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 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 25

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time....Jen x

Week 25: What Is Happening To Your Baby

This week your baby is the size of the cauliflower

This week your baby is the size of the cauliflower

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

Week 25: What Might Be Happening To Your Body

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

Week 25: Pregnancy Tip

DCI Pregnant Couple .jpg

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

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 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 20

This has been a great week. I am feeling good in myself and coming through the sickness. I am eating a wider variety of food and feeling like my energy is up. This week my herbal remedies from Cork arrived. I have been taking them and hopefully they will help to build me up. 

I have been focusing on growing DoulaCare Ireland and this week I attended some fantastic meetings that will hopefully open up amazing opportunities for us in 2018. I will of course keep you posted once deals are done ;)

I had postpartum clients two full days this week and then my lovely November birth client needed me. She was admitted unexpectedly as at her 39 week check they found her waters to be extremely low, which her care team explained could be a sign of the placenta failing. Her induction began on Tuesday, I spent 6 hours with her helping herself and her partner to get their head around the situation. We all sat and chatted and I was a sounding board. We listened to GentleBirth tracks, joked between us, and ran through questions to ask her care team. Once all their questions were answered my clients were happy to consent to induction. 

Reasons for low fluid (oligohydramnios) can include:

  • Mothers waters are slowly releasing
  • Being more than 42 weeks pregnant
  • Medication mother is taking
  • If baby has a medical problem with their urinary system

Other common reasons for induction include:

  • Post dates – babies approaching 42 weeks gestation
  • Advanced maternal age – women 40 years plus
  • Big baby – often a guess weight
  • Issues with placenta (coming away from wall of uterus or not working efficiently)
  • Waters have released without labour begining

Some of these reasons can be negotiated and navigated with your care team - it can be helpful to be aware of the current evidence surrounding best practise for some of the reasons mentioned above (which is where taking an independent antenatal class can be such a help as these issues are usually covered. Classes that the hospital offer tend to focus on what the hospital policy is rather than what is evidence based care).  

I popped back to my client on Wednesday, after a postpartum shift for a few hours. Again we spent the time chatting and supporting my client in getting into the right head space. On Thursday things kicked off so I spent most of the day with them, and their beautiful baby was born at 6.15pm in such a positive end to what was a long  process. It was very emotional as this will more than likely be my last birth client for a long time. I am getting too big myself in pregnancy and once baby arrives I know I would not be comfortable being on call. It was a wonderful birth to end on and I am still on a high. They are such a lovely family and I look forward to our postnatal meet up in the next week or two. 

During the birth it was so lovely to be welcomed into the maternity unit. On 3 separate occasions midwives came to say hello when they heard I was the doula on the ward. This is just so wonderful to have such good relationships with the staff and it really helps to grow the feeling of a birth support team around parents. When we went up to postnatal ward I was again greeted with fantastic midwives who remembered me from past clients. It was all a really positive experience and I am so thrilled to end things for now on such a high. 

Also one of my good friends Ruth and her boyfriend Brian got engaged this week while on a romantic sun holiday. I am so thrilled for them both and you could feel Ruths joy and excitement bursting through the photos in our whatsapp group! (Ruth was sone of the girls I went away with a few weeks ago, we have been friends a long time) Ruth moved up north to live with Brian so I am unsure if they will have the wedding up there or perhaps even in the sun somewhere fab. It’s always nice to have a wedding to look forward to :) 

My baby has been moving so much and on Thursday night Paul finally felt baby kick :) We were thrilled. I can’t wait for the kids to feel too. 

Next week we have our ‘big’ scan. We are hoping to find out babas gender too. I will fill you all in more next week...

Until next time....Jen x

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Week 20: What Is Happening To Your Baby

Photo by  Mike Dorner  on  Unsplash

Photo by Mike Dorner on Unsplash

  • Your baby is the size of a bananna this week
  • This is the last week baby will be measured from 'crown to rump' (they were measured like this because their legs are curled up in a foetal position - from next week however measurements will be taken from top of head to tips of toes!). 
  • Your baby is swallowing more this week - really helpful for their digestive system 
  • Your baby is starting to produce meconium - this is a greenish black sticky substance that will accumulate and be stored in their bowels and you will see it when they first pass this in their nappy (or if you haven't managed to get the nappy on them, it might end up on you or your birth partner!!!). Some babies will pass meconium in your womb or during the birth.
  • Your baby is forming sweat glands this week

Week 20: What Might Be Happening To Your Body

  • Woo hoo!!! You are now half way through your pregnancy (more or less!! Baby may not arrive until 42 weeks!!!). 
  • You could be snoring for the first time ever!!! Blame those hormones again. The increase in Oestrogen can result in the mucous membranes in the nose swelling. It can help to sleep on your side and elevate your head slightly. 
  • Sleeping can start to become very challenging from this week. See our Pregnancy Tips below for some ideas on how to help your sleeping. 
  • You may find you have a vaginal discharge which is getting more noticeable as the weeks go on. This is normal and you can expect it to keep increasing until baby arrives. It helps keep bacteria at bay. It it becomes green, yellow or starts to smell do let your GP know. 

Week 20: Pregnancy Tip

It can be tough to get a good night's sleep when you are pregnant. Some things that can help are: 

Sweet Dreams Blend .jpg
  •  Listening to the Sleep Sanctuary on the GentleBirth app. It is very soothing and Mums will often find they drift completely off having listened to it. Do yourself a favour and get yourself some SleepPhones if you are listening to the App regularly btw - they can help with the sleep because they are not as uncomfortable as ear buds.
  • Mary's Sweet Dreams Essencia Blend is also a great blend of aromatherapy oils to help promote sleep. It's safe to use when pregnant, smells amazing and is especially designed to help you relax and drift off - and works great in conjunction with the Sleep Sanctuary track. A body pillow can help ease aches and pains and make you more comfortable in bed. Switching off the phone at least half an hour before you go to bed can help as well. And trying to grab a cat nap during the day if your sleep is disturbed is important so you don't get too exhausted. 
  • Check out this EUMom article from GentleBirth founder Tracy Donegan to get more tips to help with sleep. 

 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 18

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time xx

Week 18: What Is Happening With Your Baby

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

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

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

Week 18: What Might Be Happening With Your Body:

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

Week 18: Pregnancy Tip

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

 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 16

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Week 16: What Is Happening To Your Baby:

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

Week 16: What Might Be Happening To Your Body:

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

Week 16: Pregnancy Tip

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

 

Jen' Pregnancy Diary: Week 8

Our little peanut

Our little peanut

So our early scan was amazing. As I mentioned in my previous post,  I had decided for my own piece of mind to get an early scan privately at Merrion Fetal Health Clinic. We saw our little peanut with a perfect fluttering heartbeat. My husband was thrilled that a) there was just one baby and b) there was a normal heartbeat. He feels like he can relax and enjoy everything now. 

I skipped out of the office and in a way it feels more real now. (I have been having all the clear pregnancy signs but there is something so special about seeing that little baby on the screen :) 

After much debate and many many phone calls, I have found my care givers. I can attend the Community Midwives Antenatal Clinic in the Rotunda, but for my birth, it will be whatever midwife is on duty. I am happy to go ahead with this as all the evidence shows that women have better outcomes under midwifery led care. In order to attend the Community Midwives in the Rotunda, I must book as a public patient. I attend the antenatal clinic for my first appointment and from there on out, I can receive my care in the community. 

I am not overly thrilled about the public waiting times but hopefully, it will be just for the one appointment. I also have to wait for this first appointment to request semi private postnatal care (as my health insurance covers semi-private completely even though I have chosen not to go semi for antenatal care)

My first appointment will be at 14 weeks. This will include a scan, blood test, urine screening and meeting a consultant (whoever is on duty) The hospital has told me to expect this appointment to take around an hour and a half. If you are unsure what your first visit will include you can call your care provider and ask. Don’t be afraid to bother them, this is your special time and they are happy to help. 

This week I was hit with a tummy bug (or at least I think it was a bug) I spent a full 24 hours unable to hold anything down. It was not pleasant but my husband took care of me and kept everything going with the boys and the house. Again the wonderful DoulaCare team stepped up to ensure our clients were covered. 

Some care advice for tummy bugs during pregnancy are: 

Tips for managing Tummy Bugs.png

 

I had to go out and buy some bigger clothes. I have not put on any weight on the scales but my clothes were uncomfortable as my boobs are bigger and my tummy is bloated. I am living in leggings and baggy tops right now but I’m comfortable at least!

I am excited to be at the point where I have a bump :) 

Until next time...Jen x

Week 8: What is Happening With Your Baby

 

Your baby is approximately the size of a raspberry this week.

Your baby is approximately the size of a raspberry this week.

  • Your baby is the size of a raspberry this week

  • Your baby is growing their eyes and ears.

  • Your baby's tail is nearly gone

 

 

 

 

Week 8: What Might Be Happening With Your Body

  • You may notice your bra has gotten a lot tighter. Your breasts are growing, getting bigger and heavier and may be sore. Your milk producing lobules in your breasts are expanding to get your body ready for breastfeeding. You will probably go up a cup or two by the time your pregnancy is ended (so you will definitely need some new bra's).

  • Yes - you did just fall asleep at your desk and wake up with drool over you!! Fatigue is setting in and you may want to just nap ALL THE TIME!

  • You may still have nausea and morning sickness (why do they call it 'MORNING' sickness! This can strike at any time!) Have a look at our previous blog post for tips on how to manage this.

  • Pregnancy cramps - if they are severe, or you are in any way worried do contact your GP or midwife, but just to reassure you that for many women this is totally normal at this stage of pregnancy as your uterus expands.

 

Pregnancy Tip: 

Trying to get an extra nap in during the day can really help with fatigue levels. Even just lying down on the coach for a rest can be useful (as naps may be out of the question especially if there are other children already!). 

 

 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 7

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

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

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

Pic: CCO Creative Commons

Pic: CCO Creative Commons

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

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

Until next time...Jen x

Week 7: What is happening with your Baby

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

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

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

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

  • Webbed hands and feet are emerging from these limb buds

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

  • Your baby may be already sucking their thumb.

 

Week 7: What might be happening to your body

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

  • You may have food cravings and/or aversions

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

  • Breakouts of acne

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

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

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

Pregnancy Tip

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

 

 

 

 

Big News - Jen has an announcement!

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

* * * * * * * * 

Jen is expecting. Baby No 3 is on the way

Jen is expecting. Baby No 3 is on the way

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

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

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

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

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

Pregnancy Test.jpg

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

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

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

Jen x