Fayes birth story.
So…. We didn’t have a birth plan we were just happy to go with the flow and it’s a good job we did! My due date had passed, and I was starting to feel a tad inpatient so I had a bath with a ‘sex bomb’ (bath bomb from Lush!) which was recommended to me by a new mummy friend I had made on the Bump to Baby Chapter antenatal course. I even had to go to my mother in law’s for the bath because the previous week I had got stuck in our bath due to the taps being in the middle!!
I was 5 days overdue so my partner and I went out for a thai curry at lunchtime, again in a bid to get things started. By 4pm that day the contractions had started…. 10 minutes apart and not very consistent however it was all starting to happen. My partner went off to five-a-side football at 5.30pm and when he returned at 7.15pm they certainly felt stronger and were more like 7 minutes apart however still not always consistent.
I had a tiring night, however I managed the pain using my hypnobirthing breathing and visualisations, paracetamol and a tens machine. Sleep was tricky though because well… I was a tad uncomfortable and I was needing to time my contractions. By 4.30am the following day it was time for us to make our way to the birth unit at Gloucester Royal, things seemed more consistent and my pyjamas bottoms suddenly appeared wet! My partner drove us to the hospital saying ‘this is it!’, it reminded me of that early morning trip to the airport when you are feeling a mixture of excited and nervous!!
We arrived at the birth unit and after being assessed I was advised I was 3cm dilated and only part of my waters had broken, therefore diamorphine was recommended to me so that I could rest and catch up on some sleep for the day that was ahead of me. They also started me on some IV antibiotics because I had Group B strep.
Several hours passed, my waters hadn’t broken naturally, I felt super relaxed and drowsy and I hadn’t dilated anymore. I felt at this point a little frustrated and waved goodbye to any hope of a water birth because I needed to be looked after in the delivery suite and have the rest of my waters broken. It was at this point that I was started on the hormone drip to try and increase the intensity and frequency of the contractions (or so I thought this was).
The level of hormone drip changed throughout the day, and by 10pm that evening I was 6cm dilated, this felt so wrong to both my partner and I at the time after such a long day. However, earlier that night we had a wonderful surprise when Beth came on shift and was assigned as our midwife. Seeing a friendly face was just the best we could have hoped for and my partner was pleased because he could straight talk with Beth! I was shattered and was only using gas and air as pain relief, otherwise I was managing with my hypnobirthing techniques. I remember feeling really quite insular and just focussing in on my breathing. A cesarean was offered and discussed at 11pm however we declined this suggestion on the basis that I didn’t want the recovery afterwards. Albeit, I was very tempted and did ask whether they could guarantee our baby would be born in the next hour so that it’s birthday could be the 16th of the month the same as her dad- barmy I know!! My partner laughed at this reasoning, in my head it was justified given the day I had experienced! Instead we were advised the hormone drip would be increased and we would be assessed again in 2 hours.
Those two hours I remember being really tough, however both Beth and my partner were very supportive and I remember them both being really positive. Finally, at about 1.30am I was more or less fully dilated, however (there are lots of ‘howevers‘ in this story!!), our baby’s head was facing 10 o’clock as opposed to 6 o’clock and therefore I needed some help from a doctor to move baby into a more optimum position for birth. I have also learned since that her heart rate was also creating an odd pattern and I wasn’t in any fit state to take instructions on how to push because I was attached to the gas and air for comfort and was exhausted! Therefore, the next part of the story involved signing a consent form and going to theatre. The two options I had were forceps and C section- both of which I had prayed I wouldn’t need so I remember feeling like a failure. Given our feelings about the recovery after a C section, we opted for forceps first.
I recollect being in theatre feeling like I was on Holby City- surrounded by lights, legs in stirrups and lots of clinicians around me including an anaesthetist trying to get a spinal block into my back however I couldn’t sit still due to the contractions. I recall him getting more and more cross and frustrated with the situation and perhaps me due to my lack of cooperation (not on purpose I might add!!). Once the spinal block was in, the process started and the one doctor could not turn her head, nevertheless I was lucky enough that another doctor was available to try. She was successful, however our little baby turned back! At this point, I remember Beth saying ‘you are definitely having a girl because she is being a right diva!’ this made me smile because we didn’t know at this point what we were having. The same doctor managed to turn her again and very much gave the impression that this was my opportunity to push my baby out. Beth was monitoring the baby’s heart rate and feeling my tummy for contractions, when a contraction came I was supported, encouraged and motivated to push as hard as I could three times. I am pretty sure after 3 lots of 3 pushes our baby was born! Forceps were used to help direct her out and I had an episiotomy.
Beth told us we had a baby girl and I was ecstatic because my partner already had a boy so I secretly hoped for a girl! Unfortunately, she was born very startled and with a slightly disfigured chest so was whisked off to the corner of the room for checks. My partner recalls how anxious he felt at this time, nevertheless within 15 minutes of being checked over by the doctors, her chest had recovered and all was good in the world. Well for her anyway… I on the other hand was still lay on my back, legs in stirrups feeling quite uncomfortable whilst the doctors manually removed my placenta which got a little stuck, hence my 1.7 litre blood loss. Due to this loss I started to feel more and more unwell- shaky and sick. By now, our baby girl was in my partner’s arms having lots of lovely cuddles and I couldn’t control my shakes whilst in recovery so had to opt for looking at her and stroking her hand for the first hour and a half of her life. Once I felt better I made up for it with some skin to skin contact and a good feed. Holding her for the first time was just the best medicine for feeling better and this is how I have decided to remember her birth.
My Scarlett squidge is five weeks old and we’ve navigated our first month as mummy and daughter together. The changes she’s gone through already are just awe inspiring and we’ve really been getting to know each other and how the both of us are going to work. Essentially that’s what motherhood is, for so long this little bundle has been nurtured within me and now I have the honour of learning what every little twitch, flail and grumble actually mean, as she desperately tries to help mummy get her shizzle togehter! So here are my top ten tips for surviving one of the hardest but most precious months of my life, and the only month this little miracle has ever known.
- No matter how well meaning people can be, there is inevitably going to be someone who says the wrong thing at the wrong time and the wrong place when you are literally at your lowest ebb, sore and aching after birth, despairing at lack of sleep with throbbing nipples that feel like they’re going to drop off, and a baby who you love so much but are struggling to understand. My advice…. you can either smile and nod, whilst your inner monologue is hurling expletives left right and centre, or instead be strong and do yourself a favour and remove yourself even if only temporarily, from these voices for you and your newborns sake … if they are worth it these people will totally understand, if they are not then they you don’t need them anyway.
- There will be days when for absobobbinglutely no reason your gorgeous angel will turn into psycho demon and there is literally nothing you can do. It is ok to not be ok. It is ok to walk away for ten minutes shut the door and cry. Cry because you feel like a failure, cry because you can’t bear that you don’t know what to do, cry because life has suddenly turned upside down and it’s scary. Then wipe those tears and get back to being a mummy, because even though you’re crying you wouldn’t change a thing.
- If you are breastfeeder you will experience a new novelty, the older generation of man … most likely in his eighties, balding, incontinent with rotting teeth, will be irrevocably drawn to your alluring nipple as you sweaty faced, sick in hair try to feed your writhing child. If the older man is your thing then this could be your moment, if not stare them out, keep feeding but use the death stare … and as a sleep deprived mummy this one should be pretty powerful right now.
- Don’t even bother to put your little one in your favourite baby grow at the start of the day… like seriously… they know. It’s like newborns are programmed to soil, sick or snot on your beloved faves, so if there is a special occasion that you want your bonny babe looking stunning for, it is literally a whip it on two seconds before said occasion job.
- Buy snacks and have them stashed like a squirrel with it’s nuts around the house. You will be ravenous from feeding but will also have a little one hanging on to you like a baby monkey so you need to be prepped. Think easy tear packaging… I’m learning how to use my teeth to tear those packets open or unscrew bottle tops!
- Master that sway, that rock, or that swirl… this is your signature dance move for the rest of your life. You will find yourself doing it ALL the time even if little one is fast asleep on daddy in another room. I was in a queue doing the crazy Mumma rock when I was asked if I was trying to get past… just had to explain, that no, I was just in fact one of those mummy deranged creatures.
- If someone tells you they’re tired, and they don’t have children… Calmly pick up your MUSLIN filled with sick, remove your feeding bib, put your screaming baby in the pram as they fart and you realise they have done an explosive poo and walk away. It is not worth it!
- People will now think that they have the ability to touch your baby or comment on the way they are behaving. What have I learnt… they don’t. Be polite if you can, snarl if you can’t.
- Your baby is always crying for a reason, you just need to figure it out and remember cuddles are always the best. I have never had so many cuddles in my life and every single one of them are so, so precious and special.
- Your mummy friends are your lifeline, they are the 3am whatsappers, the spare nappy lender, the shoulders to cry on… I’ve literally never felt so supported and it’s just fab. Then there’s your own mother … she can be your guardian angel, she’s been there before, she loves you and wants you to be ok, she will help you through those long nights, those screaming fits (yours and babba) and will never ever judge you for what you say when you’re tired and stressed. It is at this point you will realise that a mother’s love for her child is unconditional and this you one day will do exactly the same for this little one you sway, rock and bob in your arms right now.
And there you have it, the first month and it’s nailed.
Lottie Keble- Wyatt a.k.a Just The Girl Fitness is bringing a new exercise class called BABIES AT THE BARRE to Cheltenham. She will be hosting a Barre exercise class for all mamas who have young babies. Cheltenham and Gloucester Sling library will also be there to provide you and support you with choosing a sling that suits you and your baby. The launch of these new classes is on 25th June at the Wholefood Market Cheltenham. For more info or to get your tickets visit here.
I have always loved reading – being able to escape life to my own imagination for a few hours. Lets face it, nothing beats curling up with a cup of tea and a good book, especially in this wintery weather or as a child embarking on any adventure you could imagine through the black shapes on a white page. Preferably with plenty of blankets and an open fire, if possible.
It didn’t take me long to realise that this love was something I felt was important to pass on to my son, Llewellyn. Here are 5 ways you can ignite a love of reading in your child.
- Create a Reading area, nook or corner.
As soon as I knew I was pregnant, I started creating an area in Llewellyn’s nursery where we could easily ‘cwtch’ up with a story before bed. For me it was probably the most important part of his nursery. I wanted to make a reading nook that was book themed to make it slightly set apart from the rest of the nursery and hopefully make the whole reading and stories tradition more fun and interesting for my son. And cosy, cosy, cosy.
- Read bedtime stories to your children.
I started to read to Llewellyn from pretty well the moment he was born. To begin with, it wasn’t a set routine, but either during a feed or at whatever part of the night I felt was ‘bedtime’. I realised we were going to need a lot more books when I could mostly recite The Gruffalo by the time Llewellyn was 6 weeks old. Now I start reading a book at bedtime while I am getting him into his pyjamas as it tends to keep him, more or less in one place.
- Make the stories fun and interactive for young children.
Stories are fun especially when you’re a child, they’re full of make believe and impossibilities to the adult mind, therefore reading shouldn’t be a chore or a struggle. I try to make the stories as fun as possible for Llewellyn. I’m not particularly good at making books interactive, all my voices get mixed up and pointing stuff out makes me feel patronising (it isn’t of course) so I struggle. Flap books I can do. I generally let Llewellyn choose the book but, if he is playing about at bedtime then, I will pick one out and face it towards him so that he can look at the pictures as well when he wants. If he is sat on my knee and turning the pages, I read whatever page we are on, it must sound very odd to anyone listening but Llewellyn is happy with it and I don’t want tired tears over a page.
- Have books easily accessible to your child.
We have books everywhere, in baskets on the floor in Llewellyn’s room, in his going out rucksack, in another basket in the living room, on the dining room table, bath books. Llewellyn is definitely growing up with books and whether they are his own that he picks up and lifts the flaps or ours that he pulls out of the bookshelves, he spends a good deal of his day playing with books.
In December, we went to the Nutcracker on Ice at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland and Llewellyn loved it for about 40 minutes and was interested in everything that was going on in front of him, jumping about, clapping with the audience and laughing. But then he got bored, (as all children are prone to do) so, I had a rummage in his rucksack and brought out a drink, a snack as it was nearly lunch time and some toys…. this kept him amused for all of 5 minutes. I then produced 2 tiny Fisher Price board books that are about colours, shapes, sounds or numbers. They’re very colourful and I can definitely recommend sticking them in any changing bag for distraction. He was glued to them for the rest of the show, opening them up flipping the pages, turning them upside down… maybe he just likes cardboard and it has nothing to do with it being a book.
There have been a few nights when Llewellyn has woken up and wanted to play, I’m not really up for this, I like my sleep and like most mothers it has become rather sacred. However, I will read a book with him, preferably a flap book so he mostly does it himself and is exhausted within 20 minutes if not sooner. Books are definitely my go to parenting ‘tool’ for most occasions. Perhaps because we began reading him stories from the beginning they work for us. We also don’t have a lot of TV in our home.
- Find books that interest your child.
I believe there are books everyone can enjoy. I know plenty of ‘non-booky’ people who barely ever pick up a book but they do if they watch the first Harry Potter, Hunger Games or Lord of the Rings and want to know what happens next (back in the day a bit, I know). The books we ‘learn to read’ through are never particularly interesting in my experience and I think it is important to find books that are interesting to your child, whether it’s flaps and different textures, books with more pictures so that pages of words are not so daunting, books about sport, animals, history, playing outdoors and adventures, how to build ‘X’, how ‘Y’ works or films (behind the scenes or the next in the series).
It’s a matter of finding the right book and style of writing for your child.
Alice – 20 something mum to Llewellyn, military wife to Tom, dog-mum to Zoubi and homemaker.
She has recently launched her business Storytale Decor. The idea was born during the creation of Llewellyn’s nursery when she couldn’t find exactly what she wanted and set about making it for herself.
Avid reader (of course), lover of pilates and the great outdoors.
Personal IG: @aliceefskinner
Business IG: @storytaledecor
Etsy Shop: www.esty.co.uk/shop/StorytaleDecor
They say that many moons ago you would put your baby to sleep in what ever you had available, be that a drawer, an empty cardborad box. Maybe a flower pot..? Maybe not! Now we have recommendations that have been shown to help reduce the risks of cot death in newborns.
1. Keep baby in a cot or moses basket in your bedroom for the first six months
The safest place for baby is in your bedroom for the first six months. You may have spent time and money on decorating a nursery, but there will be plenty of time to use it. Any way, you need somewhere to store all of baby’s new clothes and toys! It’s not unusual for babies not to settle in their cots, so don’t panic if it takes time to settle them. They’ve just spent nine months being rocked and soothed in your womb. See our previous blog on how to sooth a crying baby.
2. Put your baby on their back
When putting your baby down for a daytime nap or at bedtime, its safest to put them with feet at the bottom of the cot, on their back. Once they are rolling over, you won’t need to keep rolling them back. Well wishing grandparents may tell you otherwise as old recommendations were to put baby on their front, or side. This can actually restrict baby’s ability to move their head around freely from side to side, hence why baby’s back on the bed is best.
3. Make sure baby doesn’t over-heat.
It’s tempting to wrap baby up in loads of blankets, particularly as in hospital they keep them well wrapped with a hat on. However, it’s really important to make sure they are not too hot. Never have a hat on when inside, and adjust layers to suit the weather and temperature of the house. A rule of thumb is one more layer than you. The ideal temperature for baby to sleep in is approx 18 degrees.
4. Don’t let people smoke around baby.
We know it sounds obvious, but its always best to remind friends and relatives to refrain from smoking around baby. And ask that they wash their hands before picking baby up to avoid nasty smells and toxins transferring onto baby.
5. Avoid using cot bumpers and pillows.
Every store you go into has beautiful cots and baskets adorned with lovely bumpers, however, its best to avoid using these in order to keep baby safe. Nothing else should be in your baby’s cot other than her blankets and these should we tucked in well either as a swaddle, under the baby or around the mattress of the cot so there is no loose ends.
The first few days for baby…
- Baby led feeding. Scrap any type of feeding routine, you can not over feed your baby in these early days. A lot of baby’s will lose up to 10% of their birth weight. This is normal. Anything over this your midwife will advise you accordingly.
- Keep your baby warm. As a rule of thumb your baby should have one extra layer of than you. Baby’s also lose a lot of heat through their heads so make sure baby has a hat on when you leave the house, especially in the Winter months.
- Night number 2 is typically a restless night. Use our previous Top 5 tips to soothe your baby. Just think where they were and they are now. A womb is dark, muffled and warm, they are now in a bright, noise world so it may take them a couple of days/weeks to adjust.
- Dry skin. A lot of baby’s skin is dry, more so if your baby was over due. The best thing to do is absolutely nothing. Not even olive oil or baby moisturiser. A baby’s skin has a certain ph, putting cream/oil on it can disrupt this balance.
- Give your baby cuddles. This point is my favourite and also quite an important one. You can’t spoil or over cuddle your newborn, no matter what your relatives might say! A baby doesn’t have ‘wants’ only ‘needs’. Even if that need is a cuddle, your baby is wanting to feel secure in this big scary world and wants to give you as their mum the privilege of doing that with a cuddle. Make your baby feel loved with contact, talking to your baby and lots of snuggles. This will help your baby feel secure now and also later on in life.
The first few days mum…
- Accept help and support. The transition to parenthood is not always smooth, so take all the help and support on offer! Stay the extra night in hospital if you feel you need some extra help with feeding or just that extra night to recover. If friends and relatives offer to cook a meal, walk the dog or just to hold the baby while you have a bath – say ‘yes please’.
- Utilise a mummy support network. If you have attended antenatal classes (or pregnancy yoga, swimming, Pilates etc), make use of your new friends who are probably going through a very similar experience as you. Create a whatsapp, Facebook, text group and get nattering through those night feeds! Book dates in the diary to get you out of the house for a cuppa or buggy walk.
- Learn about what happens after the birth. Most of us are so focused on the birth that we forget to ask what happens post birth. Educate yourself on what happens to your body after giving birth, so there’s no surprises.
- Speak up. Be honest with yourself and your partner! The postnatal period can be a very emotional time and we all manage very differently. If you are feeling low or need some extra help, speak with your partner or a friend and make use of your midwife and health visitor, they are there to help.
- Take it easy. Most importantly, try not to put pressure on yourself to achieve anything other than spending time with your baby and looking after yourself. It doesn’t matter if you stay in your PJ’s all day.