Lessons for parenthood – Rob George

RB pic - RobIn his latest post, Rob has been along to an NCT antenatal class with his other half Pam to learn all about breastfeeding – and has a terrifying realisation about the limitations of nappies.

Rob blogs at www.daddysmurfdiary.blogspot.co.uk

BOOBS, nipples and poo filled my Saturday morning yet it’s still almost six weeks until J graces us with his presence.

Yes, it was time for the breastfeeding session of the NCT antenatal classes and yet again what an eye opener for this rather dense dad-to-be. I started the sessions thinking I knew a fair bit, well OK, just enough education to perform my duties, but turns out I am a complete newbie.

Again the teacher was lovely – breastfeeding consultant Alison Needham was a delight; very passionate about her subject but not one-eyed enough to suggest the mums-to-be would be murdering their child slowly if they didn’t breastfeed! She breastfed her three sons and is very knowledgeable about the subject but has a great way in walking mums-to-be through the process, breaking down what clearly is an emotional rollercoaster for mums desperate to breastfeed and also desperate not to ‘fail’.

We learned a lot about the stages of breast milk from the colostrum to the proper milk and she walked us through a typical day, using cue cards at relevant times. One of the cards mentioned unexpected visitors who want to be waited on hand and foot – let me tell you now any visitor in the first month who expects that will be pointed to the kitchen themselves!

Now, I am going to get dirty…not in the way you are all thinking, you mucky pups!

See, one of the cards also said ‘Matthew’ (the imaginary baby used in this day) had done a poo and it had gone ‘all up his back’. This was quite a shock; I know the brown stuff is going to be catastrophically smelly but did think from the adverts for nappies any explosion would be contained – clearly not! I clearly need more preparation in that area!

After a short break, us dads got together to discuss certain situations which all just need a little common sense approach but it’s good to hear we are all pretty much in the same boat.

We were then treated to a video about breastfeeding; again I never quite knew how a baby actually did it but I do now! I would say it was far more useful for Pam than for me but certainly opened my eyes and that is never a bad thing. Thanks to Alison for her time and expertise.

One more session to go then apparently we will be ‘ready’ for parenthood – eeek!

Follow Rob on Twitter @DaddySmurfDiary


MAMA Academy ‘Made to Measure’ campaign

new logo backgroundWhilst I am Blogs For Babies editor, I am also Media Coordinator for the wonderful pregnancy charity MAMA Academy (amongst other things!) so I was delighted to be involved in the launch of the Made to Measure campaign which aims to reduce the UK’s shocking stillbirth rates – still among the highest in Western Europe.

pilogoMade to Measure is all about promoting uptake of the Perinatal Institute’s Growth Assessment Protocol (GAP) programme by all hospital trusts providing a maternity service. This is recommended practice, nationally endorsed by NHS England, but there are still a sizeable number of trusts that have not yet signed up for GAP training – and the implications of this are serious.

The GAP programme is designed to enable midwives to more accurately measure the growth of a baby in the womb by plotting the symphysis fundal height measurements (that your midwife takes with a tape measure) on a specially customised growth chart, unique to the mother. This takes into account the mother’s height, weight, ethnicity, and previous obstetric history to more reliably indicate if the baby is becoming growth restricted – a sign that the placenta may be failing and a key early indicator of the risk of stillbirth.

bump 3If every trust was to adopt the GAP programme in their maternity service, using the customised charts and the package of training for midwives, obstetricians and ultrasonographers that ensures all professionals involved in the care of women are properly educated in their use, it is estimated that 1000 babies could be saved each year. By detecting more growth restricted babies, we can greatly increase their chances of being born safely.

How you can help

  • Head on over to the Made to Measure campaign page on the MAMA Academy website to read all about GAP and find some related links.
  • Use the example letter on the MAMA Academy website to email your local Head of Midwifery and encourage them to sign upto GAP training.
  • Email contact@mamaacademy.org.uk to share your story of having a baby affected by growth restriction with MAMA Academy, to add to a list of case studies for media requests.
  • Email contact@mamaacademy.org.uk if you are interested in becoming a campaign ambassador in your area.
  • Write a post on your own blog to help promote the campaign or share a post with Blogs For Babies and I’ll publish your story here.
  • Follow @MAMAAcademy on Twitter and like their Facebook page facebook.com/MAMAAcademy for regular updates on the campaign as more trusts are encouraged to sign up. Help promote the campaign on social media using the hashtags #1000babies and #Made2Measure.

Made to Measure flyer


Our tour of the delivery suite – Rob George

RB pic - RobThe traditional tour of the maternity unit is standard practice for most expectant parents these days. It is the chance to familiarise yourself with the facilities before you see them in a whirlwind of contractions and heightened emotion – and it’s a good time to ask any burning questions you might have about pain relief options, using the birthing pools, or where the vending machines are for a 4am mid-labour chocolate fix.

Join first-time dad-to-be Rob as he takes a tour of his local delivery suite, where it’s all a little too quiet.

Rob blogs at www.daddysmurfdiary.blogspot.co.uk

We visited the Worcestershire Royal for a tour of the delivery suite – something which I initially thought might be a bit of a waste of time. I mean, you don’t look at the dentists where you will have the root canal, nor look at the theatre you will have an operation, so why look where you will have your baby? It will have a bed and all the gubbins you see on programmes like One Born Every Minute so why visit?

Well, how wrong was I? What a lovely afternoon, and how reassuring it was to see the layout of the place where J will breathe his first breath. The lovely midwife Dawn had eight couples on her hands including Pam and I but was thoughtful and relaxed as she took us round the delivery suite.

First stop was the birthing pool suite; Worcestershire Royal only has one birthing pool suite but wowzer, how deep is the pool?! It’s the depth of a swimming pool – I can totally see why mums love it now as it must be like taking the world’s biggest bath! There are blow up pools though and each delivery room has an en-suite so any water-based pain relief can be taken care of.

We were taken round the whole delivery suite, including a glimpse into the theatre which was not in use when we visited. Although I hope our journey doesn’t end in c-section, it could, and more power to the midwives at Worcestershire Royal for tackling the fear head on. I hope it calmed the nerves of some. A tour around antenatal followed and I have to say the facilities were first class and an ideal way for us to welcome J into the world.

A huge thanks to Dawn and the team on the day. When she was asked why it was rather quiet despite eight of the nine delivery rooms being ‘in use’ she responded: “I don’t think any are at the stage where they are making much noise yet”. I suspect things might have got louder when we left!

Follow Rob on Twitter @DaddySmurfDiary

Let me introduce myself – ‘Resident Blogger’ Lindsay

RB pic - LindsayPlease welcome Lindsay, one of our brand new Resident Bloggers. Lindsay is blogging her way through her third pregnancy, a little boy due at the end of August. Here she introduces herself so that you might get to know her a little better.

Lindsay blogs at www.newcastlefamilylife.co.uk

Hello, I am Lindsay and I am delighted to be a Blogs for Babies Resident Blogger as I am a bit a lot baby and pregnancy obsessed at the moment – not in a weird stalker kind of way; just in a pregnant mum kind of way.

Anyway, let me introduce myself properly instead of rambling on like a mad woman. I am 30 years old and I live in the north east of England, just north of Newcastle. I am fairly new to blogging as I have only been doing it a few months and I still have a lot to learn but I love it; the blogging community is so lovely. I live with my partner Lee who works full time for a well-known Newcastle based company (hint – they sell sausage rolls and pasties). I have two girls – Chloe, who is 11 years old (yes, I was a teenage mum – it was hard work), and Sophia, who has just turned one. I am also currently 31 weeks pregnant with baby number three – a little boy who is due at the end of August 2014.

This has been my easiest pregnancy so far but it has also been my most complicated, as I am suffering from pregnancy induced high blood pressure. I am on medication for this which could be making baby rather small, so I have to have lots of extra scans and appointments with my consultant and community midwife as I am also at risk of pre-eclampsia. Thankfully, so far everything is going well and baby is healthy and happy.

I am currently a stay at home mum as I left my job earlier this year when my maternity leave ended, as the cost of childcare for two children was just so expensive! I know that I am very lucky to be a stay at home mum but I am finding it strange not working. I used to work as a support worker for adults with learning disabilities and mental health problems in the community. This basically meant I took them on days out and to college, and helped them learn to live independently. It was hard work at times; sometimes you would get tables thrown at you and attacked, but it was also so rewarding and I hope to return to it one day.

In my spare time I enjoy family days out, going for meals, meeting up with my friends on the rare chance that I get to. I used to love reading and going to concerts and travelling but that’s out the window now for the foreseeable future, and it’s more like a read of Peppa Pig, a trip to Haven and a Union J concert . But I don’t mind as I really love being a mum. Sometimes it can be hard work and lonely; you never get a day off or have time to yourself. As for nights out with your friends and designer shoes, ha, you can forget them as all your time and money goes on your children, and you worry about your children nonstop however old they are – I worry about the 11 year old more then the 1 year old.

But I wouldn’t change any of it for the world as it truly is amazing being a mum, watching your children grow and learn and be happy is worth all the sleepless nights and temper tantrums. And I really love being pregnant, feeling a little person that I made wriggling around inside me wondering what he will be like and what he will look like. It truly is magical and so exciting and such a special time in life. I cannot wait to share the rest of my pregnancy journey with Blogs For Babies as we become a family of five.

Follow Lindsay on Twitter @nefamilylife

Coping with severe pregnancy sickness – ‘Resident Blogger’ Susanne

RB pic - SusanneIn her first post as a Blogs For Babies Resident Blogger, the lovely Susanne tells us her experience of severe pregnancy sickness, and gives her top tips for getting through what can be a debilitating and exhausting condition for lots of expectant mums.

Susanne is currently in the second trimester of her 4th pregnancy. Read more about Susanne and the other Resident Bloggers here.

Susanne blogs at ghostwritermummy.co.uk

I knew I was pregnant before I even took the test, and it wasn’t just a faint niggling at the back of my mind. It was a constant gnawing and nagging nausea that gave the game away this time. By six weeks I was a wreck, vomiting pretty much all day and suffering terrible nausea in between. I dragged my sorry self to the GP with the toddler under my arm and announced that I was with child, and not feeling great. At this point, I expected a little sympathy and a lot of empty advice, such as try some ginger biscuits, or suck some polo mints.

What I got though, was entirely different. I got a GP who listened. One who believed in prevention rather than cure. One who saw that I was very very dehydrated, tired of being sick, and unable to cope like this with three children, a full time job and a husband that works away.

My GP prescribed me anti-sickness medicine, telling me that I could either take the tablets, or I could spend a couple of days in the hospital. I took the tablets, promised I would return if things didn’t get better, and gritted my teeth through the last minute suggestion to stop at the shops for some gingernut biscuits.

And so my fourth pregnancy has been unlike any other so far. My girls were both born following incredibly easy pregnancies, and my pregnancy with my son had been similarly fraught with sickness, but I had never experienced anything like this. The days were so so long, especially on the first tablets I was given. These made me terribly drowsy, which meant I was unable to take any until bedtime. For most of the day I was literally on my knees, often in tears, and wracked with guilt at not being able to be a mum to the kids. I relied so heavily on my eldest to help with the little ones and by the time the weekend rolled around and my husband was home, I was broken.

The second set of medication that I was prescribed are the real deal. The stuff they give to chemo patients. Medication, I was told, that is usually prescribed after several hospital admissions. I will always be grateful to my GP for keeping me out of the hospital. Within a couple of days, the medication took hold and the fog started to lift.

Being so, so ill for a good ten weeks has given me lots of food for thought. I’m not usually one to take medication readily, but I know that these little white pills have saved me this time. I am not about to stop taking them (I tried that a couple of times, and found myself back at square one each time) but I am keen to find ways to reduce my dependence on them. These are the things I’ve been doing to try and combat the sickness, alongside the tablets:

A good vitamin tablet. My midwife recommended this to me, telling me that a pre-natal vitamin was a good idea for all pregnant women, throughout the whole pregnancy. Apparently there have been cases of rickets in the UK so the vitamins are recommended for this reason, but my midwife swears that they will also help with the nausea and sickness too. On the days where I am unable to eat very much, I feel reassured by taking my tablet… providing it stays down, of course.

Water (and Vimto). I drink as much as I can, but at first this was not easy. I spent a good few weeks feeling intensely nauseous at the very idea of water, and so a crazy addiction to Vimto kicked in. These days, water goes down a lot better than it did, but for the days where it makes my stomach roll, I suck on ice cubes instead. It’s so so important to stay hydrated.

Sleep. Some days, it is all that helps. Most days, it is impossible to achieve, and many nights have seen me hugging the toilet bowl rather than sleeping. But rest/sleep really does help. On the days that follow good nights, I have noticed a marked difference and so I do try to rest when I can.

Swimming. I read that it can help with the nausea, which is pretty much constant for me, especially during the evenings. I joined the local swanky hotel pool and I swim three times a week now. For me, it is a chance to have some time to myself, and to think and to connect a little with my body. I focus on my breathing, and I swim. It helps to calm me and on days where I feel less than 100%, that disappears in the water.

Pilates. This is another way for me to connect with my body a little more. It started in a bid to ready my body for my much wanted VBA3C but now it is certainly a little more spiritual. Each and every day now begins with 40 minutes of Pilates, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I started this at 14 weeks – it would have been impossible any earlier. It feels as though I have been doing it for a lifetime. Again, I focus on my breathing and when the nausea strikes at other times, I have been known to breathe deeply and stretch my way through it…

Loose clothes. This was one of the first ways that I found to ease the sickness and nausea. I was in maternity clothes at ten weeks this time around, despite having no bump at all to speak of. Looser clothes are essential.

Now at almost 20 weeks, I finally think I have a handle on the sickness, or ways that I can manage it, and I no longer suffer in silence. If I am feeling unwell, I ask for support. Pregnancy can be so so hard in so many ways and severe sickness and nausea is not to be taken lightly. If you’re suffering, try the above, but please please also speak to your GP. I found the earliest weeks of this pregnancy so isolating and very dark, to the point where some days I wished that the pregnancy was over. Now I am able to see things with a little more clarity, I just wish I had had someone to hold my hand back then.

Follow Susanne on Twitter @Ghostwritermumm

If you need help or advice about pregnancy sickness, check out the Pregnancy Sickness Support website or find them on Twitter @HGSupportUK

Ready for Baby C – Hannah Clarke

hannah clarke 3The lovely Hannah wrote one of our first posts on Blogs For Babies back when she was 22 weeks pregnant. Now at 36 weeks, she fills us in on how her pregnancy has progressed as she gets closer to D-Day!

Hannah blogs at www.buddingsmiles.co.uk

My first Blogs for Babies post covered a bit of background about me and the story of my pregnancy up to 22 weeks. Well, I’m currently 36 weeks pregnant so felt an update was due as really, Baby C could appear any time over the next 6 (please make it 4!) weeks!

hannah clarke 1Midway through my second trimester when I last wrote, the feeling wonderful phase continued for several more weeks. At 27 weeks and 4 days I stood and walked my way around London in the blazing sunshine, cheering on my darling husband who was running the marathon. The very next morning, at 4am, we then set off on a plane to Paris. You can read about both of these wonderful but exhausting events on my blog, but suffice to say we were both exhausted! It was such a proud time, seeing Phil run the marathon, we had a great weekend and he did so well.

hannah clarke 2Paris was tiring, but so much fun and we managed to see and do pretty much everything we wanted to. In both cities, we got around on foot or public transport and I am so happy to report that I was offered a seat on EVERY train, metro and bus that we went on, without exception. I would never have asked for a seat unless I was really struggling, but I was touched by the fact that the situation never even arose. In a time when we often moan about society and manners, it’s lovely to have had such a positive experience.

Baby C was pretty worn out by all the travelling and had a quiet couple of days in Paris. I noticed the slight reduction in movement so made a point of spending an evening relaxing and the moment I got into the bath those wriggles and kicks started again with Baby C’s usual excitement! I wouldn’t say I worried when I noticed the reduction, because I knew part of it was likely to be that I’d been so busy I had probably missed a lot of movement even though it had in fact been there. I had my maternity notes with me and if my bath and relaxing evening hadn’t have worked, I wouldn’t have hesitated to new ambassador logoseek advice. I’ve become an Ambassador for the fantastic MAMA Academy and one of the key things we promote is #MyPositivePregnancy, which involves being confident to know your baby’s movements and when to seek medical advice. It’s so, so important for women to feel empowered enough to contact a midwife if they feel something is even slightly wrong, because this is your unborn child’s health and life and a Mummy is the one and only person in the entire world who can tell if there is a change.

By the time we got home I was 28+1 and the busy week was certainly taking its toll. I spent all of Easter Saturday making a 3-tier Hummingbird Bakery Carrot Cake (recipe on my blog) so by Easter Sunday I was exhausted! Around this time, things started to get a bit tricky at work too. My job as a Work Related Learning Trainer in a special needs school means being out and about for 4-6 hours of the day, Monday to Friday, with only a 30 minute lunch break in the middle. Between work placements with the students on nature reserves, in supermarkets and in the local university, I was also on my feet a lot and this started to cause issues with my hips and pelvis.

My husband did 2 out of the 3 hours of our daily drive, which I really appreciated as sometimes just lifting my foot on the pedals would cause quite a lot of pain. My aqua yoga classes were, and remain, absolutely amazing in helping me to relax and loosen my achey joints a little bit. Being specifically for pregnancy, the teacher knows exactly what we can do without causing ourselves issues and I’ve also met some wonderful friends whose children Baby C will grow up with.

As the weeks wore on I was struggling to sleep at night due to hip pains, heartburn and all the usual pregnancy joys! At my 31 week midwife appointment, I explained what my job entailed, including the commute, and that I wasn’t sleeping well. My midwife was not happy that I’d been doing so much and immediately got my GP to sign me off. The following Monday, at 31+5, I went into work and handed the note in, feeling incredibly awful as I did so!

I wrote a post about self confidence in pregnancy last week and a lot of the need to write that came from the manner in which I ended up finishing work. I’d prepared myself, my students and the work placements for a specific date on which I would leave and I was riddled with guilt and – in my mind – giving in two weeks before that date came around. I told myself that it wasn’t my fault a replacement hadn’t been hired, as this had caused some issues with regards me not being able to relinquish any responsibilities, but still I felt that I had let my students down.

The first week or two were really tough; I also then had some major emergency repairs which came up on a rented property we own, so they needed sorted (and paying for) immediately, then in the same week we found out that my Nan had received funding and would be going into care the very next week. All of those things piled up in my mind and I struggled to pull myself together.

A change came at about 33-34 weeks when I met up with some friends, went out on a brilliant date night with my husband and got the nursery painted. It felt so positive and really helped to lift my spirits.

hannah clarke 4As I said, I’m now 36 weeks and I feel like I’m in a really good place. As of last week, Baby C was 1/5 engaged and I’ve had a constant pressure with some pains very low down so I’m really positive that he/she is staying head down now ready to make a grand entrance into Mummy and Daddy’s life. Walking is interesting at times with Baby C being so low, but I really don’t mind because it means we’re on track ready for labour, whenever that may happen! My blood pressure is nice and low, my bloods all look fine and I’ve even had a few nights in a row when I’ve slept through – Bonus!

I’ve written a third trimester round-up, which will be followed by weekly updates until Baby C arrives, so please do pay me a visit and keep your fingers crossed for me that we don’t go too over and have a nice, natural labour! Whatever happens though, I’m so excited to know that it really won’t be long until Phil and I meet our son or daughter, it’s a wonderful time and one to be treasured.

Thank you for reading and I look forward to introducing Baby C to you very soon when he or she has a name and isn’t just ‘he or she’ anymore!

Follow Hannah on Twitter @BuddingSmiles

Pre-eclampsia and my role as a MAMA Ambassador – Kiran Chug

Kiran pic 1In recognition of Pre-eclampsia Awareness Month, Kiran recounts her experience of pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome in her first pregnancy, and why that experience has encouraged her to become a MAMA Academy Ambassador to help the charity promote positive pregnancies.

Kiran lives in London with her husband and two children, Milin and Jasmin. She says they are ‘a little family who feel incredibly lucky to have each other’.

Kiran blogs at www.mummysays.net

As soon as I heard the phone ring on that beautiful summer’s afternoon, I knew something was wrong. It was my midwife – she said something along these lines: “We’ve got the results of yesterday’s blood tests Kiran. Can you go to the hospital now please. They’re expecting you.” I had just made it to 37 weeks pregnant. We hadn’t yet painted the nursery.

What followed was a terrifying but ultimately amazing couple of weeks. And then I brought home my first baby. Milin. He was healthy and happy and perfect – but I will never forget the fear that went through me the first time I heard the word that changed my pregnancy. Pre-eclampsia.

That was more than two years ago. I have learnt so much about Pre-eclampsia and HELLP Syndrome since then. Although both are serious conditions that can affect pregnant women, I knew very little about them before being told I had them. My story has a happy ending. However, my experience of these illnesses made me realise how important it is to be armed with knowledge while pregnant. It’s crucial, vital, essential, to seek professional help at the first inkling that something might be wrong. And so it follows that it’s crucial, vital, essential, to be able to recognise that something might be wrong.

My pre-eclampsia was picked up quickly because I phoned my midwife and asked to see her – despite not having an appointment scheduled. I was worried about the swelling in my feet and hands which wouldn’t go down. I hadn’t connected it with the unbearable headaches I was experiencing and the excruciating pain beneath my ribs. However, my instinct was to seek advice. I was sent for tests which showed my blood pressure had risen suddenly, my liver function was out, protein was leaching into my urine and my platelet count was very low. I was admitted to hospital with pre-eclampsia and HELLP syndrome and booked in for an induction.

Kiran pic 2Milin’s growth rate had been slowing down – perhaps because my placenta had stopped working as efficiently as it should have been. By seeking advice from medical professionals, I had placed myself and my baby in the safest hands.

I will never forget being told I was being admitted. I was terrified because I knew so little about what pre-eclampsia was and what it meant for me and my baby. I couldn’t understand what was happening. I wasn’t ready to have my baby, I hadn’t imagined it would happen this way. My lack of knowledge and understanding made me feel like I was losing control over my pregnancy, and I felt very afraid. Since then, I’ve learnt so much about the condition I was suffering from. I went into my second pregnancy far more knowledgeable and confident.

My experiences have prompted me to join a team of ambassadors for the UK charity MAMA Academy. Its goal is to help babies arrive safely and promote positive pregnancies. MAMA Academy educates expectant mums on how to keep healthy and when they should call their midwife for advice. It also supports midwives by keeping them up to date with current guidelines and research to aid consistent maternity care. I’ll be helping the MAMA Academy spread its key messages of promoting healthy pregnancies and reducing baby loss – and you’ll see more on this in the coming months. In the meantime, do visit MAMA Academy to find out more.

Follow Kiran on Twitter @kiranchug


A Midwife’s Birth Plan – Roxanne Stanyon

SONY DSCRoxy is a lovely mum-to-be and midwife I ‘met’ on Twitter, and she offered to share a post with us about being pregnant from the perspective of a health professional who knows more about the whole process than most of us! Here she tells us how she is preparing for the birth of her baby – with some tips you could certainly benefit from if you are expecting. Roxy introduces herself:

“I am a midwife who has been qualified for 5 years and am now expecting my first baby. I am 24 weeks now and looking forward to motherhood with the same excitement, fear and expectation as any other mother. I enjoy promoting normal birth for women and providing women centred care and feel very privileged to be surrounded by colleagues who will do their best to facilitate the same care for me. I enjoy photography and I am looked forward to plaguing Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with daily updates of my newborn!”

Roxy blogs at midwifebecomesmum.wordpress.com

I’m generally a planner. Some may call it procrastination but I am the woman who likes to at least try to plan for every eventuality in life.

I meal plan, I write a shopping list, I pretend that I adhere to a cleaning schedule drafted on Evernote (in reality I spend far more time altering the schedule and printing it off in pretty colours than carrying it out), I could map out the holidays I plan to go on for the next 20 years…the list of lists I own could go on.

So have I planned my birth?

This is one element of my life that I feel cautious about ‘planning’. Planning for me usually means that I could become set on a list of ideals and therefore a preset list of requirements that I will either pass or fail at. I just don’t feel entirely comfortable with the idea of failing. The very fear of failing in itself could hinder my birth experience so from now on I am going to use the phrase ‘birth preparation’ instead.

As a midwife I have the benefit of experience and knowledge of birth. This includes experience of the highs and lows that childbirth can bring, the reality of the transition to motherhood, the beauty of the moment when the precious bundle arrives and occasionally the heartbreak involved when losses happen.

It is a matter of opinion whether this knowledge is a help or a hindrance to a midwife’s own transition to motherhood and their personal journey of childbirth. I also think that to each individual midwife this prior knowledge can have very different effects on birth ideals, preparation and fears. I certainly feel privileged to be involved in childbirth and I am thankful for the opportunities to learn that this has given me.

Knowledge can be empowering, midwifery has given me midwives as close friends, links to local pregnancy services, an addiction to midwifery related reading material, a Twitter feed obsessed with all things birth, bonding and breastfeeding. It is however worth acknowledging that whilst all of this gives me a support network and an above average knowledge of the process ahead, it certainly does not promise me ‘the perfect birth’.

Ideally in labour I will be hoping to disassociate myself from my ‘midwife brain’ and get in touch with my ‘monkey brain’ (see Bump: how to make, grow and birth a baby for further explanation of how your inner primate can help). Knowledge and using the ‘thinking’ part of your brain does not always allow for ultimate relaxation and therefore can hinder the physiology of birth. Part of my birth preparation therefore will involve switching off the thinking process, which as a midwife I admit may be challenging.

My Birth Preparation:

  • I intend to use hypnobirthing techniques and have my first session booked at 26/40
  • I will express colostrum from 37 weeks for the following reasons: to have a little colostrum stored and ready if needed, to help boost my lactation and to try to avoid going overdue
  • I will take a short walk (if I feel well) every day from 37 weeks to help myself maintain fitness and remain active
  • I intend to set up a birthing pool at home to use when any tightenings start
  • I intend to give birth wherever I feel most comfortable when my labour commences, whether that be at home or in hospital (I do not have a local birth centre unfortunately)
  • I hope to have the time and opportunity to read Ina May Gaskin’s books from cover to cover whilst on maternity leave
  • I will write a list of positive pregnancy and birth affirmations so that I can begin to repeat them daily
  • I will surround myself with positive people when I labour
  • I intend to use aromatherapy oils to assist my journey
  • I will keep well hydrated and fed when my tightenings start
  • I will have familiar and relaxing music available to use if I wish
  • I will adopt any position that feels natural
  • I will follow my natural instincts


If something happens that I wouldn’t have hoped for I shall try to remain calm, composed and be kind to myself. I am a midwife but I am human. Being human does not mean I have failed.

As mothers-to-be we can prepare ourselves for the best chance of success but we cannot control our destiny. We all try our best with the circumstances we are given, and I intend to do just the same. Best of luck to any other mothers out there who are also expecting. How are you preparing?

Follow Roxy on Twitter @Roxy_xxxx

Budding Smiles – ‘Resident Blogger’ Hannah

hannah clarke picBlogs For Babies is just starting out on the road to building a lovely community of parent bloggers sharing their stories, so we are more than happy to introduce you to Hannah – just starting out on the road to parenthood! In fact, we’ll let Hannah introduce herself…

“Hi! My name’s Hannah. I’m a 27-year-old wife to Phil, travel-loving, Tottenham-supporting, outdoorsy country bumpkin with two cats, five chickens and an ever expanding bump.

Mine and my husband’s first precious little baby is due July 9th. I have recently started blogging about my pregnancy and am loving being able to share my stories. I hope that you enjoy reading my blog as much as I enjoy writing it.”

In this first guest post from Hannah, she tells us more about herself and we welcome ‘little bean’.

Hannah blogs at buddingsmiles.co.uk

As a teenager I wasn’t content at school, and then I wasn’t content at college, so I travelled. I went to Canada, Brazil, Peru, Thailand, Singapore, Australia – It was amazing and it taught me what the shy, nervous child I’d been could actually achieve.

The following few years weren’t easy, I left home in 2008 for a relationship that was doomed from the beginning and so by 21 I was living alone and working 50+ hours a week to pay my bills . It wasn’t all bad, I have an amazing family who have supported me through thick and thin and in August 2011, I went to Devon for a week with my cousin.

Single for two years, she decided to join Match.com, but only if I did it too. Reluctantly, I set up the most basic of profiles and duly set my iPod to one side, forgetting about it. That night however, I received an email to inform me that someone had ‘winked’ at me on Match. I clicked the link to see what his profile was like…

15 months later, basking in the Cambodian sun and perched atop a tower at Angkor Wat, the man who had cyber winked at me asked me to marry him. In September 2013, Phil and I became husband and wife in a beautiful ceremony at a gorgeous farm in Ashbourne.

2013 was a crazy, wonderful year. I saw the year in with my new fiancé at a huge street party in Cambodia. From there we spent four days living high up in a tree house in Laos, zip lining through a jungle inhabited by gibbons. On to outdoor rock climbing in Thailand and then we were back in Blighty and having an offer accepted on a lovely country cottage whilst planning our wedding.

We moved into the cottage in June and began renovating – every room needed attention – then we got married in September. Having been married for five blissful weeks, November 1st became another amazing day to add to the 2013 list when the magical words ‘Pregnant. 1-2 Weeks’ appeared on a digital pregnancy test.

We told a few people straight away, wanting to share our joy with those closest to us but also wanting to build a support network should our little pip not be strong enough. In the weeks leading up to the first scan and to Christmas, I was exhausted, constantly nauseous but unable to be sick, sensitive to smells to the point of giving up eating meat and too bloated to fit properly into my regular jeans.

None of that mattered when, at our 12 weeks scan, a clear, perfect image appeared on the screen. Our little bean – we’d taken to fruit and vegetable references – was wriggling, kicking and waving at its proud Mummy and Daddy.

We told the rest of our close friends after the scan and everyone was over the moon. My nausea began to ease, my bump began to form and at our 16 week midwife appointment the wonderful sound of our baby’s heartbeat filled the air.

hannah clarke scanAt 19+1 we had our second scan and by then I had started to feel tiny flutters. Baby Clarke stretched and yawned, being very well behaved and not sharing its gender with us so that we can still have a surprise on the big day.

As I write this post, I am nearly 22 weeks gone and I can honestly say that I adore being pregnant. No, my body isn’t the slim line one of my wedding photos. Yes, I get sore hips, trapped nerves in my back, I become tired easily and I miss eating rare steak and runny eggs. Is it worth it? Without having even met my baby yet, the answer is an unequivocal yes! I get to feel the growing mini human inside me kicking and moving. I get to watch my belly jump about to baby’s own private beat. I get to love this child for the rest of my life and that makes any sickness, pain or discomfort fade into oblivion.

I’m so excited to be blogging about my life and my pregnancy. I’d love for you to join me and be part of this incredible chapter in my life. Thank you for reading xxx

Follow Hannah on Twitter @BuddingSmiles