Princess and the Sprog: Sleeping Beauty and the Sleep Thief

 

Princess and the Sprog

February 19, 2018

“I might just have a nap, standing up, holding the baby” said a lady next to me one coffee morning. Before you ask, yes she was joking and no, that’s probably not advised – but dear lord have we all thought about it at some point in time.

How was your night? – possibly one the most reoccurring questions that crops up in our ‘mum group’. Being able to share the trials and tribulations of the previous evenings antics is quite refreshing when you are surround by other women that are in your camp. Z has just had his 3 month birthday, and now that we have reached the magical 12 week stage I can confidently say that the two hourly wake up calls have started to subside. I visited my Mum’s for a few nights a couple of weeks ago and the little angel slept over 6 hours in one stint. I couldn’t quite believe it. All this foreign surroundings, unfamiliar atmosphere chat that I had so often heard about (and had therefore made me a tad anxious as I started the evening bath, feed, cuddles routine) seemed to completely unphase him. Only to return home and go back to the 11pm, 2am, 4am, 6am malarkey. As they say, just as you think you’ve cracked something, your baby takes a good look at you, laughs, and then moves the goal posts.

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What really fascinates me is how some babies are complete Sleeping Beauties, sleeping through from the moment they were brought back from the hospital, whilst others like to have a rave when the sun goes down, completely robbing their poor parents of any rest – and there we have the Sleep Thief. No amount of baby massage, lullaby singing or white noise apps helped us in the early days, Z was just being a newborn and wanted to tell us all about it. Baths have become less traumatic now and we even get a cheeky smile with some impressive leg kicking. We’ve found that not only does this knacker him out, but it starts the bedtime routine off to a good start. I sometimes find myself thinking how chaotic and brilliant bath times will be with a few more sprogs, chuck them all in the tub with grubby faces and enough bubbles to replicate the Eastenders launderette. Anyway, as much of an effort as it can feel at times (especially after a long day), a bath every evening seems to be having a good impact on the night ahead.

zac bath

 

By talking to other Mums I have come to the conclusion that there is never any harm in trying new techniques (whether that be structuring your day and sticking to specific times or going with the flow and taking cues from the little ones) as long as you go in with an open mind, expect the worse and hope for the best. We are currently managing to get Z down before 8pm which gives us a bit of an evening as a couple, and then 2 night feeds around 1am and 4am. He’s an early riser around 6am but I’m learning to embrace the early starts and am looking forward to the light mornings. With any luck he will drop one of these night feeds, but I am aware we are edging dangerously close to the dreaded 4 month sleep regression. I am going to pretend it doesn’t exist for now…

I really feel like I am dancing with the devil by writing about sleep whilst it’s going well, but I might want to look back at this in a sleep-deprived state to remind myself that there is hope!

On a side note we have been using Gaviscon for the reflux for over a week now and I can see a real change in how Z is during and after a feed. I won’t lie, I am excited by the prospect of weening as I hear solids can really help reflux babies so I will be sure to write about our first spag bol up the wall experience.

(Good) Night x

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Princess and the Sprog: All Things Sensory

Princess and the Sprog

February 7, 2018

There’s a lot of talk about baby sensory amongst the world of Mums and child development so I thought it was about time I took Zac to see what all the fuss was about!

We went over to a local sensory room that we hired out (as opposed to a structured class) along with a couple of other mums and babies. This allowed us to explore everything at our own pace, which given Z’s sightly unpredictable nature of late seemed like a great plan. I was super keen to introduce him to this sensory malarkey because like many newborns, he is obsessed with lights and anything that looks like it might have the potential to glow (this includes light bulbs that aren’t even on…oh babies 😐 !).

We spent A LOT of time laying next to a groovy set of mirrors on zigzag squishy triangles, as we have now discovered little one enjoys staring at himself. I’ll definitely be buying some play mirrors for home as this was a big hit. He was also mesmerised by a big water cylinder that bubbled and changed colour. Little (plastic) fish bobbled up and down in it and i’ll admit that I quite enjoyed looking at it too. The whole room was very soothing with white walls and moving multi coloured lights. There was a little black tent in one corner and a big bean bag in another for the babies to lay on and explore. Fluffy feathers, floating balloons and scrunchy fabrics were scattered around for the little ones to feel against their skin and hear the sounds they made.

 

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Zac was so calm throughout the time we were there and going by some of the rather challenging days and nights we’ve been having it was just so nice to see him enjoying the whole experience. I came away with the inspiration to turn the entire house into one massive fish tank equipped with lava lamps and bubble machines but I fear the other half might have something to say about this. We’ll absolutely be doing some more sensory sessions in the near future so I’ll make sure to write about the new things we discover. A massive yes to the fascinating world of baby sensory 😀

 

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Princess and the Sprog: Clubbercise – Mums get fit!

January 20, 2018

 

Having giving birth to a tiny human being  over 2 months ago, and making up for the lack of off-limit foods during pregnancy by eating my body weight in Brie and cured meats over Christmas, I decided that instead of moping about feeling like a right old lump I’d best get off my increasingly large backside and do some exercise.

The thought of outdoor jogging was hardly appealing. 1) it’s subzero temperatures in January and pitch black come 5pm and 2) I’m not 100% confident my body would manage a run long enough to burn off a raisin let alone a chocolate bar. Then a thought came to my head – I’d heard about Clubbercise through an old work colleague and had looked at going years ago but had never plucked up the courage to go. When I originally moved to the area, being over an hour away from friends and family was tough. But one of the best things about starting a new life in an unfamiliar town and having a baby is that along the way I have met some amazing women who I genuinely get along with. Yes, there’s the fact we all have babies in common, but there’s so much poo, wee and (lack of) sleep talk you can have before the conversation hopefully moves onto non-baby stuff like what you do for work, your favourite films, reminiscing about uni days and in general cracking jokes about useless partners, bedroom antics and your love for coffee and cake.

It was at a Mumma and baby social that I suggested to a couple of the girls about Clubbercise. I’d hoped the good ol’ phrase of strength in numbers might encourage a group of us to don the Lycra, get off our arses, and actually do some exercise we so often talked about wanting to start again. So on Monday evening myself and two friends arrived at the local sixth form school car park, dressed appropriately in the most garish, neon clad sports entire we could find, and rather sheepishly walked over to the gym doors. I couldn’t help but burst out laughing when we arrived, as I could see the flashing disco lights coming from inside the dark school hall, and I immediately had flash backs of dodgy year 8 discos where boys stood on one side, girls on the other, and eventually Shaggy’s It Wasn’t Me united us all together (little did we realise how inappropriate the context of that song was aged 12 but then again Spice Girls 2 become 1 was my fave way before that so who cares). We were greeted by some smiley ladies dressed in florescent hoodies who asked us to sign a few forms and we handed over our £5 for the hour class. We were given 2 flashing glow sticks each and off we went into the hall.


Now I’ll be honest here, I haven’t felt so ridiculous and nervous yet at the same time so excited in a very long time! I felt like I had been transported back to Ibiza as the impressive music system blared out some of my favourite dance tunes, whilst at the same time assessing the average age of women in the room at about 45 waving these brightly coloured sticks about like an enthusiastic fight path attendant at Luton airport!!

To think that this might be a jolly piss about with my friends would be an understatement because the instructor up front was not mucking about. Equipped with a Britney Spears head mic and quads like a body builder, she kicked off the class with some grapevines and heel taps and quickly progressed into some impressive up tempo aerobics moves. Each music track had a different routine and after initially recovering from our fits of laughter we really got stuck in, attempting to follow her every move grapevining here, doing jumping-jacks there literally sweating our arses off. The best thing about it was that you didn’t really feel like you were working out -punching the air to Pendulum’s Tarantula and marching it out to Martin Garrix Animals were some definate highlights. I sense an animal theme going on here… Also it really is in complete darkness so any initial worries about looking stupid went out the window.

It’s safe to say we’ll definitely be going back next week, and as if anyone ever needed an excuse to buy some more neon clothing this will be mine ?

*insert cheesy picture of the gorgeous and appropriately sweaty Laura and Heather (and myself) featuring many a glowstick*

Princess and the Sprog: Baby cinema – our trip to Odeon Newbies in Coventry

Princess and the Sprog

January 9, 2018


 

Well this was a new experience. Cinema AND baby…how could this possibly work I asked myself. Won’t he hate it? Won’t I spent 95% of the time trying to shhh him and miss the entire film? Well it turns out that when the screening is exclusively for parents and babies, everyone knows what it’s like to deal with a grumpy little tike and instead of getting judgey stares you find yourself having a bit of a giggle with another mum across the stairway. So who cares if yours decides to join in the sing-a-long mid film. Which was more than appropriate as the film we went to see was Pitch Perfect 3.

I packed my changing bag for every eventuality: milk, bottle, five hundred muslins in case of spewage, blanket, spare outfits, nappies etc. and opted to pop the sprog in the Caboo sling for hands free ease. I hoped he might go to sleep as he likes being in there and that way I’d actually get to see some of the film. I have to say the boy done good (!) and other than waking for a feed my 8 week old little lad virtually slept through the whole thing. Definate success.

Things that I thought were great about baby cinema at Odeon Coventry:

  • Tickets only £5, babies free – bargain
  • Plenty of space to spread out, so can easily use seats inbetween everyone for all the baby toot.
  • Escalators and lifts from the street entrance and car parks so easy for prams
  • Baby changing facilities in the toilets outside the screen
  • Free parking IF you can find a space. Odeon is on the 7th/8th floor, I got to 13 and, not knowing how many levels there are, decided to head back down. My friend ended up successfully parking on the 18th floor and I assume got the lift. Would have been quicker to parachute down.
  • I’ve just read on their site that the sound is a bit softer than in a usual screening. I did think it wasn’t as bellowing, but couldn’t work out if it was because of all the gurgling, burping and farting going on in the background – and that was just the mums…

Hope you enjoy my cheesy video of our first cinema experience!

Here’s the link to the Odeon Newbies:

http://mobi.odeon.co.uk/newbies/

Princess and the Sprog: New Year New Identity

New Year New Identity

January 3, 2018

As I sat watching the New Year fireworks on TV whilst feeding my 6 week old baby boy, I found myself thinking about just how much my life has changed.

Little one had managed to time his feed so that we could see in the new year together, just me and him, and as I pulled him close I thought just how lucky I am to be sharing this moment with him. It was only earlier that day he had demonstrated just how testing a new born can be, pulling off a spectacular meltdown at the supermarket tills (a place where you are literally trapped like cattle, the only thing to do is to continue moving forward until you get to the green grass aka the car).

The past few weeks have been a bit of whirlwind, doing a constant mental ticklist of clean bottom, full tummy, is he too hot, is he too cold, cuddles cuddles and more cuddles, burping, playing white noise, YouTubing nursery rhymes and singing like Charlotte Church to Wheels on the Bus, sterilising bottles, the endless visits from family and friends, and of course attempting to get out the house for coffee and cake with the mums and babies.

It was only a few years ago that I spent New Years Eve with my friends in Times Square watching Teighlor Swift performing live, wondering if she’d actually eaten anything that week as I scoffed a slice of deep pan pizza and danced with strangers in the freezing cold. Not much has changed there – I still eat greasy carbs and dance like an idiot but now I do it in my pyjamas, in the lounge, whilst similultaneously juggling a baby, swapping a vodka coke for a cold cup of tea and my jam is The Animals Came in 2 by 2 – horrah!

As I enter 2018 with a new identity as a Mum, I enter it with a beaming smile. Yes having a baby means putting yourself last, yes you are completely sleep deprived and when a child-less friend says they’re tired you look at them with daggers as if to say love you have no idea, yes you are probably covered in sick and haven’t washed your hair in longer than you’d like to admit, but would we have it any other way? Abser-bluddy-lutely not. Being a Mum is the best and despite having pushed a watermelon out the size of a ping-pong sized hole only weeks ago,  and the many evenings where the only thing that will calm my baby boy is hours of bouncing on the ruddy pregnancy ball, I can 100% say it’s all worth it. Happy 2018 everyone, it’s going to be quite the year. Cheers!

*insert picture of me pretending I’m down with the kids on NYE with a blue wkd*

Princess and the Sprog: The first few weeks of Motherhood

Princess and the Sprog

December 1, 2017

When you bring your little one back from hospital and are in the comfort of your own home, you suddenly realise that all the research and prep you tried to do whilst pregnant will only get you so far. Just like anything, learning on the job is the best way to find out what works and what doesn’t!

I’ve put together a list of things that I have learnt and hopefully will be useful in those first few days and weeks of being a new mum.

1. The Sleep Situation

Whichever sleep ‘device’ you have chosen for your baby (and I say device because the options out there really are quite overwhelming at times!) it is almost garenteed that their most preferred method to get off to sleep will be on you or your partner. I’d heard a lot about this during pregnancy, but what I didn’t quite realise is how much of a fine art it is to get them into their bed. We have a lovely Moses basket for Zac that is by my side of the bed, some people have the next-to-me style cribs, snooze pods etc. For the first couple of nights we took it in turns for baby to sleep on us whilst the other got some kip, as that was the only way he would sleep. He’d be completely zonked out on us, and purely by putting him down on his back would wake him almost instantly. They say they like the feeling of the heart beat just like they were in the womb – it makes sense. I had some fantastic advice from friends to try and make the Moses basket a more inviting place for him to sleep and so far these have been really successful:

  • Heat a water bottle and place on the mattress to make it warm and cosy before laying baby down. **NB, always remove the water bottle before putting baby down and never place baby in their bed with the hot water bottle.
  • Use the same blanket they sleep in to wrap round you and baby whilst they dose off so that your smell and warmth is carried over with them.
  • If possible, have your Moses basket/crib with you in the lounge during the day and practise putting them down when they are sleepy, again for familiarity, to prepare for the night time.
  • Place them on your chest initially to get them off to sleep, the advice I recieved was around 15/20 minutes until they are in a good deep sleep, then place in basket/crib.
  • Consider using a dummy to keep them calm when they stir. This is very much up to you and how you would like to parent ?
  • Sing nursery rhymes, play lullabies and find some good white noise apps to play to baby to help them settle.

These are just a few tips that we have found really helpful, and as I write this post 2 weeks in, I can say we are making real progress with night times. As they say, all babies are different and some take to their sleeping arrangements incredibly quickly, others take more time – just persevere and stay positive.

2. Feeding

Whether you plan to breastfeed, express or formula feed your newborn, prepare to be flexible with what might happen when baby actually arrive. I read a lot of articles about this during maternity leave, and we have now adopted all 3 methods – not something I had originally planned but it’s working for us. Do what is best for you and your baby and go with your instinct. Something that I hadn’t given much thought about was expressing. I bought a Tommee Tippee manual breast pump as a bit of a back up option so that my partner could get involved with feeding too, and it was actually something that I started to use on a regular basis the moment we got home. It meant I could physically see how much milk little one was getting, it enabled us to share feeding duties, and it meant visitors and family members could help out which was lovely. For some mums, exclusively breastfeeding is what they are happiest doing, for others bottle feeding is the way forward. One thing I hadn’t realised pre-motherhood was that for a majority of bottle feeding mums, they tried really hard in the early days to breastfeed and it just wasn’t meant to be – perhaps their milk production was low or their baby struggled to latch – so in the best interests of their baby they use formula. After our first visit from the midwife Zac was showing signs of jaundice, we were advised by the midwife to do whatever we felt was the best to keep him hydrated. So we started formula feeding during the night and breastfeeding and expressing during the day. After all it is incredibly important your baby is hydrated and getting the nutrition it needs. It’s cheesey, but a healthy baby is a happy baby and whatever feeding method you choose it’s important to remind yourself that you’re doing your best for your baby and that’s what really matters.

An extra helpful tip here is to make sure you have an abundance of pillows and cushions in your house – preferably of all shapes and sizes! Small, soft cushions are  best as you can stack them, squash them etc into different positions to help you get comfortable. I have a U shaped maternity pillow which is great for giving your arms a rest when holding little one and also doubles up as the perfect place to put baby down as the shape holds their head and makes them feel secure.

3. Lighting around the house

Getting this right is a bit of a fine art! We both have little lamps on our bedside tables, mine is a multi coloured pac-man light which gives off a glow more than a light. My partners is a standard reading lamp. Mine is too dull to see anything properly, my partner’s is too bright to keep on whilst asleep! We started off with the landing light on and the bedroom door open, now we have progressed to small lamp in the nursery which is not as bright. The same goes for the lounge, our spot lights are blinding, and without them you’re in the pitch black, so a standing lamp in the corner of the room has been brilliant. Long story short, lots of little lights are better than one strong light. This is something I had never thought of before, and after a few trips to the hardware store to buy bulbs and multi-socket electric extensions we’ve finally cracked the ‘baby-friendly’ mood lighting! Also on the subject of light, a friend recommended fairy lights around the car seat to keep little one entertained on journies. We tried this out with Zac’s sleep box and he was mesmerised.

4. Looking after yourself

Set up mini stations around the house that consist of bottles of water, somr snacks e.g biscuits, fruit, cereal bars, muslins and phone chargers if possible. Keeping yourself hydrated when breastfeeding is really important and when you are tired making sure you drink lots of water will help you feel a bit more perky in general. A variety of snacks at arms length will also help to keep you going. We quickly realised that once you have a feeding or sleeping baby in your arms, it’s best to have everything you need around you as getting up isn’t easy when your trapped under a baby! Always have a muslin at the ready for dribbles and burping, and if you can keep the tv remote close by as once you are settled you’ll be grateful you thought about this before you got comfy with baby ?

5. Bath time

The aim of this Takeshi’s castle style challenge is to get your baby from smelly to clean overcoming all obstacles that you will face. Firstly, getting the water temperature right. We have a little thermometer that came with the Mothercare tub, and every time I run the bath it always feels so cold. But that’s because I always have my bath very warm – guilty. The next is stripping down your baby avoiding the fountain of pee (boys particularly prone, I hear girls more of an unexpected dribble) and hope that this isn’t the moment they choose to poop. I caught it all in my hand the other day, it was not a pleasant sight. It was either that or the fluffy rug…you choose. Once you and baby are ready, the moment of truth will be how your baby reacts to the water. Now I was praying that I’d have some sort of water-loving fish baby, but alas I do not. We have a flannelette deck chair bath aid (that’s not the technical name, it was given to us by a friend) and I would advise having a look at products available on the market as they are great for keeping your baby’s head out the water and supporting their head and back so you are able to wash their little bodies safely. Our method of getting through the next step of the challenge is to use a sponge and jug to constantly pour water over little one’s tummy. We find he is happiest when doing this and keeps him warm. After a good wash, we transfer our slippery worm into a hooded towel and quickly rub down to keep him warm. I like to take this opportunity for a bit of skin to skin time before getting him changed into a fresh sleep suit. It’s upto you when you want to put on a clean nappy, I’m fairly prompt as to avoid the inevitable…others give their babies some naked down-below airation. Again, fate is in your own hands with this one! I look forward to being able to use some bath toys as he gets older and make this part of our bed time routine, but during these early days just making sure they are happy and clean is the main aim whatever the time it is.

6. Socialising & getting out

Although this is the last on my list, it’s also one of the most important. Having family and friends around you in the early days can really help when it comes to both emotional and physical support. Equally, you can end up with half the village visiting the house if you’re not careful so bare in mind it is perfectly OK to say no or postpone visits if you want. Whether you’re new to an area, or simply want to meet other parents-to-be who are in the same position as you, there are a handful of ways you can go about making new ‘mum friends’ (best said in an inbetweeners voice). First tip is to sign up to an antenatal classes during pregnancy. It could be NCT, the free NHS classes or independent companies that also run courses. Although we only opted for the NHS ones, I started to go along to coffee mornings at the local village hall (run by an independent baby group) from about 28 weeks pregnant. This is early days for some people, but as I had moved to a new area and it been so long since I interacted with newborn babies I was keen to stuck in. I felt like it was my first day at big school as I sat in the car park, incredibly nervous about the unknown. There really was no need, a smiley face greeted me at the door and I was introduced to the other bumps and new mums. I was surrounded by lots of little babies and this gave me the chance to just watch how the mums held and played with their little ones. I also got to talk to them about how my pregnancy was going so far. I even got to hold and cuddle a gorgeous little girl and this gave me so much confidence. I came back feeling really positive about motherhood and have been going to this group every week ever since. We managed our first outting as Mum and baby this week and Zac loved taking in the atmosphere. The same ladies meet for coffee in town on other days of the week so this gives us something to put in the diary and is a great chance to have a chinwag with other slightly sleep-deprived mums!

Another way of getting to know other mums and babies is Mush. Mush is an app that helps you connect with parents in your area with babies of a similar age – Tinder for mums if you will! I have my first ‘Mush date’ coming up with two other mums next week. We were all due around a similar time (you can join whilst pregnant and there is a little stork icon that tells you how far gone a person is!) and we would talk about our pregnancies, how the midwives appointments were going and how we were feeling. The app notifies you when new people in your area have joined and I find it incredibly easy to use. Really worth a go especially if you’re a tad apprehensive about throwing yourself feet first into village hall coffee mornings!

Previous Princess and the Sprog post(s):

Princess and the Sprog: Welcome little man – my birthing experience

 

For the Princess and the Sprog blog, click here.

 

Princess and the Sprog: Welcome little man – my birthing experience

 

Princess and the Sprog

November 19, 2017

On 14th November 2017 we welcomed little Zachary James into the world. Weighing 6lbs 11oz, he arrived exactly 2 hours before his due date at 10pm through a fairly straight forward natural birth.

Now, no birth is ‘straight forward’ but I feel incredibly lucky that things went well and he was delivered safely! My contractions started at around 6am on the Tuesday morning – or at least this was when it dawned on me that the stomach pains I’d been having during the night might actually be the start of this whole thing kicking off. I started to time the strong period pain like cramps that came and went, lasting around 30 seconds each time. They were sporadic and seemed to have no pattern, some 8 minutes apart, then 12, then 10… At one point I got in the bath to try and relax and I didn’t get another contraction for 17 minutes. Although it was nice to have a bit of a break I was concerned I was slowing down my labour so got out the bath and soon enough the gaps between shortened. A pattern of between 6 and 8 minutes started to develop at around midday, and by 4pm they were gaining a steady rhythm and were really quite painful. It’s true what they say, it’s incredibly difficult to describe what a contraction feels like, but I’ll give it my best shot. For me personally it was a tightening at the bottom of my bump from one side to the other. I had a little bit of back pain with these tightenings although in general everything was happening at the front of my body. My Braxton Hicks were fairly impressive through out pregnancy and I spent many nights pacing the landing thinking they might be the the real deal only for them to ease and finally disappear. But when I had Braxton Hicks they were always over my right hand side, over his back. When I was actually contracting the pains were much lower and from one side to the other, and to state the obvious, weren’t as easy to manage! But for any mums-to-be reading this or anyone wondering how anyone gets through hours and hours of contractions, somehow the time went very quickly and before I knew it I’d got to midday (6 hours in) at which point I made a sandwich for lunch, loaded the dishwasher, put away the laundry and asked my partner to pack the car with the overnight bags. It’s surprising how in between contractions you feel suddenly very human again and having just gripped onto the edge of the bed/kitchen worktop for dear life, you quickly go back to being able to breath and function normally! Then another one comes…and they get closer together…at some point you surrender and concentrate solely on recovering for when the next one greets you like a sucker punch to womb.

After roughly 10 hours of coping fairly well at home, the contractions started to get much closer together around 3/4 minutes apart and increasingly more intense. This was when I felt I couldn’t go any longer without some help so we called the midwives in the labour ward to give them the heads up we’d be coming into hospital fairly sharpish. It took like what felt like forever just to get in the car – we live in a 3 storey terrace house and the stairs seemed to set off the contractions like you would not believe. It appears that despite trying to be super organised, there are always a few little things that you remember last minute, which of course are scattered in all sorts of places men can’t seem to find even with detailed instruction!
So after we’d ticked off the checklist of things we needed to take, we made our way to hospital. Luckily we are only 5 minutes (if that) drive away, but even that was challenging. I had 2 contractions in the car and all I wanted to do was curl up into a ball, quite tricky with a safely belt on. Nevertheless we got to labour ward and they checked us in pretty rapidly. The lovely midwife hooked me up to various monitors to keep track of babies heart rate, and then I was examined to see where we were with things. At 5pm when we arrived I was 3cm dilated. The relief to hear that yes, my body had started the process and we were on our way to delivering a baby was amazing. I honestly thought that she would say to me I wasn’t dilated at all (I’d heard about women contracting for days at home and feared that might be happening to me) so to know I was making progress was music to my ears. Antenatal classes explained that it can take roughly 1 hour per 1cm dilation, and with your first baby could take more like 2 hours per cm, but by this time all my attention was going on getting through each contraction that I didn’t think about time scale, I just closed my eyes and tried to get through each tightening. I started to feel very sick, so received an anti-sickness injection followed by Gas & Air to relieve the pain. This made so much difference I suddenly felt like I might actually be able to make do this without dying! I was offered more pain relief at that point, but decided I needed to keep something up my sleeve in case the pain stepped up a notch – and it did. To quote the NHS website on pain relief in labour…’An injection of the drug pethidine into your thigh or buttock can relieve pain. It can also help you to relax. Sometimes, less commonly, a drug called diamorphine is used’. Now I’m not 100% sure why I didn’t go with pethidine, I was struggling to concentrate and I feel like perhaps the midwife weighed up the options and I opted for Diamorphine. But once I had that injection I was able to get through each contraction still sitting on the bed. Previously I had been on all fours gripping onto the bed grunting like a pig. With both the gas and air and the diamorphine I was able to breath through it and manage the pain.

So, at 10.03pm our little boy was delivered after some fairly impressive pushing on my part – yes I know I sound vain but my god I am proud of this part of the story! His heart rate had started to drop and whilst I had my eyes closed, the room filled with medical staff including a doctor and pediatrician on stand by. “One last push and then we’ll need to use the suction cup” was I believe the doctors famous last words…so I did the best I could to make it count and amazingly it worked. The cord was wrapped round his neck but the team were quick to sort that out and our baby’s heart rate picked up once the cord was out the way. A decision was made in a matter of seconds to give me an episiotomy – a small cut to avoid tearing and to speed up delivery – and although the thought might fill you with dread, I can promise you that in the moment if that’s what needs to be done you go with it. I was numbed and didn’t feel it happen, and am happy that this was done because it meant that in the final push he came into this world less stressed out and there was no need for further intervention.

Once he was delivered, they put him straight into my chest and gave him a rub down to get him to cry. Seeing this little baby I’d been nurturing as a bump for 9 months for the first time was overwhelming. Surprisingly he didn’t wail like you see on One Born, he just made little yelps of a cry to let us know he was ok, and very quickly settled. He was super alert with his eyes open and wiggling around like a worm getting to know his new surroundings. They talk about the importance of the ‘Golden Hour’ following birth, and if you’re not sure what it’s about it’s worth a Google, but essentially it refers to the benefits of skin to skin contact and how high oxytocin levels at this time will help to create that extra special bond between mother and baby.

The time seemed to fly by, and at some point in all of this I delivered the placenta. It was painless, I barely felt it and now I understand why people don’t really concentrate on this part of birth as much as they do with everything else. I know people have different experiences so perhaps I was just lucky, but if that is something you’re concerned about I hope this has put your mind at ease. For the curious, no I haven’t had it freeze-dried and no I’m not sprinkling it on my cornflakes – I’ll leave that to the earth loving free spiriters!

My amazing boyfriend cut the cord, something we hadn’t even talked about but when handed the scissors I’m not sure he had any other option! It’s funny because when I was at the birth of my godaughter, having watched my best friend go through labour and then deliver her beautiful girl, the cutting of the cord was a very special moment – something she had asked her sister if she would like to do, and what an honour to be part of that moment to talk about in years to come (like I am now). I can’t speak for the entire male population, but the look on my other half’s face as he held the scissors and cut through what we have later described as a tough shoe lace was a picture. Not quite the ‘special moment’ I had experienced 5 years ago, more one to look back on and laugh – oh the trials and tribulations of labour.

Despite the pain, giving birth to Zachary James was the best experience of my life and only have positive things to say about the staff and the hospital. Would I do it again – absolutely.

Minimeltdowns – Help me…I’m going back to work

#minimeltdowns

For most of us it’s a necessary evil or sometimes a welcome escape, and usually somewhere in between. You don’t need it be one or the other, whatever it is, don’t feel guilty.

I can guarantee two things:
1. It’ll be hard leaving them;
2. It won’t be that easy readjusting to work life.

That said, I can also guarantee two more things:
1. They’ll love their childcare once they’ve got use to it;
2. Being a working mum does get easier.

I returned to work a little while ago and, to be honest, it was hard to start with but now I’m really enjoying it. It was probably harder for me as I was off all of my pregnancy as well. The good news is that I can give you some helpful and practical tips to ease you back into the workplace until it all starts to feel that little bit more manageable.

Top tips for your return to work:

  • Organise a return to work meeting with your manager (and HR/Occupational Health) where you clear up any outstanding admin (IT access, pay etc.) and outline the transition from your maternity cover back to you (don’t be afraid to ask for a gentle transition as you have been away for a decent period of time).
  •  Get a workstation assessment if you work in an office or ensure that working conditions are appropriate for you post-baby. I had some damage to my back whilst pregnant and didn’t request a workstation assessment immediately after getting back. Sitting incorrectly and lugging around an ancient laptop meant that my back got quite bad, quite quickly. I went to Occupational Health and they arranged an assessment. I am now the proud owner of a lighter laptop, ergonomic laptop rucksack and I have a special chair, just for me at the office.
  • Do some pre return to work cooking and freezing (or fill your freezer with meals from www.cook.com), order online for the first four weeks, keep your weekends and evenings as free as possible. You’ll need the extra breathing space. My husband and I follow a somewhat boring but easy to manage eating plan, Mondays is salmon, Tuesdays chicken and so on. It means you don’t have to think about it.
  •  Ask your manager for some working from home flexibility. If this is available to you, it’s so much easier on the drop off/pick up duty, even if it’s only from time to time.
  •  Work out a backup plan for illness/settling in problems. It’s pretty common for your little one to catch a virus or something when they are first exposed to nursery germs (it’ll happen afterwards as well, but it’s common for you to get THAT phone call as soon as you’ve settled down at your desk asking you to collect them and take them to the doctor).
  •  Ensure your other half is doing their fair share. We bought a little white board and drew a weekly planner. We worked out who was doing drop off/pick up each day so that it was equally shared, we worked out what we were eating each night and we even tried to plan some ME time for both of us (whether it be exercise or meeting friends).
  • Be super-aware of your emotional wellbeing. All change can be challenging and this is a huge change. Be vigilant of becoming low or anxious. Maybe book an appointment with your doctor or counsellor in advance, you may not need the appointment but it could be reassuring having something in the diary.

Best of luck, I’m sure you’ll all ROCK being a working mum (it can’t be as hard as childbirth right?!?)

 

Previous #minimeltdowns blogs….

Minimeltdowns – Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Pre and Post Baby: A Closer Look

Minimeltdowns – Emotional Wellbeing and Mental Health Pre and Post Baby: An Introduction

Minimeltdowns – Guilt, guilt, guilt!

Minimeltdowns – D and V and all things nice

Princess and the Sprog

One of our lovely mums is sharing with us Princess and the Sprog, her blog that she has started since the birth of her first child. She hopes to help support others who are on a similar journey by sharing her experiences and thoughts about the whole process.

Click here to read it.

Positive Birth Story – Hypnobirthing

A beautiful Positive Birth Story using hypnobirthing techniques despite having to manage medical intervention.

A passion of Bump2baby Reality is to care, prepare and support women and their partners in their birth preparation and early parenting.  We try to encourage an open-minded approach for labour, birth, and those early days. We encourage a positive mindset during labour but also being prepared for a birthing journey to change and perhaps not to be the birth you had hoped for.

With permission from a local mum, we are happy to share her hypnobirthing journey here. Although not what she had thought her journey would be, she did stay in control and focused, leading to a positive experience. A beautiful journey that we hope will help many other expectant parents.

 

Dear Helen,  

We had a hypnobirthing session some months ago at my home. I wanted to let you know how was my birthing experience.

My husband and I practiced the relaxation techniques that you taught us whilst holding ice (at the end we managed to hold it for nearly 3 minutes!). I had a very good pregnancy, and everything was ready for me to go to the Lucina Birth centre and have a water birth.

At 23.30 on my due date my waters broke, and they were of a greenish colour. We went to hospital and I was told that I couldn’t give birth at Lucina because of the presence of meconium. Since I hadn’t had contractions yet, they told me that they would have to induce me so that I had that baby soon. By the time the midwife started doing all the paperwork to transfer me to the labour ward I started feeling a subtle period-like pain every 3 minutes. I jumped on a Pilates ball to make it more comfortable and it was quite manageable. When I was transferred to the labour ward I explained that I had started contracting, but since I was not in agony they said I was only starting contracting and it would take a while for me to be ready to give birth, so they would still have to induce me. At the labour ward I was told to be laying on a bed and stay still because I was being monitored. The pain started to get more intense, but I kept on visualising these waves that would eventually fade and disappear.

When the midwife came to see how dilated I was, she was surprised to see I was 5 cm dilated, but she also saw that the baby was in a strange position. I asked at that point if I could have a paracetamol, and she offered me gas and air as well, but I thought I would leave that for later because I was managing ok.

The midwife called a consultant to check my baby’s position and they found out that he came breech- one foot down the birth canal and another foot across my hip. Given that I was already 5 cm dilated they told me it was too late to try to move the baby and the safest option would be to have a C-section. So, they asked me to sign some paperwork and I was taken to the operating theatre. Just before getting the anaesthesia, they examined me again and I was 9.5 cm dilated. Everyone was like “wow, that’s quick!” and they proceeded to do the anaesthetic and to do the C-section. The last contraction was quite painful, and I had it whilst the needle was in my back, so it was challenging to stay still and endure the pain, but the visualisation techniques helped me.

At the end, my son was born at 3.55 am (we arrived at the hospital at midnight with no contractions). I wanted to let you know that hypnobirthing helped me to stay calm and in control throughout labour. Even though my son’s birth was totally different to what I had planned and imagined, I still have a very positive memory of his birth, and I think your session helped me developing techniques to stay in control, and allowed me to have an open mind about all the different possibilities that can occur.