The World Can Wait- The Fourth Trimester

New mumNewborn

In Chinese cultures, women after giving birth have a whole month of resting. And I mean seriously resting, they have no distractions, no visitors, no chores to do. They are confined to the boundaries of their house to focus on eating, resting, sleeping and feeding their baby, having someone with them 24/7 to do things like cook, change and settle the baby so they can focus solely on recovery. In the Western culture this is something we’re pretty pants at doing. In fact, it seems to be more of a race to wipe all evidence of pregnancy and childbirth from our image so we’re back to our previous body shapes and busy lives as quickly as possible. Allowing us not much time to soak up the changes to our lives as a new mother. Even our parents generation would have had a week to 10 days in hospital as a standard before coming home. Imagine that. 10 days of meals brought to you in your room, help on tap for baby feeding problems, having not a pile of laundry in sight. My first week home, unless someone had given me a meal I was scrambling together a banana sandwich and not only that having 3 other mouths to feed oven –baked fish fingers to or another round of beans on toast. Survival was key.

 

I’m currently writing this exactly a month after my fourthbaby was born and I’m looking back on my first 4 weeks. This time around we tried to limit visitors. Having now 4 children in the house we wanted to adjust ourselves and prioritise our time with our children rather than prioritise other peoples time with our children on their schedule.No one ever looks back on those first few days or weeks with their newborn and wishes they did more chores or had more family over. Besides, some days consisted of me just in my nursing bra and big pants, and I couldn’t always guarantee that the nipples would have been in the bra whilst walking around the house with a newbornin my arms (trying to dodge the windows). No visitors, no matter how close, want to see that! I spent the first few days just sitting, watching her, enjoying her tucked up next to me, smelling her little round head and trying not to pick her milk spots. 

 

You can’t talk about the early days without acknowledging sleep, or really lack of it. The standard advice to sleep when the baby sleep can only really apply to first time mothers, what with school runs or demanding toddlers, and even then it’s touch and go. My main saviour when it comes to sleep has been my SnuzPod3. It’s a bedside crib which means that my baby is next to me at all times whilst sleeping. With babies not even knowing they’re out of the womb for the first 12 weeks, having them closer to you keeps them comforted. It also means that when we do co-sleep in the middle of the night, I don’t have the worry of her falling out of the bed. Some of my best times in these early days have been sleepy mornings on the weekends (this baby seems to party all night and sleep all morning), with some comfy PJs, some not-so fresh bedding (from the leaky boobs and odd nappy leak) and and something cosy for the baby (we went for the SnuzPouch when baby was a big enough weight, a sleeping bag so that she didn’t kick her blankets off or pull them over her face) and we had ourselves a nice, snuggly nest It’s moments like these when I see how important that Chinese tradition really is. 

 

Chinese culture isn’t the only tradition which makes sure that new mothers look after themselves. You can’t pour from an empty cup after all. But you know what we, in the UK, tell our new mothers about this time? In the UK some of the symptoms of post natal depression are classed as still experiencing “baby blues” passed 2 weeks after birth, unable to function day to day life, unable to look after yourself, tiredness, inability to concentrate. Ummm… NEWSFLASH I think that counts for about 90% of mothers still at 2 weeks, 3weeks… 6 weeks after birth. I’ve cried everyday since I’ve had Delphi, from tiredness, from sore nips, from feeling lonely, because she’s so vunerable and I have the responsibility to keep her safe, from guilt for my other children. It’s a foggy newborn haze and that’s mainly because life is lived through tear-filled lenses. I cried because she yawned, when she sneezed, when she makes dinosaur noises and when she had her blood spot test. I cried because I got flowers delivered to the door and because my sister bought me coffee over. It’s an emotional time

And an ability to function and look after yourself??? Bloody Nora, I’d be more worried if I WAS functioning after the sleep deprivation and looking after a small human. Most days, if I do get dressed, it’s been way past midday. Even then, I shower just to put back on my PJs. That counts as getting dressed, right? It’s inadvertently telling new mothers that they should be functioning after 2 weeks with a baby and they shouldn’t be feeling teary. And if they do then they may have PND. It’s funny that in this culture we expect functioning after 2 weeks, where as in other traditions you would be actively encouraged to NOT function.

 

 

These early days as parents we’ve become even more disheveled and even more sleep deprived. It’s been all boobs and baby (and lots of pastries) over here and although it’s tough it’s also very amazing. What I wish I knew first time around is that it’s ok to lower your expectations in the first month to do nothing but enjoy your baby and look after yourself, limit your visitors and accept help. It’s ok to give time to adapt to this new life. These early days are over in a flash, so let the world wait.

 

Snuzpod – Gifted by Snuz

Baby and Toddler – Also gifted 😉

The good photos – Chui King Li Photography


The Sisterhood In Motherhood

EventsNew mum

Your mum squad. Your sisterhood in motherhood. Your tribe. Your village. Your 3am crew.

Being lonely was the one thing I worried about in pregnancy. One of my friends had told me it was the loneliest thing she had ever done. I’ve always had a good group of friends but we are all at different stages of our lives or too far away from each other that I wanted to meet new people that I could share my new journey with. Which is why I signed up to The Bump to Baby Chapter antenatal classes.

Four weeks after giving birth I went to my first buggy walk, and that’s how my mum Squad started forming. I arrived on my own, not really knowing anyone. I was terrified. I got talking to another new Mum and we realised that our babies were born on the same day. Birthday twins. We also realised that we lived round the corner from each other – it was definitely meant to be. We agreed to go to our local baby group together the following week. On our walks to and from the baby group we started getting to know each other and realised we had a lot in common, same age, same university, similar degrees, been with our other halves for the same amount of time. I felt so lucky to meet someone that I felt so comfortable with so quickly.

We were both keen to talk to and make friends with other people. Enter the next two people to join our Mum squad. One of the Mum’s walked into the babygroup on her own, and I immediately spotted her and asked if she wanted to be my friend (I wish I was exaggerating). We were sat next to another Mum who seemed a bit quiet so I asked her the same thing. I then did this again with two new Mum’s who came together with their tiny babies. It was then that the Mum squad fully formed and we created a WhatsApp group. It was after this that we decided we would try and make friends with a new Mum every week and there are now twelve of us. Twelve truly amazing Mumma’s. (They reassure me that they love how bold I was and that they enjoyed being taken under our wing).

We buggy walk together, we go to babygroup together, we support each other, we reassure each other and we laugh with each other. These girls are one of the best things about being a Mumma.

One of the things I love is that all our stories are different. From our age and our background, to our pregnancies and our births. None of that matters, what matters in that we are all on this crazy rollercoaster together.

Get out there. Go to baby groups, go to the buggy walk. Talk to new people. Find your tribe.

You can catch Sam at EVERY buggy walk as she is a push it real good buggy walker through and through. She’s always a friendly face to look for if you’re new. You can also hear more from Sam and her ramblings of Mum life over on her blog…

https://theramblingsofanewmumma.wordpress.com/

My Bump to Baby Chapter

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So you know how over here we like to keep it social both on and off line… We love to see how much fun you have at antenatal classes and with your group after. We also love keeping tabs on your story, finding out how you’re getting on on your Bump to Baby Chapter. We thought that it would be nice to treat those who share these moments with us by running a little photo competition. Here are some ideas from photos that we’ve received from our Bump to Baby Chapter Family in the past.

So EVERY month we will be giving away an amazing gift box from the champion of gifts, Don’t Buy Her Flowers. (Contents of the box will vary)

All you have to do to enter is post your photo on Instagram or Facebook, tag us in it and #MyBumpToBabyChapter so that we can see that you’ve entered. If you’re entering on Instagram and your page is set to private you will need to message us your entry too as otherwise we won’t see it. You can also post the photo on our Facebook page or send it us via email to thebumptobabychapter@gmail.com

We will keep you posted with all the entries by posting all the photos below….

The only terms and conditions are that the competition is only open to those who have been or booked on to a Bump to Baby Chapter antenatal course or hypnobirthing. Anyone who’s been to a course of ours can enter, this can be past, present or even future (ie. when you’ve booked a course and are looking forward to starting it!) By entering the competition you are giving permission to us to share your photo and caption on our social media channels and website. Competition winners will be announced on the 1st of every month so keep an eye out on our Facebook and Instagram. This competition currently doesn’t have a closing date, and all photos will be considered every month. You can enter as many photos as you like to be in with a chance. This competition is not affiliated with Don’t Buy Her Flowers (we just think they’re awesome gifts!)

Here are your entries so far… #MyBumpToBabyChapter

From a 4lb tiny baby to this handsome strong chap 🥺

Surround yourself with people who reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel- Sam

Jez and Charlotte from November’s antenatal class. How life changes in a few months.

From bump to baby! Thrilled little Albert is here 🙂

At eight months pregnant, I (naturally) had a head full of questions, and not many answers. That’s where these guys stepped in… The Bump to Baby Chapter gave me practical advice for what to expect before, during and after labour. So, when they contacted me wanting some new visuals for their company, I jumped at the chance to help them create a new look for their brand. #mybumptobabychapter

8 days in and finally got 5 minutes…. Just wanted to say a huge thank you to Beth and her amazing @thebumptobabychapter classes! Both myself and Alex thoroughly enjoyed every session; for Beth’s never ending knowledge on everything labour and baby related, her total honesty that made the scary bits weirdly not seem so scary anymore; and her general funny and welcoming attitude 🥰 we were genuinely sad when our sessions came to an end as they had been the highlight of our week! We learnt so much during our classes that really prepared us both for the birth and aftercare of our little Archie 😍 even during my brief moments of panic where I stopped using my breathing effectively, Alex was right by my side to remind me and to breath through it with me to get me back on track, honestly couldn’t have done it without his support and encouragement!! Beth was also completely respectful of our decision not to post anything pregnancy related until after the safe arrival of our little boy, strategically putting us on the end of our group photo so we could be cropped out!! Might seem a daft thing to say, but for anyone that wishes to do the same, please don’t be put off attending these sessions as your wishes will absolutely be respected ☺️ It also gave us the opportunity to meet the loveliest couples, which has been great to share experiences both pre and post baby at all hours of the day…. and night 🕢😴!! So excited to get a date in the diary for a reunion with all our beautiful bundles 😍 #mybumptobabychapter

Welcoming baby Delphi- My Birth Story

Birth StoriesNew mumNewbornPregnancyThe Great British Birth Off

I don’t really know where to start with the labour. I could potentially say I was in early labour for a few days, contracting on and off throughout the days and evenings prior to the birth with it not amounting to anything. For the sake of time, I’m writing this whilst the baby is sleeping, and to save your boredom I’m going to fast forward to when it finally and thankfully stepped up a gear. This was Friday evening. The evening started like all the other evenings before, me bouncing on my ball in front of the TV. Rob had gone to football and I was contracting as I usually did in the evenings. It got to 11pm and the contractions were coming regularly. I said to Rob tonight is the night, he rolled is eyes and carried on watching 8 out of 10 cats does countdown, as I’d cried wolf every day already this week. From how ‘stop and start’ my contractions had been this week I had lost all faith in my ability in judging whether it was happening or not. I went upstairs to take a shower and to have a word with myself. I was probably not going into labour at all.

Half an hour in the shower I rang my friend to come over. The contractions were becoming stronger and staying regular, I was still not totally convinced though and prepped her that it may all stop. I rang the birth unit too and said the same to them, “I don’t think I’m in active labour, but I think I may be getting there.” Being a fourth baby, I knew that being in active labour (from 4cms and regular contractions) to having a baby wasn’t going to be long and I wanted to be in the hospital as I bled last time. They invited me in.

This is probably a good time to give you a bit of background. My 3rd baby was born prem at 34 weeks and I lost more blood than deemed normal. So the advice for me was to have my baby on a consultant led unit as I was “high-risk” of bleeding again. I looked at all my options though and chose to go against this advice after having a conversation with the lead midwife on the birth unit. My last birth, I had polyhydramnios, prematurity, a suspected infection and the cord snapped on the placenta all things that mean you’re more likely to lose more blood. This pregnancy, I had normal waters, a normal size baby and was full term so I didn’t have the same risk factors. With this in mind I chose to give birth on the midwifery led unit and I was supported in this choice.

So back to that Friday evening… I was in the shower. I had my birth ball in the shower too. It was on the bath so that I could lean onto it to have the water on the bottom of my back. I used my breathing here that I’d learnt from hypnobirthing. Counting my in breath and my out breath gave me something to concentrate on and kept me relaxed. Things were going great guns, I was calm, comfortable and getting into the swing of the contractions. My friend arrived and so I got out of the shower and myself and Rob made our way to the birth unit.

It was about 00.30 when we arrived to the birth unit. My midwife was Brenda, she showed us into our room Poppy. It was dimly lit and the pool was half full. I again said to a Brenda that I didn’t think I was quite in labour but knew my contractions were getting there. They were coming every few minutes at this point but they felt manageable. She brought me in some essential oils – Bergamot and Frankincense- on a taper and I got back into the shower leaning over onto the birthing ball. Chui my birth photographer arrived at this point. My only concern here I remember was what happens if this all stops, what happens if I’m just in early labour and I’ve got my friend at my house and Chui’s here. I didn’t want to waste anyone’s time! Silly really looking back as it was obvious I was in labour!

I spent a good hour at least like this in the shower. The next thing that happened was at 02.30 when I had my first vaginal examination. I know it was 02.30 because Rob text Emily at this time who was home with the kids. I still wasn’t sure at this point that it was it… I remember saying to Brenda, what happens if I’m just 2cms. If this was going to be the case I didn’t want to know! Brenda thought that would be unlikely and she was right. It’s funny how much you lose your ability to rationalise in labour! As a midwife, I should’ve been able to recognise the signs but I still had in the back of my mind that I may not be dilating at all! I was 8cms. Happy days! I got gas and air at this point which is when all of the fun started.

Brenda filled the pool and I got in. The water was instantly comforting. It was here that I remember really wanting to take it all in. As pregnant mothers, we are so desperate for this moment, desperate to feel the contractions and to know that after 9 months we are finally going to meet our baby. The labour and the birth we prep for, go to classes, pack 3 suitcases for which is more than what we’d take on holiday, we play it out how we want it to be in our minds but the reality is that it’s all done and dusted in a day. That moment in the pool was a nice one, I really appreciated what was going on, that what I’d been waiting for was actually happening that very night. These thoughts were helped from the fact that I was high as a kite too! I actually told Brenda all of this between contractions. She probs thought I was cuckoo!

It wasn’t long after I’d got into the pool that I’d started to transition. I remember saying “I can’t do this anymore!” Whilst thinking that’s a textbook ‘You’re just about to have a baby comment’ whilst uncontrollably pushing. I can’t remember “mooing” here but Rob assures me it happened! This feeling was overwhelming, I had this full feeling, which would have been her head coming through my pelvis. The only thing that helped this feeling go away was to push. All the signs were telling me I was just about to meet my baby and a few pushes later she was born under the water at 03.31. I got to bring her up out of the water myself. Holding her in front of my face, seeing her scrunched up face, feeling her skin, hearing her little cry and knowing that she was here safe in my arms was the most incredible feeling ever.

All went well after – no bleeding!🙌🏼 and we were back home by 7.30 am for when the other 3 children woke up.

There’s a couple of things that I’m so glad that I did.

1. Getting a birth photographer– I felt like a bit of a diva doing this but now I wish that I did it for all of my births. For me, remembering the birth is so much more important than say a wedding day, yet a wedding photographer is something we see at every wedding! The photos that i have are priceless and Delphi is lucky that she gets to see her first moments in the world. Thank you Chui 🙂

2.Hypnobirthing– Through teaching hypnobirthing I have inadvertently been practising the techniques for a lot longer than my 9 month pregnancy and boy did it pay off. Reinforcing that everything in your birth is a choice, learning the importance of keeping your mind calm and how to control pesky negative thoughts like fear and doubt that always seem to enter our minds meant that this birth was by far my most empowering, calm and magical experience. I could live it with such clarity and for me that was I really wanted, I wanted to be able to remember every minute of it and enjoy it! I’ll write another blog on what techniques I used that were most helpful.

3. Writing it down- this little story completes it for me, it’s something else that means I’ll remember what happened that night.

For me sharing birth stories is important. I want pregnant mothers to know that birth isn’t always the fear-filled, ear- piercing shrieks and painful experiences that you see on TV. It can be empowering, calm and beautiful. My births are by far my biggest accomplishments in life. I look back on this birth especially, and it was everything I wanted it to be and I would happily do it all again in a heartbeat.

How to not expect when you’re expecting.

Pregnancy

When I first found out I was pregnant this time around, I thought to myself that being my last pregnancy I set my sights on being the stereotypical pregnant mama, drinking green juice, eating kale and chia seeds and cutting out all junk. I was going to do yoga and be zen. I wanted to be, or at least feel like the epitome of health.

So when the first trimester full on nausea and vomiting kicked in, anything resembling greens made my face turn green and the only food I could stomach was white carbs. My expectations of what I wanted this pregnancy started flaking just like my Janes Pantry sausage rolls and Cornish pasties.

Fast forward to 32 weeks pregnant…Brixton hicks contractions were in full swing. Walking up and down the corridors of delivery suite I was contracting just like I did with my last pregnancy where she was born at 34weeks. My previous baby before this was 37 weeks and my first was born at 2 days overdue. I was adamant I was going to be early, I had my hospital bag packed by 34 weeks, I went on maternity leave at 32 weeks (although having a Christmas off work played a part in this decision!) and any twinge or tightening just convinced me even more that baby was coming early. I was ready and waiting for my labour to start early to fill my expectation. An expectation that I put on myself. The difference though from my last births is that expectation of an early birth wasn’t there before. Labour just started and I went with it, which was so much nicer for my head. Waiting for a baby to arrive is a massive mind game. I teach to all couples that baby’s arrive when you’re feeling calm and relaxed. It’s natures way of letting your body know that you’re in a place of safety for birth. Oxytocin is highest when feeling calm and adrenaline (the stress hormone) can reduce oxytocin. Teaching this is one thing, living it is another!! It can be a real challenge!

I’m now nearly 39weeks, which will be my second longest pregnancy. It’s very easy to think that because it hasn’t been the same as my previous 2 that something is “wrong”. That there’s a reason that this baby won’t come out. Some days I’ve convinced myself this baby will need to be born via cesarean, maybe it’s head is too big, maybe it’s in a funny position. But the reality is that actually every pregnancy is different and that’s ok.

I wanted to share this with you so for anyone feeling the same you know that you’re not alone. I’m a midwife, this will be my fourth pregnancy and I still in my crazy, illogical, baby brain can convince myself that some days something is “wrong” or not going to be ok or that I’ve failed pregnancy because I’ve not been taking my multivitamins. These feelings generated purely due to my made up expectations.

Here’s what I’ve done to stop myself having expectations when I’m expecting, they can be used for whatever…

1. Birth affirmations- I remind myself daily that baby will come when the time is right. If your worried about size, remind yourself that baby will grow to a size that’s right for you. If it’s birth worries, tell yourself that birth is safe.

2. Switching off- I’ve given myself time in the day where I make sure that I’m not thinking of anything. Similar to meditation I suppose. For me this has been listening to my hypnobirthing audios and also starting a good book. I’ve downloaded Audible and am listening to Michelle Obama’s autobiography. It’s a great way to not be consumed with your own thoughts. I do this most days.

3. Tell someone- I’m lucky that I’m surrounded with great midwife friends who can shake some logical sense into me and rationalise my thoughts. My own community midwife has also been great at doing the same so don’t be afraid of saying what you’re feeling or thinking.

4. Do something that’s not baby related. Go get your nails done. Go for a coffee with a friend. Get a massage. Go outside for a walk.

5. Recognise what are your expectations versus what’s normal in pregnancy/birth/newborn. For me this is recognising that just because this baby hasn’t come early, doesn’t mean that he/she is never coming out or that something is wrong. It’s actually more normal that he/she hasn’t come out yet! For you this could be managing expectations on mode of birth, baby size, morning sickness, SPD, baby’s sleep patterns or like me baby’s arrival time.

What have you expected whilst you’ve been expecting… let me know in the comments on Facebook or Instagram.

Photo credits above Chui Photography

High Risk vs. Low Risk

Pregnancy

Keeping with the pregnancy labels theme I want to know what you all think of the terminology ‘High risk vs low risk’ and have you been labelled one of these in pregnancy?

I remember doing my midwifery training and a friend told me that her sister was having a baby and she was told that she was “high risk”. My friends words were… “High risk of what exactly… becoming ill? A cesarean? Having a Stillbirth??” And this really stuck with me. What are midwives or doctors actually saying when we say this term?

Because even though you may fall into a category that may increase your chances of an intervention happening, you still can’t really say that the risk of that intervention is HIGH. It may be higher than others but for lots of things it’s still more than likely going to be very low. Take a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean) as an example, you’d fall into the high risk category and be advised to have your baby on a delivery suite where Drs are present. But your chance of having a cesarean is between 25 and 28% which is only slightly higher than the uk average and the main risk is the scar rupturing which is in fact a 0.5% risk. A risk that I’m not saying should be ignored but carefully considered when weighing up all of your options.

If you have a raised BMI you could be classed as high risk, “too” young or “too” old, existing medical conditions the list goes on. My point is not that these characteristics go unrecognised but the classification and terminology used is improved. I wonder if telling someone in their pregnancy they fit a certain risk category what effect that has on their decision making during birth and the anxieties that brings during the pregnancy. We’re saying that the one category is free from concerns and will lead in a healthy birth, where as the other category will be filled with problems, potential complications and managed medically, often without considering a holistic approach. The term “high risk” gives reason to worry and encourages choices to be made from a place of fear and risk adversion.

Risk is not just about statistics and numbers it’s about a women’s experiences, her perceptions, thoughts and beliefs. Risk is subjective. One woman’s risk of a cesarean is another woman’s first choice. The risk of a stillbirth will always feel higher to a pregnant mother who’s had someone close by experience the heartbreaking effects of this, should the mothers feelings of risks be ignored in this situation if she fits the “low-risk” pregnancy category?

Words are everything in pregnancy. It’s as much about what we think we say as to what’s actually interpreted.

Photo creds Little Cheltenham

‘Tis the season to have a baby… Fa La La La La La La

Birth StoriesPregnancy

Why December is actually a great month to have a baby…

Christmas is a crazy busy time for most, with all the food prepping, turkey stuffing, tree decorating and present wrapping there is just no time to have give birth to a baby in between. I’m speaking here from someone who’s own baby could be born any day and with Christmas just less than a week away, I’m really feeling the added pressure. Will the baby be born before, will I be home for Christmas Day? Or will the baby come after Christmas? This pressure is REAL… any expectant mamas currently feeling the same?

It took me one Merry Christmas evening to feel totally different about this.

I was cosy on the sofa..

Festive PJs on ✅

Love Actually on the TV ✅

Winter scent candle was burning ✅

Twinkly lights from the Christmas tree ✅

Presents wrapped ✅

I was feeling all the good Christmassy feels. Relaxed, calm and really excited for Christmas Day. I had inadvertently created THE perfect scene for birth, or at least early labour before going into the hospital.

Oxytocin is a hormone that we need to have contractions. It’s the love hormone so is high when we feel “in love” calm and relaxed. Having high levels of stress tells the body that we’re not in a safe place to give birth, which can effect if you go into labour or can slow down your contractions.

At Christmas time, the build up can be magical, often more so than the day itself.

Cleaning the house like a maniac, sorting out old toys, clearing out old clothes to make more room for what Santa will bring. It’s nesting at its best.

The Shopping, the retail therapy! Need I say anymore. The Amazon prime purchases gives you all the good feels with the added bonus of being a perfectly justified time of year to be spending.

The chocolate orange or 2 can be eaten guilt free.

The lighting is tip top birth environment conditions, the dim lights from dark, early evenings and the twinkly lights from the Christmas lights. Nothing screams calmness quite like it.

It’s always exciting hearing the Christmas songs on the radio. The Christmas piano playlist on Spotify has been my go to chill out songs for all of December. So will definitely be my birth playlist if the baby comes this month.

Partners/Husbands usually have time off anyway so it means extra days off at home with you and the baby.

The roads are quieter for the drive to hospital … ok I’m probably clutching at straws on this one. But you get the idea, good spirits and festive cheer. You have a pre-made perfect birth environment and some amazing coping strategies already built in to the festive season (birth environment and coping strategy are techniques for birth that are covered in hypnobirthing.) There’s nothing that brings a boost of oxytocin quite like it.

Photo creds Chui King Li Photography

Pregnancy Labels- Labour Nose

Pregnancy

“Sticks and Stones may break my bones but words can also hurt me. Sticks and stones break only skin, while words are ghosts that haunt me.”

Definition: Pregnancy Labels 

1. When you are pregnant your body becomes public property to be examined, scrutinised and judged. You are carrying all around so you must be having a girl. You’ve really got that pregnancy waddle going on.

2. Usually by someone with no medical knowledge or back ground at all. The lady at the Tesco counter says your bump looks big and she thinks you will go early. She also thinks you shouldn’t be carrying your toddler on your hip being pregnant. 

3. Your pregnancy labels then define who you are and what type of birth you are going to have. You are a geriatric mother so are high risk and will need to be induced at 40 weeks. You are a VBAC so are high risk and can’t have a water birth. 

Sound familiar? I wonder how many pregnant mothers out there have had a label thrown at them in pregnancy?  I have. I have actually had it quite a few times this pregnancy.

My big one (excuse the pun) for me in pregnancy is the ones that involve body image. Here are some little gems I’ve had said to me….

“Labour nose” – I won’t go into labour yet as I don’t have “labour nose” so my nose isn’t swollen enough. Apparently in my previous 3 pregnancies my nose looked massive a few days before I go into labour.

After being told I looked big, it was followed by… “But you looked pregnant before you were pregnant.” … Cheers!

“You can’t eat cake. I wouldn’t be eating cake if I had Gestational Diabetes”… I hadn’t even eaten the cake (yet!) I just said I wanted some!

Pregnancy labels to do with size of someones bump or body bothers me for two reasons…

The first one is that person has to get dressed and leave the house in the morning, choose from limited clothes that may or not fit her ever-changing pregnancy body and maybe even feel good about herself. She may be feeling sick or nauseous, worrying about the health of her baby, finances, suffering with pelvic pain and now also how she looks, as how she looks being pregnant is what everyone seems to comment on.  All these words repeating around in your head when all you should be doing is feeling good about the fact that your body is growing a tiny human. It’s not acceptable to comment on someones body when they aren’t pregnant, so why do we accept it when we are pregnant?

My second reason is what does it mean to carry a big or small baby for that woman’s birth. If someone is told enough times that they have a big baby growing in there then they will start to believe it. Recently an expectant mother told me that she no longer wanted a waterbirth because she thought she was having a big baby. She was going to opt for an epidural instead because then if any interventions were to happen in her birth due to the big baby then she would have her epidural ready. Even though scans showed a normal size baby, the words and stories of others had got in her head. With this example, the epidural would be more likely to cause intervention than the “big” baby. Another example is I have looked after women who have requested inductions of labour due to worries of a big baby, again due to other peoples words and stories making women fearful of birth.

What are your #PregnancyLabels that you have had thrown at you either in your current pregnancy or past pregnancy? It could be size, age, high risk, low risk, cesarean, overdue. I’d love to hear your stories and see your bump pics. Let’s start spreading some #BumpPositivity maybe to remind people that words are powerful and to use them wisely. We should be using our words to encourage pregnant mothers and making them feel beautiful so that these pregnancy moments can be treasured. Remember to tag @thebumptobabychapter in your photos.

You can see where others have got involved in Instagram here.

#BackOffTheBump

Big thanks to Kate from Little Cheltenham for these photos and to Sophie and Brittany

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I’m Beth and this is my blog about all things pregnancy and motherhood. I’m a mother of 3 soon to be 4 and a midwife. Me and the midwifery team at The Bump to Baby Chapter also run antenatal classes and hypnobirthing across Gloucestershire. You can see more from The Bump to Baby Chapter on Instagram, Facebook and  Twitter

Dads… in the Birth room or in the pub?

Birth StoriesDadsPregnancyTop 5 Tips

Let’s throw it back to the 1950s where only the aristocratic Dads may have made an appearance in the birth room to welcome a son. The majority of Dads would be waiting in the pub for the news of the arrival of the baby at a homebirth or sat in the hospital waiting room, only to see the baby when their wives would be clean and decent. It was deemed inappropriate for the wives to be seen by their husbands behaving the instinctive, primitive way that labour brings.

Fast forward 60 years to now and Dads are thrown into the birth rooms with often not a scooby doo to what to expect or to do. With the role models from one born every minute spotlighting Dads to be jokers and a spare part in the birth rooms, more concerned with whether they’re going to eat the pickled onion monster munch or the sour cream Pringles. It’s no wonder with the media portraying Dads this way that they find their comfy chair in the birth room, open up their snacks and load up the iPad with the latest football match and settle down for the next few hours, leaving their other halves and the midwives to it.

What would you think if I told you that as a Dad, you are the best asset to birth? You can reduce the want for pain relief and make birth run more smoothly. Oxytocin is the reason why. Dads are the biggest source of oxytocin, with this hormone being the love hormone. A high level of oxytocin means a high level of endorphins (your body’s own morphine supply) and stronger, more regular contractions (oxytocin directly acts on your uterus muscles.)

So to the Dads out there that want to be that difference to the birth (that’s all types of births), here’s my tips for you…

1. Touch- Holding a hand, massaging the lower back, popping a hand on your partners shoulder. Touch increases the oxytocin and let’s her know you’re there.

2. Have a good poker face- No matter how you’re feeling underneath, bring out your best poker face. If she sees fear in you, she’s either going to feel scared herself or feel like she has to reassure you. Either of these are not ideal for her oxytocin levels.

3. Encourage her to eat, drink and wee often. Eating and drinking because the uterus is a muscle that needs nutrients to work effectively. You wouldn’t run a marathon without fuel. Wee often because if the bladder is full then baby’s head can struggle to get past it- women in labour often don’t get the same urge to wee as they do in pregnancy so need reminding to go.

4. Help pack the hospital bag- during birth if she asks you for her flannel for her forehead, or her Vaseline as the gas and air is drying out her lips, you’re going to want to know where it is in that bag. If your partner has a cesarean then all the baby clothes/hats/nappies are going to be your responsibility to find afterwards.

5. Get involved in the birth prep too. Help make the playlist, help research the birth plan. Knowing what will be happening in all avenues of the birth will mean that you can be confident and provide reassurance. Antenatal class can help you with the knowledge that you’ll need. If you know the choices she’d like then you can work with the midwife to make this happen. In the thick of contractions it can be a challenge to make and voice decisions so you’ll be the main communicator.

6. Tell her she’s doing amazing, tell her everything is going well, rather than asking her if she’s ok. If she’s feeling uncomfortable with contractions then she’s probably not going to say she’s fine and dandy.

7. Be a leaning post. If your partner is upright and leaning forward her pelvis will be open an extra 28% meaning more room for baby to pass through. And again the closeness will increase the oxytocin.

8. Be present. Try and limit the use of phones or iPads. When you’re trying to birth a baby and your hubby is scrolling Facebook it can feel a tad isolating.

9. Get your dose of skin to skin after with baby. It can be great for your bonding with baby, helps regulate their temperature, heart rate and breathing. Plus it gives your partner the chance to rest after birth and have two hands to eat the well deserved tea and toast.

10. Look after yourself. There’s nothing worse than having a hangry Dad in the birth room. Pack yourself lots of snacks and drinks so you can stay well fuelled too. Pack yourself a change of clothes too and maybe a toothbrush as labour and birth can take a while.

12. Practise the techniques with her in pregnancy. This can be breathing techniques, counting, visualisations or relaxations from hypnobirthing. What ever coping techniques you are going to use, you’ll need to know what they are to be able to prompt them when the going gets tough- this can be in the car on the way to the hospital, in the waiting room or during transition when birthing mums tend to momentarily lose control.

13. Sort the practical stuff- know who to call, where to park, how to get there, how to get the car seat in the car for the ride home. This will take lots of the pressure off.

Remember YOU are the biggest source of oxytocin in the room. Don’t underestimate your role in the birth room.

The Unexpected Trimester- Nancy’s Early Arrival

Birth StoriesNewborn

It was a Saturday, I had just come home from my baby shower, and put my eldest 2 children to bed. Although there was copious amounts of yummy food at the baby shower, being a glutenous pregnant woman I made myself comfy on the sofa and ordered in a Fat Toni’s. Local people know this is the trophy of all pizzas.

I was 34 weeks and 3 days so not expecting what the night had in store for me but fast forward to 9.50 am, Sunday (I will save my birth story for another day) I had my little baby girl in my arms. Weighing a healthy 5lb 14oz she was in almost tip top condition. Although she was making noises when she was breathing, for what we call ‘grunty’. This is common in premature babies and is a sign that their little lungs are struggling to breath… so off she went in an incubator over the corridor to NNU (Neonatal Unit).

This was Nancy in the first 20 minutes or so after being born, just before being taken over to NNU. You can see a slight ring around her nose and mouth where she needed help with her breathing from a mask.

Although my delivery was very calm, I happened to lose a fair bit of blood, so I stayed on the delivery suite till I was deemed safe to venture across the corridor. And there she was. My gorgeous little girl warm, cosy and peaceful in her incubator, not even aware that she had entered this world.

I looked onto her like she wasn’t my baby.

A baby that I couldn’t hold. I sat there watching her sleep. Scared to touch her; in fear of knocking a wire. I felt so useless and disconnected that I went back to my delivery room. Filled with guilt and dread I sat on my bed and expressed some milk as that was something I knew I could do. As a midwife I have been into NNU many times, looking at other mothers baby’s who I have delivered. This had felt like one of those moments- just an onlooker.

That evening I visited again. I sat watching her in tears. I was unprepared for her arrival and unprepared for not feeling ‘the bond’ with my baby. That evening, with the help of the amazing NNU staff, I held her against my skin and could smell the top of her head. I can remember this feeling more than when she was first put in my arms. We stayed like that for about fifteen minutes, then she was placed back in her incubator. I can’t say that I was overwhelmed with love but I knew that the little bundle in my arms was mine to protect. We named her that evening, Nancy Constance.

 

 

The following day, Nancy was discharged to the nursery. Then, only 48 hours since birth, Nancy was discharged home. We were extremely fortunate that she was able to come out so quickly. There are certain things as a midwife I think you need to go through totruly understand. A baby on NNU for me was clearly one of them. From the short time we spent on NNU and from caring for other mothers with baby’s on NNU I would like to say to any mother who finds themselves in the same situation…

  • Don’t feel guilty for not being able to sit at your baby’s cot side.

You have just given birth. You will need to eat, drink, take your pain relief, visit the toilet, have your post natal checks, sleep and shower. Those trips up and down from maternity ward to NNU can take its toll. You can only give to another from a full cup. Most of all your baby needs you to be well.

  • Think of your baby’s time at NNU as an extension of your womb. The unexpected trimester.

In Nancy’s case she should have still been in my womb, in my mind for reassurance, that’s what the incubator replicated.

  • You WILL bond with your baby.

If you don’t feel connected to your baby, ask for someone to help you into skin to skin, stroke her hands, smell her head. This will all help with bonding. If you can’t do these things have faith that soon, you will be able to. Your feelings now are not a reflection on your future relationship.

 

Babies recover at different rates and no amount of time at medical school can make a doctor or nurse predict the future. It’s unsettling to be not given a time frame of baby’s discharge but this is not through lack of knowledge from the staff but from plenty of experience. We were told to expect Nancy to stay in for 2 weeks, when she was out the following day. Expect the longest then anything less is a bonus.

Most importantly, know that you are doing your best and you are doing incredibly. Nobody can plan for this unexpected trimester.

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Winner of 🌟The Best Pregnancy Support Service in Gloucestershire 2017🌟, The Bump to Baby Chapter has something for everyone. 🌟For expectant couple wanting to know all you need to know about labour, baby and those early days we have midwife led antenatal courses. 🌟For a second or third time mother wanting to birth without fear after a negative birth experience. There’s hypnobirthing one day classes for the busy Mum. 🌟Free blogs with tips on birth and baby for all 🌟Buggy walks in Cheltenham for new mothers to bring the sisterhood in motherhood. So whatever stage of pregnancy and whatever number baby have a look at the page, website and get involved 🌟
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#MyBumptoBabyChapter and an AWESOME review from Rachel and Alex who had their baby boy just over a week ago... isn’t he scrummy ❤️ Congratulations to you both!!!

“8 days in and finally got 5 minutes....

Just wanted to say a huge thank you to Beth and her amazing @thebumptobabychapter classes! Both myself and Alex thoroughly enjoyed every session; for Beth’s never ending knowledge on everything labour and baby related, her total honesty that made the scary bits weirdly not seem so scary anymore; and her general funny and welcoming attitude 🥰 we were genuinely sad when our sessions came to an end as they had been the highlight of our week!

We learnt so much during our classes that really prepared us both for the birth and aftercare of our little Archie 😍 even during my brief moments of panic where I stopped using my breathing effectively, Alex was right by my side to remind me and to breath through it with me to get me back on track, honestly couldn’t have done it without his support and encouragement!!

Beth was also completely respectful of our decision not to post anything pregnancy related until after the safe arrival of our little boy, strategically putting us on the end of our group photo so we could be cropped out!! Might seem a daft thing to say, but for anyone that wishes to do the same, please don’t be put off attending these sessions as your wishes will absolutely be respected ☺️

It also gave us the opportunity to meet the loveliest couples, which has been great to share experiences both pre and post baby at all hours of the day.... and night 🕢😴!! So excited to get a date in the diary for a reunion with all our beautiful bundles 😍”

https://www.thebumptobabychapter.co.uk/antenatal-classes-hypnobirthing/
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