. We might have a Hypnobirthing CD or some music. If it's at night, we'll try to keep the room dim with low lights and candles so I can concentrate. It would be very much appreciated by me if people could talk in reasonably low tones.

We'd request, please, that inducement is only used if the onset of labour is unusually delayed and the baby is in danger. We'd like to consider natural means of inducement; only considering other procedures as a last resort.

If we do need to go to hospital, this would only be if things weren't going to plan, and so we will do whatever it takes to keep the baby healthy.

We'd like to keep the number of people present as low as possible - only MrM and where appropriate, the doula. We'd like to ensure that anyone who is present is cheerful - I will do my best with this too!! We'd also like to minimise discussion on pain tolerance and pain levels where possible, and we'd like as few monitor cables and equipment as possible.

Second stage: As far as possible, I would like to try to breathe the baby out rather than push. I'd obviously like to take our time if possible to avoid tearing. We'd like MrM to catch the baby and if intervention is required (surgical etc), we'd like him to stay with the baby.

Third stage - I am happy to have this induced by injection.

Baby care: If the baby is healthy, I would like to hold him/her as soon as possible before the admin tasks - no need to wipe down etc. I would like MrM to tell me if it's a boy or a girl and to cut the cord (if he is happy to do so) once it's stopped pulsating. I would like the baby to receive Vitamin K orally if possible.

Thank you very much for reading this and for your support.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Last NCT class

We learned all there is to learn about breast-feeding on one afternoon and the next session was post-labour. Which actually sounded to me more horrendous than the birth itself.

After learning about post natal depression, how to spot it and what you can do, we then cheered ourselves up by learning how to change a nappy, how to bathe the baby how to put the baby into its cot to avoid cot death, and how to put it in a sling.

Also how to place them on a roller coaster....

Then we said goodbye and wished each other luck. We will be meeting again - with babies - in the new year!

Friday, 4 November 2011


So no tea for me today, and this reminder comes just as I'd bought four massive boxes of teabags (there were on a two for one offer and I thought I'd get through them in no time). I am probably even tetchier than usual as a result.

So unarmed with a fortifying cuppa, I have just opened an email from the course facilitator of this weekend's NCT breastfeeding session. I emailed to let her know in advance that I am coming on my own as MrM is away - just in case there are any partner activities (and also so she doesn't think I'm a single mum. Why this appeared to matter to me yesterday, I don't know. I blame it on the lack of tea).

She sent me a nice reply saying that I could bring someone else if I wanted. It's a very sad reflection on me that I cannot think of one suitable friend from this area who would sit with me patiently through a three-hour session on breast feeding!

Anyone free on Saturday afternoon?!

Thursday, 3 November 2011


Disaster! If my iron levels don't improve, then I will not be allowed to have a home birth (for fear of increased likelihood of blood loss).

So this former vegetarian is going to have to eat steak for dinner more often. I think the tea has sneaked back into my diet too, and this has been stopping my body from absorbing the iron that I've been taking religiously.

I've got a few days before my next blood test and think I might even eat the iron and ironing board to improve my chances. It's not like I use them for anything else.

In other news, the previous midwife has disappeared and been replaced. The new one is nice - although I must, must, must remember to double check that there will be some sort of pain relief as she said that pethidine wasn't really used anymore and she wasn't sure how to obtain the diamorphine. Hope she doesn't forget!

The new midwife is coming to check the house in a couple of weeks' time to verify its suitability for a homebirth. Better get cleaning.


That's such an awful neologism, but fits last night quite well. The NCT organised an evening where local businesses could showcase their products - they were so lovely that it's almost a relief that I have no money and couldn't buy anything.

It's amazing to see how mums have looked at what they needed to look after their babies and the businesses that have evolved as a result. It means that there are some great businesses with useful products that their founders are passionate about.

The first was Boori a company that supplies nursery furniture to national companies such as John Lewis. Their cot looked so solid, yet homely and comfortable.

There was a lady from Berkshire Nappies who brought reuseable nappies so I have booked a free two-week trial.

There were some lovely artists - Smallprint jewellery who make keepsakes of the baby's little feet in silver, and likewise, the Little Casting Company who makes casts of the baby's hands, feet and even your pregnant belly (can't imagine she has enough plaster for my enormous bump!)

There were some lovely Snuggisnoozer baby bean bags
there were so many people looking at these, that I didn't get the opportunity to ask how much they were, and one of the ladies from this stall looked for all the world like the lovely mum who gave me a baby crib, but with dark hair. She didn't appear to recognise me, so just a coincidental doppleganger I think!

There was also a fabulous company called Not Pink which is just what I'd been talking about the day before - why is everything for baby girls in garish PINK? They had some lovely products and I had to fight my shopping urges so I didn't buy everything!

Last but not least, Claire who ran our hypnobirthing course and who looks after the local home birth group displayed her range of Neal's Yard products and very kindly gave me a couple of samples because she noticed that I was the only person who didn't win anything in the raffle! It smells absolutely divine and it was very sweet of her to notice! I think I got there too early and all of my raffle tickets had ended up at the bottom of the pots!

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Last scan

MrM spent most of the morning waiting for our last scan to see if the placenta has moved out of the way as our last visit showed that there was a chance that I'd have to have a Caesarean. We spent more than an hour waiting and just 5 minutes having the scan, but the good news is that it has moved!

The funny thing is that the baby is quite big (about 5 and a half pounds), so this scan revealed less of its appearance than the previous two. However, the sonographer (or stenographer as MrM called her - I had visions of her typing out everything we said while we were being scanned), remarked that the baby was scowling, but I couldn't see this for some reason.

MrM attributed the baby's scowling to a woman in the waiting room who brought in a little girl with her and then proceeded to ignore her while she called her friend, giving her a vivid description of Sunday when she "see Loretta, that f***ing b****". She continued in this vein for a good hour which was not the most pleasant thing to witness.

Talking of cringeing, MrM's dad has a knack of saying strange things to me. I have been avoiding him throughout the pregnancy, as I was worried he might make an inappropriate comment. He didn't. The first thing he said when I saw him was "How is everything down below?" That's restrained by his standards!

On the same evening, one of MrM's very drunk relatives came over to me and said: "Who the f*** are you?" which isn't the fastest way of endearing yourself to me. He then asked if he could put his hand on my belly. I was just about to give a very clear answer, when MrM wobbled over and said: "Of course!" while lifting my scarf out of the way.