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. 

 

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 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 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 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.