Monday, 31 October 2011

First NCT class

After a night of people constantly asking us why we weren't finding out if we were having a girl or a boy it was a relief to be among couples in the same boat.

"Don't you know? Why don't you know? Aren't you going to find out? We want to buy you a hat and don't know whether to get blue or pink???" etc etc ad nauseum. ARRGH! Don't buy us a hat - just let us have our surprise!!!

Anyway, we were in good company the following day when we attended our first NCT class. Half of the people in our class don't know what they're having either.

It was a useful session with lots of quite detailed information about what to expect - in as far as you can expect anything as everyone is different!

It was quite good fun too, with each man in the group being asked to wear a rucksack on their front to get an idea of how heavy it is to carry a baby around in your womb all day!

The first thing we were asked to do was to get into order of birth date. I initially disputed this because I said that the date was irrelevant and that I'd only been telling people the month. Ironically, I think this might have been the point that was being made. Only 3% of babies arrive on their due date and I am basically ignoring it, despite people wanting to know the exact day (and time?) - it will come when it comes!

We also learned that a very quick labour is not the brilliant experience we are all wishing for and we were asked to make a list of things that will help bring on labour.

pineapple (apparently you need to eat 3-6 of these though and they must be fresh!)
hot bath
Raspberry leaf tea (me)
walking (me)
Lavender/clary sage (me)

Pressure points
Full moon(me)

and two which might aggravate your stomach and therefore clear the way:

Spicy food including curry and ghee
Castor oil

Others include walking up stairs sideways and going out on a bike on cobbles. The mind boggles.

One man pointed out that curry, beer and sex was his ideal night out and how they got the baby in the first place!

MrM's family

8.02pm MrM's mum: "It's definitely a boy - I carried the same way as you with both of my sons!"

8.12pm MrM's cousin: "OMG! Your bump is exactly the same shape as mine was with my three! You're definitely having a girl!"

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

It's a girl!

Well, so my subconscious seems to think as I had a very vivid dream about having a baby girl last night! The funny thing was that I was asleep in my dream, which I didn't think was possible. I woke up, found a baby girl in my arms (who I couldn't remember giving birth to) and then couldn't find my way out of the hospital.

She wasn't wearing socks, I didn't have a hospital bag or phone, but there was a letter from MrM's mum saying "ANOTHER grand-daughter" and MrM wasn't with me, BUT I distinctly recall that I wasn't sore at all. I hope this bodes well!

Monday, 24 October 2011

Another doctor's appointment

All seems to be progressing well with the little one; we're now at 33 weeks and correspondingly, the baby measures 33cm. Its head is 1/5th engaged and the heartbeat sounds strong.

It always amuses me that when I proffer up my obese stomach for MrM to feel a kick, he touches so gently and complains that I'm hurting the baby when I urge him to press down properly to get a feel of the wriggles and movements that are constantly going on in there. The doctor, on the other hand, has a good rummage around my stomach, pressing down firmly, as if weighing up which piece of steak to go for.

WHile he was very jovial and jokey this morning, our appointments do feel like very awkward first dates - especially as he stares a lot and has a tendency to ask me the same questions repeatedly.

"How are your ankles?"

"And your ankles are ok?"

"No swelling in the ankles then?"

Saturday, 22 October 2011

CHildbirth without fear

This ground-breaking book is amazing and has influenced childbirth gurus such as Janet Balaskas, Sheila Kitzinger, Michel Odent and Ina May Gaskin.

It was written in the 1940s by Grantly Dick-Read, an English obsetrician who caused controversy on its publication. It has absolutely changed childbirth as he realised that there was something wrong with traditional methods of delivering babies with too much emphasis on intervention and anesthetics.

It explains the history of childbirth and the one scene that sticks in my mind takes place in a hovel with a woman in labour under an old, dirty skirt. When it comes to delivery, she gently refuses the chloroform that's used and has a natural, discomfort-free birth.

"As I was about to leave, I asked her why she would not use the mask.....She shyly turned to me and said: "It didn't hurt. It wasn't meant to, was it, doctor?"

He starts to ponder why one woman should suffer while another doesn't and comes to the conclusion that it's fear that causes women to constrict their muscles. It's a brilliant read and should be more famous!

A new car

This little chap is one in a month. I'd just bought him a toy car which I'd just wrapped before I'd seen that someone has purchased this beauty!

Am so glad I saw this before I handed the present over! Now what shall I get him?

HELP me please!!

Friday, 21 October 2011

Parents Week Fayre

Another month has passed and it was the local home birth group meeting last night. Although there was no one there who'd just had a home birth and therefore able to tell their story, it was an interesting meeting with two doulas and a trainee midwife.

However, what I did find interesting was an event I happened to spot in this week's newspaper's listings. It was called Parents Week Fayre and provided info on raising children with stalls from council groups such as the toy library, Newbury College, info on nurseries and local support groups. On my way out, I noticed a sign pointing to another part of the community centre where there were talks. I caught the end of one on drugs (where they demonstrated that the further they go down the chain of sale, the smaller the proportion of actual drugs and the more Ajax/baby milk/baby powder there is in it.

Unfortunately, I was the only person there for the first talk, so it was really a chat between me and a lovely lady from the council who talked to me about the government's initiative to remind parents about parenting in the same way that they're reminded to eat five pieces of fruit and vegetables a day.

The checklist reads:

1. Read to your child for at least 15 minutes a day.

I'd like to think that this should be obvious, but I guess when you get busier that this could get neglected. Not only is it valuable learning and together time, but reading helps children develop their vocabulary, their memory development and their literacy.

2. PLay with your child on the floor for 10 minutes a day

Again this is obvious, but the point is that you get down to the same level as your child, helping them with the "serve and return" of communication and relationships. It helps them build happy memories.

3. Talk to your child with the TV off for 20 minutes a day.

MrM and I have been discussing for some time whether or not we should get rid of the TV. Funnily enough, the lady leading the discussion said: "The children at school who don't have TVs are always...."

I interjected (and I don't normally do this!) "geniuses"!! At that same moment, the adjective she came up with was "weird".

She suggested that if you monitor TV viewing and watch it together, then rather than making the child goggle-eyed, it can provide something to discuss and ask questions about.

4. Have a positive attitude towards your child and praise them frequently.

She suggest telling them what to do, rather than what not to do, congratulate them on being good and ensure you praise them for effort as well as ability.

5. Give your child a nutritious daily diet.

I was munching on the free biscuits when we came to this one....

Parents of the year....

This has been floating around the interweb. I feel much better now! Having said that, what's not to love about the woman on the Segway - that's ingenius!!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Waterbirth Book

The Waterbirth Book by Janet Balaskas is going back to the library today - it's been a useful read and has made me feel better about my decision to try to have the baby in a water pool.

I remember at school when I suffered terribly from period pains that matron suggested that I get into a bath in sickbay and I remember the pain relief almost gave me a sense of euphoria. I would say that swimming is my favourite sport as well, so I think water really is the place for me.

This book tells of women in the South Pacific giving birth in shallow sea water and how waterbirths have become increasingly more popular since the 1980s. The book recommends not getting in until you're 5cm dilated (which involved an examination I guess - boo) but that it gives you a bit of privacy in your own private birth space. It also helps you maintain certain birth positions such as kneeling, squatting and standing up by providing buoyancy and helps with blood pressure and relaxation. Giving birth in water means you're less likely to tear as the water helps soten the area around the baby's head.

Some recommendations:

1. Pregnancy must be of normal term.

2. There must be only one baby.

3. Baby must be in a head-down position.

4. Spontaneous rupture of membranes must have been less than 24 hours ago.

All I need to do now is ensure we can fill the pool up and not get the carpet too wet!

Big Issue

I got admonished by the Eastern European Big Issue seller in town just now because I'd bought this week's copy from another vendor. I did apologise, although I didn't realise that she and I had agreed to be exclusive - that awkward place in an early relationship I guess.

I think she felt a bit bad for being a bit rude, as she then brightened and congratulated me on being pregnant (I have been trying to disguise it recently but the bump has reached a size where it can now qualify for its own postcode.)

"Are you having a boy or a girl?" she asked.

"I don't know yet," I said.

She looked disgusted. "Haven't you been to hospital?"

This is about the 20th time this week I've been given the "what's wrong with you" look for not finding out. A few years ago, this was not an option - you found out on the day of the birth! I don't mind change and technological advancement and have no quibble with people who want to know in advance (except those who terminate because the sex is "wrong", obviously), but are there no surprises left in life anymore?

I can imagine on the day of the birth - "it's a girl!" -
"Yes, we know - you told us after the scan!"

Would you/did you find out? Are you happy you did/didn't?


I've been asked to hand my company car back while I'm on maternity leave. This is a bit of a pain as my car is brilliantly safe and has all the requisite ISOFIX safety points. I'll now be driving an ageing camper van which has no seatbelts in the back and I fear was manufactured before ISOFIX was invented! Am looking forward to exploring this later today - but have a funny feeling that a baby seat and the front seat of the van will not be compatible.

This is not the end of the world however, as I think life without a car will be strangely liberating - not to say cheaper! I did cope happily living in Hong Kong, Toronto and Tokyo without transport, although the town where we live does not really have transport infrastructure to compare! I still feel terrible dumping my mum at the bus station here to get a bus to Oxford (which is about 20 miles away). Hours later when I went to pick her up, she revealed that there was no such thing as a bus to Oxford from here and that she'd spent the day in our local shopping centre!!

How have you coped with walking and public transport with a young baby? Any tips would be welcome!!

Monday, 17 October 2011

Football and yoga

The baby seems to enjoy sticking its foot up behind my ribs which is, needless to say, fairly uncomfortable. MrM didn't appreciate quite how painful until I explained that it felt like a rolling pin sticking out lengthways. However, I went to another yoga session which seemed to help...for a while.

The teacher is on her third pregnancy which is a good sign and I really enjoyed a birth story that she read out from someone who advocated dancing throughout the labour. For some reason, I pictured her doing the "mashed potato" around the house, but I think it's the slow dance that you can do with your husband, and general movement that helps.

The yoga really seems to be helping with learning how to control the breathing which I hope in turn will prove invaluable for the labour. I do seem to sleep better after a yoga session and have been enjoying the wonderful "Yoga in pregnancy" book that my sister bought for me.

It also seems to be helping with the pelvic pain that has got progressively worse this week. Think it's a sign to slow down!

Last hypnobirthing class

So we should be set! Five classes have flown by and we've come to the end of the course. The final class was a good one with a birth rehearsal that made us all feel a bit more relaxed and ready. Having said that, we watched a video of a hypnobirthing class and I made a comment about how noisy the woman was and how I'd like to achieve a state of higher relaxation and I got told off by MrM when I got home!

Apart from that, we've been left to continue practising our breathing and visualisation techniques, before speaking to two couples who came in with their babies having completed the course recently. One couple coped very well, despite having some horrendous news the day before the birth, and while the other couple's experience wasn't perfect, it was interesting to note that the course had empowered them and prevented them from going down a highly medicalised route. The moral of the story here was to speak up if you're not happy with the hospital's decision, as they will take notice and try to accomodate your wishes.

The two babies were incredibly cute, so another plus is that if the birth isn't too pleasant, it will be well worth it in the end....

Thursday, 13 October 2011

SPD/Pelvic Girdle Pain

While my hypnobirthing teacher would disagree, I say there's no harm in getting used to a bit of pain in anticipation of "B"-Day!

So it's with a bit of relief actually that I recently discovered that the grinding pain I've had in my pelvis for the past couple of months is a normal side effect of pregnancy and even has a name - SPD.

This has been noticeably worse this week as I've done lots of driving, walking and stretching to paint various nooks and crannies around our house. It seems to be at its worst when I get out of bed or turn over, and as I crawled in agony to the bathroom at 3am this morning, MrM wasn't sure whether I needed help or to be laughed at.

Apparently, massage can help and there is a range of eyepopping gadgets that you can buy to help, from a "monkey pole" to help you turn over at night, to long handled sponges for washing your feet. Somehow when I looked at this shopping list, I decided that the pain wasn't actually that bad....

If you have the same, try this:


Slings and roundabouts

I managed to find yet another facet of having a baby that I am absolutely clueless about - last night's trip to "Working Bumps" was a session with an improbably young mother-of-three who talked us through four different types of sling.

Armed with a very helpful baby, she demonstated the "close" wrap first. I think this is my favourite, although it looks like a two-man job to tie it up and get the baby in it. I can imagine that after struggling to get the baby in it, it will then be time to get it out again to change its nappy....

Not sure what they were trying to say here: "The design of the carrier ensures that the......."

The next was the Mei tai sling which looks quite secure; a ring sling (, which seems to put more pressure on one shoulder than the other. I already get that from my handbag, so perhaps if I put it over the other shoulder, there's a balance to be gained here.

The last one was the wrap, which was simply made of a long, strong piece of material. I worry about tying the knots tightly enough, but this could be the one for me.

The lady who demonstrated, was using a real baby, so I felt had to rush through the demos a little bit, but she was very helpful and great at answering practical questions, and also recommended waiting until the baby arrives before buying one, to ensure that the baby is happy with it as well.

She also suggested that those baby carriers that look quite robust are better for going out rather than staying in the house as they restrict your movement and make it difficult to bend over. I am thinking about getting a sling so that I can clean, cook and do all of the things that I used to do!

To stop myself from laughing while one prospective dad wrestled with a doll, I went to get a glass of water. The sight of this dad picking the "baby" up by the neck, and dislocating its leg to get it into the sling made me laugh so much (probably because it hit so close to home and that's what I'll end up doing with the real thing), was just so funny that I thought I'd move away rather than appear to be rude.

The lid of the water said "please ensure you lift the lid before pouring" which I read but ignored for some reason. The upshot was water EVERYWHERE, ensuring that all eyes were on me, not the wrestler Big Daddy, with one person asking me if my waters had broken....

Monday, 10 October 2011

Labour pain

I've got a long list of affirmations that I must type out and stick around the house when I've got a mo, but in the meantime, I thought I would note down some of the observations about labour pain that I've just been reading:

1. It WILL stop when the baby arrives!

2. It's "productive pain"

3. There are pain free bits

4. Your body is producing endorphins to manage the pain

5. Drugs ARE an option - there are no prizes for not taking them if you need them!!

The other list that caught my eye in this book was the list of natural feelings after the birth. Women are usually:

1. Thrilled that it's over.

2. Worried about the baby

3. Surprised at the look, feel and funny smell of the baby.

4. AStonished that a real baby came out.

5. Relieved that they haven't split in two

6. Worried about their partner

7. Immediately ready to call relatives!

8. Now ready to panic about what to do next!


Sunday, 9 October 2011

1950s midwifery

I was working ooooop north this week and so had the opportunity to go and see a very dear friend of my mum. She (not my mum!) is 95 and one of the nicest people I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. She's super fit, her mind is active (she was able to correct the directions that her daughter had given me to the restaurant we went to), and until last year was jetting off on holiday all over the world.

Unfortunately, she had a couple of heart issues a month or so ago, although she looked very well when I saw her. This problem meant that she spent a week in hospital, where she told me she struggled to do nothing but stay in bed. One of the nurses asked her when she had last spent any time in hospital.

"1939" she said, which is when she had her first child. Her second was born at home, as was the norm in those days, so she was very interested when I told her that my big plan was to avoid the hospital.

When you think these days that you call the midwife and they ask you to wait until it's unbearable before you drive in, it's incredible to hear about the old days. Often, a husband would appear at the house (no phone lines back then) having arrived by horse and cart after being dispatched by a wife in labour.

My lovely grandma was a rural midwife who would often cycle to houses or climb mountains on foot - sometimes by torchlight, deliver a baby and return home. We climbed one of these recently in daylight and I kept falling into the bog and got so bitten by midges, wet and miserable that I didn't make it to the summit, but retired to the pub to wait for everyone else.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

The one where I interrupt a relaxation session

More hypnobirthing today and I was quite pleased that some of the others questioned whether it was working and whether we were doing it "right".

Even the teacher felt that way when she first started it, but watching more birth videos and seeing a woman breathe out her baby and immediately say she "enjoyed it and would do it again" was reassuring.

We did another deep relaxation, and I could feel my fingers tingling, the sensation of the teacher's words drifting away and then "RING!" - much to my mortification, my phone rang!!

I could have sworn I'd turned it off! I ran out of the room to turn it off and came back in almost in tears at my stupidity. However, the teacher was keen to let it go and kept talking. What a fool I am.

I did feel a bit better at the end of the session when two of the dads put their chairs back fully reclined and were snoring in sync which made the mums laugh!

Breast feeding class

I think it's the first time that I've been accompanied anywhere by Big Ted, but nonetheless, he was the one who came with me to a class today.

The class was on how to feed your baby, and was held at our local hospital in meeting room 1. I remember this distinctly because meeting room 1 was the very last room that I entered as no one thought it pertinent to tell you where meeting 1 was. Still nice to get a tour of the hospital and all of its wards.

After I'd settled in arriving breathlessly in the room, we were invited to tell everyone our names, due date and where you were having the baby. As I was vague about my due date, I thought I'd be ultra specific about the place.

"We're hoping to have the baby at home", I said, adding: "in the dining room".

The class was brilliant, and facilitated by a very funny and lively midwife who advocated breastfeeding for the following reasons:

Babies who breastfeed have fewer instances of diarrhoea and vomiting
Fewer chest and ear infections
Babies tend not to be so fussy about new food
Less likely to be constipated
Less likely to be obese
Less likely to develop eczema.

It's also good for the mother too as it costs less, helps with bonding and lowers the risk of cancer. Happily for fat ol' me, it also helps with weightloss.

So if that's the case, why doesn't everyone do it?

Well, there are problems with drugs being passed on and sometimes it can be painful, so the next part of the class was to show that if does indeed hurt, there are ways of improving positions and latching on to ensure it feels natural.

With the help of a knitted breast, we were shown how to get into position and how to hold the baby. The baby be positioned "nose-to-nipple" and should get a big mouthful of breast from underneath the nipple. Its chin should press into the breast and his/her cheeks should stay rounded during sucking, while rhythmically swallowing.

Now that's where Big Ted came in. He was the only teddy that I could find in the house and a good three times bigger than any of the other dolls and teddies that other people had brought.

"If your baby is that big, that I hate to tell you that you're not going to be having it in your dining room," the midwife joked.

We were then shown how to express milk - amazing to think of the body's ability to do this when necessary - and then with a nappy of the knitted variety, were shown what the poo will look like.

A brilliant session - so much more useful and interesting than I'd anticipated!

More info here:

Monday, 3 October 2011

MrM comes to Hypnobirthing

It was my third class and the first one that MrM could attend. It's amazing how much better and more supported I felt with him there, and he blended right in, getting on well with the other dads and doing a fabulous job when it came to one bit of the class where our partners read from a piece of paper so the mums could do the relaxation technique.

The dads were also invited to practise "Light touch massage" and the two techniques combined nearly sent me off to sleep, so relaxed was I!

After watching a lovely gentle birth, where the couple was so completely relaxed that the baby was born with what appeared to be a smile on its face, we realised the importance of creating a mix tape in anticipation of the birth. This particular couple in th video favoured Elton John which had MrM singing "Tiny Dancer" all the way home!!