Hormones! – Mystery Mum

bump question markAnonymous guest blogger Mystery Mum is getting impatient for the 12 week scan – I’m sure a lot of you will identify with the first trimester anxiety that she talks about. It can be a nervewracking time! This week has also seen her booking appointment to make everything ‘official’. I think some mums-to-be need this first contact with the midwife to make the pregnancy feel more real at a time when you can’t imagine a tiny baby growing inside you! Here’s how our Mystery Mum got on.

Gestation at time of writing: 9+4

General wellbeing: 6/10

In my last post I said that I thought I would be an emotional wreck for a while yet – and that is certainly proving to be true. Being caught in a hormonal hurricane seems to be my overriding symptom these last couple of weeks. I think a lot of it stems from first trimester anxiety, which only really starts to abate after the reassurance of the 12 week scan, but I don’t remember feeling quite so fragile in my last pregnancy.

I was reduced to a gibbering mess after I trod on a fairy light while decorating the tree at the weekend – a problem easily resolved when they no longer worked by purchasing a new set the same day – but my pregnant brain blew it out of all proportion. I just can’t be rational at the moment, no doubt a source of great amusement to those around me who know why I’m overreacting to every little situation.

On the plus side, the nausea I was experiencing has subsided quite a bit, as long as I make sure I eat little and often. My appetite is a bit reduced, and I still don’t really fancy sweet stuff, but having regular snacks seems to help keep my stomach on an even keel. I get easily bloated if something doesn’t settle quite right though, so it’s not all fun and games in my digestive system. Fatigue and uncomfortable boob issues seem to be coming and going now rather than being constant, so hopefully I might be on the way out of the early pregnancy funk.

I was glad to finally get the ball rolling with my antenatal care this week, after feeling slightly cheated last week by a ‘pre-booking’ appointment with my GP, which I had mistakenly thought was going to be my proper booking one. After weighing me, taking my blood pressure and logging my pregnancy on their system, I was out the door with a handful of leaflets about antenatal screening, a community midwife’s contact number, and an empty pee pot to take along to my booking. A bit of an anti-climax after I had been quite psyched up for it.

Fortunately I was able to get a booking appointment early this week and was seen by a lovely student midwife who was very capable and efficient at filling in the reams of paperwork. A health care assistant came in to take my bloods – half an arm’s worth by the looks of it – and after filling three test-tube size vials from my right arm had to poke me in my left for the last sample as my veins failed to cooperate. I raised my only real concern to the midwife, explaining a complication I experienced in my previous pregnancy which, as I suspected, means that I am already considered ‘high risk’ and will be closely monitored. I would like to talk more about this but don’t want to give too much away at this point!

The next step will be waiting for the all-important scan date and an appointment for the consultant clinic at the hospital to discuss my antenatal care and how it might differ from your everyday low risk second time mum. Not sure what to expect but better to be safe than sorry. We didn’t plan dates very well as 12 weeks falls between Christmas and New Year – not the best time of year for so much to be going on but I’m keeping everything crossed for 2015 to start on a high. Also looking forward to coming out of the pregnancy closet so I can actually talk to people about it! Nearly there….

Follow Mystery Mum on Twitter @BlogsForBabies – look out for #MysteryMum

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The first trimester is the worst trimester – Mystery Mum

bump question markOur anonymous guest blogger Mystery Mum is enjoying the trials and tribulations of pregnancy with her second child. Here she shares with us the almost inevitable first trimester topic of early pregnancy symptoms – and while she feels lucky in some respects, there is still a lot to cope with! How many of these can you identify with?

Gestation at time of writing: 7+4

General wellbeing: 4/10

Back in the days of just trying to get pregnant rather than actually being pregnant, symptom spotting took over my life. In the two week limbo before we would find out yes or no, I Googled ‘early pregnancy symptoms’ over and over, in the hope that I would have developed another one since the last time I checked and wondered if I was imagining anything I was feeling.

Now approaching 8 weeks, I can tell me from the past that, yes, you were imagining it. In my experience at least, unless you are very unlucky, you won’t genuinely feel much different at all around 4-5 weeks. Since then though, I have been all too aware of how I’m feeling, and I don’t need to Google anything to know just how crappy the first trimester can be. Strangely, I really don’t remember how I felt at this point in my first pregnancy. Maybe like the big birth event itself, nature helps you forget.

Touching a large piece of wood, I have been hugely lucky not to have been sick (yet), but I thought I’d share with you some of the exciting symptoms I am currently putting up with nonetheless.

Fatigue – I’m tired. I mean really tired. Like I nearly nodded off in a meeting at work tired. I get home in the evening and all I want to do is veg on the settee. The good intentions I had of continuing to exercise have already gone out the window as I just don’t have the energy. I’m reliably assured by most websites I’ve looked at that the fatigue will pass and I’ll have a renewed vigour come 12 weeks. We can only hope so. I might have become a sofa cushion by then.

Nausea – I may not have been sick yet but the threat of it is ever present. I haven’t been on the brink of throwing up, but my stomach is not a happy bunny; the best way I can describe it is after you have had a bug and your stomach feels strained and a bit fragile, just generally unsettled. My appetite has reduced but I find I have to eat little and often to avoid getting too hungry as then I just feel ill. It really is quite unpleasant. Stupid hormones.

Food aversions – Rather than craving strange things, I find I have gone off some foods I normally love, namely sweet treats! This I do remember from last time. I lost my sweet tooth completely and the same has happened now. My usual mid-afternoon non-pregnancy craving for chocolate from the vending machine or whatever biscuits and cakes happen to be knocking around the office has gone, replaced by mid-afternoon nausea and a couple of dry Ritz crackers. It’s probably just nature’s way of stopping me eating what I shouldn’t while I’m not doing anything to burn it off. It’s a very strange feeling though just to not fancy a Dairy Milk.

Boobs (file under ‘enormous’ and ‘uncomfortable as hell’) – I’ve been wearing maternity bras for two weeks already. What lifesavers these non-wired, generously-cupped wonder-garments are. Even at 6 weeks, my normally average-sized lady boulders were making a bid for freedom from my regular bras, and the underwire was like a torture device, jabbing me indiscriminately if I moved the wrong way. A properly fitted maternity or nursing bra should be the first purchase of every pregnant woman, and can then be worn every hour of the day if it makes you more comfortable – your unprotected nipples will soon let you know if it’s time to start leaving it on at night.

Bloating and general digestive discomfort – I’m already sporting a generous stomach, as if I’ve just sat down in a comfy chair after a good Sunday dinner. As far as I can tell, it’s entirely made up of highly attractive bloating. My body is further betraying me by making me burp for Britain, regardless of whether I’ve just eaten or drunk anything that may cause it. It’s all very ladylike.

Vivid dreams – This is a weird one. Whether caused by hormones or just as a consequence of the million thoughts going round my head all the time, every night I am having intricate and really involved dreams, that I clearly remember when I wake up, before I start thinking about all the conscious stuff again and forget about them. If nothing else, they’re very entertaining.

Being an emotional wreck – I cry at something about once a day, at least. I find that I am more likely to cry at something nice, as rather than just be happy about it, I blub uncontrollably. The day the John Lewis penguin ad came out nearly finished me off.

Next week I finally have my antenatal booking appointment, which has felt like a lifetime in coming, then it’s all downhill to Christmas and the impending 12 week scan, whenever that might fit in. I can see me being an emotional wreck for a while yet.

Follow Mystery Mum on Twitter @BlogsForBabies – look out for #MysteryMum

I didn’t get my VBAC – ‘Resident Blogger’ Susanne

mummy and elsieResident Blogger Susanne did not have an easy time of her fourth pregnancy. Suffering from hyperemesis gravidarum (severe pregnancy sickness) in the early weeks, she endured the uncertainty throughout the third trimester of whether her baby would have to be born prematurely due to IUGR, a condition fortunately picked up through the use of customised growth charts and extra scans.

IUGR, which stands for intra-uterine growth restriction, can be indicative of a problem with the placenta which prevents the baby from receiving the nutrition it needs, and is one of the biggest risk factors for stillbirth. Babies suffering from IUGR often have to be delivered early and can experience problems associated with being born very small.

Susanne’s emotions were further complicated by her desire for a VBAC, a vaginal birth after caesarean, which became less and less of an option as the pregnancy became more complicated. Having already undergone three previous sections, Susanne knew from the start it would not be an easy road. Here you can read about Susanne’s difficult journey, which happily culminated in the safe delivery of little Elsie Rose at 37 weeks.

Susanne blogs at www.ghostwritermummy.co.uk where you can read more about her experience with HG, IUGR and the subject of VBAC.

Back in May, I decided I wanted a VBAC. Since discovering I was pregnant, I always kind of knew this was what I wanted to do when it came to the birth. But I remember consciously making up my mind and speaking it aloud.

There.

It was out there. My intentions were known. No going back. I wanted a VBA3C. A vaginal birth after three c-sections. A ‘natural’ birth. A ‘normal’ birth.

susanne bump 20 weeksThis was met with mixed responses. Sensible responses from people such as my mother (“Just wait and see what happens. I’m sure it will work out the way you want it to in the end.”); positively positive responses (“Of course you can have a VBAC! Your body was made for it!”); horrified responses from people such as the first midwife I saw (“After three previous sections? There isn’t a doctor around who will support you in that!”); and vaguely amused responses (“Why would you want to do that? Don’t you know the risks?!”).

Yes. I knew the risks. I joined a Facebook group filled with women who advocate VBAC and natural birth. Women who were successfully getting their VBACs after 3, 4 and even 5 previous c-sections. I knew the risks of scar rupture existed, but I also knew they were very small. So I weighed it up and weighed on in.

In the group, lots of women speak of ‘not being allowed’ a VBAC, according to their doctors. These women routinely reply with the standard mantra

            Your body, your decision.

and it kind of stuck throughout my pregnancy. Whenever I was faced with the question over whether or not ‘they’ would let me birth my baby the way nature intended, I told them the same thing. This was MY body and MY choice.

My choice was to deliver my baby myself. To hold her against my skin moments later and to finally finally understand what it was all about when women spoke of feeling empowered, head over heels in love and like they could conquer the world. To be able to carry a baby to term and to deliver that baby without medication, medical assistance and sterile lighting. To do it the way my body wanted to. That was my choice.

Another regular line heard in the VBAC group came with birth announcements. Babies are born, eventually, after much discussion over how and when and with what interventions, and they are duly announced in the group. We are all waiting to hear. Did she get it? So the opening line of most announcements are either I got my VBAC! followed by wonderfully uplifting words of encouragement to the rest of us still waiting and hoping; or I didn’t get my VBAC but… usually followed by details of whether or not the surgeon ‘allowed’ skin to skin, or whether or not the lady laboured before the decision was made to perform a repeat c-section. So here is my announcement.

I didn’t get my VBAC.

BUT.

But I wanted to. I really, really wanted to. The decision was taken away early into my third trimester and to cut a long story short, my VBAC was pipped to the post by IUGR. Growth restriction meant my baby was too small for a ‘normal’ delivery. Growth restriction meant that my pregnancy had to end early, and a c-section was the only option since my body (scar) wouldn’t be able to handle an induction. Growth restriction meant my announcement in the group wasn’t written the way I’d intended it to be written back in May.

BUT.

elsie rose first 25 hoursBut I got my baby. And she is well. And we love her a lot. And that really does matter, but it is not ALL that matters.

It matters that I didn’t get my VBAC, because I went on a journey to get it. Self-acceptance. Self-awareness. Confidence. I actually, after all these years, believed I could do it. Birth my baby. Scans showed that she was head down, facing the right way and ready to go. During surgery I was told that there was practically no scar tissue at all after my 3 sections. My surgeon was amazed, and told me that my body was in perfect condition for carrying and delivering a baby. And, strangely, that was the nicest thing anyone ever said to me in a long time.

I didn’t get my VBAC but I got something else instead. I got to the end of that path and saw that I could do it.

Follow Susanne on Twitter @Ghostwritermumm

A little announcement – Mystery Mum

wpid-dsc_0379.jpgOur lovely anonymous blogger Mystery Mum has been trying to conceive her second baby for three months – and happily has a little announcement to make! We are so thrilled and excited to be with her at the very start of this life-changing journey.

So here we are. I’m pregnant!

Third time lucky as it turns out after two failed months of trying, so I know I certainly can’t complain. To be honest I’m still trying to get my head round the whole thing – I took the test nearly a week ago and still haven’t fully grasped that it’s actually happening.

I think it’s because after the initial shock and excitement of finding out dies down, this is actually the worst bit of pregnancy. At only 5+3 as I write this (to use BabyCentre message board parlance), it still feels ridiculously early in the day to get too excited. I still have the nagging doubt, as I’m sure most mums do at this point, that everything is about to fall down around my ears and our little bean will leave us no sooner than they arrived. It’s an awful period of limbo until the reassurance of a tiny heartbeat on a 12 week scan makes you truly feel ‘pregnant’.

But positivity is the only way forward and I’m fortunate that I feel well – other than being dog tired of course, and the fact that my boobs have taken on a life of their own and are currently attempting to make a break from my bra. It will not be too many weeks before my first purchase of the pregnancy will be a properly fitted maternity one to contain the pesky troublemakers. I have no nausea or sickness to contend with thus far which was fortunately the same in my first pregnancy. I had maybe four episodes of sickness the whole way through last time and I can only hope for the same luck this time around!

We have told parents and a handful of close friends our news, and today I told my work colleagues, which is a lot more people than we told at this stage last time. I think I am a lot more of the thinking now that if anything did go wrong at this early stage, I would value the support of those closest to me, just as I would if anything happened later on. There is little point in trying to hide it. We also haven’t told our little man yet, until we have a tangible scan picture to help him understand. On the bright side, it has been lovely getting lots of positive reactions from everyone at work, as everyone is excited for me – people are even talking about knitting little things for the baby which is a wonderful thought.

I am still reluctant to ‘go public’ with the pregnancy just yet though – much as I might like to shout it from the metaphorical rooftop that is Twitter and splash it all over my blog, I think restraint is called for now, to keep it special and personal for just a few more weeks. In the meantime, I am happy to be #MysteryMum!

Follow Mystery Mum on Twitter @BlogsForBabies – look out for #MysteryMum

Welcome to Mystery Mum!

Get ready to welcome Mystery Mum to our list of Resident Bloggers!

Mystery Mum is a mummy blogger that some of you will already know, although you won’t get to find out who she is just yet! She will (hopefully soon) be sharing her early pregnancy journey with Blogs For Babies so that she can remain anonymous until the long-awaited 12 week scan.

We are starting to follow Mystery Mum at the very beginning of her journey as she may not even be pregnant yet! This will be her second baby.

“I’m currently in the so-called ‘two week wait’ as it is known on the pregnancy message boards. I’m either 3 weeks pregnant at this point or have an unwelcome visitor arriving in 7 days’ time!

I don’t think many bloggers share much about their early pregnancy (or the fact that they are trying to conceive) as people do seem to prefer to keep it to themselves until that first scan is out of the way, and I am not really any different in that respect. However, I do think it might help others at the same stage to share in someone’s experience of it – even if I don’t want anyone to know who I am at the moment!”

You can follow Mystery Mum on Twitter via @BlogsForBabies – look out for the #MysteryMum tweets.

 

A look back over my pregnancy – ‘Resident Blogger’ Lindsay

RB pic - LindsayOn the eve of her induction, Resident Blogger Lindsay looks back on her pregnancy as she prepares to meet her little boy. I’m excited to be welcoming another new arrival to the BFB family!

Lindsay blogs at www.newcastlefamilylife.co.uk

It seems so long ago since I wrote my very first Blogs For Babies post introducing myself – I have just been so busy and lots has been going on pregnancy-wise since my last post when I was 31 weeks. I am now 38 weeks and I cannot believe I am now nearing the end of my pregnancy already, so I thought that I would write about a look back on my pregnancy.

I found out I was pregnant with baby number three all the way back in January when I was around 7-8 weeks pregnant, and it was a shock as I had only recently had surgery to remove my gallbladder and my youngest daughter Sophia was only seven months old.

I was really lucky that I sailed through the first trimester with no problems or sickness at all. I had my dating scan in February which showed I was 13 weeks pregnant and was given the due date of 26th August 2014. I was placed under consultant-led care due to my blood pressure being slightly high and having blood pressure problems in my first pregnancy, and it was decided that it was best for me to be put on the blood pressure medication labetalol to control things. I was also prescribed low-dose aspirin to try and prevent pre-eclampsia as I was at risk of this.

The second trimester flew by with no problems; we did not find out baby’s sex at the 20 week scan as it had its legs crossed but when I was 28 weeks I had a routine growth scan and we found out we were having a little boy. I was so shocked at this as I had been so sure we were having another little girl!

The third trimester has been a bit more difficult as baby has been measuring small on the growth scans I have been having throughout my pregnancy, which could be a side effect of the blood pressure medication I am taking. I also had to go into hospital to be monitored due to reduced fetal movements at 34 weeks but thankfully everything was fine.

I have also been so tired and had no energy at all which I had just put down to running around after a one year old and the heat – being pregnant during a heat wave is no fun at all. But I was diagnosed as having low iron and luckily iron tablets have made me feel normal again.

lindsay bump
Lindsay’s lovely bump!

Apart from those few niggles though I am feeling very lucky that I have had such an easy and enjoyable pregnancy. Obviously now I am nearing my due date I am getting uncomfortable, tired and hormonal but I really have loved every second of this pregnancy and I will be sad when it comes to an end.

It has been decided that due to me being on blood pressure medication the safest thing for me and baby is to induce me at 39 weeks so I am all booked in for an induction on Tuesday the 19th August – exactly one week before my due date.

I have mixed feelings about the induction; I am happy to go through with it as the doctors think it is for the best and all I want is a healthy baby. It will also be nice to not go overdue for once as I went overdue with both my girls and it’s not nice. I have also been induced before in my first pregnancy so I know what to expect. But I cannot help feeling nervous in case things do not go to plan and I need a c-section, or something goes wrong with baby, and also because I know from personal experience that induced labours hurt more then natural ones.

It seems so strange to think that this time next week I will definitely have had my baby; it seems like my whole pregnancy has flown over. But I cannot wait to meet our little boy and become a family of five. Look out for my birth story in the next few weeks and I look forward to sharing with everyone what life is like as a busy mum of three with two under two and a tweenager. Wish me luck – I think I am going to need it!

Follow Lindsay on Twitter @nefamilylife

Fame at last for the Daddy Smurf! – Rob George

Expectant first time dad Rob has been watching a bit of TV – and then saw himself on it! Well, a Tweet at least. How many of you like to watch ‘One Born’? Do you find it educational or are you just morbidly curious?! Or do you prefer to steer clear altogether? Let me know your thoughts @BlogsForBabies.

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

tweetSome of you might have seen one of my Twitter ramblings was given national exposure last Thursday night during One Born Every Minute on 4Seven, one of Channel Four’s vast family of digital channels. To say I am still rather hyper about this is an understatement – I can’t believe many of you respond to my ramblings let alone a national broadcaster picking a tweet out to show during a programme!

My thanks for 4Seven for showing it during One Born Every Minute, a show which I am beginning to find really does polarise opinion. For every mum who enjoys it there seems to be one that rolls their eyes and dismisses at as nonsense or ‘not representative of what really happens’.

But isn’t that the case for all such programmes? Not many are going to show the calm delivery, controlled pushing and the joyous and peaceful moment the baby arrives – that isn’t ‘entertainment’.

No, you want to see the screaming, the silly comments, the much vaunted ‘back story’ – that drives the emotion which leads to more viewers and more ‘entertaining’ TV.

I will speak up for One Born though, since beginning to watch it I have seen a good selection of birth experiences, from the screamers and the ranters and ravers to the calm serene births. I think they do choose entertainment over real life but the selection of births they have screened is good. Remember they can only show the women who consent and want to be involved!

From our experience, Pam drew a lot of confidence from a couple of the ladies who stood up to deliver; seeing it happen can inspire a mum to be to believe they can do it themselves.

Programmes like One Born aren’t gospel – you take what you want out of it as a viewer. Whatever your opinion on it, surely that is a good thing?

Follow Rob on Twitter @DaddySmurfDiary

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