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    Blogs — Pregnancy

    My very honest account of Dorothea’s birth story*

    My very honest account of Dorothea’s birth story*

    My induction of labour was planned for the Friday of my due date; this was due to being classed a 'high risk' pregnancy due to many issues ( IVF pregnancy, family history of maternal hypertension, asthma and rheumatoid arthritis). 

    The first Induction pessary was given at 11.30 on the Friday and at this point I was 1cm dilated with a soft cervix! There wasn't much movement during the day; lots of walking the corridors, visiting the coffee shop and colouring in books. I must say I didn't realise how boring induction could be! There were several other women in the hospital bay with me and in the same boat. 

    Some mild practise contractions started in the evening; like mild tummy cramps that gripped the whole of my lower abdomen. Luckily I made a friend, ‘Katie', in the next bed who was on her fourth baby, being induced due to lower water levels. It was nice to share a chat and bounce on gym balls together. A lady in a nearby room was having a very very noisy labour (think stereotypical screaming!) so sleep was a stranger. 

    At midnight contractions started coming thick and fast (well I thought so at the time!), every two minutes lasting for a minute each, meaning very little break. I had some paracetamol and codeine for this which helped initially. I never managed to relax or be pain free enough to sleep at all; at 4am the contraction pain was really ramping up. The midwife offered more pain relief and suggested a warm bath. So I followed her advise and reclined in the hospital bath with a nice smelly bath bomb. THIS DID NOT HELP! I remember lying in the bath moaning and groaning, saying “oh my god, oh my god” and “ouch this hurts” over and over again.  Yes I was that woman! 

    At 5am the contractions were very painful - I mean VERY painful. I couldn't control my loud moans and the pain relief was doing nothing! The midwife examined me and broke my waters (at 3cm dilated) and moved me to a delivery room where I started using gas and air. Worringly the waters were slightly bloodied. My partner was called in when I was settled in the delivery room - I think he was shocked that I went from calm, cheerful and happy at 23.30 to a deranged crazy shouty woman by 06.30! 

    At 8am contractions were very intense; they examined me again and found I was only 3-4cm. It was at this point I requested an epidural, something I was quite determined not to have during pregnancy - for no other reason than fear! This was the best decision I'd made! 

    I then had a nice relaxed morning/afternoon and managed some naps. My partner and mum were present, mainly watching rugby and feeding me mints (I wasn't allowed to eat but was very hungry). I was still regularly getting strong contractions two mins apart still (only felt as mild tightenings due to epidural). My cervix was showing little progression so I was started in a syntocin drip to speed up labour. 

    Unfortunately, Little Miss had decelerations of heart rate (to 80-100bpm) when I was sitting/lying on bottom/back - so during the whole of labour I had to be on my side. This was very uncomfortable and gave me hip pain (something I suffer with anyway due to rheumatoid arthritis). 

    In the evening I started to show signs of sepsis - a high temperature, heart rate and breathing rate. Although I felt okay, I was started on antibiotics and told I would have to stay in hospital for at least 24 hours. I was really disappointed by this as wanted to get home with my baby ASAP. I reached fully dilated at about 10pm and by this point Dorothea was having increased heart rate decelerations so was told to be prepared for a c-section! They decided to give an hour for the head to descend and at 11pm request I started pushing in the hope of delivering vaginally. 

    The joy of the epidural I had was that it was a 'mobile epidural' so was actually able to move onto all fours etc to push which really helped - it was due to this I was able to have the birth I wanted. 

    I was told I was doing really well pushing, but Little Miss dropped her heart rate to 85, so the drs were called in to assist (by called in, I mean an emergency bell was sounded and my room suddenly filled). I was told we had 3-4 contractions to move her or would have to be a c-section - I  was super determined not to go to theatre! 

    We managed to get her out with the Drs assistance with a kiwi (suction cup device) and an episiotomy (also tore a little). I must say the pushing and actual birth was nowhere near as bad as I'd imagined - although the epidural must have helped loads! The pushing part went so quickly and afterwards I couldn't believe it was 65 minutes. 

    During the end stage of labour I was told that I would be unlikely to be able to hold the baby as due to decelerations she was going to be tired and would be whisked away! Fortunately this didn't happen- she came out screaming and was put on me immediately. It took about 35 minutes to stitch me up, but to be honest, at this point I was breast feeding my daughter so really didn't care. My partner got to cut the cord (we had delayed cord clamping) and we both had skin to skin for the first hour. She fed within a couple of minutes and Daddy had skin to skin too.

    My estimated blood loss was 600mls, but my partner said it looked like a horrifically gory horror movie - I guess we women don't see the worst of it. I was told afterwards that her cord gas showed her oxygen levels were really dropping and that we’d got her out just in time. Also my placenta was quite ‘gritty’ according to the midwife. I was so relieved that I didn't go too far overdue as this is a first sign of deterioration. 

    Top tip from me? Don't be brave - take the epidural! I would never have been able to push her out if it wasn't for the rest the epidural allowed me to have in the afternoon. Also, try not to worry; your body does so much naturally and you don't remember the bad bits afterward.

    (*Picture for reference only)

    Reflection on maternity leave

    Reflection on maternity leave

    So at the start it's all batch cooking, house cleaning and lunch with friends - then the baby arrives! 

    After the initial few weeks the visitors decline and you're left with a special few- your real support, your real friends and your valued family. 

    Some 'friends' won't even show an interest- will never send a card or see your baby; even friends that you really helped and supported through their maternity leave. 

    Then you'll find some friends are angels - texts just when you need it, offers of a meet up with cakes and cuddles. These friends are often not the ones you expect it from - but really appreciate. 

    And of course there's your new 'mummy friends' - the ones you can compare with; night wake ups, nappies, weaning, funny stories - people you didn't know before but now have the most wonderful thing in common with. These mummy friends are amazing - your lifeline in the middle of the night- the most amazing find. 

    You will think it's all naps, cake with friends and baby cuddles but it's really not the 'holiday' your other half teases about. Each day involves several loads of washing, lots of changes of clothing for you and baby ( a reflux baby doubles this), stinky nappies, episodes or crying for no apparent reason (both you and baby!) and desperately chasing your tail trying to keep the house clean! 

    You will do things you say you wouldn't - you'll co-sleep occasionally due to exhaustion, let your baby watch tv (just to grab a cup of tea), drop your regular workouts, stop eating salad and not respond to texts and calls for a week or so! 

    The leisurely coffee and cake with friends - it'll happen more at the start but then you'll realise (a) coffee and cake is expensive - especially as your maternity pay dwindles and dwindles; (b) making a catch up longer than an hour is impossible with an irritable baby or your friends active toddler; (c) finding a diary date is hard between yours and your friends baby groups, other appointments and returns to work. 

    Tiredness is extreme but it gets so mental that your 'normal' is just tired zombie! You will wash your hair once a week with the support of dry shampoo, you won't remember the last time you shaved your legs and will never paint your toenails! I thought I'd always paint my nails (something I can't do when at work as I'm a nurse) but nine months later and I have not done it once. 

    Your baby will have everything and you'll forget yourself (and others sometimes). You won't mind the self neglect but will often feel bad for the lack of attention your partner and the dog gets. 

    You will return to your pre-baby weight and size. I did after three months but the consistency will never be the same; a strange wrinkly belly, inside out belly button and wonky boobs (from breastfeeding). You both won't care and will care massively about this dependant on how you're feeling that day! This week, I've decided I need to make an effort with skincare and makeup but still don't even brush my hair much! 

    I'm sorry if I've made it all sound negative, it's not. I have the most wonderful little thing in my life! She's always happy to see me in the morning (and the middle of the night), always accepts a cuddle, is happy to tag along on a shopping trip, accepts any food I make with excitement, listens intently to everything I say or sing. We have the most wonderful days together (if somewhat monotonous), have taken in a full range of baby groups, spent days snuggling, sunny carrier walks, special family day trips and a number of family holidays. 

    To be honest I'm both dreading and looking forward to my return to work. Being a mummy is the most rewarding but tiring thing and a day at work means I can be me - feel like a have a brain and feel valued. However, I will never have this time again - never get so much time to see her change and grow hour to hour, day to day- I will miss new skills and milestones - and I hate that. 

    See you maternity leave- you've been amazing! 

    The not so nice truths about being pregnant

    The not so nice truths about being pregnant

    The not so nice truths about pregnancy - which of these affected you?

    For some people, pregnancy is a breeze and you may actually have that ‘pregnancy glow’ for the nine months of carrying your baby but for me, even though I was lucky to have relatively smooth pregnancies and healthy babies, I definitely didn’t have that ‘pregnancy glow’ people talk about. So from talking to other mums and from my own personal experience, here are some truths about what to expect when you’re expecting.

    1 - Morning sickness. Despite its name, it can actually happen any time of day or night. There are varying degrees of morning sickness, some feel a slight feeling of nauseousness whereas others are physically sick but try to feel comforted that it affects around 80% of women and no harm will be come to your baby.

    2 - Strong sense of smell and taste. During your nine months of pregnancy, particularly in the first trimester, you can develop an oddly strong sense of smell and taste. Foods that you used to love will now become your dislikes. Even the thought of food can make you feel a bit nauseous.

    3 - Feeding for two. I like to ignore what people say about it not being true but I for one will use the excuse to eat everything and anything I want and more. Your body is going to change completely so why not enjoy it and eat that slice of chocolate cake. It will do the baby some good!

    4 - Baby brain. Even the most organised and intelligent women will have baby brain during pregnancy. Your brain does turn into mush and you easily forget about things you should have done or should be doing. You will also have conversations where you will forget what you are about to say mid-sentence and if you do remember, you will say the most ridiculous things because you really believe it is true (even if your non-pregnant self would disagree).

    5 - Sleepness nights...and you thought sleepless nights begin when your baby is born. Unfortunately, as your bump grows, getting comfortable will become more difficult when sleeping. I have always loved sleeping on my front so sleep during pregnancy was always going to be more uncomfortable for me. You are then conscious of not sleeping on your back and to one side.

    6 - Fuller hair. Yes the thick luscious gorgeous locks on your head is one of the big bonuses of being pregnant, but hair does not only grow on your head. You become a little bit hairier all over - I always remember the hair that grew around around my belly button.

    7 - Waterworks. You can cry at everything. Those hormones will all come out during your nine months of pregnancy.

    8 - Waterworks no. 2...and the other waterworks will involve frequent toilet breaks. As soon as you start to get comfortable in bed, you then need yet another wee.

    9 - Constipation. When I finally managed to go I honestly thought I was giving birth! Enough said.

    Discllaimer: This is an account of my personal experience from pregnancies. Please seek medical advice if you have any concerns with what you feel uncomfortable with.  

    Alternative ways to kick start labour

    Alternative ways to kick start labour

    Alternative ways to kick start labour

    Once you reach your 8-9 months of pregnancy, you have pretty much passed the ‘glowing’ stage of pregnancy and it’s no surprise that you will probably feel ready and want baby to arrive. The excitement of your new arrival, the planning and preparation over the last few months, you just want to meet your little bundle of joy. So when you reach the 40 week mark and there are no signs of baby arriving, you start to think about ways to help kick star labour and you are probably willing to try all the old wives tales. Alice and I consider ourselves lucky as all, except one at 40 weeks, of our children were early (between 36-38 weeks).

    We have heard of these alternative ways to bring on labour so if you are at that point in pregnancy when you want your baby to come out, maybe these are worth a try! I always believe your baby will make an appearance when they are ready (whether late or early) but there’s no harm in giving these a try, even if it’s to take your mind off the waiting game.

    Marathon walks - well not quite but go for long walks. This makes the baby’s head put pressure onto your cervix, potentially triggering labour. If anything, it’s always good to get exercise and we really believe that being on the move helps during labour.

    Eating pineapple - this will stimulate your stomach and help may help your contractions to start. Pineapple also contain enzymes that are meant to soften your cervix therefore triggering labour.

    Eat hot and spicy food - the hot spicy-ness in curries are meant to stimulate your stomach and are believed to bring on contractions. It is often recommended to eat hot curries.

    Raspberry leaf tea - a type of herbal tea containing high content of vitamins, minerals and tannins. It is thought drinking raspberry leaf tea can help to strengthen the uterus wall and therefore potentially speeding up labour.

    Nipple stimulation - massaging your nipples is believed to help trigger labour as it tricks your body into thinking that your baby is suckling, releasing the hormone oxytocin causing your uterus to contract.

    Sex! - it is probably the last thing you want to do being 9 months pregnant but the hormone oxytocin is released during sex which potentially triggers labour.


    Have these worked for you? What did you do to bring on your labour?

    How we planned a surprise baby shower for our sister

    How we planned a surprise baby shower for our sister

    Baby showers are a great way to not only celebrate a pregnancy but have a final baby free girly get together.  I don’t know how we did it but we managed to surprise our sister, who is expecting her first child and the most difficult person to keep a surprise from, with a surprise baby shower.  Here’s step by step of how we did it.   

    1.  Friends and family: Luckily we still had our list of friends our sister invited to her Hen party so it was pretty easy to invite those she potentially would want to be there.
    2. Save the date: Our sister travels a lot for both work and pleasure and as well as having  a busy social life it was hard to find out when she was free in the weeks preceding her due date.  We needed our brother-in-laws help with this.  About 4 months before her due date we sent out a poll of 2-3 dates for guests to inform us of their availability.  It’s a good idea to plan the baby shower for between 4-8 weeks before the due date.  With a week to RSVP we then sent out a save the date for the most popular. It’s a good idea not to leave it too long before confirming the date as we all know how annoying it can be to keep proposed dates free when we are all so busy.  
    3. Location Location Location: With numbers confirmed we went about looking for suitable venues bearing in mind the different groups of friends living in mainly two places including London and our home town in Kent.  We wanted something relaxed serving good food in a nice location with availability on that date.  After we found the perfect venue we reserved an area for our party and placed a deposit.
    4. Fake date: With my sister’s best friend’s help who managed to ‘book’ our sister to make sure she was free and planned to go to the venue for lunch.
    5. Gift list: Prepare a gift list of anything that mum-to-be has mentioned she still needs. Make sure there’s a variety of more and less expensive guests to cater for all budgets.  
    6. Confirm the venue: About a week before the baby shower
    7. Have your cake and eat it: No baby shower is complete without the essential baby themed cake. With lack of time we bought our cake decorations on line and made fresh cupcakes the day before.
    8. Guess the name: Keep the party light hearted with a few baby themed games, we had guess the name, weight, length, date of birth, hair and eye colour that we printed using a personalised logo; and the really popular personalise a baby vest using coloured fabric pens and plain white baby vests.
    9. Keep it personal: We also printed out a personalised sheet for guests to write a message to our sister to read after her birth to remind her how fabulous she is!
    10. Pre-order meal: for a party of our size we had to pre-order our menu. This was actually really helpful in hindsight.  Using an online survey we emailed everyone the menu with a couple of days to choose.  The online survey easily tracks how many of each dish were requested and also who ordered what.  Send this over to the venue the day before. 
    11. Cups, plates and balloons: Even though we were having the baby shower at a pub they kindly let us decorate the area with balloons. We made use of
    12. Arrive earlier rather than later: Allow at least 45 minutes to set things up especially if you have balloons to blow up and remember to ask your guests to arrive 15 minutes earlier than when the guest of honor arrives.
    13. Have fun: Our sister definitely had baby brain.  Even though we had a huge sign with ‘Diana’s baby shower’ posted on entering – she still did not realise it was for her until she saw her friends! Achievement J
    14. Cheese: don’t forget to take pictures through the day as a memory for guest of honour.
    15. Car ride: Make sure the guest of honour has a car ride home as after a long day the last thing she will want to do is lug all her gifts home.

    Even if I do say so myself, I think we did ourselves proud, with great planning, team work and great group of friends, our sister was most definitely surprised and had a great time.