Sunday, 30 August 2009

'Where the Wild Things Are'

Yesterday I posted about the supposed benefits of reading to my bump. One of my favorite childhood books is 'Where the Wild Things Are' by Maurice Sendak. Aside from from ranking high on my list of baby reading material, I just came across these fantastic Wild Things themed cupcakes.

I want to go the extra mile for my daughter so maybe I need to take a page out of this baking chick's book and learn how to fashion these tasty cakes. My mom used to paper mache and paint my sister and me pinatas....maybe I can generate a similar "kiddie wow factor" at birthday parties by serving up some of these bad boys! But now I'm getting ahead of myself....

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Carrots & Cameleons

Friday I reached my 21 week mark - our little girl is the length of a carrot - about 10.5 inches long. She's regularly moving around and on Thursday night, for the first time, Chris felt her kick/elbow me/pull on the cord/etc when he rested his hand on my stomach!

She should definitely be hearing us now; incentive to stay calm, cool and collected at all times....hmmmm...if only. I have started talking to her now and then like when I'm driving or cooking; I love my talking, so it's comforting to know that she can hear me. Hey, I may look a little nuts but maybe she'll come out with an innate propensity for language. I'm also going to start reading to her before bed. Similar to the soothing music theory, "experts" suggest that if she hears the same story repeatedly in the womb, she'll be comforted by it once born so I figure it's worth a shot. Crying baby? - cue special story that yields happy, quiet baby - I don't sound too far off the mark anymore now, huh?! I haven't chosen a story yet, but maybe something short and sweet like 'Goodnight Moon' by Margaret Wise Brown.

In the last few days we also commenced our baby buying/borrowing/auction winning! I spent about half an hour wandering aisles of baby clothes on Friday with an enthusiasm I usually reserve for the candy store. I managed to tear myself away having bought one, her first, baby grow. We also picked up a brand new crib to bed converter with a built in changing table from our friends M&H. Thanks guys! It's the same crib they have for their daughter, and the company they purchased it from delivered two but never returned to pick this one up, much to our luck! Then, finally, after eagle eye watching and new bidding in the wake of my Bugaboo bid tantrum, we bid and successfully won ourselves a Bugaboo Cameleon at half its normal retail price. I hope this stroller lives up to my expectations but only time will tell.

Many people have suggested we gradually ease into our baby buying now, so it feels good to get the ball rolling. Though I set my sites high with the Bugaboo, in general I'm hoping weather the wild baby buying sea by visiting second hand furniture stores, seeking out more online deals and making a list of what we need versus what we'd like to have. Lists and focus are good. While I'm sure there are inevitably lots of new things we'll want to buy too, hopefully this varied approach will keep us practically and financially in balance.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Girl Power!

First of all, a huge shout out to my great friends E&S who just brought a beautiful baby girl into the world yesterday! Congratulations guys!!

This post is all about GIRL POWER (and no people, I'm NOT talking Spice Girls) - in addition to E&S's excellent news, we had our 20 week sonogram yesterday and found out that we too are having a girl! Most importantly she looked healthy and on track development wise for my January due date. Of course we would be thrilled either way but I am looking forward to evening the boy/girl score in our house (Chris & Rico / Baby and Me) and having a mini me, albeit with a British accent! Chris guessed that we'd have a girl all along so he was happy to be on the mark and has plans to rear her as a first class athlete in sport with a ball really. He has high hopes but I reminded him that we are not turning into psycho sports parents that pressurize our kids - I remember a coach or parent once punching someone else at my sister's soccer game - a prime example of child sport bringing out the devil in parents.

Our little lady must have sensed she was being scanned because she went on acrobatic overload right as I laid down on the sonographer's table....either that or the skittles and OJ I had before the appointment were taking effect! This 20 week sonogram seemed like another milestone in our pregnancy. After the 12 week scan it seemed so far in the future, but now it's come and gone and I'm left with the further realization that we are going to be parents with a living breathing baby really soon. Let me tell you, there is a sizable and very real looking baby inside me. It's thrilling, fantastic, scary and exciting all at the same time. Happy as I am, I won't be planning on celebrating with any of these freaking scary cakes...that is a a step too far in the creepy direction for my tastes!

I remember looking in awe at a heavily pregnant lady about to drop at the Affordable Art Fair with E earlier this year. At the time E was still in the first half of her pregnancy - now she has been that girl and has graduated to mama. Pregnant B is next in line and I'll be bringing up the rear of our girl hat-trick in January. Something must have been in the water when we were all working together....I feel pretty emotional about it all but again I'll blame the hormones for making me soft.

Those "hormones" have been rearing their heads in other random ways too. I don't usually view myself as an overly hormonal person but do find I now have the occasional psycho spike. Like Tuesday night, when I lost an e-bay auction for that cherished Bugaboo Cameleon that has possessed me. I lost the auction by £10 and turned a little crazy - I must have momentarily thought I was a boxer since I started punching the air and moaning like banshee. When Chris tried to assure me that there would be future auctions and there were other bugaboos waiting in the wings to go on ebay, I wasn't having it. He tried to be patient with me but finally gave up and told me to stop being irrational. I snapped out of my red haze about 10 minutes later....but in the name of girl power, next time "the psycho air boxer" in me threatens to come out, I need to get a grip and quick! Ahh the highs and lows of this pregnancy coaster......

Monday, 24 August 2009

Don't have Kids their a "Pain in the Ass" : Can I slap this author?!

My jaw hit the floor when I stumbled across AlterNet's article on the book No Kids: 40 Good Reasons Not to Have Children by French economist/psychoanalyst Corinne Maier. Released last year in France and earlier this month in North American, Maier, a mother of a 14- and 11-year-old says she's "not sure" if she'd have kids if given a second chance - lucky for her poor children that there is no genie in the bottle who can wave its magic wand over Corinne and reverse time!

No recluse from controversy having previously published a book entitled Hello Laziness: Why Hard Work Doesn't Pay, Maier may just be stoking the fire of debate from a position of particular power: she's not a bitter childless woman who has tried to conceive without success, but instead a tried and tested mom who feels compelled to tell the truth and set the record straight. And even without reading her book (which I don't plan to do), it evokes an emotional response so she's won there already.

Accordingly to Maier, parents have less fun, less sex, less friends, less money, less successful careers (particularly women) and crappier relationships. Women feel a constant, debilitating pressure to be "Super Mom" and to keep pace with other "Yummy Mummies" at the expense of their inner creative spirit, in turn morphing into bored drones. She then adds an extra twist of the knife by suggesting that children are environmental hazards to the already pressurized developed world.

Maybe I should start writing my own obit now since according to this tirade I'm soon to be luckless in love, money, career and spirit, committed to domestic drudgery with a child latched onto my hip. Please. This is not what I want to hear when embarking on this huge, life changing experience. But maybe that's where I need some perspective.

We're all entitled to our own opinions and in Maier's case, having children may have brought more frustration than joy - at least that is how her book is pitched. Maybe many people, misguided people in my view, are too quick to assume that "everyone" wants children and subsequently wax lyrical about parenthood, looking down on those that don't want to join the club. Still, I think sweeping generalizations that suggest becoming a parent is on par with committing yourself to a lesser existence is ridiculous and equally insulting.

Maybe Maier is just looking to evoke a response. I'm not saying she is a bad mother; I don't know what type of mother she is. I do feel bad for her children that their existence would be hanging in the balance if she could take back time, but in our nutty world of "keeping up with the Jones'" I think we're all too quick too judge. What makes a "good mom" can't be black and white, though I don't know much about parenting. I am unsure how I'm going to balance my now life with my soon to be life as a mom, but I'm up for the challenge and view it as a positive one. So Maier and her book can go take a hike. Maybe she'll find support in other moms who haven't embraced the experience or childless/childfree people who are tired about hearing about the joys of having kids.

All I know is that I've got a one way ticket to parenthood, I want to enjoy the ride and I've read enough.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Halfway There!

Friday I reached 20 weeks - the official halfway point of my pregnancy. Time is flying!

Our baby is now about 6.5 inches long and about 10.5 ounces, about the length of a banana. We have our 20 week scan this week so we're soon to find out if baby is a little boy or a little girl - exciting!! I used to claim I'd never find out the sex before birth but once pregnant that idea went right out the window!

Reaching the midway milestone makes pregnancy all the more real - aside from the fact I can regularly feel our little acrobat, it's now dawning on me that soon, really soon, it will no longer be just Chris and me. We've lived together for almost 7 years now. Our 11pm trips to Ikea, joint runs/gym trips and nights out on the town with only Rico's timer food dish to organize will soon be a distant memory. I am ready to be a mom and I want to do the job well; I am prepared to make sacrifices, change my routines, put our baby as first priority. But Chris and I both still want to maintain our senses of self and how exactly we'll achieve that with baby is something we just don't know and probably won't know until January. We tell ourselves that we'll integrate our new addition into our lifestyle and continue to travel, socialize, be active, etc and I hope we can stick to this AND be good, engaged parents.

This will be food for thought as we navigate the second half of my pregnancy - I guess between talking to experienced parents, reading up on newborn care and bearing in mind our own situation we'll find a groove that works for us. But aside from these grand questions, I need to get down to the basics - how many times a day does a baby feed and need diaper changes; do I buy reusable or disposable diapers or a mix; how long are you supposed to breastfeed for, what do we NEED to buy and what is just market temptation.....??? Yup, we've got a steep learning curve ahead....but as I keep saying, bring it on!

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Birthing Warrior

I’m nearly halfway into my pregnancy and am starting to think about the miracle of birth and mission that is labor. Actually, I’ll be honest – I’ve thought about labor and birth on numerous occasions since conceiving. As I’ve said and you may realize, I’m a thinker for better and for worse. I haven’t been to any of my pre-natal classes on this topic yet, but I’ve done some reading, asked around and formed some opinions. Who knows if these will change as hormones continue to wrack my body and my due date approaches; who knows if I’ll stick to my guns in the throws of squeezing a baby out of my lower regions…. But for this moment, this is where I am.

I always pictured birth as you see it in the movies: lying spread eagle on a hospital bed, pushing with all my might. I also promised myself that I wouldn’t shout nasty things at Chris like, “How could you do this to me?!!” Plus, I’d be comfortably numb by a wonderful, soothing epidural. With medical pain relief practices like epidurals now common place, why would I take on body splitting pain? Those natural birthing ladies had to be mental…

So I thought, until I started exploring and my initial perceptions on labor and birth came tumbling down, down down…

I was surprised to learn that many women don’t give birth in a hospital bed, but instead from an array of upright positions ranging from kneeling to squatting to down on all fours. Maybe I was naive here, but I really didn’t have a clue. Aided by birthing balls, floor mats, steady relaxation breathing, pelvic rocking and most importantly gravity, women who birth upright often deliver with shorter labors and less medical intervention like forceps, ventouse and episiotomy. Epidurals, on the other hand, leave you immobile from the waist down in a hospital bed, catheterized and with greater chance of distressing your baby and needing delivery interventions since the drugs slow your labor and reduce your urge to push!

In the United States, epidurals are a very common form of pain relief – probably why I’d always associated them as given for birth. In the UK, they are also widely available but perhaps not pushed as much as less invasive pain relief options like gas and air are popular (which doesn’t appeal to me either since I don’t want to feel giddy or drunk when laboring). But I’m not picky or nuts...I’ve just decided that I’m going to be a Birthing Warrior. I want to be upright, I want to use my “in for four, out for four” breathing and I want to get in a zone and deliver naturally. I’m also curious to learn more about those TENS machines. I can’t imagine how exactly birth is going to feel but I am preparing myself for pain – “good” pain, that I am going to power on through like a Spartan and triumph over in order to bring my baby into this world. Cue glory music.

Shock of shocks, there are an overwhelming wealth of resources out there on natural birth that I just don’t have time to sift through. For a good overview, check out My Best Birth, a website associated with Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein’s documentary film ‘The Business of Being Born.’ My friend SH suggested this film to me, and though I haven’t got my hands on it yet it promises insightful observation into the “medicalization of pregnancy” in the United States and the more natural birthing options and venues that women can consider. More on that when I’ve watched the dvd. I also happened across this Giving Birth Naturally Site, which has a lot of information on the subject. Encouragingly, when I asked midwife at my hospital about natural birthing, she was very supportive.

While I’m on a roll here, I’ll also throw in my new found interest in exploring a home birth. I like the idea of avoiding the germ infested hospital and giving birth in my own domestic bubble of bliss. The neighbors might think a wild fox got trapped inside our house, but I’ll get to recover from labor in my own bed, with my own nice food, safe and sound with my family. Ideal. Unless, family and friends remind me, I face any complications in which case “Isn’t it better to be in the hospital?” Hmmm.

Interestingly, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists does not support home births while the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists/Royal College of Midwives does for women with uncomplicated pregnancies. Then again, pregnant B shared this NHS article with me, which discusses how home birth risks are still unclear. So as usual, there is not clear or right answer. Weighing up all the factors, I’ll probably end up choosing the hospital but I am still going to talk to my midwife about home birth...

I know that each labor and birth is different and birth plan and all, I can’t over-plan and will just do what is best for baby and me in the thick of it. I'm not knocking any form of pain relief because if you have a choice you need to do what's right for you, but my mental plan of action is to go as natural as I can – and the mental part of it has to be half, if not a little less than half, the battle.

And my friend the Physical Therapist Says...

Being that I've been running for years, I should be absolutely fine to continue through my pregnancy provided I take it easy and stop when it's no longer comfortable. She mentioned that one of her PT professors ran up until her 6/7 month of pregnancy when she had to stop due to a constant urge to pee every time she jogged and put extra pressure on her bladder! This made me feel better about my decision in the wake of my doctor's advice - thank you SS!

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

And the Doctor Says...


In my previous post, Bump on Board: Running in Pregnancy, I mentioned that I was going to contact my doctor/midwife to discuss my second trimester running in relation to the strength of my cervix. Don't worry, I won't get more graphic than that.

I read about this on US sites and it seems like a fairly common, encouraged, question that pregnant runners ask so I thought I'd give it a whirl here in the UK.

Swallowing my pride, I called my local surgery (for those in the US that's the doctor's office) and left a message for the doctor asking if I should come in for a quick cervical check up and hopefully get his blessing to continue running. It was fun explaining all this to the receptionist...

I can't say I was shocked when the receptionist called me later that day and said, simply: "We've passed on your message to the doctor regarding your running and he said you'd better not."

I'd better not. That was it. No check up. No reason in relation to me. Stock advice. From my initial encounter with the midwife I expected this might be the response I got, but I still felt disappointed. I really like my doctor; he has always been lovely and patient with me through any odd little ailment I've had. But I've done my research on running and believe I should be able to continue at this stage. It's slightly aggravating that since the general UK advice on the matter seems to be "don't do it," the one precautionary check I'd like done doesn't appear to be an option due to differences in US/UK pre-natal culture. I'm not knocking the UK system - I think it has a lot of benefits the more I learn - but in this instance, I'm not a fan.

So truthfully, what am I doing? I've made the executive decision to continue my weekend 5k run at an easy pace. If I feel anything is out of sorts, I'll stop. I'm not looking to be stubborn or doing anything that will be unhealthy for our baby, or me. But I don't think I am based on my research and the fact I'm treading carefully and have not experienced warning signs. Maybe at my 20 week sonogram they'll be able to comment on my little ol' cervix. I'm not sure though. I'll keep you posted :)

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Market Meanderings


Alfalfa sprouts, vintage shoes & designer bibs shaped like an apple
Lingering embraces and laughs shared under a straw hat
Pick a pew, a restaurant chair, a slab of concrete
And relax
Secret kicks, latent fears, global delicacies & ice cold beers
Meet me at the market

Cool young things in leggings & frills
Cockney hagglers on the cheap
Caribbean colors speak depths from head turbans
While dark glasses shade the sun and court mystery

Whether directly in the social mix or stand alone
We're rich in stories that are our own
Thrust into a common space
Creating the magic of the market

Bump and I took a trip to London's markets today - Petticoat Lane, Spitalfields and the Sunday Up Market behind the old Truman Brewery on Brick Lane. As I wandered out of the eerie weekend quiet of the City and into some of London's most diverse and vibrant markets, I felt content, engaged and full of vitality. With bump as a silent companion, I had ample time for browsing and observation. That's when it struck me that being pregnant is like a visit to the market. Stay with me on that line of thought....

Markets are common yet full of the unique; varied; exciting but stressful at times; full of show but bursting with less obvious substance; breeding grounds for life - just like pregnancies. The analogy sat well with me and inspired my poem above.

I'm now 19 weeks and my baby is the size of a large heirloom tomato (whatever an heirloom tomato is) or a mango, get this, covered in greasy cheese. Thank you Heidi Murkoff for that latter tasty image! This greasy cheese is vernix, a waxy coating that protects the baby's young skin from it's 24/7 amniotic fluid bath.

This last week I've started to feel definite movement that I know is not my imagination. Like the bubbling of a pot of water about to boil or those famous butterfly wings, baby's acrobatics are now like secret messages to me. Everyone says quickening is a thrill and ya know what, when you realize for sure that it IS your baby moving inside you, it is a thrill!

I've also learned that baby's sensory development is now on full throttle - our little one is starting to hear Chris and my voices along with other outside the womb noises. Within the next couple of weeks, when he or she swallows my amniotic fluid it will taste like what I've been eating - be that lasagna, ice cream, salad or a chicken quesadilla. Experts suggest that a healthy pregnancy diet will thus impact baby's future tastes and eating habits - hopefully our baby is enjoying a rich mix since I eat pretty much everything, though I do have a penchant for sweet treats!

As you can see my bump is now starting to really take shape. At some point near the end of last week I discovered that some of my work trousers no longer button up - what a difference a week makes! It looks like I'm going to have to bust out my belly bands in the near future - I haven't tried to integrate them into any outfits yet so I need to sort that out - woohoo! Bring it on!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Stroller Shopping on GreEn Bay

We live in the age of the consumer and I'm staggered by the amount of baby paraphernalia on the market. What do I need? What is excess? Changing tables, breast pumps, reusable diapers, disposable diapers....decisions, decisions, decisions.

I haven't delved too far into this abyss, but I hope take a practical approach to baby shopping based on a mix of real need, environmentally friendly products and value for money rather than whimsical "that is so cute my baby must have it" urges. I believe this is a reasonable approach but have now contradicted my practical mantra and decided that I really want to buy a Bugaboo Cameleon stroller/pram. Lightweight, compact, suitable from birth and with a fancy schmancy steering system appropriate for country and city terrain, it ticked lots of my boxes. I'm active; even though I'm having a winter baby, I want to get out of the house as much as I can and walk with baby. We live in an urban environment but I love countryside walks at National Trust properties. Our house is small and doesn't have the space for a big stroller. And if we're going to splurge in one area, I was all in favor of doing so on our stroller.

The Cameleon's price tag of around £700, well over £800 with the car seat etc gave "splurge" a whole new meaning. Now I see why they are popular with celebrities - they can afford them. But how could we, two hard working young professionals preparing for the costs of a new baby justify paying that much money for a stroller in light of everything else we need to get/do to our house/etc etc etc. We just can't.

It's then that Chris, also taken with the Cameleon, suggested that we take a spin on ebay for used Bugaboos. I balked at first, but then started to consider the benefits. Buying on ebay would significantly reduce the price tag of an item that, like a new car, majorly devalues once it hits the road. Those that bought them in the first place were likely to have cared for them, but the wear and tear on any stroller we might "win" could be reviewed in person before finalizing the deal and exchanging funds. Obviously we'd buy a new car seat for safety reasons and would have the option of replacing wheels, bearings, etc. if needed. Notably, buying a used stroller is another form of renewing, reusing and recycling, a green approach often forgotten in the whirlwind of baby buying. While I believe you should examine your chosen stroller in person before making a final purchase, online research and ebay bidding saves numerous trips in the car to Baby's R Us and the like. I've seen a number of 2 year-old Bugaboos on ebay that look in mint condition - why should they go to waste? Plus, if I bought my wedding dress on ebay, what should stop me from shopping for a stroller there?!

As my mom points out, the baby doesn't care what it rides in and I spent the whole of my babyhood in a simple, cheap umbrella stroller. Is having a Bugaboo and its many functions really worth it? That's something we'll need to weigh up, but as we do, the ebay route makes our debate viable while also being a bit greener.

Published on The Green Baby Guide

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Abject Accountability in the Wake of Baby P

I roll my eyes skyward in this 18.5 week picture....

I'm not making reference to the latest Baby P scandal involving Sharon Shoesmith, some Haringey social workers and a Great Ormond Street Hospital doctor, all of whom have launched appeals of unfair dismissal linked to this sad and disturbing case. My expression would be fitting, minus the cheesy grin. Though not directly pregnancy related, I feel this social services / child protection story is well worth a mention.

Baby P, a four year-old boy from the London Borough of Haringey, died of child abuse in 2007. This poor innocent child withstood repeated barrages of abuse by his mother, her boyfriend and her boyfriend's brother until he reached breaking point. The identities of his abusers have just been widely publicized, however I don't want to give these debase individuals any further time or attention - I can't fathom actions of their kind and can only imagine they must have something wired wrong on the inside.

My blood now boils at the total lack of accountability from the professionals who repeatedly failed to recognize the gravity of Baby P's case until it was too late. Haringey's former Director of Children's Services, Sharon Shoesmith, appealed against her dismissal without compensation and just saw this motion fast tracked at high court. Her Deputy and two former social workers launched similar appeals, alongside Great Ormond Street Doctor Sabah al-Zayyat who seeks damages for her dismissal.

I think it's disgusting. Social work and the welfare of vulnerable children is a vital and challenging area that must be taken seriously. Haringey Social Services did have a positive inspection rating at the time of the Baby P scandal, though this review clearly fell short and was not a green light for apathy or carelessness. Shoesmith questions the pressure Secretary of State Ed Balls put on Haringey to dismiss her without compensation in the wake of the 2008 media frenzy surrounding the case and new inspections highlighting departmental failings. Be this as it may, this does not reverse the harsh reality that she was at helm of a social services disaster.

As for Doctor al-Zayyat - she must be having a laugh - she failed to spot Baby P’s more serious injuries days before he died and asserts the weak defense that she was not privy to the child's history of abuse. One would think a registered doctor at one of the UK's foremost children's hospitals might have, unprompted, noticed signs of abuse!

Yes, Shoesmith, dismissed colleagues and Doctor al-Zayyat may be scapegoats for both their own and similar failings around the country. But this case prompted a well needed wake up call for Councils and medical professionals to take a serious and proactive stance in protecting vulnerable children.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Fluttery Sunday

Yesterday was one of those idyllic Sunday afternoons that I didn't want to end. Chris and I met our friends L&J at L's parent's house outside London. We sat outside on their back patio basking in sunshine/umbrella induced shade, played bocce ball on the soft, green, warm underfoot lawn and enjoyed a yummy picnic lunch. The conversation, as always with G&T (L's mom and dad), was interesting, amusing, excellent. I felt very relaxed, a welcome contrast to our usual hustle bustle.

The conversation turned to quickening at some point, and T asked if I'd felt the baby move. Just as I'd heard, T described her first experience with baby movement as the "fluttering of butterfly wings." Subtle but solid baby kicks, flips and twirls.

I said I wasn't sure if I'd felt anything. Over the last week I have experienced a slight pattering or tweaking sensation, but I don't know if this is my baby, my stomach or my over active imagination since I don't really know what I'm looking for. I don't feel like a butterfly is loose in my belly - more like the odd little "sensation" from time to time.

I've stopped trying to coax my little one into movement in the bathroom stalls at work, but last night thought I'd try a new approach. I've heard babies are sensitive to light, so as we went to bed I shined my cell phone light at my stomach and waited for a response. Does anyone else try weird things like this? Again, I don't know. But I did feel like I felt the faintest little pitter patter when I did it. I'm just waiting for a big ol' kick so I know that it's the real thing and not just me wishing it.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Good Vibrations

Supposedly there "may" be advantages to playing music to your baby in the womb. I don't think there are any definitive findings on this theory, but I guess the idea is to use music as a vehicle to engage and comfort your baby in utero, which will then be familiar or soothing once he/she is born.

I'm now at 18 weeks; our baby is the size of a bell pepper and can apparently hear my heart beating and my digestive system processing - after the amount of curry I ate last night the little one must have had quite the show! I think it's still a couple of weeks until baby can hear noises from outside the womb, so I have some time before I can start putting the music theory to the test.

Having said that, earlier this week I went to karaoke with Chris and some friends from his work. They are karaoke king and go often enough to hold a gold card that entitled us to 5 hours of free singing! Yes 5 hours. I am no seasoned karaoke girl and I'm a terrible singer, but the night was a lot of fun. The music was so loud though, that baby must have got some kind of show, if not from the audio at least from the vibrations. Chris did a particularly stirring rendition of Guns and Roses' 'Civil War' that must have radiated beyond our singing room and throughout the surrounding area! Maybe not particularly soothing, but stimulating I'm sure! Looking forward, I think we better introduce a balanced mix of music or we may have a hyper one on our hands.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Bump on Board: Running in Pregnancy

I’ve always been a runner. In school I took pride in being able to outrun some of the boys in my class. I played midfield in soccer which required a lot of stamina, and I kept up running for fitness through college and as I moved into “the real world.” Last year I even knuckled down and ran the London Marathon! So now I’m running while pregnant, which you’ve probably picked up on.

When I mention that I’m still running, I often get one of two reactions: Cue furrowed brow and concerned tone: “Is that really a good idea for you and the baby?” OR a perplexed grimace that suggests I might as well be bungee jumping or throwing myself into a rugby scrum. So I find myself justifying my actions, and explaining that there is no reason for concern. “I’m only running a couple of 5Ks a week, nothing too taxing for baby or me!”

This approach was not condoned at my first “booking in” midwife appointment around 11 weeks, where I was told plain and simple, “don’t run, we don’t advise it.”

I felt a little cheated by this response. Yes, it wasn’t what I wanted to hear, but mainly, it conflicted with advice I’d read elsewhere. I’m sure the midwife had a duty of care to echo the advice in the NHS Handbook that gave she me, but this “blanket advice” didn’t account for my history running, fitness level, medical history, etc. It seemed more of the “cover our backs with catch all safe advice” family. So I dug a little deeper…

Now I’m no medical expert, and the following is my understanding and NOT official medical advice (disclaimer, disclaimer, etc). but herein lies the skinny on running while pregnant:

If you haven’t run before you were pregnant, don’t start once you are. It is generally safe for seasoned runners to continue at a lesser distance and intensity; you will need to slow down as your pregnancy progresses and your bump grows. It’s important to stay hydrated and not to overheat, especially in the first trimester while your young baby is developing its vital organs. You may be more prone to injury as your body has higher levels of relaxin, a joint-relaxing hormone, so tread carefully over uneven ground and to wear supportive footwear. A sturdy sports bra is also a must, and a maternity support belt could help support your bump. Try to engage your pelvic floor as you jog since extra strain is put on these muscles. Listening to your body is most key: if you feel nauseous, dizzy, out of breath or experience chest pains, blurred vision, a headache or vaginal bleeding, STOP! If anything feels uncomfortable or not right, STOP! Don’t push yourself and don’t go for the “burn.” Think in terms of your fitness, not keeping up your previous level of training.

Across the board, advice suggests that women with pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, placenta previa (low lying placenta), a weak cervix and others, particularly a history of pre-term labor or miscarriage should avoid running; if you are at all concerned, have a discussion with your doctor or midwife.

This article from Runners World suggests that women entering their second trimester should have an internal with their OBGYN to check the strength of their cervix. I’ve read more about this from US sites, and think my midwife might look at me like I have two heads if I ask her for an internal considering the advice I received previously, but maybe I should ask. I haven’t had any signs out of the ordinary, but this looks like an extra and sensible precaution runners can take. In fact, many US sites suggest getting the “all clear” from your doctor regarding your plan to run pregnant.

As with many things in pregnancy, a cautious and sensible approach to running looks like the answer. Many runners pay testament to their trade as a means of staying fit and healthy throughout their pregnancy and preparing them for labour. Here’s an excerpt from a Babyfit article on the topic:

“When I became pregnant with my first child, I decided that as long as my doctor said it was okay (and I felt good), I would continue running for as long as my body would allow… I'd been a runner for years and loved both the physical and mental benefits. So I was relieved that when I went in for my first OB appointment, the doctor said I could continue running as long as I felt good and didn't push myself too much. Running helped alleviate the constant morning (and afternoon and evening) nausea I couldn't seem to shake, kept my weight gain at a healthy rate, and prepared my body for the toughest race I'd ever have to run-labor and delivery. As my belly expanded, I went from a comfortable jog, to a slower jog, and finally to a waddle the week before my daughter was born. I was quite a sight to the neighbors I passed on my running route! But I wouldn't trade that for anything. For anyone whose health care provider has given their okay to continue running, I highly recommend it.”

Some other useful articles about running pregnant are at Babycentre and Pregnancy Today.

So come on fellow running ladies, let’s lace up our sneakers, give our bodies and minds a work out, our bumps a ride and those passers by something to gape at!

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Still Got It!

So here's my 17 week picture.

Expanding on my body image comments from yesterday, I went for a run this morning and got a "sexy ass" shout from a passing car. We can ignore the fact it was actually from a couple of young guys in white van, music blaring, passenger with his head out the window i.e. the typical source of cat calls for females running. I gave a small smile and a nod. I think it's better to acknowledge and keep moving rather than risk pissing people off by ignoring them. Plus, it never feels bad to get a cat call!

Chris and I took a quick spin by Mothercare today for a little scope out of the goods. Our main points of interest, well the first was more mine, were over the bump maternity jeans and the strollers. It was like a whole new world in that store - baby bonanza, lots and lots of pregnant ladies, lots of ladies pushing babies and lots of men attending to their wives. I felt a little out of my depth, but this is my new club, so I better just get on with it.

I came away with a 2 pack of maternity bras that looked supportive but had cute little patterns (I'm going to test them out and return them if they don't fit) and a better idea of what size over the bump jeans I may purchase. On the strollers, or prams, I think I have expensive taste. I don't feel that way about most baby items but I want a stroller that is durable, maneuverable, not too heavy or bulky and suited to both city/town strolling as well as more bumpy terrain. Does such an item exist that doesn't break the bank? If I'm going to splash out in one area, however, I think the stroller and travel system is a good one since we are so active and I know I'll want to be out and about with baby a lot on a safe, comfortable car seat is must. So research is in order there....I'll let you know how I get on. If anyone has any suggestions in this department, please share!