Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 38

As I turned 38 weeks I felt back on track. I had reflexology with Jessie again and she brought me some more lovely oils.  Saturday was St Patrick's Day, but it was freezing so I brought the boys to the cinema to see Peter Rabbit. I thought between the parades and rugby match we would be the only people in the country there....I was wrong! We had to queue for 45 minutes for the tickets and book for the next viewing (in 40 minutes) so we hung around. The movie was very good and it was great to get out and about for the afternoon. 

Sunday brought more snow so we chilled out at home for the day. The boys didn’t even want to go out and play in it, they were totally over the whole snow thing. In fairness it was fairly blustery and yuck out so I didn’t blame them. 

On Monday Leon headed off to his friends birthday party in a play centre and Seth went to his friends for a play (they ended up going to Jump Zone and had a ball). While they were gone I did lots of Spinning Babies and some lunges/squats and sorted out the washing and a few bits around the house. After the party one of Leons friends came to ours for the afternoon and they played away.   

On Tuesday I had a real “get this baby back into position” day. It started with reflexology, then I went for a good walk, then I had shiatsu with Joanne Faulkner and used Moxa sticks to try to encourage baby to come back head down. I ended the day with spinning babies and then a bath with essential oils and listening to “perfect positioning” on my Gentlebirth app.

 Our Cork DoulaCare Ireland team from l-r: Zoe, Mary, Claire and Jacquie at our Meet the Doula Event for World Doula Week in Cork. 

Our Cork DoulaCare Ireland team from l-r: Zoe, Mary, Claire and Jacquie at our Meet the Doula Event for World Doula Week in Cork. 

Wednesday I spent the morning dropping items for our World Doula Week events off to our doulas. I got a phone call from my GP to say my bloods showed that I have extremely low B12 and need to start a coure of B12 injections as soon as possible. She told me to go straight to her after my check up in the hospital. I am glad as I have been feeling very tired and breathless (presuming it was just normal end of pregnancy stuff). Hopefully with the injections I will feel a boast of energy before baby arrives.  Then I rushed back to take a DoulaCare Ireland conference call with a new business prospect. Mary and I are constantly working on growing the business end of things, while ensuring our clients remain at the heart of everything we do. We are excited to hopefully share some news over the next month or two! I finished the day with some body work and more Moxa sticks before bed. 

Thursday brought my hospital appointment. I dropped the boys to school and headed into the Rotunda. The midwives were all lovely and supportive as always. I met a new midwife called Bridget who spent a good bit of time with me asking how I felt and giving me space and time to chat. This midwifery support is so important in antenatal care (especially for me as I had wanted midwifery led care to begin with). They are all so kind and patient and really offer mothers space and time to process their emotions and get a clear focus on their thoughts.

When I saw my consultant she confirmed baby was still in an unstable lie, and my amniotic fluid levels were officially polyhydraminos (a medical term for too much fluid). The two combined creates a dangerous situation for baby, in that if my waters were to release the cord could get flushed out ahead of the baby. Of course the umbilical cord provides oxygen to the baby so that would not be a good situation if I was at home. She broke the news that I would need to be admitted . I negotiated heading home to pack a bag and explain to the kids what was happening. I collected them from school, then brought them both to McDonalds for a treat and we had a good chat. They both understood that both the baby and I were fine it was just for the doctors to keep an eye on things. I packed a bag and when Paul came home from work he drove me in. I was feeling pretty gutted as my mind movie of labouring at home, supported by Mim and Paul slipped away. The kids, especially Seth really wanted to be there too – Seth even learned how to do some back massages for the big day!  

The antenatal ward was pretty busy on arrival but the staff were all lovely. I had all the routine checks and everything was really good with baby and I. I have all my positive tools with me (Ear phones to listen to GentleBirth tracks, essential oils to keep my senses calm, my laptop to keep my mind busy writing or watching movies, books and so on). 

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On Saturday 24th at 38+6 weeks I lost my mucus plug, just as I was settling down for the night. I went into spontaneous labour (while on the antenatal ward).  Baby Kayla Rose arrived just over 3 hours later in an intense and quick, intervention free VBAC. She weighed 8lb 2oz and instantly we were head over heals in love. Birth story to follow soon x

 Kayla Rose getting skin to skin after a very fast VBAC birth in the Rotunda Hospital 

Kayla Rose getting skin to skin after a very fast VBAC birth in the Rotunda Hospital 

 

 

 

 

 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 37

This has been a bit of a mixed week. The week started with my very last tutorial in my training as a  Cuidiu Antenatal Teacher. It has been a tough 3 years juggling the work load, monthly tutorials, work and family but I have really enjoyed it. The course is second to none. It has a roll on roll off structure so new students learn from the more established students as we go. It takes a while to find your rhythm as you can feel like you have been thrown in at the deep end! The tutors are amazing and support everyone at the level they are at. I have made some life long friends through the course.  It give such balance and everything you learn is evidence based, constantly comparing studies and trials. We ensure to create activities that include all learning styles and avoid lecture style classes, which are inclusive of all our clients (taking into account their background, needs and chosen care provider).

The core of every course is Informed Decision Making – ensuring each parent makes an informed decision for their individual pregnancy and birth experience. It has given me such a grounding in my knowledge and I would highly recommend the course to anyone involved in work with pregnancy/new parenting. The day ended with cake and snacks and everyone in the course sharing a wish for me for the future (to say emotion was high is an understatement!) It was so lovely.

Sunday was Mother's Day. Paul was working, so Seth and Leon made me some toast and brought it up to me with home made cards. It was so sweet. We took it easy for the day and just kind of sorted things around the house and watched some TV together. My mam dropped down for a while and I gave her her card and flowers.  Then we went to Pauls parents for dinner, which was lovely. 

On Monday I had another reflexology appointment with Jessie Walshe from Barefoot Reflexology & Balms. It was just lovely, baby kicked and moved around during the treatment as Jessie and I chatted (we are both Cuidiu Breastfeeding Counsellors in the same branch, so we know each other a long time) Jessie really feels like my body is ready and baby will come soon .... here’s hoping!

Bren had a check up in Jame's Hospital too, which went really well. The hospital was really happy with his healing and all is looking good for now. He is still smoking, so they explained again if he doesn’t give up the cancer will 100% come back. I don’t understand how he can still be smoking after everything he went through and knowing it will come back if he doesn’t stop. My mother-in-law was told to give up almost 2 years ago after find out she has a blockage in her heart and she is still smoking too. I’m not sure what to do to encourage them but I guess they just have to make the decision that they want to be around for their grandchildren or not. 

 Birthday Celebrations 

Birthday Celebrations 

Tuesday was my 31st birthday. Again, the kids were busy making home made cards for me – Seth even bought me a box of chocolates and a candle with his own money which was so sweet. I had a really relaxing day and then Pauls parents, my mam, her partner and my Nan all came down for a take away and some cake. It was lovely just to spend time with close family and relax. I did wonder would baby make an appearance and we could share our birthday but she seems happy in there for now ;)

On Thursday I had a routine check up in the Rotunda. That morning I was pottering around getting the kids unifroms ready for school and I steppped back onto a lego motorbike in my bare feet. I fell straight back onto my back and caught my back (just at my bra strap) on a bedside table. I felt so silly, it just happened so quickly! Paul woke with a jump not knowing what was happening and the kids came running in to see what the crash was.... I was ok but shaken. Babing didn’t move for about an hour, but I would say that was more to do with my adrenaline being released. I pulled the ligaments under my bump and I was achy. I got a full once-over and they did a scan. All was perfect with baby, BUT.....now she has been jerked out of my pelvis and is in an unstable lie (oblique - so lying diagonally across my belly).

If she stays like that my VBAC will not be an option as there would be a risk of cord prolapse (where the cord comes down ahead of the baby). I have a lot of fluid too, which also increases the risk. After further discussion, I agreed with the consultant to come back next week and make a plan (they would be keen to do a Caesarean if she hasn’t moved by then). She wouldn’t sign off my birth preferences as things were, as she said minimal intervention would not be possible with this situation. I left feeling deflated and emotional. 

Paul was concerned about the risk of cord prolapse and wanted to know more about what to do if that happened. I filled him in and we headed home. I was very achy so had a long soak in the bath and listened to Gentlebirth tracks to try to calm down. Both Mim (our doula) and Mary were on the phone and sending links to studies/tips of things I could do. I felt so supported. My logical brain knows there is loads of time for baby to go head down again but my mama brain is so disappointed – like all my hard work has been for nothing. I had an evening of moping and feeling sorry for myself but after a good sleep and all the lovely positive messages online, I woke feeling better and ready to get to work on optimal positioning again.

I will keep you posted how it goes. Thank you to everyone who took the time to reach out this week. It really did make such a difference to feel all the positive vibes, love and kindness. A kind word and heartfelt good wish can go a long way! So thank you all, for taking me out of my wallowing hole xx

Until next time....Jen x

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Week 37: What is Happening To Your Baby

 This week your baby is the size of a Cantaloupe 

This week your baby is the size of a Cantaloupe 

  • Your baby is the size of a large cantaloupe this week. 
  • Your baby's due date is getting closer (though only 5% of baby's are actually born on their EDD). 
  • If baby arrives now they would be considered early term (up until 39 weeks0. 
  • Their lungs are usually mature at this point of pregnancy. However baby still has more growing to do - especially when it comes to putting on weight. 

 

Week 37: What is Happening To Your Body

  • You may find new stretch marks are appearing on your belly at this stage and that they keep coming over the next few weeks until baby makes an appearance. 
  • If baby has dropped you may find yourself going to the toilet even more frequently (I know - you are probably thinking, how could I be going any more than I am now!!!). 
  • You may feel Warm Up Surges (or Braxton Hicks as they are more commonly known as), as your body gets prepared for labour. The difference between these and actual labour surges are that when you get up and move around, or sit down and rest they disappear. 
  • You could feel nauseous (which may be a sign you are going into labour). If you are feeling extremely nauseous make sure to inform your GP or Health Care Provider as this can be a sign of other complications. 

Week 37: Pregnancy Tip 

These last few weeks can be frustrating as you wait for your baby to arrive. This is a lovely article that talks about those last few days of waiting for your baby. You are more than likely going on maternity leave soon. Have some nice treats lined up for yourself - things to look forward to and to distract yourself with.  A spa day? Getting your nails done, going for a nice reflexology treatment, meeting a friend for a cuppa - whatever it is will be different for everyone. Baby will be here eventually and all will change. Hang on in there. 

 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 36

 Celebrating Seth's birthday

Celebrating Seth's birthday

The weekend kicked off with Seths birthday party – the snow was beginning to thaw but about half his friends still couldn’t make it. Seth didn’t seem to mind and had a great time with his pals that came. Paul’s mam is in Lanzarote this week and couldn’t get a flight home with the weather, so is staying an extra week. After the party Bren came down and we all got take away and watched a movie. It was a lovely day and I was delighted Seth was happy with his birthday week. 

On Monday I had a terrible attack, it felt like a gall bladder attack with pain shooting through my back and high up on my tummy/chest. I took to the bed with hot water bottles and willed it to pass. I was getting sick and was feeling pretty rough. I had my gall bladder removed after I had Seth (pregnancy related, after several severe attacks including one trip to A&E). I was due with my GP for my 36 week check anyway so I spoke with her and she thinks it was just bad gastritis – as I will always have that weakness now my gall bladder is gone. She gave me a prescription for renitidine to take if I need it. I have decided not to take it unless I have another attack. 

At the check up she checked on baby. She is still measuring a bit bigger but my GP is fab and has no issues with that. She always makes really positive comments like “she is a good strong baby, it’s wonderful to see.” Baby’s heartbeat was perfect and as always she was kicking and moving away so all was well. I was thrilled to hear this. Baby is still sitting in a posterior position but is well down at the pelvis now so hopefully with a bit of luck she will turn soon or in labour. Before I left I got a blood test, as my GP wanted to give me a full screening due to the pain I experienced. I felt much better after the appointment. 

 Jen, bump and Johanna King 

Jen, bump and Johanna King 

During the week my family had our photo shoot with Johanna King Photography. It was brilliant! She has a documentary style photography and captures moments and memories in our normal family life. We did some homework, made scones and played a board game. All things we do often. We dressed in our normal clothes and didn’t get “done up” like we would typically do for photos. Johanna had such a lovely way about her. She made everyone, including the kids so relaxed and we almost forgot she had a camera. We all just chatted away and she snapped at leisure (no extra lights or flash) It was so special to us, to have an opportunity to capture our lives as a family of four – in this transition phase. It has just been us and the boys for so long, it is wonderful to freeze that moment in time forever. We are so excited to see the finished product and can’t wait for her to come back and capture some precious moments when our little girl joins our family. If you are in any way on the fence about getting family/maternity/new baby photos done please do get in touch with Johanna! I guarantee you will not be disappointed – PLUS Johanna is offering a special discount to anyone who quotes DoulaCare Ireland when booking – so get in touch ;)

Later in the week we had my Nan and Pauls dad down for dinner. My Nan lives alone and Paul's Mam is still in Lanzarote so we had them both down to pass the evening. Paul did them a lovely roast beef and we did roast potatoes, yorkshires and veg. It was yummy (I am vegetarian so didn’t eat the beef but the rest was delicious).

After they left my friend Gwen and her husband Cian called over with “a few bits for the baby”. Well....as Cian arrived and kept going back to the car I was a little shocked but secretly thrilled. Gwen had sorted through her three girls baby clothes and brought about 8 bags worth over. All I could think was “Paul is going to go mad” as we have a fairly small house and there is stuff everywhere as it is! But actually he was pretty happy as h was worried our daughter would look like a boy in all the clothes I kept from Seth and Leon LOL. I will hopefully have time to go through the bags over the weekend and get any newborn items washed and ready. After a quick scan there seems to be everything from newborn to 2 years! Lots of lovely girly stuff too so baby will have a nice mix of clothes :) 

I’m edging my way to ‘term’ now (37-42 weeks) and I have to say I am so ready to meet my baby. With the boys I really wanted to stay pregnant as I loved it and I do feel I may have held onto them by not fully releasing my body to labour. I have really enjoyed feeling my little girl move and the special bond we share. There is something so magical about being so connected, with just us. I have, as you all know, struggled physically this pregnancy and I do feel happy now to meet my little girl. I have just got in some supplies to help prepare my body for labour.

Until next time...Jen x

 

Week 36: What is Happening To Your Baby

  • Your baby is the now the length of a romaine lettuce 
  • At the end of this week your baby will be considered full term. 
  • If your baby is still in the breech position you may be scheduled for an ECV this week (a procedure to manually turn the baby into the head down position). 
  • Their skull is still not fused together - to help you birth your baby into the world during labour. (This won't happen until after baby is born). 
  • Your baby's digestive system is still not fully formed - and actually it won't be until after baby is born. This is because as your baby has been using the umbilical cord for nutrition, their digestive system doesn't work inside the womb. It will take about a year or two after birth for it to be fully developed. 

 

Week 36: What is Happening To Your Body

  • You may find it easier to eat smaller meals more often as your baby is taking up so much space it can be hard to eat full sized portions. 
  • If your baby has dropped down into your pelvis - while this can free up your breathing it may make walking more of a challenge (and give you the feeling you are waddling!
  • Your lower back especially may be aching. It can be helpful to schedule some body work this week to help support you. 

Week 36: Pregnancy Tip 

How do you feel about dates? The fruit that is!!! Well now is the time to start developing a taste for them as studies have found that women who ate up to 6 dates a day for the four weeks leading up to their EDD were more likely to go into labour spontaneously.  Other findings included a shorter labour and more likely to avoid using Syntocin/Pitocin (a synthetic hormone used to induce or speed up labour). 

They are high in sugar - so would need to be avoided if you have Gestational Diabetes. It also can be tough to eat 6 dates a day, so we recommend making some energy bars. This recipe is very yummy!!! It's a firm favourite with the kids in my house (and they would be quite discerning in what they eat). (Mary). 

What Is A Birth Doula and Why Might You Want One?

What Is A Birth Doula and Why Might You Want One?

"It is absolutely worth hiring a doula. You get more than just someone supporting you and your partner at the birth. And you have a team behind you. Whilst it might seem like a luxury to get a doula, the service really makes a significantly positive contribution to both the mother's and partner's birthing experience. It's a decision that you won't regret, and having had a doula, it is hard to imagine not using the service again. It goes beyond just the birthing experience."

Read More

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 34

This weekend started off with a trip into town with the kids to see the Chinese new year celebrations. We went to where we thought it was, but the lady told me that is was on further down town. So we walked and walked but couldn’t find anything happening. I was in bits with my pelvic girdle pain and Leon's little legs were so sore. We sat down near the Liffy and had the sandwiches and crisps I had packed. We continued to walk but could not find anything. I started to ask people – eventually one person told us it was on next weekend (if you could have seen my face!) We had been in town about 3 hours at this point...aimlessly walking LOL I put on my Mary Poppins cheery voice - “That’s ok guys, sure we have had a great adventure and it was much better than sitting at home all day” They didn’t look too convinced. We went and had a hot chocolate and cake in a cafe. Then we pottered around some shops. We got a taxi back up toward the Ilac car park (where the car was) as I was fighting back tears with the pain, while trying to remain outwardly cheery. 

To say it was a disaster is an understatement, but I racked up almost 22,000 steps on my fitbit!

On Tuesday I went to my first physiotherapy appointment. I was actually surprised how bad I was when she started her assessment – trying to stand on one leg was near impossible without feeling like crumpling onto the floor. She told me my thighs and lower back muscles were overtight trying to compensate for the weakness in my pelvis. She worked on easing that tension (which was super painful, I was literally sweating) She then gave me exercises to strengthen my hips/pelvis. She also gave me a different belt for the symptios pubis. She had mentioned my pelvic floor was too tight, and that could have had an impact on my previous two births. I have always been very conscious of doing pelvic floor exercisers, as my grandmother has severe incontinence. Apparently I have been over doing it and a pelvic floor that is too tight can cause as much issues as a weak one. I had never heard this so I was grateful for the information. I felt better after the appointment, armed with some tips to help before birth.

 Mary doing a Google Hangouts session with myself and Paul on VBAC support and birth options. It was really helpful 

Mary doing a Google Hangouts session with myself and Paul on VBAC support and birth options. It was really helpful 

Wednesday evening brought another GoogleHangouts call with Mary. We chat weekly, keeping up the running of DoulaCare. This time there was a difference...it was to chat with myself and Paul about our labour and birth. Mary offered Paul some wonderful tips and explained hospital policy and so on. I was amazed at how little Paul had taken in from me (as we had covered it all before!) He seemed to get really engaged in the conversation when it was coming from our Doula and took away some great understanding of the difference in policy around a VBAC mum.  It was really nice for us both to chat with Mary too, as I spend so much time on the phone/laptop with her ;)

On Thursday I had my 34 week check up in the Rotunda. I was called by the doctor first (normally I see the midwife first) He was a lovely young reg who was open to listening to me. I had my birth preferences with me in the hope we could get them signed off but he told me I needed to speak with Claire Burke at my next visit as she was the consultant.  He measured my belly, which measured 36 weeks. So he did a quick scan, measured baby saying she was measuring a week ahead but I did have a lot of amniotic fluid which is making my bump bigger. He seemed happy enough. I felt things were going well and then, as often obstetricians do...he came out with his random gem... 

So apparently at my 38 week appointment they will check if my cervix is favourable, if it is they would schedule an ARM (breaking my waters to induce labour) I sat shocked for a nano scond. Then I asked why they would intend on doing this, as a VBAC mum ARM is the only induction method I could have so if contractions didn’t begin he would basically be signing me up for a caesarean birth. He was a bit taken back by my reply. He said everything would of course be a discussion with me at the time and it would ultimately be my decision but the reason he would suggest it would be to “avoid another big baby getting stuck” 

He was a lovely young doctor, who clearly wanted to respect my wishes but perhaps was so institutionalised he presumed by offering interventions he would be saving my preference for a vaginal birth. 

After the doctor I waited for another hour to see the midwife to get my blood pressure and urine tested. All was well. I met a gorgeous midwife Jeannine, who is such a warm and caring woman. She is an active advocate for women and midwives – trying to maintain surroundings to facilitate normal birth. We recognised each other from social media and attending workshops and seminars. She was so lovely and listened to me with such kindness, encouraging me to stay strong and voice my wishes for my birth experience. The Rotunda really have some amazing midwives in their semi private clinic and I would encourage everyone to speak with the midwives about any concerns if you feel your doctor had not heard you. 

On Friday myself and Paul had our second antenatal with Mim. It was great to get her feedback on the situation as I know I am too close to see clearly (and probably think rationally) We had a really good chat about Paul's role in the birth and he felt so much better afterwards. She spoke to him about his chat with Mary and helped him to get everything clear in his head. Again, Paul was so engaged with Mim and opened up so much about his feelings around the birth. I was thrilled to have our Doulas facilitate that and allow us to find a balance and to feel prepared. 

That night Paul said he wasn’t sure if he had been brainwashed with all our Doula speak, but he was feeling so much better about the birth and even feels excited now that he knows how to support me while still ensuring both baby and I are safe. It was so lovely to hear – that’s what Doula support offers!

I attended a meeting at the end of the week to plan for World Doula Week. One of our team Lorna has extensive marketing experience and we also met with one of DoulaCare Irelands past client's who is an expert in the field of PR and campaign strategies. It was an amazing morning. We really focused in on what we want to achieve and how to go about it. Mary and I are so grateful for all the support we have surrounding us, helping us to learn and grow. 

This week Mary was also invited onto Cork's 96FM Opinion Line as a Mum had contacted worried about her distance from the hospital and how she would manage in labour. Mary had a lovely chat with P.J who was very interested in the idea of a doula. You can listen back here to the interview: 

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Until next time...Jen x

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What Is Happening With Your Baby: 

 

  • Your baby is the size of a cantaloupe this week. 
  • Their brain is fully developed by this stage and if they need to be born baby's usually do really well (they may have to go to Special Care for a day or two but most have very few issues thankfully). 
  • They are becoming rounder as fat layers continue to develop. These will help your baby regulate their body temperature outside of the womb.
  • Your baby's lungs are still continuing to mature. 
  • Their fingernails are almost fully formed. 
  • If this is your first baby they may have 'engaged' which means they are head down and they are pressed deep into your pelvis ready for the birth. 

Week 34: What Might Be Happening To Your Body

  • Exhaustion has probably kicked in again by this week (if it hasn't already!). A combination of hormones, restless nights (with lots of disturbance as you try to get comfortable or breaks to go to the toilet frequently). Your body will want to slow down - do listen to it
  • You may have blurry vision. Or your eyes may be extra dry (due to a decrease in tear production). These changes are usually temporary though. Again this is all due to hormone changes which will readjust after baby arrives. Pop into your optician and get some eye drops and don't forget to let your HCP know if you have any issues with your vision so they can check it out. 
  • Your breasts may feel heavier. 
  • If your baby has engaged any breathlessness you may have been feeling will ease off and you will be able to breathe more freely. 

 

Week 34: Pregnancy Tip 

Perineal Massage

If you are a first time Mum there is some evidence that that Perineal Massage may help reduce your risk of tearing (have a read of this article for more information). If you are going to give it a try use a plant based oil (try to make sure it is unrefined. Mary our co- owner sells a perineal massage oil blend that you can find over on her website). 

This is a good step by step article on how to do Perineal Massage 

 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 33

This week was lovely. Myself and Paul had lots of time together. The kids are bouncing back from the flu and are back in school. Paul ended up on antibiotics for a bad chest infection so was off for his usual 4 day break and then a full week cert. He was very drained and not up to much but we had time together and enjoyed that. 

 Week 33 Bump - just about to go down for our lovely dinner 

Week 33 Bump - just about to go down for our lovely dinner 

Over the weekend we went on our babymoon. Paul was still not 100% so we took it really easy. I went for a lovely pregnancy massage while Paul relaxed in the room. Afterwards we went down for dinner and enjoyed chatting away undisturbed by children, house work or business. It was so lovely. We were back up to the room by 11pm, straight into PJ’s and watched a movie curled up in bed. It was bliss. The next morning we went down for breakfast and went back up to our room for a 40 minute nap before showering and checking out – the life of a rock star LOL!

When we returned home we got great cuddles from the kids and heard all about their fun sleepover with their Granny and Grandad. 

 

 Lovely morning hanging out with Kathy and baby Robyn from  Bump, Baby and Me  

Lovely morning hanging out with Kathy and baby Robyn from Bump, Baby and Me 

On Tuesday I met up with Kathy from Bump Baby and Me. We both trained as postpartum doulas together a few years ago and clicked right away. We could have chatted all day I think! I am so glad things are slowing down enough for me to catch up with friends again. Her baby Robyn is getting so big and the cuteness nearly made me melt into mush. 

Wednesday saw Valentines Day. I got gorgous home made cards from the kids (always my favourite part of the day!) and Paul and I exchanged cards too. After 13 years together it’s always nice to take the opportunity to share our love for each other, as we don’t always show it with the madness of daily life. We never do expensive gifts. Paul and the kids chose a nice bunch of flowers for me in Lidl which were perfect. Then as an added and very unexpected bonus we went out for an early bird dinner just the two of us. One of our favourite spots is Deep restaurant in Howth. It has lots of choice for me as a vegetarian and all their food is delicious. Paul loves the steak their and their fish and chips too ;)

Paul returned to work after his illness and we kicked back into normal routine. The kids began their mid term so we kept busy with trips out. We went to Fun Galaxy in Ashbourne (which has a play centre and a jump zone) which passed a few hours – I got to do some work on my laptop too so win win! Then the next day we went bowling and the kids also did Quasar in the Plex. 

Over the weekend we plan to go to the Chinese New Year festival in town, which sounds like great fun. Hopefully the kids will enjoy it! I also have my 34 week check up next week in the Rotunda and our second antenatal visit with our doula. I am also eagerly awaiting my first physiotherapy appointment on Tuesday! I will fill you all in then :)

Until next time....Jen xx

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Week 33: What Is Happening  To Your Baby

 

  • Your baby is roughly the size of a pineapple with week 
  • Baby is starting to be able to tell the difference between day and night now. With your expand belly the walls of your uterus are becoming thinner and this allows more light to get to baby. They do tend to sleep more during the day when you are active and wake up and become active at night - when you want to sleep! 
  • This week your baby has their own immune system - a very important step in their development 

 

 

 

 

Week 33: What Might Be Happening To your Body

  • You may find you have aches in your fingers, wrists and hands. This can be the result of the increase in fluid in your body which can increase pressure in the carpal tunnel and pinch nerves which can cause pain or sometimes numbness. If you work at a computer a lot remember to stretch your hands regularly. If the pain is really bad you can wear a splint which can help. 
  • You may have pregnancy insomnia as you try to get comfy in bed or get disturbed with frequent trips to the toilet. Once up and awake many Mums find it hard to get back to sleep. 
  • You may find you are extremely hot at the moment - and we don't mean sexy!!! We are talking about feeling overheated as your metabolic rate has increased. While this is great in the depths of winter, it can be tough in summer. Make sure to keep hydrated which can help. 
  • Your hormones are undergoing massive changes at the moment an this can cause headaches. Again water can help with this discomfort. 

 

 

Week 33: Pregnancy Tip 

It can be helpful to start getting organised for the arrival of baby this week. I know most women have their EDD in their head as the date they need to be ready by, but a normal healthy pregnancy can last anywhere between 37 - 42 weeks, so it could be only 4 weeks before baby makes their appearance. What does getting ready entail? Well first of all just to reassure you there is no need to panic. All a newborn baby really needs is you - while of course a nappy or two can be a help. We already spoke about where to source the baby equipment etc. If you are buying baby clothes and bedding new it's a good idea to wash them beforehand and this can all be done around now. You may need to buy bits and pieces for your hospital bag (and we have a very handy checklist on our website to help with this - you can download it here).  As you start to wind down over the next few weeks, starting to get organised can be actually exciting as baby coming seems more like a reality. Starting now means you won't be stressing out last minute and can gradually get organised and be ready for baby's arrival. 

 

 

 

 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 32

This week brought sickness to my house. Paul and the kids were all very sick with flu. Leon (our youngest) was so drained he couldn’t walk! We had to carry him to the toilet. This from a child you normally cannot keep still for 5 minutes was very worrying. They all lay around on the sofa or in their beds, watching movies and snoozing. I miraculously avoided it completely! I’m wondering if the flu vaccine protected me or if I was just lucky as I am taking lots of vitamins and supplements. 

I took the opportunity to start sorting out and washing baby clothes. I donated huge amounts to charity, but was delighted there were lots I could use from the boys. I did keep a mix of blues, yellows, greens etc in newborn sizes and there was a good bit of white too. It was so lovely to see all the little babygrows and vests drying around the house. I was very emotional remembering the boys in certain outfits and really began to get excited about this little girls arrival. The tiny socks and booties always get me right in the heart strings :) 

This week I met up with two past clients for breakfast. One was a mum of twins who I worked closely with throughout their pregnancy and for the first few months of their boys' lives. It was wonderful to catch up and see how well the boys were doing. I even got to cuddle them both and we held one sleeping baby each as we chatted and ate. It was great! When leaving my client gave me such a beautiful gift and the two of us fought back tears when saying goodbye. The bond we have is so lovely and I look forward to meeting up again soon. 

I also met another client and her husband later in the week who has a special place in my heart. I worked with them throughout pregnancy (they attended my Cuidiu antenatal course) and for the first few months of their daughter's life. Their baby was gravely ill when born and they had to travel to another country for specialist treatment. It was a rollercoaster of emotions for them and I walked that journey beside them, offering support every step of the way. When they returned I worked with them for a number of months, watching their beautiful daughter grow stronger and helping them both deal with the trauma they had lived. They are writing a blog to share their experience for World Doula Week so watch this space! 

 With DoulaCare Ireland Doula  Emer McGlade  and  Gail Tully  from Spinning Babies 

With DoulaCare Ireland Doula Emer McGlade and Gail Tully from Spinning Babies 

Over the weekend I attended the Spinning Babies Workshop, in the Glenroyal Hotel. It was full of like minded birth professionals (mostly midwives and Doulas, with one chiropractor) and lots of friends and familiar faces to catch up with.

It was a fantastic day and I gained lots of useful information from it. I was however extremely sore sitting for the day and so left early (as I had my friends 40th that evening to attend). I could barely drive the 35 minutes home and hobbled into the house. I lay down for a while and Paul ran me a bath to try to help the pain. I relaxed into the warm water and listening to my GentleBirth tracks. The pain wouldn’t let up so unfortunately I had to miss the night with my friends. I felt awful but there was no way I could make it. 

I had a GP check up and she said it sounds like a mix of round ligament pain and SPD (or pelvic gurdle pain) She recommended a physiotherapist in Sutton Cross that specilises in the area. I called and booked in. Looking forward to the support. I will let you know how that goes. In the meantime I ordered a pregnancy support band to take some of the pressure off my ligaments. It is giving me great relief and I am getting longer into the day before the pain makes me lie down. (photos/video from facebook) 

Next week myself and Paul have a night away planned for our babymoon! So I am very excited about that. 

Until next time....Jen x 

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Week 32: What Is Happening To Your Baby

  • Your baby is the size of a Papaya this week
  • Your baby will gain put to half of her birth week in these last few weeks 
  • There is much less room to move inside you anymore
  • Your baby now has fingernails, toenails and some will have hair on their head
  • Most of your baby's bones have now hardened. The exception to this is the skull which will have soft spots (fontanelles) to help make the birth of your baby that bit easier. The fontanelles make sure the baby's head can fit through the birth canal easier.
  • Your baby is doing lots of practise to prepare for life outside of you. They are kicking, sucking, swallowing and breathing trying to refine the skills they will be needing in a few weeks when they are born. 

 

Week 32: What Might Be Happening To your Body

  • Your blood volume has increased by up to 50 % since you got pregnant - this can mean a drop in Iron for some women and you may have to take Iron supplements if it drops too low. 
  • You may feel less co-ordinated as your growing uterus shifts your sense of gravity and can make you clumsy, change your posture and put strain on your lower back. 
  • Your nipples and areola might darken - why we are not fully sure. 
  • You may notice increased vaginal discharge. This serves the purpose of preventing infection 
  • If you have an 'innie' belly button, you may find it is now an 'outie' with the increased size of your belly. Don't worry - this will usually revert back to what is normal for you after the birth of the baby. 

Week 32: Pregnancy Tip 

If you have pets such as a dog or a cat , you need to begin preparing them for the arrival of your new baby. As they are probably used to being the centre of attention, it can be a huge stress for them when you bring home baby and have no time for them anymore. Pets like dogs or cats are already very connected to us and so they will have sensed that something is different. They do need to be prepared for the changes to come though and this is best done before baby arrives. We will have a blog post coming soon on this topic - so keep an eye on the blog. 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 31

So Friday morning started as usual with getting the kids up and ready for school. After a long day on Thursday I had terrible round ligament pain and could barely get them to school. I made it home and as then myself and Mary did a Google hangouts call. We spent over 3 hours putting a plan in place for the next 6 months of our business. We have monthly goals which we will reassess every month to make sure we are on track for 2018. It was wonderful to get plans in place as we have been so busy with day to day running of DoulaCare it is hard to schedule the time. 

After the call I quickly packed for our weekend training. I had no idea what i was going to wear so I basically threw in any of the tops or dresses that currently fit me (with my ever growing bump) and some black trousers and jeans. 

I had a lovely afternoon with Seth and Leon, chilling out at home. I then spent the evening printing out handouts and information for our CPD day and ensuring the car was packed with all our DoulaCare items. I was so sore still so Paul ran me a lovely bath and I relaxed before the busy weekend ahead. 

 Saturday night preparing for our first ever DoulaCare Ireland CPD Day in the Killeshin Hotel in Port Laois. 

Saturday night preparing for our first ever DoulaCare Ireland CPD Day in the Killeshin Hotel in Port Laois. 

On Saturday Paul was working so I dropped the boys off at my in laws and hit the road to Portlaoise. We had organised to have the day in The Killeshin Hotel in PortLaois as this was somewhat midway for all our doulas who were travelling from as far as Kerry. I met Mary and her Mam Theresa there (who had asked to come along for the trip). It was lovely to finally meet her. We all got stuck into work straight away, organising the information packs for our Doulas and checking over details with the hotel and photographer. We ended up on a two hour drive searching for extra polypockets which was hilarious! We enjoyed room service, worked late into the night and I crawled into bed at 1.30am sore but super excited. 

On Sunday my alarm went off at 6.30am. I met Mary at 7.30am for breakfast and then we headed straight down to the conference room to begin greeting our team. It was so amazing to have everyone together and while the day was super busy it flew by in a flash. Myself and Mary were on a high. We sat and had a bite to eat and decompress a little. It was a wonderful day for us all as a team to get to know each other better and grow our knowledge. You can read more about our January CPD day here (blog?)

 The DoulaCare Ireland team at the end of a busy but really exciting day 

The DoulaCare Ireland team at the end of a busy but really exciting day 

I arrived home exhausted at 10pm on Sunday night. Paul made me something to eat and after filling him in on the weekend, we headed off to bed. 

During the week I work my very last Postpartum shift with clients. It was very emotional. I absolutely love supporting families and every one of my clients are so special to me. I have, however, reached the point in my pregnancy where I just cannot offer clients the physical support they often require to ensure their needs are met. On top of this the long drives to and from shifts are too much for my body now. So after spending years speaking to my clients about self care and the importance of them minding themselves in the madness, it’s time for me to take my own advice. I can’t tell you how much I’ll miss it though (isn’t it so wonderful that I am going to miss my job so much? I am so lucky to be in a career that I love every second of.) 

To celebrate I bought myself a gorgous second hand nursing chair from Adverts. I’m thrilled with it and am already enjoying the benefits. It gives great back support and has a lovely stool to put my feet up. I use it to sit in when I am on my laptop working – and Seth and Leon love it too! 

Next week I have a few meet ups organised and I will be attending the spinning babies workshop! 

Until next time....Jen x

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Week 31: What Is Happening To Your Baby

  • Your baby is approximately the size of a large bunch of asparagus at this stage 
  • Your baby is just about to head into a growth spurt - they have put on a huge amount of weight over the last few weeks, but they still have a lot of growing to do. 
  • Your baby can now turn their head from side to side, and they are gaining more weight each week at this point.
  • All 5 of your baby's senses are now developed. Your baby can now taste flavours of the food you eat in your amniotic fluid.
  • Due to the increased size of baby they have a lot less space inside and so will usually be curled up into the classic fetal position at this point of your pregnancy (and will often adopt this position outside the womb for a few months as well - I loved seeing them curl up into this position as a small baby, so cute!). 

Week 31: What Might Be Happening To Your Body

  • You may be having to pee a LOT more these days! Your bladder has very little space and the pressure is making frequent urination part of your everyday life (and at night too!!!)
  • On top of having to pee more you can also be more prone to developing UTI's at this point
  • You may find you are breathless this week (due to baby pressing against your lungs). It's nothing to be worried about - usually changing positions will help alleviate it (however it it doesn't do get checked by your Health Care Provider). 
  • You may have trouble sleeping (check out our blog post from Week 20 for tips on helping with sleep). 

Week 31: Pregnancy Tip 

It can be really helpful to stock up on some meals for the freezer at this stage of pregnancy, before you get too tired to want to do extra cooking in the later weeks of pregnancy, and definitely before baby arrives. After baby arrives and you get home from hospital both yourself and your partner can be so consumed with being new parents that there is no time to cook. It's handy to have the numbers of some fast food outlets, but you probably don't want to spend every night eating this type of food - your wallet and your body will start to kick up at some point. Having some healthy, balanced meals prepared and in the freezer can help you stay well, eat well and give you time to focus on life with a new baby for the first few weeks. 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 30

So this has been another busy week – surprise surprise! 

On Sunday night I woke several times with terrible leg cramps in my right calf. I haven’t experienced them this pregnancy and they were the type that makes you leap up in the bed, rubbing furiously! I had a check up this week with my GP anyway so mentioned them (as it was like I pulled a muscle in my calf and have been limping) She just said it was normal and not to worry.

You should always mention leg cramps with your care provider, as for a small percentage of women there is a risk of developing a clot. This is especially important If they are persistent or if your legs are swollen or  tender in one spot

This week I finalised my birth preferences both for a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Caesarean) and one for a Gentle Caesarean Birth. Both Mim and Mary were so helpful with feedback to keep my language open, while still being firm with my wishes. I have supported so many families with creating their birth preferences but it can be difficult to do your own when the time comes, so feedback from my Doulas was much appreciated. We have written  a really helpful blog post, with tips to help you create yours:  “How to Create Birth Preferences.” 

This week, while writing my birth preferences I began to think about what I would like to do with my placenta. There are many options open to women:

  • Do nothing (the hospital will dispose of it)
  • Bring it home and plant it in the garden under a tree
  • Encapsulate it with a Placenta Encapsulator (preferably one who has been trained with IPEN or some similar self regulatory body which ensure those trained with them operate to certain standards). 
  • Eat it raw in a smoothie
  • Donate it to a search and rescue organisation 

I was debating planting an apple tree with it but thought I would love to do something worth while with it. To me the placenta is such an amazing organ, that was created to keep my baby nourished during pregnancy – so having it  discarded was not a nice thought. On my research I found out that search and rescue dogs need human tissue to be trained. I reached out over email to www.irishsearchdogs.com  and the lovely chairperson Glen got back to me to say they would be delighted to accept my placenta.

He explained that they only need a tiny amount to train each dog and they have found it to be very successful for both land and water. This would hopefully help so many families get comfort in finding their missing loved ones so they could be laid to rest. Thrilled with this prospect I have Paul all set to take it home after birth and freeze it until Glen and his team can come and collect it. I will write after baby is born to let you all know how that went!

 A lovely meal out in the Cedar Tree in Dublin 

A lovely meal out in the Cedar Tree in Dublin 

On Thursday Mary came up from Cork to join me at a business meeting for DoulaCare Ireland. It went really well and I am so proud of everything we have achieved so far. We work really well together and I feel our mix of skills and knowledge magnify our talent. After the meeting we had a gorgeous dinner at The Cedar Tree in town. The food was amazing and I would highly recommend it! I had home made lemonade which was delicious and we shared a vegetarian mezze platter of the most gorgeous Lebanese food. We were both starving and tucked in with gusto, the mix of flavours was unreal. Yummy!! We followed it with one of my favourite desserts Baklava. The time flew by and before we knew it we had spent 4 hours there! I dropped Mary back to her mothers (who lives in Dublin) and we made plans for the weekend. . . . . Our DoulaCare Ireland CPD day is finally here! 

I will fill you all in on the next blog.

Until next time....Jen x

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Week 30: What Is Happening  To Your Baby

  • Your baby is the size of a large head of cabbage this week 
  • Your baby's eyesight is still developing (it's still not great right now and won't be even after they are born - it will develop further outside the womb). 
  • The languno they have been covered in (the soft hair covering their body), is beginning to disappear as your baby's brain and fat cells are now capable of regulating their body temperature. 
  • The vernix (the white greasy substance that was covering your baby's skin) is also starting to disappear now. 
  • At 30 weeks your baby's bone marrow is now making their red blood cells. This is a very important step as it means your baby will be more able for life outside the womb when born.

 

Week 30: What Might Be Happening To your Body

  • Some women find they have very intense and strange dreams at this stage of their pregnancy. Perhaps it is a result of all the hormones in your body - we don't really know! 
  • Lots of pregnancy symptoms you thought had disaapreaded for good after you got through the first trimester reappear around this time (such as tiredness, tender breasts and the need to go to the toilet all the time). 
  • You may find you are suffering from shortness of breath as they lungs get squashed by your growing baby who is still high up around your rib cage this week. 
  • Notice your belly getting hard? You are having Warm Up Surges (or Braxton Hicks as they are more commonly known). They tend to happen more often after exercise or when you are tired/dehydrated so make sure to rest and drink water as often as possible. They will go away after rest (and if they don't do let your care provider know) 
  • Your feet may go up a size - this is due to your ligaments relaxing in preparation for pregnancy. You may need to invest in some new shoes as a result! 

Week 30: Pregnancy Tip

 During your pregnancy you will have 2 antenatal visits with your doula - who will help you draw up your birth preferences, show your partner comfort measures for your labour and listen to your hopes and fears for your upcoming birth    

During your pregnancy you will have 2 antenatal visits with your doula - who will help you draw up your birth preferences, show your partner comfort measures for your labour and listen to your hopes and fears for your upcoming birth 

 

Have you thought about who is going to support you during your labour? Have you considered hiring a doula for some extra support for you and for your birth partner? A doula is not there to replace your partner but to provide an extra pair of hands and an extra resource while you birth your baby. They can be hugely helpful throughout your pregnancy - someone you know who will be at the end of the phone or just an email away if you need them. Your doula is there to offer evidence based information and support. You will usually have 2 antenatal visits with your doula before baby arrives. These visits will each be approx 2 - 3 hours long and your doula will help you draw up your birth preferences, teasing out why you might want or not want a certain intervention (always once all is well with baby), talk about what you are hoping for in your labour, offer you information and support, show your partner some useful physical comfort measures and offer you reassurance and a listening ear. They can also show you how to use your birth ball, brainstorm about where to set up your early labour nesting room and help you pack your hospital bag (if you are going to have a hospital birth). If you are having a home birth they will often show you how to set up the birthing pool if you are using one. During labour they will be at the end of the phone supporting you and when you need them they will drive over to you or meet you both at the hospital. There they will be a reassuring presence - a familiar face in the busy hospital for you both. While you partner may be happy to be hands on, they may never have attended a birth before whereas your doula will be used to the hospital. Here at DoulaCare Ireland we have a team of doulas to support you and can take the stress out of looking for the perfect match - as we know our doulas intimately we can choose for you (so far we have never been wrong!). Pop us an email - info@doulacare.ie if you think you would like to find out more. Also check out our Instagram account. One of our current birth clients is sharing her story throughout her pregnancy on working with a birth doula and will be doing regular InstaStories which we will be keeping on our favourites for a while.

Top Tips on Writing Birth Preferences

Writing your birth preferences is important to do for a number of reasons:  
1. It gives you time and space to think about what you want for your birth
2. It opens communication between you and your birth support team
3. It helps you to familiarise yourself with hospital policies
4. You have time to compare policies with national guidelines, international guidelines and evidence based research.
5. It gives you a tool to remain in control and make informed decisions
 

Key points when writing your birth preferences

Woman taking notes.jpg

Keep your language open and positive. You have a chance to create the atmosphere you wish to birth in. Positivity is key and opens on a good relationship with your team.

Know your chosen hospitals policies. Each hospital has different policies around key factors in labour and birth. You are free to question these and even change hospital if you feel better suited to a different standard of care.

Know the HSE (national) and international guidelines / best practice / evidence. This is key. If you know what the evidence says then you can make an unbiased informed decision, rather than being swept along with a phrase such as “that’s the way we have always done it here”

Keep it to 10 points, or less. Anything more will negate the things that are important to you.

Don’t bother putting things in that are already policy in your chosen hospital (ie drinking water during labour) Again if you are familiar with your hospitals policies then you can avoid this.

Think about the atmosphere you want to birth in. Would you like the lights dimmed, music playing, limit the number of people in the room etc Or are you happy to have lights on, student midwives and doctors in the room etc?

Be firm on the points that are non negotiable for you once all is OK with baby (i.e. if you absolutely do not want an episotomy and would rather have a natural tear if it came to it). Some decisions need to be made in a split second and having discussions around the really important issues before hand are vital.

Create birth preferences for a Caesarean Birth preferences as well. This is a good idea for all the same reasons that are mentioned here. You can have the discussions, make informed decisions and then ‘park it’ to one side. You have your just in case covered, remaining in control. Then you can shift your focus back to the birth you visualise. It can be on the next page so your focus is not necessarily on this outcome if you are not planning to have an elective Caesarean, but it does mean that if things don't turn out as you had hoped you have something written up to help you create a dialogue with staff. 

Create your birth preferences with your birth partner. This is important as they will be your advocate for the day. Being aware of what you want and why will help them be a better advocate for you. 

Bring multiple copies so you have them for shift changes. Make sure your partner is aware they need to ask the team caring for you to read through them and discuss them with you both. 

Finally knowledge is power as they say - but trust in the process is also important. All the above are important and give you the knowledge to discover what you want for your birth. It gets the discussion out of the way before labour begins, as during labour it's important to park the conscious brain as much as you can. You body and your baby know what to do, they are an awesome team, made to work together. Let your advocate voice your preferences and allow yourself to go with your labour journey.

Here at Doulacare Ireland we will always helps our clients draw up their birth preferences after meeting with their birth doula for an antenatal visit. We listen to what is important for our clients and offer information on evidence based care that will enable them to be aware of what they might want to include in a birth preference sheet. We would always encourage clients to have some birth preferences to facilitate improved communication between clients and staff. 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 29

This week I had my first appointment in the Semi Private clinic. The midwife, Ann, was absolutely lovely. She saw I was a doula on my chart and was full of questions. She was so warm and showed genuine interest in my pregnancy. She mentioned there was protein in my urine but was not concerned as everything else was fine. She ran through my GTT and said I had absolutely no markers for gestational diabetes which was a relief. She did say my iron was a little low – but after 6 months of sickness I’m not too surprised. I said I would up my iron intake to build up stores. 

I met my doctor, Claire, who was a similar age to me I think. She was nice but very clinical. I mentioned all the Braxton Hicks (which had continued all through this week too – making me feel pretty drained). She popped me up on the bed and lo and behold baby has flipped again! She is now almost head down (slightly diagonal) in OP position (facing out). The doctor mentioned she would expect baby to be getting into position around now but they are not overly concerned until 34 weeks. 

While going through my chart she said my EDD was now 22nd of March and I nearly dropped off the chair. I said my date has been fip flopping from 30th, 31st march and 1st April but I have not heard 22nd march. She told me that at my 21 week scan the sonographer changed the date to match babies size. I had a long discussion with her about how my early scan is the most accurite. My babies size has nothing to do with how mature her lungs or brain function are. That her gestation is most important. I said from my first early scan and my dates my EDD should be 1st April. I told her both my boys went post dates (40+8 & 40+14) and I would really appreciate as much time as possible to avoid unnecessary intervention at the end of my pregnancy.  She was very helpful and went to speak to a senior consultant, who was happy to change me back to 1st of April. I was very relieved with this as it gives my body that bit more time at the end to go into labour undisturbed. 

Of course I was told all the usual hospital policies. It was mentioned that I would “not be allowed go past 41 weeks”, that I would be monitored very closely during labour and at the first sign of any issues I would be “straight to section”. I decided to just nod as I had one win for the day and didn’t particularly want to have written across my notes “this one is trouble”. So I left knowing I would need to have those conversations at a later date. 

 Certificate of Attendance for my Training Day with Cuidiu 

Certificate of Attendance for my Training Day with Cuidiu 

I attended a weekend of training for Cuidiu Antenatal Teachers course. I haven’t been at tutorials for over 6 months as I have been so sick but I have 2 to attend in order to qualify. On the Sunday there was a Study day on Loss, Grief and Disappointment. It was facilitated by the Rotunda Bereavement Midwife, Trish and a Cuidiu Tutor, Niamh. It was the second time I attended this day but I always think these kind of days are so valuable. It was a heavy day but I felt better knowing what is available to parents suffering deep loss such as the death of their baby either in pregnancy or soon after birth. I also appreciated touching base with my own emotions and reactions around the subject and having time to reflect on how to support families in this situation. In my role with Irish Premature Babies, I supported many families who lost their little babies and it is a privilege to be part of that journey with them. 

This week the tightening/Braxton Hicks are continuing so I am resting as much as I can, while still being a mum and running a business. Our cat Shadow is showing me so much love – like over the top. He just wants to be on me all the time, kissing my face and rubbing off me purring. I am thinking he can sense the Braxton Hicks perhaps? Any cat people out there have a similar experience?

My mother in law was admitted to hospital with a terrible gastric bug and is on a drip. I would normally be the first to run around and be by people's side but as they are unsure of the cause I need to avoid just in-case. Plus with all the Braxton Hicks I’m not sure I would be up to it. I do feel really wiped this week. Hopefully this will all pass soon! 

Next week Mary is coming up for an important meeting (for DoulaCare Ireland) We are so excited to spend some time together in person! Then we will have our Team CPD day in Portlaoise, which again I am so looking forward to.

Until next time....Jen x

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Week 29: What Is Happening  To Your Baby

  • Your baby is now approximately the size of a butternut squash and they are continuing to get plumber over the next few weeks as they lay down body fat. 
  • Their head is getting bigger to make room for their ever growing brain 
  • At this stage if baby were to be born early they would have a much better chance of survival (however, the closer to full term they can get the better for their mental and physical well being and development). 
  • There is such a huge increase in brain activity from this week on it is thought that your baby may be capable of dreaming now. 

 

 

 

 

Week 29: What Might Be Happening To your Body

  • If you have been suffering from heartburn or consitpation you may find it worsening now for the rest of your pregnancy until baby arrives 
  • Some women find they get headaches 
  • Your belly may be itchy as your skin here continues to stretch and expand. Drink lots of water and use a good moisturiser to support your skin. Do let your GP know if the itching is severe just in case it's a sign of something more serious
  • You may have pain in your back, legs and/or hips as your body manages the extra weight. As well as this your body is also producing the hormone Relaxin to help soften the ligaments and joints in preparation for your birth. Some women find they are in extreme pain with SPD and will need some extra help like a support belt, regular visits to a physio or maybe even crutches. Being in water can be a huge relief so regular visits to the pool might be on the cards to help. 
  • You may find you are leaking breastmilk as hormones in your body start to produce colostrum- so stock up on breast pads to help. Washable pads are much better for the environment and in the long term cheaper on your pocket. 
  • The hormone that is responsible for producing milk (prolactin) can also make you feel sleepy. So don't be surprised if you need to take naps again. 

Week 29: Pregnancy Tip

You should be looking into applying for your Maternity Benefit payment around now (or the equivalent payment for the country you are living in). Citizens Information is a very helpful place to read up on this payment. You can read if you are entitled to it and when you should apply (at least 6 weeks before you intend to take it). The form may take a bit of time to fill in so it's useful to get started around this point in your pregnancy. The Maternity Benefit Section of the Dept of Social Protection are usually very helpful if you are unsure of anything in particular.  Your local Citizen's Information Centre can also help you fill in the form if you need this support. Your partner can read up on Paternity Benefit on the Citizen's Information website so they are prepared and understand how to apply for their entitlements. 

 

 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 28

This week was very busy with lots of meetings, both with more potential agency clients and with other birth professionals - building relationships. I am such a people person and love to have these chats. I also had a few short shifts with some clients needing some extra support with breastfeeding. 

On Sunday we went to our local Panto “Beauty and the Beast”. We brought my Nan and she really enjoyed herself. It was fantastic. This is one of my favourite childhood films. Leon loved it, and got really into the spirit with the interactions. Seth is getting a little too old and too cool, so did not quite enjoy it as much (this may be the last year I’ll be able to convince him to go!) Afterwards we ordered a take away and chilled out together. 

I had terrible Braxton Hicks that night. To the point I started timing them. For 2 hours they came every 6-11 minutes and some were very uncomfortable. I got down on all fours and did some gentle stretches and some spinning babies excerises. Paul rubbed my back and got me a hot water bottle. I texted Mim and Mary to bounce ideas off them. After about 3 hours things settled down. As they were much more intense that anything I have experienced before.  

I called my GP the next day and went to her just to check all was ok. I told her baby had been tranverse (side lying position) during them and I felt she may now be OP (facing outwards instead of toward my back). My GP had a good feel and broke the news baba was not only facing out but she was also now Breech (or head up). She confirmed this with the doppler. I was a little gutted as none of my babies have been Breech at this point in my previous pregnancies, but I also know she still has lots of time to flip. GP thought perhaps it was the big movement that sent my body into spasm. She told me if I experienced them that intensely and regularly again to go into the Rotunda.

We ended the week with a wonderful 3d scan of our baby girl. I had a meeting with a client in the morning so I headed in ahead of Paul and the boys. We went to The Ultrasound Suite on Grafton Strret. It was a very professional set up and the sonographer was so warm and friendly. She did a full health check first, which was so reassuring. Baby is measuring a week more than dates but this is to be expected with my history of big babies. 

 Our little baby

Our little baby

She then started the scan in 3d. Baby was putting her arms up over her face and hiding. She also wouldn’t stay still and every time the sonographer tried to take a picture it was blurred as baby was moving so much. After a little while though we did get some lovely pictures. We watched our little girl play with her feet and hands, suck her thumb and move around. The boys loved seeing her as she looked like a ‘real baby’ rather than the normal scan photos. We confirmed baby is a little girl and skipped out on a high. 

After the scan we got a treat (Leon got ice cream, Seth a Waffle and myself and Paul a crepe) and pottered around the shops a little. It was such a lovely day. 

Next week I have an appointment in the Rotunda. It will be my first in the Semi Private clinic so I am eager to see their reaction to me wanting a VBAC, with a ‘big’ breech baby!

* * * * * * 

 

 

What is Happening To Your Baby This Week 

  • Your baby is the size of a aubergine this week 
  • Your baby is starting to develop more fat on their body 
  • They may be able to see light as their eyesight is developing.
  • This week your baby starts to settle down into the position they will be in when you are in labour with them (ideally this is with head facing downward,). 

 

 

 

 

Week 28: What Might Be Happening To your Body

  • Can you believe you are 6 months pregnant this week!
  • You are starting into the third trimester this week 
  • You may have aches and pains this week - stretching, swimming, yoga and walking can all help. If it is really bad you could try wear a maternity support belt. 
  • You may notice Braxton Hicks this week. While this is perfectly normal, if they get stronger and more regular make sure you let your GP know 
  • Your breasts may start to leak this week as your body is preparing your baby's first food (colostrum). 

Week 28: Pregnancy Tip 

It is usually recommended to start counting kicks from this week. This is a very helpful way to ensure all is well with your baby. This website has really useful and up to date information about how to do this as well as a really helpful video: 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 27

This week I am on call for a birth client. One of our doulas in our agency is sick at the moment and  so I have taken over until she feels better. That is the one of the many benefits of the agency model, as we ensure our doulas can take time off if needed and our clients always feel supported. 

 For New Year's Eve I watched Free Willy with Seth (and cried A LOT!!!) 

For New Year's Eve I watched Free Willy with Seth (and cried A LOT!!!) 

On Sunday it was New Years Eve. We normally all go to our neighbours for a party but this year we were all wrecked. I was feeling sore and Paul had a cold (plus he was due up at 6am for work!) So Leon and Paul went to bed together at 10pm. Seth wanted to stay up so I stayed up with him. We watched Fee Willy and I of course bawled my eyes out even though I have seen it a good few times.  Then we turned on the National Countdown. We listened to the music and watched the fireworks. The guys on the drums were epic (they played at our friends wedding last year and really got everyone going before the DJ started). Myself and Seth chatted about things we are looking forward to for the year ahead and had a cuddle. Then we both went to bed around 12.30am! Not exactly the rock and roll life but perfect for us this year just the same! 

We had our antenatal with one of my lovely doulas Mim this week. I love her so much and just feel so relaxed in her company. Mim was my mentor over the years and has taught me so much, in my role as a doula, antenatal teacher and breastfeeding counsellor. She is such a warm and calm person and one of the most experienced doulas in Ireland. Between her and Mary we will be well nurtured during our pregnancy, labour and birth! Their combined experience hits nearly 30 years!! We are so lucky to have these two wonderful ladies in our lives. 

The antenatal meeting was really fab as Paul has been a bit in denial about the birth. With both the boys things did not go as planned and both Paul and I carry a lot of trauma. Through all my courses, CPD and training days I am lucky to have worked through a lot of this trauma and have had space and time to debrief. Paul on the other hand has not. So Mim spent a good bit of time giving him room to talk and share his feelings. She pulled more out of him than I have ever managed, but in a very gentle and respectful way. Before this visit, Paul was unsure if he wanted to be at the birth this time, which I would have supported if he truly felt uncomfortable. Now he feels happy in the knowledge he will have either Mim or Mary there as a supporter. 

Mim brought her youngest daughter Juno over to play with Leon while we chatted. I do believe they might be soul mates! They are both cute as a button with innocent little faces, but absolute divils and mad hatters. They had great crack for the few hours and had to be dragged apart when Mim was leaving. 

I then logged on to do a Google Hangouts call with our DoulaCare Ireland doulas on supporting parents with premature babies, as we have a client with preterm twins starting this week. 

I have been getting lots of regular Braxton Hicks this week. Very tight tummy, a little uncomfortable but nothing concerning. I am wondering if my magnesium is low – as this can be a cause of more frequent BH. I also am making sure to drink plenty and rest when I can (again dehydration and doing too much can also be a reason for them as well). 

On Wednesday I had a few client interviews with potential birth and postpartum clients for the agency. I had a lovely evening with the boys and a relaxing shower. I was just about to head to bed and I got the call that our client was in labour. She was a second time mum and had been having surges on and off for days so I had a feeling she would experience a fast labour. Once I heard it was her husbands voice I knew it was time (as mum was unable to talk over the phone). With my bag ready, I made a sandwich for the car on the way, got dressed and headed out the door. It was a stormy night but I made good time. When I arrived 30 minutes later she was ready to go to the hospital. We were only there a few hours and baby was in arms after a beautiful, unmedicated, fiercely strong and positive VBAC. I stayed with them for the first breastfeed and to take some family photos etc. I got home around 6am and fell asleep on a high, feeling so privledged to be part of such a wonderful birth. 

Next week we have our 3d scan booked and are so excited to see babies face!

Until next time....Jen x

Week 27: What Is Happening to your Baby

  • This week your baby is the size of a head of cauliflower
  • If your baby were to be born now their lungs would be capable of functioning (though they would still not be fully mature). They are inhaling and exhaling amniotic fluid practising for life outside your body. 
  • Baby is also showing brain activity this week and will keep developing over the coming weeks becoming more and more complex as the weeks go on. 
  • Your baby's taste buds are very developed now 
  • If you feel light spasm like sensations in your body - this could be your baby hiccuping 

 

Week 27: What Might Be Happening to your Body

  • Many of the symptoms you have been experiencing will still be around (and stay until baby arrives!). Leg cramps, constipation, backache and haemorrhoids can all be experienced during pregnancy. There are things you can do to help (drinking water can be a huge help with leg cramps and constipation), so it's good to see what might bring you some relief and help make your pregnancy more enjoyable. Some women will sail through pregnancy with none of these issues - let's hope you are one of the lucky ones! 
  • If you have managed to escape leg cramps or backaches up to now they may start from this week on as your baby gets bigger and puts pressure on your back and legs. 
  • Tying your shoes and bending over is going to become more difficult as that bump expands

 

Week 27: Pregnancy Tip 

Think about buying a birth ball or exercise ball for yourself this week. They are great support for your pregnancy and during your labour. A birth ball is really just an exercise ball and can be bought in places like Argos, any sports shop and occasionally Lidl and Aldi stock them. During pregnancy they are great to sit on. You can't slouch on them so your posture is improved and they can help balance the ligaments, tendons and muscles in your pelvis. Doing this helps baby as it can give them more room in there and thus encourage them into an optimal position for birth. If you sit in work all day ask can you swap the chair for a birth ball instead. They can help relieve lower back pain

 This is a great position to be in on the birth ball both during pregnancy and in labour (some Mums like to have some more support so will add a few pillows for under their knees and on the ball). 

This is a great position to be in on the birth ball both during pregnancy and in labour (some Mums like to have some more support so will add a few pillows for under their knees and on the ball). 

During labour they are a fantastic tool for making you more comfortable. You can use them to sit on and do gentle hip circles or figures of 8 in early labour. They are also great for leaning over when the surges get more intense. This can help encourage baby into a more optimal position if they are posterior, but it also allows your partner access to your back - and so they can give comfort measures to help make your labour more manageable for you (they will learn these tools at a good birth preparation course like GentleBirth or Cuidiu). Having a birth ball with you also helps to keep you upright and off the bed (much better for labour). 

Do make sure you choose a ball that is anti burst (which would mean they deflate slowly if they burst) and you will also need one that suits your height. Your hips should always be higher than your knees when sitting on the ball. Recommendations are: 

Under 5ft 4 inches: 55cm ball

5ft 4 inches - 5ft 9 inches: 65cm ball

Over 5ft 9 inches: 75 cm ball 

Any questions about using a birth ball do let us know here at DoulaCare. Our email is: info@doulacare.ie 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 26

 Christmas morning excitement - Santa came!

Christmas morning excitement - Santa came!

Well this week was Christmas :) It was full of excitement and last minute wrapping. The boys were so excited and it’s just so lovely to share in their joy. Paul had this Christmas off so we really got time to relax and celebrate as a family. 

We host Christmas dinner in our house every year and both myself and Pauls family come down. Then we do it all over again on Stephen's Day to use up the left-over Turkey and Ham. The kids help to set and decorate the table and enjoy choosing a place for everyone to sit. I love being surrounded by family and spending that special time together. The boys are so special to everyone as they are the only grandchildren on both sides so they got lots of attention! Of course everyone is over the moon about their new granddaughter on the way and excitement is building!!

I always find the few days after Christmas to drag a little. The boys were on their best behaviour playing with their new toys so on the 27th I had a nice day of tidying up and resting. We went to see the new Star Wars movie, which was brilliant! The boys loved it, as did Paul and I. We all stuffed ourselves with popcorn and nachos and chilled then for the evening. 

 Paul and the kids at  Swords on Ice  

Paul and the kids at Swords on Ice 

Later in the week we went to Swords on Ice. I didn’t chance skating myself but loved watching the lads and Paul having fun. Leon flew around and was a natural! He is always so brave and just throws himself at a new experience. Seth was a little more wobbly and had a few falls but enjoyed himself all the same. Paul did very well, while holding the lads up in parts. He only had one fall which was very funny :) 

I have been so busy these last few weeks, it only dawned on me that I am in my last week of the second trimester! I am not ready for the third trimester to begin!! I feel I have not enjoyed this pregnancy as much as my previous pregnancies as with this one I have been so sick for so long and experienced lots of cramping etc. Also factoring in running a business, working with clients, finishing off my Antenatal Teacher course (after 3 years) and being a wife and a mam..... I just want to feel I enjoyed it. I feel so bad for this little baba as I loved every second with my first two pregnancies and savoured every moment. I feel like I’ve kind of ‘got through’ this one so far. It makes my heart hurt as I love this little baby so much already and smile every time I feel her move. 

As  a result I have decided I need to slow down a bit more. I need to take at least 10 minutes out each day to just be with my baby and feel my bump. I love my pregnant body. It’s strange to say but I always feel most comfortable with my body when I am pregnant. I love my bump and feel it’s my happy place ;) Hopefully things will slow down a little so I can enjoy the end of my pregnancy. It’s such a special time. 

Until next time.....Jen

Week 26: What Is Happening  To Your Baby

 Photo by  Jez Timms  on  Unsplash

Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

  • Your baby is the size of a courgette this week (both in length and weight). 
  • Your baby is soaking up your antibodies - and by doing so is preparing their own immune system 
  • Your baby's eyes are starting to open this week and they have eyelashes
  • If you are having a boy - his testicles will start to descend very shortly into his scrotum (and this will take a few months)
  • Your baby's lungs are developing 'surfactant' - this allows them to inflate and keeps the lung tissue from sticking together 
  • Your baby's hearing system is now complete and fully formed 

Week 26: What Might Be Happening To your Body

  • You are probably having some trouble sleeping (and we have some tips to help with that on this blog post)
  • You may be experiencing swelling and puffiness. While this can be normal, it is also something to keep an eye on in case it is a sign of something more serious. 
  • You may have headaches. While these can be due to changes in hormones it could be that you are dehydrated. So be aware and drink plenty of water throughout the day. 
  • Pregnancy brain - yes it is a thing! Mary was on Cork's 96 FM chatting about this recently. 

Week 26: Pregnancy Tip 

It's probably a good idea to start stocking up on baby items now. There is such a wealth of items to choose from and many Mums find they buy items that they don't really use. Ask other Mum's what their most important buys were and what they ended up passing on or taking up space. It's important of course to have a safe and secure car seat and this should be bought new. Lot's of other purchases however, can be sourced second hand. There are a number of fab baby market's around Ireland where you can pop along to and source items that have been pre-loved. Check out The Baby Market to see when the next one is in your area. If you prefer to buy new there are lots of lovely local Irish shops around. One of our favourites is Pip and Pumpkin. They have a physical shop in Mullingar but they will also have a website coming soon and you will be able to order online. They are extremely competitive (they do their best to price match) and shipping is only €5 for orders under €75 and anything over €75 is free. And you are supporting a local homegrown small Irish family run business. Elaine the owner is hugely helpful and will answer any questions you may have about products. I don't know about you but when I was a first time Mum I hadn't a clue what half the baby stuff was for, so it's always great to be able to chat to someone who can guide you through your purchases. You can connect in with them on their Facebook page at the moment (and keep an eye out for the website). They are also on Instagram 

 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 25

What a jam packed week this has been. On Saturday it was my good friend Michelles 40th birthday. We went out for a lovely meal in The Dog House, Howth. This is a really quirky little spot and it has a special place in my heart as myself and Paul had our wedding meal there ;)

Another of my friends, Aideen got engaged this week. Her partner Colin went all out and the proposal was the stuff out of a movie with candles and flowers everywhere. She shared a video on our group chat and we were all bawling! Truly delighted for them. Plus this means we now have two weddings to look forward to (as our friend Ruth and her partner Brian got engaged a few weeks ago!) 

My father-in-law got news that he needs more surgery and also that they would need to go deeper this time so he would need to stay in hospital. We were all shook by it but kept a brave face for him. I took time off from my postnatal doula work from Monday-Wednesday to bring Bren and Cindy (my parents-in-law) to the hospital. We went Monday for them to speak with his consultant and get a game plan. This resulted in us waiting around most of the day to see if they could admit him there and then. At 4pm we got the word he could go in fasting the next day for surgery and he would be in hospital for a few days. Bren was happy to get home and we were all tired by then. 

The following day he had his surgery, he was gone for 5 hours so myself and Cindy went to town to pass the time. We did a small bit of shopping and had lunch before returning to James’. Bren was out of surgery and doing much better than we thought he would. We stayed with him for the afternoon and after dropping my mother-in-law home, I crawled onto the sofa around 8pm and conked out! Paul woke me to go up to bed and I had a good sleep. 

After dropping the kids to school the next day I went back to James’, where we had the great news that Bren could go home. The team were delighted with his recovery. They are happy they got all the cancer this time, but he will be back in 3 weeks for more biopsy results just to be 100%. All in all it was fantastic news. Bren looked great, his colouring and everything was so much better. Perhaps it was the relief!

I had a nice afternoon with the kids, sorting out their bedrooms and listening to Christmas FM. The next morning was my GTT (glucose tolerance test). If you follow DoulaCare Ireland on social media you will have seen my posts keeping everyone updated. You can scroll back to 21st December to read them. Our blog on the GTT test is available here . 

After I left the hospital I went straight to my sons school to see his carol singing. It was really lovely and helped bring on the festive feeling. I even collected Leon early so he could come with me too. 

On Friday the boys went to collect holly with my mam and her partner, which they loved. They came back full of muck and fresh faced. It was great as I was due to work a night so I could grab some sleep! I did the night shift and in between caring for the twins and sorting the house, I enjoyed feeling my baby somersault around and kick. She really is a very active baby and I am loving feeling her move so much! Leon is interested watching her move, he thinks its cool seeing my belly. Leon is suggesting Anna as a baby name, Seth really likes Robyn. We still haven’t really felt that ‘wow’ moment yet with any girl names but sure we have loads of time! 

Next week is Christmas! I can’t wait to see the boys faces on Christmas morning. It just makes Christmas having kids :) 

Until next time....Jen x

Week 25: What Is Happening To Your Baby

 This week your baby is the size of the cauliflower

This week your baby is the size of the cauliflower

  • Your baby is the size of a cauliflower this week 
  • They are laying down more fat and hair this week 
  • As your baby gets more fat, the wrinkled skin gets smoother so they look more like a newborn baby. 
  • Your baby is now peeing frequently (and this passes into the amniotic fluid, so that most of the amniotic fluid is in fact sterile urine!)
    • Your baby's brain, lungs and digestive systems are now developed though they are not quite mature yet. 

Week 25: What Might Be Happening To Your Body

  • You may notice you are slightly unsteady as your bump grows, this can be due to changes in your centre of gravity. Pilates and Yoga which works on your posture can help give you good balance. 
  • Oh dear! Your OH may complain about the noise levels in the bedroom as your snoring gets louder! 
  • Frequent urination. As the baby is getting bigger, so is the pressure on your bladder 
  • Warm up surges: Also more commonly known as Braxton Hicks contractions. While they usually aren't noticeable until 28 weeks, some Mums will start to feel them from around this time period. They usually go after you change position (so if they don't give your GP a ring). 

Week 25: Pregnancy Tip

DCI Pregnant Couple .jpg

The tips this week are aimed at your partner - so they can help you and make your pregnancy a more comfortable one. So get them to read this bit!!! Partners can help out by doing more around the house, running a nice bath, offering to give you foot rubs, lower back rubs or a nice neck and shoulder massage (this will not only be useful for pregnancy but extremely useful during labour). They can also listen to you - this is such a huge time of change and while it may be exciting there can be lots of other emotions involved as well. Keeping up the romance is hugely important during your partner's pregnancy. Surprise her with a trip away or a nice dinner out, and make lots of nice memories together as a family of 2 (if it's your first), before baby arrives. 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 24

So this week I had a full week of postpartum clients and scheduled phone calls to follow up on. I love that I am feeling better in myself and can still be out supporting families. We have a great mix of clients at the moment (with different backgrounds, ages of children and personalities) So no two days are the same and I really enjoy chatting away with each client, catching up on their news and supporting them with the help they need to make life with a new baby that bit less stressful. 

 Picture of the Queue in the Rotunda that circulated on social media around the same week I attended

Picture of the Queue in the Rotunda that circulated on social media around the same week I attended

I had my 24 week check up in the Rotunda public clinic, where I was due to speak with their community midwife team to see if they will accept me. I arrived to an unbelievable queue. Not only was the waiting room to check in full but there was a queue of pregnant women standing all down the hall as far as the clinic waiting room. There was at least 40 women ahead of me.... just to check in!! I really was shocked as some of the women were heavily pregnant and struggling to stand in a stuffy corridor. (It was freezing outside so most of us were bundled up too which didn’t help ;) 

Eventually I made my way to the check-in desk and I was told to take a number and I would be called by consultant. I explained I was due to speak with the team and so she told me to find a midwife at the nurses station to chat to. I did find a midwife and I was told very bluntly that there was no appointment for me to plead my case as there was no point. As Leon was 4.53kg they would not accept me. I then asked about the NBAC clinic and I was told their cut off point was 4kg. I was so stunned by this attitude. I questioned why, in a healthy pregnancy I could not have antenatal care in the community, because one of my babies was over their criteria?? She simply said it was out of their scope of practice, which is absurd. All they do is check my pee, my blood pressure and measure my bump. Surely they could do that and if they were concerned about anything I would happily go to the hospital. There was no talking to them. I did ask why I had to wait until 24 weeks to find this out, as when I spoke with the community midwife team, when choosing which hospital to book, they didn’t seem to have a problem at all. Again very unhelpful, I received an 'it is what it is' type answer. 

I was bitterly disappointed. I wasn’t sure if I was going to cry or boil over with rage, not just for me but for all the other pregnant women using this hospital. Women do so much better with midwifery led care and it is such a shame that a previous “big baby” can put a woman who has a healthy baby and pregnancy in every way into high risk for her antenatal care. I sat another hour and a half waiting to be called, fuming over the system and how women are treated. 

When the consultant called me I went in, still bubbling under the surface. He seemed to think that because the baby is a girl she will be smaller and there is no way she will be 10lbs (surely this is not evidence based at all but interesting to hear a total conflict of their reasoning for not allowing me the care I requested) I spoke with him about my options and he did a similar thing explaining ‘hospital policy’ and so forth.  He did say I had a 90% chance of vaginal birth as I laboured well with both boys and reached the second stage with Leon before a caesarean was required. He reassured me that there would be no pressure on me for a caesarean birth and hopefully everything should go as planned. 

I felt a bit better about this at least, but as I have seen time and time again with doula clients – everything is grand until 38 weeks arrive and then the discussions begin about caesarean, risk with VBAC, big baby and so on. We will just have to wait and see what happens. He said he would like to see me again in 4 weeks so I queued again for 15 minutes and asked for an appointment. The lady was so unhelpful. I was asking about times that I could work childcare and she said I would just get the next available slot.

I decided there was no way on Earth I would do that queue every appointment, so I walked over to the semi-private clinic to see would they take me on. The receptionist there was so lovely. She couldn’t have been more accommodating. Booked me in for a date and time that suited me and cancelled my public appointments. She even moved my GTT to the semi private clinic so I could "relax there, as the rooms are much quieter" -  I wanted to hug her! 

So I left feeling deflated but glad to have the public system behind me. I will think about my options over Christmas. I may make a few phone calls to the Coombe and see what is available there. 

Santa Visit.jpg

After a crazy week it was wonderful to get out for the weekend. Paul and I took the kids to Causey Farm Santa Experience. It was really amazing, they made it such a special experience and the kids loved it.  We left feeling very festive and even got a take away as a treat on the way home. We all snuggled up after to watch a movie and I for one so needed this day to just switch off and remember what is important. 

The kids went to Butlers chocolate factory with my mam and her partner on Sunday, which they loved. They came home delighted with their chocolate santas. While they were at that I did a mad dash to Blanchardstown shopping centre to get some Christmas shopping done. My tummy has been a bit sick the last few days so I had to keep stopping for breaks but I got the bulk of it done. 

Baby is moving around lots and you can now see my tummy moving with her. Paul gets a little freaked out by this which I find hilarious - he thinks it’s like an alien LOL. He likes to know she’s moving and doing well but doesn’t want to see it!

Until next time... Jen x

 

Week 24: What Is Happening To Your Baby

 Your baby is the size of a cantaloupe melon this week 

Your baby is the size of a cantaloupe melon this week 

  • Your baby is really starting to put on weight and fill out this week and they are about the size of a cantaloupe now. 
  • Their lungs are developing branches in the respiratory tract as well as cells that produce surfactant, a substance that will help his air sacs inflate once they are born and start breathing in air. 
  • Your baby's skin is becoming much pinker and less see-through as they develop.
  • Your baby's brain is also growing rapidly now and will continue to develop at a enormous rate over the next few weeks

Week 24: What Might Be Happening To Your Body

  • If there are any concerns about Gestational Diabetes you will usually have your Glucost Tolerance Test around this week. You can read more about it in our blog post here
  • You may have lots of backache now as your muscles are having to work harder to carry the extra weight. You could try getting some body work done with a physio or osteo, or treat yourself to a nice massage (just make sure the therapist is trained in pregnancy massage and can accommodate you). 
  • Dry eyes can be a symptom some women suffer from in pregnancy. This can be accompanied by irritation and a feeling of grittiness. Talk to your optician about how you can make this less uncomfortable 
  • Some women will suffer from Piles/Haemhorrhoids during their pregnancy - they can be the result of becoming constipated and increasing the amount of fibre and fluids in your diet can help. It can also help to avoid sitting for long periods of time. Talk to your GP if they are severe as you may need some medication to help relieve the pain. 

Week 24: Pregnancy Tip

 There is a huge amount of breastfeeding support around Ireland - find out where you can access support before baby arrives 

There is a huge amount of breastfeeding support around Ireland - find out where you can access support before baby arrives 

Are you hoping to breastfeed? If yes start looking around for a good breastfeeding class you can attend. You may find your hospital run these but they can book up fast, and it's really helpful to take a class before baby arrives. It's also useful to find out where your supports are and get in touch with them beforehand as well - this way you will know who to contact if you should need some extra support after. Friends of Breastfeeding offer a Buddy system, whereby a trained Mum will come out and support you in the early days of breastfeeding. It's such a great idea and completely free - so definitely worth booking. Cuidiu have regular breastfeeding support groups around Ireland as well as trained breastfeeding counsellors who are available by phone to provide support and a listening ear. (Both Mary and Jen are Cuidiu Breastfeeding Counsellors). La Leche League also run support groups around Ireland have their Leaders are available to offer breastfeeding support as well. So do make contact and if you can at all once you are on maternity leave, pop into your local group and say hi. Pregnant women are always more than welcome along and it's nice to meet other Mums who are breastfeeding before your baby arrives. 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 23

This week was a good week. Bren (my father-in-law) is recovering well after his surgery. He is resting and just waiting to hear results. This week my belly has really ‘popped’ and I feel great having a propper bump. I am feeling much better in myself overall. I am much more tired with this pregnancy than with the boys but I am 10 years older than when I had Seth so of course that makes a huge difference to my body! I rarely get sick now and the nausea is mostly a thing of the past. I do feel sick when I am really tired and still have to be careful what I eat. I tried a cup of tea this week, hoping above hope I could manage it again as I really miss my cups of tea....but alas no. I managed 2 sips and felt sick so had to stop. It didn’t even taste nice! This is another new experience for me. With Leon I went off tea for the first trimester but as I entered the second I could enjoy it again. 

I started with another new DoulaCare Ireland client this week who has booked one of our 100 hour postpartum packages. It’s lovely to work with the really small newborns and helping to make that time really special for the family. I am part of a team of 3 doulas who will offer them the care, information and support to truly saviour this experience. 

 Getting organised for business meetings concerning DoulaCare Ireland 

Getting organised for business meetings concerning DoulaCare Ireland 

I also had an important meeting on Wednesday to grow the business end of DoulaCare Ireland. I am really enjoying the mix of work, putting on my business clothes and heels for meetings and yet still being able to offer hands on support to new families doing what I love. Myself and Mary are planning our CPD day for January too – which is really exciting! We will have a packed day chock full of information including skill sharing - with 12 doulas on our team we have an amazing group of women with a huge amount of knowledge and skills to share with all of us.  We also have a wonderful photographer - Brid O Donovan, coming to do professional shots of our team members. We will keep you all informed as plans expand. 

I did one night shift to help out one of our clients who was let down by a nanny agency. All our Postpartum Doulas were booked up so I stepped in to make sure our clients get the best of care at all times. I have to say I struggled to get through the night and it did knock me for a day or two after. I am glad I took the decision to stop nights a while ago and mind myself and baba more. 

Next week I have a check up to plead my case for community midwives or NBAC clinic! Hopefully it all goes well... wish me luck ;) 

I will fill you all in next week. Until next time....Jen x

Week 23: What Is Happening To Your Baby

 Your baby is the size of a Papaya this week 

Your baby is the size of a Papaya this week 

  • Your baby is the size of a Papaya this week 
  • Your baby will be gaining a huge amount of weight over the next few weeks (they will double their body weight over this time period). 
  • Your baby's bone marrow is making blood cells this week (up until now the liver and spleen were doing this). 
  • Your baby is becoming increasingly active now and loud noises may make them jump (not because of fear - it's more of a reflex right now). Their ears have developed so well they can now hear noises such as a dog barking or a loud car horn beeping.
  • Their improved hearing means they can also hear your voice really clearly, as well as your heartbeat. Don't forget to chat or sing to them and get them used to the sound of your voice. 

Week 23: What Might Be Happening To Your Body

  • You may find you have swollen or bleeding gums. Increased blood flow during pregnancy can make your gums more likely to swell or bleed. It's usually normal and nothing to worry about - but like always if you are concerned do check in with your dentist (and use a softer toothbrush). 
  • You may find your iron levels are low so you might have to try and get extra iron - either from increasing the iron in your diet, or from taking an iron supplement. This will stop you from getting anaemia (which happens when your body doesn't get enough of the iron it needs to produce your red blood cells, it can leave you weak, dizzy and short of breath - so if you do feel any of these symptoms contact your GP). 

Week 23: Pregnancy Tip

Are you reading any Pregnancy or Birth books. Our top recommendations are:

  The Irish Better Birth Book  - one of the few books that cover the practicalities of birth in Ireland 

The Irish Better Birth Book - one of the few books that cover the practicalities of birth in Ireland 

 

The Irish Better Birth Book by Midwife and GentleBirth founder Tracy Donegan. It's very easy to read and full of useful information about birth in Ireland. Most of the birth books we would recommend have a US or UK focus so it's great there is a book that focuses on the Irish system and the options women have in this country.  Highly recommended by us here in DoulaCare Ireland and we can guarantee you will  have lots to think about after reading it, and have a huge amount of information that will help you prepare for your birth in a positive way and make informed decisions regarding the care you choose. 

 

  

The Birth Partner by Penny Simkin is a great read for both you and whoever is going to be supporting you on the day of your birth. It is a fantastic resource. (It is actually the main textbook for the DONA doula training that Mary helps Tracy Donegan co- teach in Ireland every year.) There's useful tips about how to support you during each phase of your labour, and pictures of positions that you can take that can help with birth, as well as information about interventions that might be suggested and the pro's and con's of each of them. 

  The Birth Partner  - Penny Simkin  

The Birth Partner - Penny Simkin  

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding is THE book to read if you are hoping to breastfeed your baby. There is so much information in here - you really won't need to read another breastfeeding book. 

Ina May's Guide To Childbirth. This is such a lovely book. There is a wealth of birth stories at the start and one of the things I love about it is how varied they are. They are written by women who came to The Farm (the childbirth centre that Ina May established) to have their birth, and no two are the same. I think for any Mum having a baby they show how different birth can be for everyone. The book is also a childbirth education book and contains lots of useful information that you can use to help draw up your birth preferences when you are ready. 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 22

 Sending their letters to Santa

Sending their letters to Santa

This week was a very mixed week. We had our first week of feeling like it’s almost Christmas! We attended or community Christmas fair, where they had lots of stalls, carol singers and the annual tree lighting. We met some friends at it and the kids really enjoyed themselves. There was a lovely atmosphere around and a great sense of community. After the tree lighting we went up to Pauls parents for the kids to send their Santa letters (as a tradition we put the letters in the fire and the magic brings them to Santa – Paul always did this as a child so we have carried it on) The toy show was on Friday which is always a real mark of Christmas beginning for us. We had treats and hot chocolate and all snuggled up together on the sofa. 

Earlier in the week my father in law had surgery to remove the tumour on his voice box. I went and spent the day with my mother in law as they were both very nervous. It was a long day but Bren was allowed home that evening and we were all relieved to have it over. They took some biopsies and we will go to get the results in 3 weeks. It’s an awful wait but hopefully we can keep his spirits up and it will all be behind us by Christmas. 

Wednesday I was back to work doing what I love. Then Thursday was my mother in laws birthday. Myself and the kids always bake for family birthdays. Seth decided he wanted to make scones, which he did all by himself. I just helped with measuring and put them in the oven. Myself and Leon made a yummy chocolate cake. Once Paul was home from work we all went up and got an Italian take away and had cake. It was nice to mark the day and lift all our spirits. 

 Chatting to the newest group of doulas taking their DONA Postpartum Doula Training with the amazing Ann Grauer from  Nurturing Doula Dreams. 

Chatting to the newest group of doulas taking their DONA Postpartum Doula Training with the amazing Ann Grauer from Nurturing Doula Dreams. 

On Sunday I went in to speak with the newest group of DONA Postpartum Doulas training with the amazingly skilled Ann Grauer of Nurturing Doula Dreams. They were a wonderful bunch and I am excited for the parents of Ireland to have access to their support. Three of our birth doulas were there, expanding their knowledge and skills – which is fantastic as they can now offer Postpartum support too! As always it was great to catch up with Ann who was my trainer and has been my mentor ever since. She is such an inspiration. 

So over all it was a funny week. Some low moments but also lots of highs. I have been feeling very tired this week but that is probably all the emotion too. Baby has been kickng lots and lots and it is lovely to get that reminder that baba is there and doing so well. 

Until next time...Jen x

Week 22: What Is Happening To Your Baby

 Your baby is the size of a coconut this week 

Your baby is the size of a coconut this week 

  • Your Baby is the size of a Coconut this week 
  • By this week your baby is starting to resemble a very tiny newborn baby. 
  • Tooth buds are developing under their gums
  • Your baby's lips, ears, nose, eyelids and eyebrows are becoming more distinct and you can clearly distinguish them. 
  • Your baby's grip is becoming stronger and they may hold tight onto your umbilical cord (which is perfectly fine for them to do btw so no need to worry about that). 

Week 22: What Might Be Happening To Your Body

  • You may notice changes to your nipples and and the areola's around them. You may find them getting bigger and darker. 
  • You may find yourself going up a shoe size! Yes your feet can grow when you are pregnant by half a shoe size or more (I was a size 6-6 and a half before I got pregnant and I am now a size 7!!!). 
  • Your innie belly button may have now become an outtie (but don't worry it won't be permanent). 
  • Your hands and feet can start to swell this week - this can be due to an increase in the amount of fluids in your body. If it's minor it's usually normal but if it's severe and sudden you do need to mention it to your GP as it could be a sign of a serious complication of pregnancy: pre-eclampsia. 

Week 22: Pregnancy Tip

If you find your hands are swelling it's a good idea to take off your rings and keep them somewhere safe - just in case it gets too hard to get them off as the weeks progress. You don't want to have to cut them off you. Some women like to put them around their neck in a necklace to keep them safe and nearby. 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 21

I started this week off at my local Cuidiu Breastfeeding support morning. As one of the volunteer breastfeeding counsellors it was my turn on the rota to cover the group. There were lots of small babies there, some with a few issues, so thankfully one of the other BFC's - Orla -attended. Everyone left with their questions answered, a few cups of tea and some cake in their bellies so all around a good morning. I love giving back to our community in this way and hope that breastfeeding rates will grow with the support. 

Straight after the group it was off to a postpartum client on the South side. This client was a lovely new mum, a paediatric nurse herself – who just wanted a sounding board and some help with the big ‘firsts’ like bathing and cutting nails! It was a lovely shift. 

After my shift I drove to Drake Chiropractic Clinic in Sandyford, run by the very knowledgable Ros Drake. I had been meaning to try it out as Seth was OT and Leon was OP so I always wondered was there a reason within my pelvis for their positioning. While I laboured to 10cm and pushed, Leon was a caesarean birth in the end – so I imagined with all the pushing and pulling my body was probably in need of some realignment. I know Ros from attending conferences together and I was not disappointed with her care. She was professional and friendly and explained everything as she went. It was the strangest sensation as she readjusted different parts of my body. No pain but as I heard the cracks and my neck/back/hips etc moving that little bit further than feels comfortable part of me resisted. I did feel good after and was happy to hear that things were looking pretty good. On Tuesday I had Leon at the fracture clinic in Temple Street to review his broken toe. There was still a noticeable crack but they were happy with the healing process and said in 3 weeks time he should be 100% again. We don’t need to go back again unless we are concerned about anything (as Leon has been pretty much walking on it as normal since it happened I think we are good!) 

Then of course on Friday we had our anomaly scan! There was a good wait as the Rotunda are starting their online charts system (meaning patients no longer have their paper chart and every department logs into their system on a computer and writes notes there) I feel it’s a good thing as every department has access and there will be no missing charts. It does however mean that we can no longer snoop in our chart and see what they have written about us! I guess I will have to wait for after baba is born when I request a copy of my notes. At least with everything typed I will be able to decipher the doctors writting unlike Seth and Leons charts. 

You can request a copy of your hospital notes for you and your baby under the Freedom of Information Act 2014.

 Our little girl at 21 weeks 

Our little girl at 21 weeks 

At our scan we found out that our baby is doing perfect. Myself and Paul were both so relieved as I have been so sick I was worried baby would have been lacking in the correct nutrients. The sonographer said she hadn’t seen such an active baby in a good while and that baba wouldn’t stay still (sure I knew that with all the movement I have had recently) After watching the chambers of the heart pump the blood, and seeing all babas organs, checking measurements and so on, we found out that we are having a little GIRL!! I couldn’t believe it. I really thought we would have another boy. Paul was very quiet, so when we left I asked was he disappointed. He said of course not, but he was terrified. He said he doesn’t know what to do with a girl – he only knows how to parent boys. So after a good chat he has come around to the fact it is a new adventure and we will learn together. 

Seth was absolutely thrilled with the news as he had decided he wanted a sister. Leon was not so impressed – as he ‘doesn’t want girl stuff all over the house’ LOL! My mother and grandmother were thrilled and Pauls parents cried down the phone. Babies can bring so much joy to a family unit and I am so excited for next year! Now to start thinking of names... Any suggestions will be gratefully received. 

Until next time...Jen x

 

Week 21: What Is Happening To Your Baby

  • They are approx the length of a carrot this week
  • They are becoming extremely active inside with lots of kicks and nudges as they somersault around your womb. Baby has more control over their limbs so this movement will be more co-ordinated. 
  • Your baby now has very clearly formed eyebrows and lids. 
  • As their taste buds are now developed there's a good chance that whatever you eat this week - baby will taste it too! 

Week 21: What Might Be Happening To Your Body

  • Due to the increase in oil production in your body you may find yourself suffering from acne. Talk to your GP about what you can do. Most over the counter oral acne medications cannot be used during pregnancy. 
  • Your heartburn or indigestion may be getting worse
  • You might be able to feel warm up surges (or Braxton Hicks as they are often called). This is totally normal as long as the surges disappear when you switch position. If they don't give your GP or HCP a ring. 
  • Your skin can develop stretch marks. Despite what the cosmetic companies will promise there is no way to get rid of these if they develop. You can improve the condition of the skin by keeping it moisturised. Mary has a lovely Nourishing Bump Blend which feels and smells lovely on the skin and is completely natural and safe for you and baby. 

Week 21: Pregnancy Tip

Don't forget to leave some time to pamper yourself during your pregnancy. Especially if this is your first pregnancy. You will never have this time again or the luxury of having nobody else to worry about. So book yourself in for a lovely pregnancy massage, or a spa day, or get your nails done - what we find pampering is different for everyone, but whatever it is - make time for it now. Some Mums will enjoy going for regular reflexology or acupuncture - it can feel lovely and also help with the pregnancy aches and pains. Many Mums will attend Pregnancy Yoga classes and these can be a lovely way to meet new Mums, take some time for yourself and pamper yourself as usually with a class like this women say they feel amazing after it. Body work such as going to an osteo may not be pampering but it can be something that helps you to feel better in your body and can also be great for positioning of baby - so this can be helpful to try as well. What you choose of course has to be something that you enjoy, or feel good about going to and gives you a lift. Enjoy yourself whatever you choose.