Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Let's Talk Therapy

Running late, Chris and I stumble into a cozy living room full of unfamiliar faces. The lighting is soft and comforting and there are cookies on the table. The atmosphere isn’t quite strained but not entirely comfortable either. There is an expectant vibe in the air.

We take our places on the sofa with a sheepish smile and an apology. Smiles and nods abound. Have we been transported into a comedy sitcom? No. Have we arrived for a group therapy session? No again. We’re attending the monthly NCT home birth talk in our area.

By now you probably know I’m interested in exploring home birth and I learned about this class from my area NCT bulletin board. Hosted by a woman who has had 1) a planned home birth that transferred to the hospital, 2) home birth and 3) planned hospital birth, it promised to be an informative and open forum from someone who has been there done that.

I’ve swayed back and forth on the merits of home birth, my main concern being that something may not go to plan that could harm our baby. This has been a major sticking point for Chris, who wasn’t at all convinced by this potential plan. I also had the impression that women often consider home birth for later pregnancies once they have a better understanding of how they will cope in labor and birth. So the pendulum swings between reservations and opportunity, though recently I am moving in favour of going for it. Once got over the somehow amusing shock that we were sitting in a session such as this, we both came away feeling encouraged about home birth for the following reasons:
  • UK hospital midwives may care for up to 5 women simultaneously; at home birth you have one dedicated midwife who monitors you throughout established labor
  • Hospital transfers can be quickly arranged for any home birth not proceeding as planned; in fact, because of your one to one supervision at home it’s more likely that a midwife will identify any issues “sooner” than she might in the hospital
  • If being at home makes you feel more relaxed and at ease, this is likely to speed up and progress your labor, all in the interest and health of the baby
  • If more relaxed, there is less chance you will need medical interventions during birth; if you do, the midwife is able to perform an episiotomy, use forceps and give you an injection to deliver the placenta at home
  • Home birth is conducive to natural forms of pain relief: TENS, water birth, upright positions and gas and air (no epidurals)
  • If you decide you can't cope with labor at home, a hospital transfer can be immediately arranged
  • At home your husband/partner may feel less of a spare wheel and better able to get involved by virtue of it being your own home
  • After birth there is no risk that your husband/partner will be dismissed from the post-natal hospital ward because it’s outside visiting hours
  • Should any sudden, horrible, unfortunate incident occur, it is just as likely to happen in the hospital
Some of these points may be more specific to my area (i.e. we live 10 minutes from the hospital so if we needed a sudden transfer it could easily be arranged; home birth is an available birthing route through the NHS in my area so admin arrangements with the local hospital should a transfer to hospital be needed aren't a complicated issue as could be the case if using a private midwife; there are not the same insurance issues you may run into in the USA where home birth isn't always covered by insurance) but they are all food for thought if you think home birth may float your boat.  I'm not saying it's the way forward for all, but it may just be for me.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Destined for Success

Chris and I haven't come to any final conclusions in agreeing a name or final shortlist for our little girl.  Where he still goes for the "serious and distinguished" names, I still lean towards the "cute, creative" ones....

In the midst of this debate, I had to laugh when I read our baby's horoscope on my weekly Babycenter update.  It reads:

Capricorn child - Ready for success

Pretending, dressing-up, playing hide-and-seek – none of these are likely to be high priorities for your little Capricorn. She is just too ambitious to waste time on such pointless games!

This makes a case for Chris' serious/marketable name strategy but I'm not sold!  I like a bit of creativity!

Monday, 28 September 2009

Bump Blunders at 25.5 Weeks

Ahhh, the issues that ensue when you're carrying a 1.5 pound rutabaga in your uterus (left), which by the way, is now the size of an average football.  Bump is blooming and subsequently:

  • Causing me to break a country gate due to my increased weight
  • Serving as a table and crumb catcher whenever I eat
  • Stopping me from tucking up close to my desk at work
  • Soaking up spill-over water from the sink when I do the dishes (be warned: don't use bleach near the bump or you might lean up against the counter and get a not so cool tie-dyed pattern on one of your favorite shirts!)
  • Attracting attention and "she's pregnant" stares from randoms on the street who wouldn't have noticed me previously (aside from any fellow commuters on the train - they NEVER notice even when I'm standing with bump at their eye level)
  • Filling out my longer, "regular" clothes making me think some longer tops or maternity shirts are of the essence!
Ah the joys.  And no, I didn't actually break that country gate - it had a great contraption that allowed it to depress for passers-by to cross over. We couldn't resist taking a "Tanya broke the gate shot," though as you can see from this picture, I didn't really break it, I promise!

It was a beautiful weekend and Chris and I did some "trusting" via the National Trust, an organisation that restores and maintains a number of historic houses, castles, gardens and parks across the country.  I'd estimate that the majority of members are 40 plus, but I think people our age are missing a trip by not visiting these great sites.   There's nothing more I like after a busy week in London than busting into the countryside for a long walk or NT visit. We're already sharing the experience with baby in utero in preparation for the explorations she has to come!

Fruit Photo Credit:

Childcare Kerfuffle

Ofsted (UK education and children’s services regulator) whipped up a frenzy this morning when it accused two police officers of acting illegally for babysitting each other’s children. The two “criminals” in question work one full-time role through job-share and babysit each other’s children when the other is working. Ofsted says the women should legally be registered as childminders (who pay an annual fee to Ofsted and must complete training) as their arrangement lasts for longer than 2 hours a day and results in each woman receiving “a reward,” i.e. free child care.

Is it just me or does this over-literal interpretation of the law defy logic and wreak of the nanny state run wild? Costs of child care are astronomical, around £40-50/day for a nursery and £4-5.50/hour for childminders in my area, and if you are fortunate enough to be able to make a mutually advantageous reciprocal babysitting arrangement with a trusted friend and colleague, why shouldn’t you be able to?

Good on Ofsted for taking its responsibility to regulate UK childcare for kids under 8 seriously but rulings like this open up a regulatory can of worms that is difficult to enforce, aggravates the masses and increases inconvenience and financial pressure for the parents in question.

Sure, unregistered friends who also act as babysitters may not have the same first aid qualifications, insurances, etc in place that a childminder will, but its unlikely that close relatives (who do not have to register as childminders for providing similar babysitting services) do. This is a risk that working parents take when arranging their child care and the litigious issues that may arise as a result are, in my opinion, outside of Ofsted’s remit. Its attempt to class childcare as a “reward” in lieu of payment looks like a feeble attempt to drive up its membership fees. Plus, in the wake of Baby P and social services scrutiny, such a ruling only serves to divert its attention into yet another area that doesn’t warrant it’s time and energy.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Kiss Away but “Beware” of the Bubbles

As you may have noticed, I’m all about staying fit during pregnancy. I do my yoga, my running and go to gym (on a good week). I walk the 25 minute commute to the office from the train station and once in the office, I walk up five flights of stairs to my desk. I climbed the stairs four times today, which maybe just burned off half the bag of Mike and Ikes I devoured at lunch!

Always one for action and staying fit, I took interest in this pregnancy update on unexpected calorie burners. Read them and burn!

Kissing burns 58 calories/hour – grab your man and put Pee Wee Herman’s famous kiss to shame!

Washing windows burns 200 calories/hour – before the dirt and grime of winter set in, freshen up your windows and tone those arms!

Walking the dog burns 238 calories/hour – maybe I can convince Rico to walk on leash??

Gardening burns 324 calories/hour – plus it requires a lot of squatting….I can hear my glutes singing, or screaming already.

Next time you’re feeling guilty about eating that tub of Ben and Jerry’s and not going to the gym, go pull a few weeds and feel guilt no more.

Same pregnancy bulletin, next update: vaginal discharge and yeast infections. Of course we pregnant ladies are more prone to those too. But I’m not interested in all the TMI around yeast infections; I was more irritated to learn that one of the suggested means of lowering your risk of getting one is avoiding bubble bath! The outrage! I climbed the stairs, I washed the windows, I waddled into the office for a long day at work and now they’re telling me to avoid soothing, joyful, fun bubble baths because scents in the bubbles or whatever MAY upset the pH of my vagina. I earned my bubble bath, I like my bubble bath so why do the “experts” try to ruin all our fun?

I haven't had any issues with bubble bath so far so I’m going to keep on using it when I see fit. Pregnancy Today reports that the potential risks of bubble bath apply to both pregnant and non-pregnant women and suggests that the benefits of a nice bubbly soak outweigh the risks. Here, here!

I’m 25 weeks pregnant today and I’m not looking burden my back with more "worry weight." I’m also happy it’s Friday and soon to be the weekend – this morning I put on my maternity bump jeans backwards and didn’t even realize until I glanced in the mirror and saw the two rear pockets starting back at me – clearly I need a break!!

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Relax, Recharge, Reenergize

Big congratulations to J & pregnant B, who is not pregnant anymore after giving birth to a lovely little girl last Saturday! B sounds upbeat and well up for the “mom learning curve” – very inspiring to see a fellow pregnant friend with similar questions and inexperience in the parenting department to me blossom into a mom overnight!

About 5 weeks ago I started taking a yoga class for pregnant women once a week. The class came highly recommended on my area National Childbirth Trust (NCT) online message board, and it seemed like a great opportunity to get tips on breathing, stretching and positions for labor.

I’ve been doing Pilates for a few years now and I do my usual squats at the gym but neither of these activities seemed as comforting as getting jiggy on yoga mats with fellow big bellied mamas-to-be. I could learn how to rotate my hips while in an expert and well aligned half bend squat without attracting the sniggers of the college boys on the gym ab machines. With participation restricted to women 15 weeks prego plus this was an opportunity to abandon self consciousness and meet other pregnant girls in my area.

The class has exceeded my expectations. Our teacher is instructive and firm but calming, nothing like the overly spiritual teachers I experienced in prior dabbles with yoga. Through the class we do a mix of relaxation and breathing techniques, stretches and poses designed to encourage our babies into healthy fetal positions and more intensive labor preparation exercises. After a long day in the London rush, this class has helped me learn how to relax, recharge and reenergize. I always leave feeling better than when I arrived, and baby girl must enjoy it too since I always get a barrage of kicks and punches at the start of each class. If you’re pregnant and interested in giving yoga a go, I’d definitely encourage it!

Speaking of relaxing, when I got back from class the other night Rico decided it was time for his own form of relaxation. He jumped into our bugaboo and enjoyed being rocked into a trance-like state in our carry cot. Doesn’t he look chilled out?

In the news, this Indonesian mother is due a major re-charge after giving birth to a 19.2lb baby boy. Imagine carrying that bundle of joy…(and probably backache)!

A broader note on reenergizing, I’m interested in checking out our local NCT Nearly New Sale in order to breathe fresh life into second hand baby and children’s clothes and equipment. I’ve ranted previously about the overwhelming choice and price of the baby retail marketplace and these sales, which you don’t need to be an NCT member to shop at, offer a green way to pick up a range of baby goodies at bargain prices. I’ll be taking a look.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Blame My Sweet Tooth on the Little Lady

My previous post, When "Cheers" Become Fears - Alcohol in Pregnancy is being featured in Blog Nosh Magazine tomorrow! View it on the Blog Nosh's birth and adoption channel. Also, if you are a faithful reader but not yet a follower of this blog, please sign up via the link on my sidebar!

I'm now at 24.5 weeks and my baby is the size of an ear of corn. Picture that ear of corn inside my burgeoning belly! Also bear in mind that this picture was taken tonight, post work out at the gym and dinner so it's not the most complimentary shot - I said I look like a worn out whale and Chris says that I look pregnant! Ahhh, but it's late and I'm tired.

Where it really felt like my bump blossomed over the last few weeks it doesn't feel too different from last week to this week. Baby is now almost foot long and just over a pound - she's a pretty skinny little thing but she's soon to flesh out, and this week her brain, lungs and taste buds are developing! Apparently her sweet taste development can bring on sweet cravings - so when I say that "the baby needs this ice cream," she really does! Somehow I'm not sure I can justify my longstanding sweet tooth and tendency toward haribo, hot cross buns and ice cream on my daughter to be's developing taste buds but what a great excuse!

This weekend I took her to her first cricket match where Chris bowled well and took one wicket. Chris is a cricket fiend though this is the first season since I've lived in the UK that he has not played cricket for most Saturdays of the May-September period (yeeha!....did I say that?...for those that don't know cricket, it's an all day sort of game). Being that I haven't been to any of his other one offs this season, I enjoyed watching and explaining the game to bump. I was sitting on a bench on my lonesome next to the pitch, doing some pelvic floor exercises and rotating my ankles for circulation as I cheered on the guys. Chris didn't even see me chatting away to baby intermittently but said the ankle swinging and leg rotations made me look mental enough!

Not that he should talk. Tonight he decided to run our "potential name list" by our bump in hopes of getting a kick, shift, some type of response from baby about her future name. He read through each name on our list, paused for 10 seconds with his hand on my belly awaiting a response before moving on to the next name. Too bad she wasn't in a game playing mood and we got no kicks...either that, or she doesn't like any of our potential names and we are undecided enough already!

Friday, 18 September 2009

Swine Flu Update

I'm preparing for a trip back to the USA - our dear friends K&S are getting hitched and I will have the chance to show off my bump to family and friends. At odds with the joys of pregnancy travel is the looming threat of both seasonal and swine flu as we move into the "flu season."

Last night my dad and I were discussing what precautions I should consider before flying, and only this morning the papers report a marked rise in the number of swine flu cases that emerged last week, largely thought to coincide with the start of the new school year.

In the immediate, the NHS responds to these reports but has not changed its advice to pregnant women. Swine flu vaccines are due to become available to high risk groups, including pregnant women, in October, though no firm date is set and my doctor's surgery confirms they don't have an eta for the vaccines. For my part, I need to see the doctor for a flight authorization note (since my airline requires one for women 28 weeks pregnant plus) so I plan to discuss any other precautions I should take at that time.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Loving the List; Drowning in the Detail; Reconnecting with Reality

This week I've been on a quest to get organized and attend to some baby admin. I keep saying I want to gradually get the ball rolling with making baby purchases, arranging refurbishments at home and sorting out admin like my Health in Pregnancy Grant and official MAT B1 notice at work. Armed with my handy, dandy but lengthy list, my quest for progress began.

Things started on a high note. At my midwife appointment last Friday the nice midwife agreed to pass on my Health in Pregnancy Grant form at our next appointment since I'll then be over 25 weeks pregnant. This one-off, £190 tax-free payment is a "gift" from the Government to help mom's to be with the costs of preparing for a baby. She also gave me my MAT B1 form, which I've now submitted to HR at work in order claim my statutory maternity pay. Statutory UK maternity leave and pay policies for working moms are much more extensive than the narrow and limited American maternity support policies available. In fact, earlier this week the BBC ran a quickie article on a new proposed policy for extending paternity leave, another testament to the flexible support options available in the UK. Catch up USA - for all the talk we ladies receive about education, pursuing our dreams and equality of opportunity, the Government doesn't make it an easy ride for professional moms that want to start a family.

But I digress. I put a big fat CHECK next to "Health in Pregnancy Grant" and "Submit MAT B1 form" on my list.

Next I called the window people, who quoted us earlier this year to redo 3 single glazed windows in our house. This is a necessary job before baby arrives being that last winter our thin windows grew a beautiful green/brown mold and our window sills developed pools of condensation that regularly soaked through hand towels. Yes, we need new windows. Anyway, this company provided a good quote earlier this year so I told the window man I wanted the same price or better, and that we were expecting our first baby and would be getting the job done by his company at the right price, or someone else. So I secured a date for new windows, and a good deal. CHECK next to "Book in window guys!"

Then things took a turn for the worse as the inevitably do when I start to delve into the pits of baby retail therapy. The next items on my ambitious list included "see if bugaboo carrycot fits other Moses Basket stands," "look for a mattress and bedding to fit cot/bed," "look into breast pumps and associated paraphernalia," "decide what items to buy on trip to USA....." and so on. I should have anticipated this would be too wide a net to cast all at once because before I knew it, I was tangled in information overload and struggling to make sense of the myriad of options in all of the above departments. It made me tired and it made my head hurt. There are just so many options when all I want is a simple check list of "what's I NEED and what's the BEST to buy." Forget different strokes for different folks - I want a manual to baby shopping enlightenment!

.....Advent, Madela, electric, manual, cheap, pricey...breast pumps. Should I buy, should I rent, do I need one if I'm planning on breast feeding but want to express milk from time to time? Cot bed mattresses.......why are there like 20 kinds that range in price from £40 to over £200?! Since Lansinoh nipple cream gets rave reviews on both sides of the pond and costs the same in ££ and $$, should I stock up on it while in the USA....should I throw in breast pads while I'm at it?!........

Am I boring you? I was boring and winding up myself. Finally I had to shut the Internet down and step away from all online baby retail options. Since I spread my attentions in so many different directions, I was confused and not able to make any more CHECKs off my list.

I'm like a wind up toy - wind me up and watch me go, then I collapse and then later I'm still and sane again. In the wake of my retail research I had a comforting chat with pregnant B (who is less than a week away now!) and Chris who both let me vent and helped bring me back to reality. Now I feel fine. Yet another ebb and flow of this pregnancy roller coaster. I think my error is that I tend to take on too many things all at once, short circuiting in the process. I think I need to do my research one step at a time, and maybe strike a few "to dos" off my list for the time being. Ayeyeye......

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Mainstream Media Bias Enters Birthing Debate

My great college journalism professor, Michael Walsh, made it his mission to enlighten his students about the big black cloud of mainstream media bias at large within American journalism. I'm not talking editorial writing or even news reported from a publication with overt political sympathies (i.e. most of the UK broadsheet press), but the tendency for news reporters from "apolitical" sources to shun balanced factual reporting in exchange for stories that perpetuate or support a "hidden agenda."

The problem with this type of reporting is its widespread distribution of essentially skewed information to the public at large.

Earlier this week, the popular Today Show ran a short feature entitled The Perils of Home Birth that wreaked of journalistic bias. The feature, broadcast to millions, suggests that home births are becoming a popular, but risky fad amongst young urban professionals. The report doesn't include any interviews with certified midwives but instead gives air time to New York Magazine journalist Andrew Goldman who likens home childbirth to a “spa treatment.” It also exploits the single, sad story of a young couple who lost their daughter during a home birth - an incident that could well have occurred in a hospital. The report seemingly plays into the agenda of ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists)and its growing vendetta against midwives and out of hospital births. Riki's Lake's The Business of Being Born film is referenced in the feature, and she responds to the report on her site. The American College of Nurse Midwives, similarly disappointed, responds here.

I keep mentioning my interest in learning more about home birth, but stern voice over stories like this that cater to fear factor and emotion rather than fact are not inspiring or helpful. Shame on the Today Show. Rather than dig deeper into the pluses and minuses of home birth or explore the reasons for ACOG's firm stance against it, they threw honest journalism to the dogs.

It's times like this when I'm grateful for the UK's professional acceptance of home birth and efforts of NHS professionals, like my local midwife, to allow women to explore the facts and make informed choices.

Monday, 14 September 2009

"Tub" Trucking at 23.5 Weeks

Chris and his brother have been calling me "Tubs" for some time now. I'm pretty sure it's a nickname given with affection, thus I've not let it damage my self image too much and have overlooked that the name originated from the cannibalistic shop-keeper's wife from The League of Gentleman. But anyway - now, as you can see, at 23.5 weeks pregnant, the name is actually pretty fitting for the little tub at my front.

This week our baby is the size of a large mango. She is ducking, diving and kicking with regularity. I guess she's small enough that there is plenty of room to groove in my womb but large enough that I can really feel her. My weekly Babycentre update says the blood vessels in her lungs are developing in preparation for actual breathing, and at the end of this week she will be considered "viable" for birth (though she'd still need pretty in depth medical support to function). Other developments this week....

A huge shout out is in order to our fab friends E&L who are also expecting and due just about 10 weeks after us!! It's really exciting to have another good friend jump on the pregnancy bandwagon at the same time. E&B have been so helpful to me with their pregnancy tips and chats and I hope I can be of similar support to L on her journey. I'm sure we'll have plenty of insights to exchange - very exciting!!

Friday I had my third midwife appointment and was re-introduced to the kind and calming midwife that I met at our hospital open night a couple of months ago. She confirmed that "all looks in order" and our missy's growth is on track. I also spoke to her about my interest in natural birthing and exploring home birth. She suggested Chris and I attend the home birth night at our hospital next month to learn more; she was very encouraging, not at all dismissive or judgmental, and made me feel at ease about exploring our options. I'll keep you posted on what I find. But all around, it's all go!

Speaking of "going," every time a pregnant lady has a midwife appointment, you need to bring a urine sample in a little test tube thing so they can check your pee for glucose and protein. Being that peeing in a cup, or tube, has become a popular pastime by default, you'd think I'd be a bit better at it! Does anyone else have issues peeing in a cup or am I the only one with a sheepish hand raised here?! When I had my booking in appointment at the doctor they literally gave me a huge beaker to pee in that I couldn't fit between my legs. That led to some cool half squat crouching moves.... Now I need to regularly pee into this small test tube thing that is challenging with my urinary aim or lack thereof. Once I do hit the jackpot the tube fills really fast and is prone to splashing out at me. Gross. Maybe this is TMI, but I'm hoping I'm not the only one who has been embarrassed at the hands of this ritual!

Enjoy the 23.5 week close ups!

Friday, 11 September 2009

"Hey bus driver, what's your name?......That's a disgusting name, I think I'm going to throw up!"

Don't hold back dude, tell us what you REALLY think! I was in kindergarten when a naughty five/six year-old boy delivered this shocker to our school bus driver. The quote stayed with me for its daring rudery, but I was just a kid at the time and I wonder how this bully in the making's deadpan honesty and innocent but gaping lack of tact left that poor bus driver. Did he want to laugh at his feisty gall and deliver a gentle scolding, write him off as a "silly young kid with a thing or two to learn about politeness but hey, at least he doesn't have issues expressing himself" or did he want to get back to basics and give this youngin' a good ol' spanking?

Fast forward to the present and this boy would probably be named Jack or Callum, names identified by a Bounty survey of 3000 school teachers published earlier this week, as warning signals for a particularly naughty child. This poll revealed that one in three teachers 'expect' kids with certain names to be particularly naughty and that 49% of teachers make a judgement call about a child when they cast their first glance across their register in September.

Ahh, the pressure in choosing a good name for your child. Whatever THAT means. Does it mean it doesn't top the naughty name survey list OR that it lays the ground for future popularity.....what about when a name is not mutually exclusive like Jack, and appears in the top ten on the naughty and popularity list? (It's worth noting that Jack is currently the most popular UK boys name so odds are in favor of it topping a number of lists) Is it better to have a strong name that suggests conviction like Sophia (which means "wisdom"), or a softer name that sounds fun and full of creative energy like Lola (which means "moving to and fro")? Then you must consider your child's prospects for future fame and fortune - you need to choose a marketable first name that rings a nice bell with your last name.....Sally Smith just won't cut it.....Savannah Smith sounds all that more glam.

You thought you were sitting down to make a cosy baby name list but now you feel like Dorothy spun out of a tornado and facing the Wicked Witch of Decision. And everyone wants to help you...your parents, your grandma, your friends, your hairdresser, but you don't really want their help when it's all said and done. For right as you finally come close to THE name for your baby, you'll subtly mention it and one of the above kind souls will, in the spirit of the young boy on my kindergarten bus, 1) gag and/or grimace, 2) plain out say "I don't like that, 3) clam up leave you with a cold, telling silence. They might have well just said "they were going to throw up!" We're human and we've all got our opinions - but we're different and when choosing a baby name it needs to be a choice for you and your significant other - only. It's now that I imagine I feel like that bus driver - in a quandary about how to respond to a smarting opinion that I didn't really want in the first place.

I know some couples that have decided on their baby's name and shared it prior to the birth - power to you all for sticking to your guns and ignoring what anyone and everyone else has to say. While Chris and I have been happy to debate and discuss a spate of baby names with pretty much anyone (and everyone asks), we have decided when we do reach a decision we are not going to share. Once our little lady is born and named, people are far less likely to be openly critical; we've done a good deal of recon with others on suitable names, but with this on board I can see my tolerance for debating my daughter's name waning like the current hours of daylight.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Stretch Away

This isn't an extensive article, but recently Pregnancy Weekly reports that stetching may prevent preeclampsia, or pregnancy induced hypertension. It suggests that light stretching releases a special kind of protein called transferrin, which protects against stress on the body.

I usually do a few yoga or pilates stretches before bed to ward off evil leg cramps and generally unwind. After reading so much about relaxin release and how it's important not to overstretch (valid advice but yet another pregnancy risk), it's nice to read about stetching in a positive light.

From what I can see preeclampsia is still much of a common wonder to the medical world and there are no clear cut answers on how to avoid it. But if stetching might stack the odds in your favor of keeping it at bay while allowing your muscles a well earned breather, why not?

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Big ‘un on a Babymoon; New Size of Sexy

I sauntered down the cobblestone sidewalk, tossing my hair and basking in the late afternoon sunshine. Hand in hand with Chris, my skin had a healthy “glow” - maybe it was sweat, or fullness due to water retention – but I felt good, I felt glowing. We were on vacation – a long weekend babymoon – in Prague with our great friends A&S and the weekend couldn’t have been going better. At that moment a ray of light bounced off the store window to my right, catching my glance and capturing my full glory.

Full indeed. Full like I’d just eaten 3 steaks, a big pot of goulash and 5 apple strudels. Now I never hold back in the food department while on vacation but I had't had THAT much. Then again, I’m 22 weeks pregnant with a uterus internally rising above my naval. I’ve waxed lyrical about embracing my growing bump, blah blah and I do. But in that moment I didn’t appear to be sporting a blooming bump but more of a bloated bulge below my cotton sundress. Wah!

The moment had been too good to ruin, though, so I smoothed out my dress, averted my eyes and walked on with slightly less of a saunter. Girl power beats irrational hormones.

A&S made me laugh when we first met up in Prague when they asked if I’d be okay walking around. I love exploring on foot while on vacation – I think it’s one of the best ways to get a feel for the city and to experience lots local gems often lost from a taxi window or underground metro. Walking was “no problem” I declared. And it wasn’t. We explored the Old Town, Jewish Quarter, fantastic Mala Strana park by foot and I had no complaints, tiredness or aches rain on my parade. I politely declined a guard who offered me the elevator to the top of the Mala Strana viewing tower, and Chris said he was impressed at how I charged up the tower stairs with him at my heels. My ease of mobility may falter in the coming weeks but not yet! Throughout the weekend, the four of us had long meals and good conversation, authentic Czech food and an array of other international cuisine. We relaxed, wandered, took a lot of pictures – the one on my right above is a 22 week shot of me on the Charles Bridge with Chris (the one on the left is me at 21 weeks, which I didn’t previously post) -we saw a lot without having too much of an agenda. It was a perfect babymoon.

Back in our hotel room the night of the big bulge sighting, I examined my bump in the bathroom mirror. It looked like a mountain cliff poking out at my middle that suddenly dropped off before my bikini line. As I examined I felt our little lady kick; she hadn’t been super active that day and the movement jarred me back to reality and made me smile. I was 22 week pregnant. I might look in "the plump or pregnant" stage in some of my outfits but that’s all part of the trip, right? I’m finally on my way to that rounder fuller baby bump that shouts blooming so I guess I just need to shut up and deal. I am now carrying a spaghetti squash after all.

I do have one disclaimer on bump comments though - if you are commenting on the status, growth or look of a pregnant lady's bump - be careful, be tactful and be positive. Don't ask someone if they think they "are going to be huge" when they tell you how far along they are. Even if you don't mean to be insulting, it won't be taken kindly!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Medical News Flashes: Home Birth & Breastfeeding

The following two articles may be of interest:

On the My Best Birth site, Ricki Lake draws attention to a new study just out in the Canadian Medical Association Journal on the safety of home birth versus hospital birth. In brief, this article paints an encouraging picture of home birth that is worth a look.

Also -

Today the BBC reports findings of a BJOG study that indicates drugs oxytocin and/or ergometrine, commonly used to treat bleeding after birth, may impede a woman's ability to breastfeed her baby. The Swansea University team that carried out the study also found that high doses of painkilling drugs have a similar effect.

With healthy and not so healthy debate raging around breast versus bottle feeding (this weekend a friend just told us a funny story about bottle milk being referred to as "the devil's milk"), this study promises to add more fuel to the fire around factors that affect a woman's ability to breastfeed.

Though experts warn that no firm conclusions can be drawn at this stage, I think it's important that pregnant women are better informed about the about the associated risks of medications used during labour and birth. In the BBC article, Rosemary Dodds, NCT policy research officer suggests that "women at low risk of bleeding may not need to take these drugs."