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 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. 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 18

Jen and Mary together in Cork - planning for 2018 with DoulaCare Ireland 

Jen and Mary together in Cork - planning for 2018 with DoulaCare Ireland 

This week was midterm. My boys were off school and we really enjoyed getting ready for Halloween. We carved pumpkins and spent ages choosing the right costumes. I was working over the weekend and on the bank holiday Monday but the rest of the week was off to spend time together. We also had a very special trip....We went to Cork to Mary (my business partner) and her family! Myself and Mary had lots of work to do and the kids had fun together while we brain stormed, caught up on paper work and planned for the future. 

While we were in Cork Mary took me to her Herbalist, Bridget Meagher. She thinks my progesterone is too high, which is causing my increased sickness. She asked if I had a threatened miscarriage or a period of time with cramping. I said I had a week with cramping on and off but no bleeding. Her theory is that my body upped my progesterone to hold onto the pregnancy and that is why my sickness has continued so long. It was a very interesting appointment. When I think back, I was coming through the sickness for a week or so – then had cramping – then it was back with a vengeance!  She has prescribed herbs for me but will encapsulate them as I most likely would not keep down a liquid that doesn’t smell or taste great ;) 

Mary also gave me a beautiful gift – one of her Essencia blends to help me sleep - the Sweet Dreams mix. I have to say I love it. The smell is not too strong but it has just helped me to relax while listening to my GentleBirth tracks at night and eventually drift off to sleep. 

Road tripping with two boys by myself may not have been the best idea. It was great to balance work with spending time with them, but the car journey was no joke. We downloaded movies onto the laptop from our Netflix account for them so they could watch that but we had a good few stops for toilet and just general peace keeping. (Too much time in a small space = fighting). I was exhausted after the trip. My hips and pelvis really hurt but it was so worth it. I am so excited about the future for DoulaCare and it was amazing to spend more time with Mary and her family. 

Baby is moving around a lot now, which is so lovely. It helps to remind me baba is there and to make sure I mind myself so baba can grow and be safe. 

Until next time xx

Week 18: What Is Happening With Your Baby

At Week 18 your baby is about the size of a Bell Pepper Photo by  Kai Pilger  on  Unsplash

At Week 18 your baby is about the size of a Bell Pepper Photo by Kai Pilger on Unsplash

  • If this is your first baby you may become aware of the first signs of movement this week - you may have been noticing movement before but found it hard to tell if it were baby fluttering or not. This week it could be much more obvious to you 
  • Your baby is now forming a protective cover of myelin around his/her nerves - enhancing the development of their nervous system 
  • Your baby is now starting to yawn (and hiccough!) 
  • Your baby's hearing is improving 

Week 18: What Might Be Happening With Your Body:

  • You may notice a fairly big increase in your appetite this week 
  • You may feel dizzy every now and again over the next few weeks. This is because  your cardio vascular system is undergoing major changes and sometimes women end up with lower blood pressure than they would normally have. When moving from lying to siting up or sitting up to standing take your time and avoid jumping up and you should manage to avoid most of the dizzy spells. 
  • Some women will find they have back aches now and leg cramping 
  • Sleep can become disturbed as you become more and more uncomfortable (TIP: Try the Sleep Sanctuary on the GentleBirth App and Mary's Sweet Dreams Essencia Blend to help you drift back to a peaceful slumber)
  • Increased pressure on the veins in your nose may make you prone to nosebleeds. 

Week 18: Pregnancy Tip

If you haven't already started making a list of your favourite baby names, there is no harm in starting now. It can take a while to come up with a name both yourself AND your partner agree on, and so giving yourself time to start thinking about it is helpful. Most couples start by drawing up a longest of names and over the next couple of months whittle this down to a couple of firm favourites. There's no need to worry though if you can't decide on a name before baby has arrived - sometimes you will have picked a name and then don't feel it suits baby. One client couldn't decide between 2 names so spent a few days after baby was born alternating between both until she got a feel for which one baby suited better! This link on the CSO website offers an insight into baby names in Ireland from 1964 - 2006, so you will get lots of ideas here (and see how trends have changed over the years). 

 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 16

This was another busy week juggling clients, family and agency work. On Saturday I attended the Irish Positive Birth Conference. It was jam packed with fantastic talks and full of friends and colleagues that I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with. DoulaCare Ireland had a stand and we enjoyed chatting with attendees and answering questions. As with all conferences it was a long day. I left my house at 7.30am and walked back in the door close to 8pm. Throughout the day I tried to snack on the protein balls I had packed and nibble some biscuits. I felt very nauseous all day. When I am tired I always tend to feel much worse with the nausea than when I get to take it a bit easier.

Myself and Mary were delighted to spend the day together, as she lives in Cork so we don’t get that much time in person. We were also thrilled to have many of our DoulaCare Doulas there to catch up and have some team bonding!

L- R: Jacquie, Gillian, Jen, Mary, Emer & Clare - some of the DoulaCare Ireland team at the Irish Positive Birth Conference. October 2017

L- R: Jacquie, Gillian, Jen, Mary, Emer & Clare - some of the DoulaCare Ireland team at the Irish Positive Birth Conference. October 2017

When a doula joins DoulaCare they are required to attend a minimum of 3 CPD (Continuing Professional Development) days a year, to expand their knowledge and skills but also to keep up to date with evidence based research. This ensures the highest standard of care for our clients. So it was great to see so many of our doulas at the Conference (which is counted as one of their CDP days). 

 

 

 

 

Mary and I also were interviewed and you can watch our short clip below:

When I came home from the conference my feet and ankles were swollen and I was pretty tired. Paul made me something to eat and I rested up for the night. I feel this pregnancy is harder on my body than my last two. This is probably a combination of age (10 year gap from first to this) and my busy lifestyle. 

I received a letter from the Rotunda to say my blood test showed I do not have immunity to rubella. I was a little shocked as I had immunity during my first two pregnancies. After speaking with a friend who is a nurse I discovered this immunity can wear off over time. I will need to be careful during my pregnancy as it is not safe to get the vaccine again until baby is born. Apparently I will be offered the vaccine before I am discharged after birth. 

To finish the week off myself and Paul went out for a lovely meal. I managed to eat much more than I have been. Paul was thrilled saying he hasn’t seen me eat that much in months. However when the poor waitress came to collect our plates she was concerned. She asked if I did not like the food or if something was wrong. We assured her it was simply my pregnancy but it was delicious. I guess there was still maybe half the curry left, but to me it was a good solid meal and I was thrilled LOL! Baby kicked and did somersaults  all evening after dinner and clearly enjoyed the energy boost. When we came home Seth and Leon were still awake, my mam had read Leon his story and given him a cuddle but he was waiting for us to return. Paul tried to settle him for a bit but he wasn't settling.  I went up to give him a cuddle to help him get to sleep and ended up falling sound asleep in his bed. Paul woke me to go to bed at around 11pm and I ended up having a great sleep. It was lovely!

Storm Ophelia is due to hit tomorrow, so hopefully everyone will be safe and any women in labour can make it to their care giver (or their care giver to them). All our doulas will be checking in with our clients to ensure they are safe and offer reassurance. 

Well....Until next time......Jen x

 

Week 16: What Is Happening To Your Baby:

Avocado.jpg
  • Your baby is about the size of an avocado this week 
  • You could find out the gender of your baby this week if you have an ultrasound (and baby is in the right position), as their genitals are now visible.
  • They are just about to start a massive growth spurt - over the next few weeks they will double their body weight and also extend lengthwise as well
  • Your baby has all their fingernails and toenails this week and they continue to grow while in your womb.

Week 16: What Might Be Happening To Your Body:

  • There is a chance you might feel your baby kick this week - some women will feel movements this early (though it is more likely to happen around the 20 week mark, especially if it's your first). It may feel like gas at this early stage. Again if it's your first it can be very hard to tell the difference. 
  • Larger breasts: your breasts have probably grown by a cup size or two by this stage - getting you ready to breastfeed your baby
  • Pregnancy Brain: Yep it's a thing! No one knows why you find yourself more forgetful. Is it to do with hormonal changes? Or because you have so much going on? Whatever the reason, it does exist 
  • Glowing skin: Yes there is something good! Your skin will never be better as when you are pregnant - thank those pregnancy hormones for once! 

Week 16: Pregnancy Tip

It's a good idea to start thinking about childbirth education and start looking into booking in for an independent childbirth class around this time. Most women will want to come along to a class anywhere between 22 - 32 weeks, so now is the time to do your research and book your place as some classes fill up fast. We would recommend either taking a GentleBirth weekend workshop (and many of our doulas in DoulaCare Ireland are also GentleBirth Instructors - including co-owner Mary in Cork), or a Cuidiu Antenatal Class (Jen is a Cuidiu trained antenatal teacher). While your local hospital may also provide their own classes, it's often recommended to do an independent one as well. This can help you become aware of the differences between what is hospital policy and what is evidence based care (unfortunately not alway the same). This way yourself and your partner can ask questions and navigate the system when you are in labour, stacking the odds in your favour that you and your baby have the most positive birth experience possible. You will also get information on how your partner can best support you during your labour. 

 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 15

Awww - myself and Paul at my Debs - 12 years ago! 

Awww - myself and Paul at my Debs - 12 years ago! 

This was a bit of a hard week. My father in law has been diagnosed with cancer of the throat. It hit us pretty hard as Bren is almost like my Dad (I have been with Paul since I was 18 and growing up I never really had a Dad). He covers most of our childcare when myself and Paul are both working and the boys absolutely adore him. He will need more tests, and he has to see specilists so I will need to rally round and help out (Paul's mum doesn’t drive and neither does his brother so it’s up to myself and Paul to bring him to all his hospital appointments. Of course we are happy to do it,  it will just mean lots of reshuffling schedules for a while). 

Adding to the week, my good friend lost her Dad after a long illness so we had the wake and funeral to attend. My heart broke for her but she has wonderful family support and I know they will all pull together over the coming weeks. I haven’t told any of my friends or family about Bren yet as he is not ready for everyone to know (by the time this blog is posted he will be). So I have had to hold a lot of my emotions in this week in order to support everyone, during a very overly emotional time (with added pregnancy hormones). 

It has been difficult but we are lucky to have so many people to love in our lives. Our little baby is also fluttering away a lot, which puts a huge smile on my face and is great reassurance. The boys are excited to be able to feel baby soon and Leon keeps putting his hand on my belly in the hope he might feel something.

I am again grateful to have Mary as not only my business partner but now a really good friend. I have confided in her with so much, and as a doula she is wonderful at listening and being a sounding board. I am excited for her to be my birth doula, sharing the duties with my mentor Mim. Mim has been a constant source of encouragement to me over the years and was my tutor during my antenatal teacher course. She attended my wedding with Paul too!

With two of the most skilled and experienced birth doulas in the country by my side throughout this journey, I know myself and Paul will feel confident and in control. 

I am also trying to use my GentleBirth App more this week, as I know I have been stressed out and I want my baby to feel calm. I am so lucky to have Tracy Donnegan as friend, so she has recommended some tracks to concentrate on. I still find it strange listening to her voice on the tracks but they are wonderful and I do find I am drifting off to sleep much easier at night. 

I am having a much better week with the sickness. I seem to only get sick in the morning these days, which means I am eating almost like a normal person now!! I am thrilled and hope to be able to enjoy a full meal soon.  Simple food it still working best and I cannot stomach chocolate or tea at all yet (for anyone who knows me...chocolate and cups of tea were a staple to my diet so this is crazy!). 

Hopefully things will continue to get better with the pregnancy and Bren will recover quickly with the right care and TLC. 

Until next time......Jen x

 

Week 15: What Is Happening To Your Baby:

Photo by Michał Grosicki on Unsplash

Photo by Michał Grosicki on Unsplash

  • Your baby is the size of an apple this week
  • He or she can move all of their joints and limbs
  • Their eyelids are still sealed shut - but they can sense light (if you shine a light on your bump, they may move away, for example)
  • Your baby is now practising how to breathe. While their lungs are still not fully developed the muscles that manage breathing are; and these are being used to breathe in small amounts of amniotic fluid and breathe it out again
  •  

Week 15: What Might Be Happening To Your Body:

  • Varicose veins may start to appear as the extra amount of blood volume in your body puts pressure on your veins (they usually go away after the birth). 
  • Increased energy
  • Increased libido
  • You may get nosebleeds (blame that on the increase in blood volume again, as well as your nasal passages being extra sensitive).
  • You may have swollen, sore, or bleeding gums. Pregnancy can make your gums more sensitive. Be gentle but brush and floss them regularly and get some dental check ups to keep them well. 

Week 15: Pregnancy Tip

You may find your libido has increased due to the pregnancy hormones in your body and your energy levels coming back. As long as your HCP has not given you any indication that you need to refrain from sex, it is perfectly safe for you and baby.  Sometimes Mum and partner will worry that baby will be harmed, but they are safely ensconced in the uterus with a thick mucus plug sealing the cervix and the amniotic sac surrounding them Some Mums will be concerned that sex might get labour started. While for some women an orgasm might result in very mild surges occurring (contractions), these are usually temporary and harmless and not the surges that will get labour started. If there is any cause for concern run it by your HCP first. 

 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 10

This week was full of excitement. We told Seth and Leon they were going to have a new baby brother or sister. They were both very shocked but happy. We chatted over dinner and they had lots of questions. Leon didn’t believe I had a baby in my belly because I don’t have a big pregnant belly. We showed him a picture of what the baby would look like and that it is still tiny. It was a great conversation over dinner. Seth wants a little brother and Leon doesn’t really mind. 

We told our families this week about our pregnancy - it was very exciting.

We told our families this week about our pregnancy - it was very exciting.

The next day we held a family party in our home for Bren my father in law. We exchanged presents and just before we sat down to eat we handed him a birthday card and told him there was a special surprise inside. Seth took a little video of the moment he found out he had another grandchild on the way! I found myself crying. It was a lovely moment :)

I have still been very nauseous and getting sick daily. I am excited to tell people and for the kids to know. Even though I am really tired at night I am finding myself unable to sleep. I have also started having crazy pregnant dreams.

I am starting to be uncomfortable in anything other than leggings. I did some online shopping and will need to get the hubby up into the attic to retrieve my bag of maternity clothes! There are some really lovely options out there now. I also just heard that Pennys now stock maternity wear so I will have to check that out soon! 

Until next time...Jen x

 

Week 10: What is Happening With Your Baby

  • Your baby is the size of a strawberry 
  • They are becoming really active in your womb - kicking, tumbling and stretching. You won't feel this yet as their limbs are still so tiny. 
  • Your baby's heart is now fully developed and beating at approx 180 beats per minute. 
  • Your baby is starting to look more like a human this week, though as their is brain is developing their forehead will temporarily bulge at this point
  • Your baby can now lift their chin up from their chest - so their head is more upright. 

Week 10: What Might Be Happening With Your Body 

  • Your blood volume is increasing significantly this week. By the time baby is ready to be born it will be almost double the amount it would have been before you were pregnant. 
  • You may be feeling dizzy at times as the pregnancy hormone progesterone relaxes the walls of your blood vessels. 
  • You may find you are suffering from constipation as the muscles of the bowel relax
  • Your waist continues to expand and may be disappearing at this stage. 

 

Pregnancy Tip 

It's a good time to start thinking of how to break the news to your friends/family/work? Some people like to do a pregnancy announcement on social media and there are some great examples here and here on how people announced their pregnancy. Do let us know how you told everyone - we would love to hear from you: info@doulacare.ie or message us on Facebook  

 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 7

So I have hit week 7 (I think) I have had to ditch my underwire bras completely as the pain was too much. My boobs have gone up 2 cup sizes already so who knows where they will stop! I am now in the only 34e non-underwire bra I could find in Dunnes during a quick dash between postpartum clients. It’s not pretty but it is way more comfortable. 

The tiredness has hit me too. I literally feel like I could put my head down on a table and be gone in 1.3 seconds. I sometimes wonder if I could sleep standing up. I have had to pull back on work a little and I am so lucky to have an amazing team of doulas who can step in to cover. In DoulaCare we all work together and there is constant back-up for our clients. I always tell doulas (and the clients we work with) that self-care is so vital. It is so important for a doula to must look after themselves before caring for others. So it is definitely time I actually take my own advice. For now, I am limiting myself to 2 night-shifts a week and ensuring I have at least one full day off to be with my family.

I have decided to go for an early scan so I am attending the Merrion Fetal Health Clinic on Wednesday and I will have a better idea of dates then. Right now I think our baby is due around the 30th March. For my body that means closer to mid-April as I carried both my previous babies ‘over’. Seth was 40+8 after a painful sweep. Leon was 40+14 after an induction of ARM. Who knows how long they would have stayed in there if left to their own devices LOL!

Pic: CCO Creative Commons

Pic: CCO Creative Commons

There are studies out there that suggest too many ultrasounds are bad for a developing baby, but considering most women only have 2 or 3 scans during pregnancy I have decided to go ahead for my own peace of mind. It is something to consider if you decide to look into early scans. My friend Helen has joked about me having triplets for the past year, and I do feel the universe may feel I could cope as I specialise in supporting families of multiples and premature babies. I, however, am not so sure so I am going in the hope of giving myself peace of mind that there is one little peanut in there! 

I am excited to let you know how the scan goes. Hopefully, there is a strong little heartbeat and a happy baby in there. Paul is coming with me, which is lovely as I think seeing the baby makes it more real for partners. 

Until next time...Jen x

Week 7: What is happening with your Baby

On Week 7 your baby is the size of a blueberry!

On Week 7 your baby is the size of a blueberry!

  • Your baby is still an embryo and is about the size of a blueberry this week.

  • The limb buds are developing and look like tiny arms and legs

  • Webbed hands and feet are emerging from these limb buds

  • Your baby has a small tail (an extension of their tailbone) which will disappear in a few weeks.

  • Your baby may be already sucking their thumb.

 

Week 7: What might be happening to your body

  • You may be experiencing morning sickness (see my post from last week for some tips on how to manage if you are very nauseous)

  • You may have food cravings and/or aversions

  • You may need to pee a lot more even though baby is still tiny - your kidneys are working a lot harder due to increased blood volume in your body.

  • Breakouts of acne

  • Cramping and/or bleeding - it is fairly common for women to feel cramping, and some women will also get some spotting (especially after sex). Do always check in with your GP or midwife if you have any worries about this (always better to be safe than sorry), but it can also be good to know it can be normal.

  • Your breasts may have grown in size (up to a cup size bigger).

  • You may have no symptoms at all at this stage of pregnancy.

Pregnancy Tip

  • It can help to start your research to choose your care provider at this stage of your pregnancy. Don't just rely on the recommendations of friends and family as their needs could be hugely different from yours. Figure out what you your hopes and expectations are for your birth and talk to a number of different people before deciding on the best path for you.

 

 

 

 

Big News - Jen has an announcement!

I’m Jen :) Mam to two fun loving boys (Seth is 10 and Leon is 6) Wife to my hubby Paul, living in North Dublin. I am a Birth & Postpartum Doula, amongst other things, and I am co-owner of a national Doula agency DoulaCare Ireland www.doulacare.ie Follow my story as I learn what it’s like to be pregnant again! Juggling a crazy work life around my family.

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Jen is expecting. Baby No 3 is on the way

Jen is expecting. Baby No 3 is on the way

So here I am, pregnant after 6 years and learning it all again! I am a doula, and so through my work I am surrounded by pregnant women constantly. I answer their questions and we have discussions around many topics. But now that I too am pregnant it all changes. I am no longer the professional, I am simply a mother scrambling to do best for her growing baby. 

It’s crazy really. I’ve done this twice before. It is truly amazing how much you forget and how ‘baby brain’ takes over. I am finding myself googling things like “is it safe to eat honey while pregnant?” 

Yes, I actually had to check that as I remembered my babies couldn’t have honey until 12 months. I was almost sure honey was ok in pregnancy.....but the seed of doubt was there and sure it only takes a few seconds to check and have peace of mind. Where would we be without the internet?

...now that I too am pregnant it all changes. I am no longer the professional, I am simply a mother scrambling to do best for her growing baby. 

Things have changed a lot since my first was born (he will be 11 when this baby makes an appearance). I remember sitting up on the PC searching for information. Yes the PC, no laptops or smart phones back then! Oh no ;) I found a chat room called Rollercoaster and without even knowing it, I found my tribe. I could speak to other women about my pregnancy and we could offer peer support. It was wonderful and refreshing. As I was only 19, I found everywhere in the ‘real world’ people gave me the sort of “ah bless her she hasn’t a clue” look whenever I would ask about breastfeeding or co-sleeping. I found my instincts toward these strong, even though I knew nobody who did either. 

Pregnancy Test.jpg

Through parenting trial and error with my first two, I realised that for me personally breastfeeding, cosleeping (in a safe way) and responding to my baby's needs was the type of parent I wanted to be. My first son got a little of everything, pressure from around me to “put him down, not hold him all the time”, “get him out of the bed” or “give him a bottle he is starving” meant I doubted my instincts and had some rough times attempting “pick up, put down” methods and topping up with bottles. We found our rhythm eventually (and hopefully I haven’t scarred him for life!). 

By the time my second guy had come along, I had much more confidence and so he was exclusively breastfed.  We did erect the cot, but it remained an ornament to drape dirty clothes over. My husband was pretty supportive in everything I chose and really was happiest with whatever option gave him the most sleep. 

Now that you have some background on me you can follow my weekly updates. Ask questions and share your own stories and please do feel free to share with friends. 

Jen x