I was very emotional as he is my first born. He gave me the gift of motherhood and changed my life forever. I was a young mum (pregnant at 19 and I had him 13 days before I turned 20) and I faced lots of judgement. Many rolled their eyes when I wanted to breastfeed and co-sleep and we did struggle but eventually we found our way together.Read More
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.
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.
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 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
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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).