Wednesday, 10 February 2016

The advice you shouldn't listen to...

If I hear the phrase, 'sleep when baby sleeps', I may just scream and pack my bags to live in the mountains with a herd of goats.  When you have a baby, well meaning advice comes at your from all angles, from friends and family to random comments from strangers and the darn right bizarre from our friend Mr.Google.  So forget what advice you've been given. Here's the truth.  

Sleep when baby sleeps. 
Argh! How many times have I heard this one? Only every day of my new-baby sleep deprived life. Have you ever tried it?  Babies are born with a highly tuned set of skills when born, this includes with ninja precision timing their sleeps to coincide with: a)someone knocking at the door b)workmen drilling outside c) the telephone ringing d)all of the above or my personal favourite e) not sleeping and becoming wide awake the moment you put them in their cot. My advice? If you can't sleep in the day, don't worry about it.  In all honesty you are going to feel absolutely exhausted anyway.  If you can nap, sure, go for it.  If you can't, don't beat yourself up about it. Try and have at least five minutes to yourself having a cup of tea and maybe updating yourself with the world of celebrity gossip on your phone (that's just me then).

Don't do housework. 
Everyone says you shouldn't do any housework when you're a new mum, which is obviously true in those first few weeks.  However, beyond that, unless you want to eat off paper plates and chase wild raccoons from the site which was once your kitchen, you're going to have to tidy up at some point. My advice? Break the tasks down and have a simple aim each day, even if that one thing is to vacuum or hide the mess under the stairs.

Don't do the ironing.
My tip? I like to apply the four question rule with ironing. Hold the item up and ask yourself these four questions...
Does it need ironing?
Will you wear it this week?
Would anyone notice if it wasn't ironed?
Is it yours?
If you get four yes's then give it a little iron.  Any no's and it goes back in the pile. You're welcome.

The magic cure. 
Everyone has a magic cure for whatever problem you have with your baby. The magic fix might be gripe water, a dummy, drinking herbal tea or eating your own placenta to cure an unsettled baby, colic or constipation.  But guess what? There are as many cures as there are babies.  There is no quick fix.  Accept it and go with your gut, and don't be disappointed if running round the garden three times naked won't cure your babies sleeplessness.  

You are doing amazing.
This is the one piece of advice I think any parent needs to be reminded of. Being a parent is hard bloody work, whether you are a parent to a newborn, toddler or teenager.  We are all just trying our best to raise happy and healthy individuals. We compare ourselves constantly to what others are doing, questioning every decision we make, but you know what? The majority of the time you've got it right because you are doing what's right for you and your little one.  Forget that mums facebook feed with her oh-so-brilliant crafts. Forget the new mum with the amazing Instagram. Some days? It's fine if your biggest achievement was brushing your teeth.  Hang on in there. You really are doing an amazing job.

Monday, 8 February 2016

What's in my hospital bag

This post was meant to be published a long long time ago, but as batch cooking and waddling around took most of my energy in the last few days of pregnancy, this post became lost in my draft folder.  I've finally dug it out and thought I'd share with you what I packed in my hospital bag, and also, with the benefit of hindsight, what I could have left at home and what I could have done with taking! 

If you Google 'what to pack in a hospital bag' you will be inundated with information and lists galore as to what you can't possibly even start labour without.  Some lists range from the very minimal to the darn right ridiculous. As this was my second baby, I felt that I had some understanding of the things I needed and I could vaguely remember the bits that I wish I had taken last time and had to send my husband out to get for me.  

First off, the bag.  I searched and searched for a bag that was going to be big enough to fit all of my essentials in, but unless I was going to rock up to the ward sporting a two-week holiday sized suitcase, there was no way it would all fit in one bag.  I decided to take a small suitcase which would contain all the things for baby once he or she was born and an overnight bag for all of my essentials and the things I would need during labour.  

Separating your bags in this way means you know exactly where everything is and if you are instructing your husband as to what to pass you, you can at least narrow down which bag it is in.  It also means that after baby is born you can keep one bag for used / dirty items and the other bag for your clean items (labour can be a messy business).  (I do wish I had packed a carrier bag for this reason). 

My overnight bag was from Cath Kidston and was the perfect size.  It also came with a brilliant detachable small case that I could put small items into. 

In my bag for the actual labour, I took a loose button down night shirt to wear from Primark in a few sizes up to accommodate my bump.  I spent ages wondering what to take to wear as I'm really not a fan of nightgowns and the ones I had seen had Minnie Mouse or a teddy bear on them (!) which really isn't my thing.  The nightshirt was perfect and meant I could easily breastfeed too.  It turned out I never even wore it as I was too in the throes of labour to even be bothered to get changed once we were on the ward.  I just knelt in my bra and I was as happy as Larry, well not quite, but getting changed was the last thing on mind.  But an outfit to birth in is an essential whether you end up in your bra or not.  

I took my TENS machine, and snacks which included sugary sweets and water for me.  Again, I only really sipped the water and didn't want anything to eat, but everyone is different so definitely take some energy supplies.  Also, pack for your husband too.  Mr Bee gets a tad hangry when he hasn't eaten and I wanted him on top form, so I made sure to pack some crisps and chocolate for him.  

For after the birth I took a pack of large maternity pads, disposable knickers (both are ESSENTIAL), breast pads (even though my milk didn't come in until day three). I took clean pyjamas and slippers to wear, clean underwear and nursing bras.

Toiletry wise I took shampoo and conditioner, dry shampoo in case I couldn't be bothered to wash my hair, my usual face wash and moisturiser, face wipes, deodorant, body butter, a razor (I was like a monkey last time), shower gel, toothbrush and paste.  I was actually really glad I took these things as it felt lovely to get in the shower afterwards and just feel really clean and fresh. I took a hair-dryer which I didn't use, I just piled my hair on my head as there was no way I was using it and waking baby. 

I did pack some make-up essentials and I know some people wouldn't dream of taking these, but it felt nice to just put on some foundation and mascara after I'd had a shower to make me feel more human.  I think this is a personal thing. 

I got discharged home after 6 hours of the labour, but I think if I was staying longer I would definitely have needed more maternity pads and disposable knickers. You really do lose alot of blood post birth which I had forgotten about. 

Onto baby's things...

Clothing wise I packed a going home outfit for baby which was a cute little dungaree set. I also packed 4 long sleeved sleep suits, 4 short sleeved vests and 4 long sleeved vests. (I always think it's really hard to know how to dress a newborn, they say the rule of thumb is what you are wearing plus an extra layer).  As LL was a winter baby we dressed her in a long sleeved vest with a sleep suit or her outfit over the top. I also really struggled to know what size to buy.  LL was 6lb 2oz born and to be fair the clothes were a little bit big.  I ended up packing newborn size for her and then I took a 0-3 month suit just in case she was a 10lber!  

I also took two hats and a cardigan.  Scratch mitts and socks (both were way too big and not really needed, most newborn sleep-suits have built in scratch mitts that you fold over).  

I packed a snow-suit for when we left the hospital and a thick blanket. 

I also packed one pack of nappies, cotton wool, nappy sacks and a little pot to put water in.  I can remember last time on the ward I struggled to find something to put water in for the nappy changes as I didn't want to use wipes straight away, so I thought I'd pack my own this time.  It's just a cheap little pot, but it meant I could fill it with water and give LL a little wash and change her quickly without needing to run back and forth to the sink. 

Other things I packed were my hospital notes, a present from LL to give to my daughter which was wrapped (it was a little doctors set), my phone and charger and then I also took a spare pair of clothes for me. We took the car seat and left this in the car. 

Again, as I had a 6 hour discharge, I didn't use all of the items, but it's best to be prepared!  With my daughter I was in hospital for nearly a week.  If you are unsure if you are over packing, you could always pack an extra bag and leave that in the car so your partner can get it later for you if you needed it. 

I did read that someone suggested taking pillows and a birthing ball, but firstly I don't think I would have fitted in the car with all of it, and to be honest they have things like that on the ward, unless you are very attached to your pillow and want to give birth with it I'd leave it at home. 

I really loved packing my hospital bag and I can remember feeling really excited collecting all the bits and packing and re-packing.  It's quite a surreal experience knowing you are going to be leaving the hospital with another little person.  

Is there anything you would take that I didn't? Or do you think I over-packed? What was your number one absolute essential for the hospital?  I think mine was the TENS machine and disposable pants!  

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Friday, 5 February 2016

My labour story: Part two

Here's part two of my labour story of my second baby.  For part one you can head over here if you missed it, but we left it that I was on all fours and only 4cm dilated. 

You can't really put into words the pain and intensity of contractions, and I certainly don't want to scare anyone who is pregnant or plans to have a baby in the future. I mean we all know it hurts. It really hurts. But it's a pain unlike any other, it's a pain that has a purpose.  And no matter how many babies I see, I still can't quite believe the miracle that is pregnancy and child birth. 

The contractions were getting stronger and more close together so I tried gas and air that I immediately didn't like.  It just made me feel really sick having a plastic mouthpiece in my mouth and I think it also made me lose focus of my breathing technique that so far had been quite effective.  The gas and air just got thrown on the bed and I resumed focusing on breathing and counting out loud to ten until the contraction had passed. 

I think alot of people perceive labour to be this one long excruciating pain, when in fact inbetween contractions you are pretty pain free.  This kept me going.  I knew if I could just count up to ten, by the time I got to ten the pain would have passed and I would have some respite.  I really tried to stay in the moment and not even think of the next contraction.  

By around 2am my contractions were so intense that I began to doubt myself and I felt so overwhelmed. I remember telling my husband he had better get me an epidural ASAP (even though an hour before I'd bleated on about a natural birth!!!). The midwife was amazing and just kept telling me I could do it and to hold on for a bit longer. I can remember arguing with her I couldn't.  At some point I can remember saying I'd had enough, it was all too much.   The midwife agreed to examine me and found I was around 8cm! I was nearly nearly there, I could do it! I think she did a sweep at this point to help my cervix fully dilate. 

As the intensity grew to the point that I felt I could take no more, a really strange feeling came over me which I can't describe. My body just felt so different, I felt shaky and weird and a little scared.  I can then remember my waters breaking and the midwife opening a delivery pack. 

At the point I thought I could take no more we had reached the point of pushing.  And this gave me a renewed sense of purpose.  Whilst the contractions were still there, I had a renewed purpose, I had to push as hard as I could to see my baby. 

I won't lie, I was scared at this point. I'd had an epidural with my first daughter so all of the sensations were new. I told the midwife there was no way I was pushing, I was just going to wait it out, to which she laughed and told me I didn't have a choice. 

The pushing was hard and exhausting (think doing a giant poo) and my husband said he could actually see my stomach shrinking as baby was being pushed down.  I can't put into words how I felt or what my body was doing.  My body just completely took over and I just knew I had to push and push. Every single part of my being was focusing on pushing this baby out.  A monkey could have delivered my baby and I wouldn't have noticed.   

It was intense but the most amazing experience. Three hours after arriving on the ward and our daughter, baby LL was born.  It was love at first sight. 

I delivered the placenta naturally after the cord had stopped pulsating, and to me this was a breeze compared to birthing a baby.

I needed some stitches afterwards, but just 6 hours later we were discharged home and I don't think my parents could quite believe it when we walked into our home holding our new baby girl.

The care I received was faultless and as hard as it was, I would do it all again in a heartbeat.  I know not every birth is the same and I would never compare this birth to the birth of my daughter where I had an epidural. But I feel so lucky to have experienced a different type of labour and birth.  

Welcome to the world LL xxx

Thursday, 4 February 2016

My labour story : Part One

I debated whether to share my labour story or not. It's something that's so very personal and is quite an intimate and immensely special time for parents to be. But, I really think labour gets a bad name. It's no wonder mums to be are petrified of giving birth. Amidst all the blood and gore, the tears, the pain and giving birth in a toilet/car/Asda, the natural and horror free labours go a bit unnoticed.  Of course it hurts.  Of course its hard.  But that doesn't mean its a negative thing.  So, here's the labour story of my second baby.   

Four days before my due date I was sitting at the local playgroup singing wind the bobbin up and seriously contemplating why on earth I had taken my three year old daughter there that day. I felt huge, really tired and totally not with it. It was the last place I wanted to be, and I was cursing in my head as we moved onto a rendition of humpty dumpty. 

Later that day, I started to feel cramps. They weren't particular painful, but they were happening about every 10 minutes and I just felt uncomfortable. I carried on as normal, preparing tea and bathing my daughter.  I knew something was happening, but I wasn't convinced it was labour.  I just thought maybe my body was getting ready, and to be fair, I'd convinced myself I was going into labour most days from week 28, so by now I'd given up on labour even occurring. 

I went to bed as normal, then woke around 1am with the cramping being that bit more painful- enough to wake me up. Was this it? Was this labour? 

I didn't wake my husband, and I just tried to doze back off, but every time I got a cramp I'd wake up again. This happened until about 3am and then I thought I had better time them. I must have messed around for about half an hour deciding which labour app to download (which is obviously a huge decision!), and then eventually I started timing them. They were coming around every 8 minutes and were getting more painful so I had to breathe through them. 

By 7am I'd been up most of the night, and I started thinking that I needed to get my daughter up to take her to preschool.  So I got out of bed, and it was literally almost instant that the cramps stop. I was a little disappointed that I'd been up all night when actually nothing was happening and it was just a false alarm. 

My husband went to work and my daughter to preschool and I started Googling 'false labour'.  Alot of the forums said that if cramping stopping it wasn't labour at all, which got me worried as the cramps had been painful.  If that wasn't labour how on Earth would I cope with the real thing??  

All day nothing happened so I carried on as usual.  I had a feeling of disappointment that it wasn't labour, but then relief that I could get some sleep that night.  But, around 4pm the cramps started again. They felt exactly the same as the night before. Was this it?? 

My husband came home from work and we thought we'd give it a few hours until we rang my parents to come and babysit our daughter if we needed to go to the hospital. The cramps were certainly uncomfortable but I still kept questioning whether this was it. 

At around 9pm the pains were coming every 8 minutes and I was having to breathe through them because of the pain.  Again, I still wasn't convinced, but my husband rang my parents anyway, who arrived about 10pm.  

I really didn't want to go to the hospital early to be sent home, so I strapped on my TENS machine and thought we'd probably end up going the hospital in the morning.  I tried to get some sleep but couldn't because of the pain.  I just kept focusing on my breathing and counting to ten by which time the pain had passed.  

By 11.30 the pain was more intense and the contractions were coming around every 4 minutes.  My husband wanted to go to the labour ward, but I just wanted to stay at home. I ended up waddling to the toilet, but after 15 minutes and my husband trying to cajole me out, I just wanted to stay put and focus, he said we were going. He rang the labour ward and after asking him a few questions (he gave them a wrong date of birth for me) we were told to go straight in. 

We arrived onto the labour ward around midnight and I was examined where they told me I was 4cm dilated. Only 4cm!!!!!! I couldn't believe I was 4cm and I felt so disappointed that I'd come to the hospital too early. 

My midwife was amazing and inbetween my contractions which were getting more intense she chatted to me about the kind of birth I wanted. I told her I wanted to try and stay away from an epidural and I wanted an active birth. I had wanted a water birth, but the pool wasn't available.

So we settled down in a birthing room and I immediately got on all fours and knelt over the bed.  This was the most comfiest and felt the most natural position.  Little did I know that in less than 3 hours I'd be holding a baby. To be continued...

As a side note, this is the most flattering picture of me in my labour position.  I've been through our photos five times and this is as good as it gets.  I've read countless other labour stories and seen others perfect labour pictures of mums-to-be where they look oh so serene and focused.  I on the other hand look like I'm about to bunny hop over a bed.