4

All is not as it seems…

I am not an organised Mummy. I’m generally the one borrowing a nappy after a poomageddon, stuffing a questionably clean muzzie into my daughter’s top as a makeshift bib or spending a small fortune on lunch as yet again I’ve forgotten to pack my son’s lunchbox!

We manage. We do OK. We muddle through. However I’m often self conscious that other mums are looking at me and wondering what on earth is happening, especially when in the midst of all of this my toddler is having a melt down about something crucial like me breaking his biscuit in half (or my favourite to date, that I didn’t pour him a glass of prosecco too)!!

Last week however I was the other parent. I was that calm, collected, together, organised Mummy.

Last week my babies napped at the same time as each other, I tidied my house in the afternoon, I prepared dinner in advance, I made lunch for the following day and I restocked the bag with nappies and other essentials. We were in the park later that day and I overheard another Mum tell her little girl they would need to go home as it was too hot for her to play any longer without cream and a hat, so I offered her spares that were in my buggy and then quickly reassured her this NEVER happens!

I realised in that split second that it isn’t a case of organised and disorganised, it isn’t good and bad, it isn’t right and wrong…it’s just the same as every other aspect of parenting, it’s good days and bad and even those Mums I hold on a pedestal have both too. No matter which one you’re having everything is made better by a knowing smile and a helping hand (or a nappy/bib/*insert other*)  from somebody who understands.

On that note…my awesome Parent Apparel jumper arrived today, I love it! Today’s arrival is appropriate as I’m celebrating the duo napping at the same time again, getting to drink a hot coffee and blog for the first time in months…however on other days it will serve more as an affirmation! 🙂

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8

Natal Hypnotherapy – My Hypnobirthing Journey #1

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It is the current labour and birth trend and I am firmly on the bandwagon!

When I was expecting Ted I was a little late to the party and all the classes near me (which was a lot less two years ago) were fully booked when I discovered Natal Hypnotherapy or Hypnobirthing but I armed myself with the ‘Effective Home Birth Preparation’ CD and set about using it almost as religiously as I applied bi daily bio oil but it was my first pregnancy and time was plentiful – this time I needed to be more organised!

Firstly I have to say, this isn’t a way of floating off to another planet while you give birth and omming your way through delivery which means your baby pops out without a peep from you but in my experience it is a way to maintain control of aspects of a situation that you don’t have much control over!

The aspects you have control over are;
– Your confidence
– Your responses and reactions to what happens
– Your anxieties
– Your partners ability to know what you want and therefore his ability to support you fully. 

This doesn’t mean you have to be opting for a pain relief free journey, it just means you’re armed with the skills to stay in control.

The hypnosis sessions do take a bit of getting used to and to begin with when I was pregnant with Ted I just fell asleep but after about five or six times of listening I found myself coming round at the end of the session and I began to have more and more faith in the process.

I found the breathing techniques amazing, they helped me to manage my first birth and mean that I’m now able to hold it as a happy memory, this doesn’t mean I didn’t find it painful and tiring and feel like I couldn’t do it at times but I felt armed with information and techniques, supported and powerful. I had complete trust in my body and my baby and their ability to work together to do one of the most   natural things possible.

This time I decided I’d like an even deeper understanding of the process and wanted to attend a course, through trying to plan this we actually ended up booking a 1:1 with a local lady we had met through the Southampton Home Birth Group. I’m so pleased we did as what we ended up with were two tailored sessions in our own home that allowed us to have all our questions answered and meant Rich was relaxed, I think he would have found a group session a lot harder and ended up laughing with other nervous Dads!

The sessions also made us realise how relaxed and prepared we already are which was a great confidence booster.

I had been trying to fit in time to listen to the ‘Pregnancy Relaxation’ CD since about 22 weeks and had found it really helpful to spend half an hour on keeping myself calm and rested while Ted napped although I probably only managed two or three times a week. At about 30 weeks I moved on to the preparation CD and we did our 1:1 sessions around 32 weeks – this has left me with plenty of time to cement everything in my mind and continue to prepare and practice.

Our sessions with Barbara of Romsey Relax also helped us understand the stages of labour and link them to Ted’s birth story, we did activities which in all honesty I was sceptical about before as a bit pointless but actually Rich and I found making a list of things we’d like to happen at each stage really helpful for our communication and understanding of what we (for we, read I!) wanted. Rich was the most amazing birthing partner last time and I know he will be again, he is completely aware of what I do and don’t want and how to facilitate that but also would feel comfortable making tougher decisions on my behalf should they be necessary.

I know that hypnotherapy is still seen as quite alternative and a bit ‘hippy’ but if you’re even a little bit intrigued I urge you to give it a try.

I saw Luisa Zissman tweeting about it recently and she said:

You wouldn’t run a marathon without preparing…

This is exactly how I feel and believe that on top of eating well and staying active this is just another part of my labour prep, now when should I start carb loading?!

Through the joys of social media I have also been lucky enough to stumble across The Calm Birth School. Currently these lovely ladies are offering to impart some of their wisdom on to expectant Mummies for absolutely nothing. They will send you an intro and three sessions via email link and they’re great!

Suzy and Hollie are cool, open and non judgemental and I love that they’re really clear about wanting to help everyone achieve their perfect birth, whatever that may be. If I was a London lass I’d have been signing up for their sessions for sure.

This is about empowering women to trust themselves and their bodies, about making anxieties smaller (and hopefully disappear) and arming ladies with the confidence to deal with anything they’re faced with – there are no wrong answers, it is just an additional tool in your kit but if you trust it, it may just be the only one you need!

I have less than six weeks to go now and who knows how this baby’s arrival in to the world will be.

I’m hoping for another lovely home birth but we’ll see – either way, I know for me, the Natal Hypnotherapy sessions with Barbara and the additional learning via The Calm Birth School have already given me so many positives and that as I sit here I’m not anxious but excited about the experience and meeting our new family member.

I know that regardless of how things pan out I’m certainly better equipped to deal with them than I could possibly have been without.

Intrigued at all?
Check these out more info…
Romsey Relax
The Calm Birth School

Or buy CD’s/downloads here.

This post is based solely on my own findings and experiences and is not in collaboration with any of the mentioned companies.

MaternityMondays
0

Increasing Iron – Pregnancy Fun!

After my 28 week midwife check up on Tuesday, I received a phone call to tell me that my HB levels were low.

Low. I don’t know how low or what this means as I didnt get a call from a medical professional who wanted to discuss this with me. I just had a message from a receptionist with the ‘update’ and notification that a doctor had left me a prescription for iron tablets (Ferrous Sulphate) at the surgery.

Is it me or is this really bad practice? I haven’t met this doctor before, she knows nothing about my pregnancy, any related ailments I have or my feelings on medication. She hasn’t explained my levels to me or what they mean but she has prescribed me tablets that by all accounts are likely to leave me with some horrible side effects and feeling generally yuk. She also feels it’s appropriate to do this and ask somebody with no medical training or ability to answer my queries to notify me, like it is a done deal and I should just do as I’m told.

As you can probably sense, I won’t just be doing as I’m told without research and consultation!

I am not against medication but I am against not being able to ask questions that enable me to weigh up the pros and con’s for myself. I am having a Whooping Cough jab on Monday so will be asking the nurse to provide me with more information about my levels then which will enable me to make a fully informed decision.

I have however in the meantime contacted my midwife plus two private midwifes I have done Natal Hypnotherapy with, all of whom have said my levels are very unlikely to be at a stage (especially as I’m suffering no symptoms) where I cannot try and control them through diet initially and then if necessary resort to medication later.

They also provided me with the following advice;

– It is normal and healthy for HB to go down as pregnancy progresses, especially once in the third trimester.

– You aren’t at any greater risk of having a big blood loss if your iron level is low, it is just that if you do, you won’t cope with it as well.

– Side effects of Iron tablets are common and can include abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhoea, heartburn and nausea.

– Taking spatone twice a day will improve your levels as will increasing iron rich foods in your diet. Red meat, poultry, leafy green veg, beans, pulses, dried fruit, eggs, fortified wholegrain cereals and bread plus include lots of vitamin C rich foods/drinks with meals as this helps iron absorption. 

– Avoid drinking tea around meal times as tannin blocks iron from being absorbed.

– Avoid high levels of caffeine, calcium, wholegrain cereals (although wholegrains are a good source of iron themselves, they contain phytic acid, which can stop your body absorbing iron if too much is consumed) and soya as all can prevent effective iron absorption.

– Vitamin B12 is also needed to absorb Iron, not in your gut at the same time like with Vitamin C but to make chemicals that are part of the Iron uptake process (i.e. you can have it anytime in the day). It’s in dairy, eggs and marmite or you can get vitamin pills.

– You need stomach acid to absorb B12 so make sure you’re not taking antacids/heart burn relief around the time you’re eating your source of B12.

I have also looked at natural supplements myself and today, in Sainsburys I found this…

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It isn’t cheap, this pack is normally £10 but was on offer at £7.50 today. I think it will be worth it though and should last me about 3 weeks as a 10g serving provides over 340% RDA of Iron and 1120% of B12.

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It is by a company called Bioglan Super foods and can be added to food easily, so I have ditched the morning coffee (probably already should have anyway!) and have started having a green smoothie instead.

Today’s Iron boosting breakfast smoothie contained:
1 banana
Handful of frozen berries
1/4 avocado
200ml Orange juice (fresh, not from concentrate)
Handful of spinach
1/4 Cucumber

This made two portions and I then added a heaped teaspoon (approx 5g)of green powder to each. I’m not going to lie, it tastes like pond water but I just drank it with a straw quickly! I’m going to play around with different ingredients and look at adding things like peanut butter and agarve nectar to make it slightly more appealing but I figure 30 seconds of enduring the drink is better than 11 weeks + of tablet side effects!

My plan now is to have one of these for breakfast everyday, to make sure I have red meat, chicken and/or eggs every day plus plenty of green veg and pulses and to swap caffeinated drinks for herbal teas. My midwife has said she can then retest me at 34 weeks which still leaves us time to take medicated action if completely necessary.

All of this info plus some personal stories have really helped me relax and feel confident I can take control of this without needing to medicate straightaway.

I know it probably seems as though I am over reacting but as I’m planning a second home birth I feel it especially important I’m in the best health possible and feel quite strongly that my medical care should be a discussion between myself and a professional not just an unexplained prescription left at a desk and if the NHS is struggling financially why are doctors offering prescriptions first if other options are available?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and any Iron boosting tips!

0

Home Birth Support

Those of you that have been following our journey for a while will be aware I had a home birth with Ted and that it was a brilliantly positive experience.

I was quite adamant that home birth was the right choice for me from the moment I found out I was pregnant but found joining the Southampton Home Birth group on Facebook a great way to gain support from other parents and professionals (Midwifes, hypnobirthing and NCT teachers) with a wealth of knowledge to share.

Last night we had a meeting arranged by one of the practitioners on the group and Rich and I hosted, we welcomed 6 couples plus 2 practitioners into our home, shared our story and answered questions – mainly to reassure concerned future dads but helping (hopefully) to boost the confidence of the women in their choices too.

It was a lovely evening, the men practiced putting up the birthing pool up in the playroom and said this helped them a lot as one of the biggest concerns was how they would manage to organise everything if/when the lady in their life goes into labour. Us ladies spent this time sat in the living room and candidly talked labour logistics and aftercare.

This whole thing was a little out of our comfort zone initially, Rich’s especially. We’re not really very ‘joiny’, we are not future parent governors or committee members so holding the meeting in our home and taking centre stage to help these couples make their decisions was quite nerve wracking but I’m really pleased we stepped out of our zone and gave something back!

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The evening was a real success, all the ladies messaged me after and said how helpful they’d found it and specifically how reasurred their partners felt after hearing Rich talk so positively about our experience. This was so brilliant to hear and exactly the reason I wanted to help with the meeting, having a baby is so nerve wracking and filled with decisions so being able to make one of those decisions a little easier for a handful of future families was lovely (no matter what their final decision may be).

Have you stepped outside of your comfort zone recently? Were you pleased you did?

16

Sleep!

So…at some point I had to write about this topic.

Sleep.

As a parent few things are desired or talked about more and as a pre Ted sleep consultant it’s something that comes up in conversation a lot for me.

Firstly, this is based solely on my experiences (professional and personal) and opinion – I don’t think I’m ‘right’ or my way is the only way and am in no way judging anybody who does or thinks differently.

I’m useless!

I think this revelation of what a softy I am is going to please all the Mummies I’ve previously worked for no end…I need one of them to come and do what I taught them because tending to somebody else’s baby is so much easier than tending to your own – I know I’ve always told you all this but now I’m the living, breathing proof!!

I won’t ignore my baby’s cry. I can’t.

However, it is important to me that we create good habits that mean all three of us get to sleep and are therefore happy and refreshed people, not walking/shuffling zombies!

Ted is now 8 months old and happily sleeping in his cot most of the time. We have a video monitor which in my opinion is one of the best things we ever bought and means if he stirs I can watch to see him, if he’s up on all fours or rubbing his face a lot, we know he’s going to need one of us, if he’s rolling about there’s a chance he will settle in a few seconds, either way if there is noise coming from him we’re poised to react.

If within 30 seconds he’s still crying (and i’m talking crying, not chatting or moaning) in we go, we’ll rest a hand on his chest or back dependant on how he’s positioned and gently sshh or sing a calming song, he’ll often wrap his fingers around ours and calm down but that doesn’t mean he’s ready to be left – We gradually move away in a series of about 5 stages and if he protests (sometimes protests=screaming), we go back a step. Sometimes this takes 5 minutes, others it takes 45 and yes of course sometimes this is frustrating but our baby needs us and that’s what we signed up to.

This is not easy. It’s flipping bloody tough.

I’m his Mummy and Rich is his Daddy, our roles are to love him, protect him, care for him, prepare him and educate him.

Sleep, in my opinion is something, like everything else in life he needs to be shown how to do – however at 1am last week when he’d been up and down for 3 hours and my husband was on a night shift, bringing him into my bed seemed like the easy option but it wasn’t…It was just a quick fix.

The next night he wanted that again and I’ve always been strongly of the opinion that inconsistency isn’t fair on little people so I had to have a firm word with myself (as did my husband!)

Ted is bigger and cleverer (is that even a word?!) now so it is so important we give him consistent responses so he knows he can rely and trust in us.

Two days back on track and last night he went down like a dream, stirred at 11.15pm but just needed the reassurance of my hand on his back for 20 seconds, went silent as soon as he felt it and then drifted off peacefully until 6.30am this morning.

I’m sure for some, this is too indulgent and they think we should leave him to cry but when I suffered with insomnia in the third trimester, Rich sat up with me at night caring for me, I knew then that I would never feel happy to leave my baby to cope alone when I, a grown adult had been given such love and support.

Others no doubt feel we should cuddle him until he’s fast asleep or have him in our bed all night but the sleep consultant in me does want to create good habits too and on the odd occasions we’ve had Ted in our bed we certainly haven’t relaxed enough to rest.

I think we’ve found a middle ground we’re all happy with, that works for us and I guess that’s all any of us is aiming for really…survival with the minimum amount of parental guilt attached!

*I have to give my husband the credit he deserves here…he has constantly reminded me what I’ve told him about my job over the years and kept me on track, I fear without him I’d be a shell of a sleep deprived Mummy by now!!*

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Oh no...this wasn't part of the plan!!

Advice From The Heart
5

Mum vs Mum

The further I venture into Mummy world the more obvious one sad thing becomes, there is an ongoing battle, a number of opinionated Mums who feel they are doing things the ‘right way’ and everybody who has a different opinion is failing in their role.

The truth is…there is no right way, there is just a right way for you and your family. The strongly voiced opinions of other people are not only unhelpful, they are often damaging too – some days us Mums are literally hanging on to sanity by the skin of our teeth, one judgemental comment (albeit often well meaning) can be the thing that just confirms to you that you’re as bad at this parenting lark as you feared.

If you choose to breastfeed, co-sleep and babywear and it works for you that’s amazing, equally if you bottle feed, get your baby in to a more structured routine and prefer to use a pram that is also great if it makes you and your baby happy, as is everything in between…and there are a million options in between.

There is a journey to discovering what works for you, a lot of trial and error and eventual acceptance that where you’ve ended up isn’t necessarily where you imagined.

I had a lovely hazy image of breastfeeding and baby wearing, co-sleeping was never for me, I did try it in desperation a couple of times in the early days but was a nervous wreck, even in our super king size bed I was worried I’d roll on Ted if he was too close to me or he’d roll out of bed if he was too far away (my 2 week old, 6lb baby wasn’t really going to be rolling anywhere the logical, well rested me is aware – the sleep deprived, delirious version thought ‘you never know’)
That doesn’t mean co-sleeping is wrong or I don’t agree with it, that simply means that for us it didn’t work. Breastfeeding didn’t go as planned either so I mixed fed for as long as I could (which I was distraught about initially and made me feel like such a failure that I’d lie about it) and as it was icy and cold when Ted was little, we didn’t start regularly using the sling until the last couple of months (but both love it now, as does Daddy).

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In my work life I constantly get asked , “Should I stop (insert action here)” and my response is always the same…

Is it a problem for you?

If it isn’t a problem for you, it isn’t a problem.

Does it bother you that you feed your baby in the night? Does it bother you that your baby doesn’t nap in their cot during the day? Does it bother you (insert action here)?

If it doesn’t, continue exactly as you are; what other people think is irrelevant, as long as you, your baby and your family are happy carry on – you’re doing a great job at tailoring your actions to your situation.

If it does, you’re still doing a great job – you might just need a little help with a plan of action to move to the next stage.

Ask somebody that you trust or who has been recommended but never take advice from somebody who doesn’t ask YOU questions, questions about what YOU want and what YOU don’t want. Nobody should advise you to do anything you don’t feel comfortable with and if your instinct is that a certain method won’t work for you and your baby, it won’t – firstly because you know your baby better than anyone and your instincts will be right and secondly because if you’re not happy with a method, you won’t be able to follow any of the guidance you’ve spent hours and possibly a fair amount of money on.

Mums, let’s take a stand, let’s be a team…regardless of what our chosen routes and methods are, let’s support each other, let’s share ideas but let’s leave all judgements at home – as long as we’re all happy, how we individually achieve that happiness is irrelevant.

Go Team Mum!

The Dad Network
0

Reality check…Breastfeeding is really tough!

Babies are cute and cuddly, they’re adorable and amazing, they’re precious and gorgeous…all of these things are true and I loved my baby boy as soon as I saw his big blue eyes and his long slim fingers wrapped themselves around mine. 

However, babies are also helpless and tiny, sleep stealing and time consuming, confusing and complicated…I thought I knew this and to an extent I did but all the years of working with babies has really done very little to prepare me for being a Mummy myself, I don’t want to use all the cliches but they exist for a reason and it really is ‘different when they’re yours’.

i had my heart set on breastfeeding and I was determined I would feed Ted and I did but in all honesty at the expense of my sanity in the early days, Ted lost too much weight in the first few days, as he was only small anyway the midwives weren’t happy with this and after midnight dashes to the birthing centre for support, lots and lots of tears from both Ted and I (his out of hunger, mine out of tiredness, frustration and an enormous sense of failure) we were advised to supplement him with formula, but not to use a bottle as this may deter him from feeding from me so every time he ate, I would feed him myself for approx 30 -60 minutes and then we’d top him up with 30mls of formula using a cup or syringe, this would normally take another 30 to 40 minutes and then we started the process again, never allowing him to go more than three hours. The frequency of the feeds was tough but I was prepared for that, I knew he’d want to feed lots but the syringe and cup use was sole destroying and made me feel like I was failing every time. When we went to have him weighed on day 5, I felt as though I was entering an exam hall, had I done ‘well enough’? Was he gaining weight? Would he be taken into hospital? 

Things got a little bit easier and with the use of nipple shields I managed to get him feeding solely from me by day ten (I stopped supplementing against advice in the end as the formula was filling him up too much to be ready to eat again after three hours), I had two amazing friends who successfully breastfeed their babies who came and sat with me, advised me and made me feel like just trying as hard as I was, was succeeding in itself and I’m so thankful for them. 

The shields that were the solution at the beginning became the problem at the end, Ted wouldn’t feed without them and that was fine when he was a tiny still baby but my wriggly bigger baby would knock them off, get frustrated at them taking a few extra sucks to start and before long feed times were hours spent with one or other of us crying, I then got mastitis first on one side, then the other so at 10 weeks I decided that our breastfeeding journey was over. I also decided I would feel proud of myself for getting as far as I could but also proud of myself for stopping when was right for me and Ted.

I am now happier, more relaxed and enjoying being a Mummy much more. Ted is a settled, smiley, healthy baby and  I am determined to be grateful for that not berate myself for not achieving the longer breastfeeding journey I hoped for.Image