Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 36

Celebrating Seth's birthday

Celebrating Seth's birthday

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

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

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

Jen, bump and Johanna King 

Jen, bump and Johanna King 

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

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

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

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

Until next time...Jen x

 

Week 36: What is Happening To Your Baby

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

 

Week 36: What is Happening To Your Body

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

Week 36: Pregnancy Tip 

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

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

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

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

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

Read More

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 34

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Until next time...Jen x

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What Is Happening With Your Baby: 

 

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

Week 34: What Might Be Happening To Your Body

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

 

Week 34: Pregnancy Tip 

Perineal Massage

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

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

 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 31

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time....Jen x

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Week 31: What Is Happening To Your Baby

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

Week 31: What Might Be Happening To Your Body

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

Week 31: Pregnancy Tip 

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

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 30

So this has been another busy week – surprise surprise! 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A lovely meal out in the Cedar Tree in Dublin 

A lovely meal out in the Cedar Tree in Dublin 

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

I will fill you all in on the next blog.

Until next time....Jen x

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Week 30: What Is Happening  To Your Baby

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

 

Week 30: What Might Be Happening To your Body

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

Week 30: Pregnancy Tip

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

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

 

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

Top Tips on Writing Birth Preferences

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

Key points when writing your birth preferences

Woman taking notes.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 29

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

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

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

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

Certificate of Attendance for my Training Day with Cuidiu 

Certificate of Attendance for my Training Day with Cuidiu 

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

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

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

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

Until next time....Jen x

* * * * * * * * * * 

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 24

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Santa Visit.jpg

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

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

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

Until next time... Jen x

 

Week 24: What Is Happening To Your Baby

Your baby is the size of a cantaloupe melon this week 

Your baby is the size of a cantaloupe melon this week 

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

Week 24: What Might Be Happening To Your Body

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

Week 24: Pregnancy Tip

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

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

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

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 23

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

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

Getting organised for business meetings concerning DoulaCare Ireland 

Getting organised for business meetings concerning DoulaCare Ireland 

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

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

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

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

Week 23: What Is Happening To Your Baby

Your baby is the size of a Papaya this week 

Your baby is the size of a Papaya this week 

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

Week 23: What Might Be Happening To Your Body

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

Week 23: Pregnancy Tip

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

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

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

 

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

 

  

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

The Birth Partner  - Penny Simkin  

The Birth Partner - Penny Simkin  

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

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

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 19

This week was lovely. Over the weekend I turned 19 weeks and went away for a night with my good friends. We all worked in a restaurant together in our teens and have been friends ever since. I was the first of the group to have children, but over the last few years the girls have started to grow their families and none of us get to see each other as much as we used to. We have meet ups for birthdays, weddings and christenings but rarely go out randomly. So once a year in November we have a girls night away.  This year we went to Dunboyne Castle Hotel.

As my November birth client just turned 37 weeks I drove my own car rather than car pooling just in case I had to leave (last year I had to leave the Monart to go to a birth!)  Of course for both mentioned clients I have back up doula support,  but when it’s your birth client you want to be there for them, no matter what. 

We all met in the lounge and had a quick bite to eat and a chat. Then we checked in and went down to the spa. It is a bit crap when you’re pregnant at these things. I couldn’t use most of the rooms, or the jacuzzi but enjoyed lying around on the heated beds relaxing. I also used a nice foot spa and some scrubs. 

Night away with friends in the gorgeous  Dunboyne Castle Hotel  

Night away with friends in the gorgeous Dunboyne Castle Hotel 

We had a lovely meal but I wasn’t able to eat much. It tasted so good but I just felt full and was also feeling a bit sick. The girls enjoyed wine and I was content to have a Coke followed by hot water and lemon. There are studies out to suggest any alcohol in pregnancy could potentially be harmful to a developing baby so I have always erred on the side of caution and avoided it completely during pregnancy.  

We stayed up chatting until 3am so I was shattered the next day but it was lovely to catch up with everyone. 

Monday marked back to normality. The kids were back in school so there was the usual search for school uniforms and a mad dash to Lidl for lunch box essentials. I was the breastfeeding counsellor for our branches breastfeeding support morning. You can find your local Cuidiu group here http://www.cuidiu-ict.ie/supports_breastfeeding_breastfeedinggroups It is always great to try get to a breastfeeding group during pregnancy. Other options are

Leon, my 6 year old broke his toe in a play centre this week, so we spent a whole evening and into the night in Temple Street. His toe/foot is very swollen and bruised so lots of TLC for him. I have been giving him Arnica and running epsom salt baths. He is super brave and strong, he is just getting on with it and hasn’t complained at all. It’s getting him to slow down that is the challenge! I borrowed a buggy from a friend for a week or two in the hope that if we are out we can use it for a bit to give him a rest. 

I have another busy week meeting clients to talk about bookings for the New Year and also have postpartum clients all day Wednesday and Thursday. It is good to be back into the swing of things while also having a balance and making time for self care. 

Until next time.....Jen x

 

Week 19: What Is Happening To Your Baby

  • Your baby is approx the size of a mango this week
  • Your baby is developing all of their 5 senses this week - the areas for smell, taste, hearing, vision and touch are all expanding massively. 
  • Your baby's arms and legs are in proportion to each other and the rest of their body this week. 
  • The vernix caseosa is forming on your baby - this is a greasy, white, protective coating that helps protect baby's skin in the amniotic fluid. They may be born covered in it btw - and this is good for them (so no need to wipe it all off as it can protect their skin in the early days outside your body as they get used to clothes and nappies and air etc). 

Week 19: What Might Be Happening To Your Body

  • You may find yourself suffering from round ligament pain - this can feel like a sharp stabbing pain in your lower abdomen, or it may not be so severe but can be uncomfortable. See our pregnancy tip below for how this might be alleviated (and check with your GP if you have any worries about the pain there). 
  • You may notice parts of your skin are darker than others (caused by a temporary increase in pigment). When these patches appear on your face they are known as chloasma or the 'mask of pregnancy' (they usually fade shortly after you have your baby).  Do make sure to protect your skin when out in the sun and keep it in the shade. 

Week 19: Pregnancy Tip

If you are experiencing round ligament pain it might be helpful to start trying some Spinning Babies Techniques. Spinning Babies offers exercises that can restore balance in your muscles and pelvis (and therefore can often help with optimal positioning of baby) and also relieve discomfort throughout pregnancy. There's a lot to take in on the website but the main exercises are known as the Three Sisters. A number of our DoulaCare Ireland doulas have taken the Spinning Babies training and it's a great tool to have in their toolbox of support. It is something they will be happy to show to yourself and your partner during one of their prenatal meetings (if you are interested in finding out more). 

 

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.