Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 33

This week was lovely. Myself and Paul had lots of time together. The kids are bouncing back from the flu and are back in school. Paul ended up on antibiotics for a bad chest infection so was off for his usual 4 day break and then a full week cert. He was very drained and not up to much but we had time together and enjoyed that. 

Week 33 Bump - just about to go down for our lovely dinner 

Week 33 Bump - just about to go down for our lovely dinner 

Over the weekend we went on our babymoon. Paul was still not 100% so we took it really easy. I went for a lovely pregnancy massage while Paul relaxed in the room. Afterwards we went down for dinner and enjoyed chatting away undisturbed by children, house work or business. It was so lovely. We were back up to the room by 11pm, straight into PJ’s and watched a movie curled up in bed. It was bliss. The next morning we went down for breakfast and went back up to our room for a 40 minute nap before showering and checking out – the life of a rock star LOL!

When we returned home we got great cuddles from the kids and heard all about their fun sleepover with their Granny and Grandad. 

 

Lovely morning hanging out with Kathy and baby Robyn from  Bump, Baby and Me  

Lovely morning hanging out with Kathy and baby Robyn from Bump, Baby and Me 

On Tuesday I met up with Kathy from Bump Baby and Me. We both trained as postpartum doulas together a few years ago and clicked right away. We could have chatted all day I think! I am so glad things are slowing down enough for me to catch up with friends again. Her baby Robyn is getting so big and the cuteness nearly made me melt into mush. 

Wednesday saw Valentines Day. I got gorgous home made cards from the kids (always my favourite part of the day!) and Paul and I exchanged cards too. After 13 years together it’s always nice to take the opportunity to share our love for each other, as we don’t always show it with the madness of daily life. We never do expensive gifts. Paul and the kids chose a nice bunch of flowers for me in Lidl which were perfect. Then as an added and very unexpected bonus we went out for an early bird dinner just the two of us. One of our favourite spots is Deep restaurant in Howth. It has lots of choice for me as a vegetarian and all their food is delicious. Paul loves the steak their and their fish and chips too ;)

Paul returned to work after his illness and we kicked back into normal routine. The kids began their mid term so we kept busy with trips out. We went to Fun Galaxy in Ashbourne (which has a play centre and a jump zone) which passed a few hours – I got to do some work on my laptop too so win win! Then the next day we went bowling and the kids also did Quasar in the Plex. 

Over the weekend we plan to go to the Chinese New Year festival in town, which sounds like great fun. Hopefully the kids will enjoy it! I also have my 34 week check up next week in the Rotunda and our second antenatal visit with our doula. I am also eagerly awaiting my first physiotherapy appointment on Tuesday! I will fill you all in then :)

Until next time....Jen xx

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Week 33: What Is Happening  To Your Baby

 

  • Your baby is roughly the size of a pineapple with week 
  • Baby is starting to be able to tell the difference between day and night now. With your expand belly the walls of your uterus are becoming thinner and this allows more light to get to baby. They do tend to sleep more during the day when you are active and wake up and become active at night - when you want to sleep! 
  • This week your baby has their own immune system - a very important step in their development 

 

 

 

 

Week 33: What Might Be Happening To your Body

  • You may find you have aches in your fingers, wrists and hands. This can be the result of the increase in fluid in your body which can increase pressure in the carpal tunnel and pinch nerves which can cause pain or sometimes numbness. If you work at a computer a lot remember to stretch your hands regularly. If the pain is really bad you can wear a splint which can help. 
  • You may have pregnancy insomnia as you try to get comfy in bed or get disturbed with frequent trips to the toilet. Once up and awake many Mums find it hard to get back to sleep. 
  • You may find you are extremely hot at the moment - and we don't mean sexy!!! We are talking about feeling overheated as your metabolic rate has increased. While this is great in the depths of winter, it can be tough in summer. Make sure to keep hydrated which can help. 
  • Your hormones are undergoing massive changes at the moment an this can cause headaches. Again water can help with this discomfort. 

 

 

Week 33: Pregnancy Tip 

It can be helpful to start getting organised for the arrival of baby this week. I know most women have their EDD in their head as the date they need to be ready by, but a normal healthy pregnancy can last anywhere between 37 - 42 weeks, so it could be only 4 weeks before baby makes their appearance. What does getting ready entail? Well first of all just to reassure you there is no need to panic. All a newborn baby really needs is you - while of course a nappy or two can be a help. We already spoke about where to source the baby equipment etc. If you are buying baby clothes and bedding new it's a good idea to wash them beforehand and this can all be done around now. You may need to buy bits and pieces for your hospital bag (and we have a very handy checklist on our website to help with this - you can download it here).  As you start to wind down over the next few weeks, starting to get organised can be actually exciting as baby coming seems more like a reality. Starting now means you won't be stressing out last minute and can gradually get organised and be ready for baby's arrival. 

 

 

 

 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 32

This week brought sickness to my house. Paul and the kids were all very sick with flu. Leon (our youngest) was so drained he couldn’t walk! We had to carry him to the toilet. This from a child you normally cannot keep still for 5 minutes was very worrying. They all lay around on the sofa or in their beds, watching movies and snoozing. I miraculously avoided it completely! I’m wondering if the flu vaccine protected me or if I was just lucky as I am taking lots of vitamins and supplements. 

I took the opportunity to start sorting out and washing baby clothes. I donated huge amounts to charity, but was delighted there were lots I could use from the boys. I did keep a mix of blues, yellows, greens etc in newborn sizes and there was a good bit of white too. It was so lovely to see all the little babygrows and vests drying around the house. I was very emotional remembering the boys in certain outfits and really began to get excited about this little girls arrival. The tiny socks and booties always get me right in the heart strings :) 

This week I met up with two past clients for breakfast. One was a mum of twins who I worked closely with throughout their pregnancy and for the first few months of their boys' lives. It was wonderful to catch up and see how well the boys were doing. I even got to cuddle them both and we held one sleeping baby each as we chatted and ate. It was great! When leaving my client gave me such a beautiful gift and the two of us fought back tears when saying goodbye. The bond we have is so lovely and I look forward to meeting up again soon. 

I also met another client and her husband later in the week who has a special place in my heart. I worked with them throughout pregnancy (they attended my Cuidiu antenatal course) and for the first few months of their daughter's life. Their baby was gravely ill when born and they had to travel to another country for specialist treatment. It was a rollercoaster of emotions for them and I walked that journey beside them, offering support every step of the way. When they returned I worked with them for a number of months, watching their beautiful daughter grow stronger and helping them both deal with the trauma they had lived. They are writing a blog to share their experience for World Doula Week so watch this space! 

With DoulaCare Ireland Doula  Emer McGlade  and  Gail Tully  from Spinning Babies 

With DoulaCare Ireland Doula Emer McGlade and Gail Tully from Spinning Babies 

Over the weekend I attended the Spinning Babies Workshop, in the Glenroyal Hotel. It was full of like minded birth professionals (mostly midwives and Doulas, with one chiropractor) and lots of friends and familiar faces to catch up with.

It was a fantastic day and I gained lots of useful information from it. I was however extremely sore sitting for the day and so left early (as I had my friends 40th that evening to attend). I could barely drive the 35 minutes home and hobbled into the house. I lay down for a while and Paul ran me a bath to try to help the pain. I relaxed into the warm water and listening to my GentleBirth tracks. The pain wouldn’t let up so unfortunately I had to miss the night with my friends. I felt awful but there was no way I could make it. 

I had a GP check up and she said it sounds like a mix of round ligament pain and SPD (or pelvic gurdle pain) She recommended a physiotherapist in Sutton Cross that specilises in the area. I called and booked in. Looking forward to the support. I will let you know how that goes. In the meantime I ordered a pregnancy support band to take some of the pressure off my ligaments. It is giving me great relief and I am getting longer into the day before the pain makes me lie down. (photos/video from facebook) 

Next week myself and Paul have a night away planned for our babymoon! So I am very excited about that. 

Until next time....Jen x 

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Week 32: What Is Happening To Your Baby

  • Your baby is the size of a Papaya this week
  • Your baby will gain put to half of her birth week in these last few weeks 
  • There is much less room to move inside you anymore
  • Your baby now has fingernails, toenails and some will have hair on their head
  • Most of your baby's bones have now hardened. The exception to this is the skull which will have soft spots (fontanelles) to help make the birth of your baby that bit easier. The fontanelles make sure the baby's head can fit through the birth canal easier.
  • Your baby is doing lots of practise to prepare for life outside of you. They are kicking, sucking, swallowing and breathing trying to refine the skills they will be needing in a few weeks when they are born. 

 

Week 32: What Might Be Happening To your Body

  • Your blood volume has increased by up to 50 % since you got pregnant - this can mean a drop in Iron for some women and you may have to take Iron supplements if it drops too low. 
  • You may feel less co-ordinated as your growing uterus shifts your sense of gravity and can make you clumsy, change your posture and put strain on your lower back. 
  • Your nipples and areola might darken - why we are not fully sure. 
  • You may notice increased vaginal discharge. This serves the purpose of preventing infection 
  • If you have an 'innie' belly button, you may find it is now an 'outie' with the increased size of your belly. Don't worry - this will usually revert back to what is normal for you after the birth of the baby. 

Week 32: Pregnancy Tip 

If you have pets such as a dog or a cat , you need to begin preparing them for the arrival of your new baby. As they are probably used to being the centre of attention, it can be a huge stress for them when you bring home baby and have no time for them anymore. Pets like dogs or cats are already very connected to us and so they will have sensed that something is different. They do need to be prepared for the changes to come though and this is best done before baby arrives. We will have a blog post coming soon on this topic - so keep an eye on the blog. 

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 26

Christmas morning excitement - Santa came!

Christmas morning excitement - Santa came!

Well this week was Christmas :) It was full of excitement and last minute wrapping. The boys were so excited and it’s just so lovely to share in their joy. Paul had this Christmas off so we really got time to relax and celebrate as a family. 

We host Christmas dinner in our house every year and both myself and Pauls family come down. Then we do it all over again on Stephen's Day to use up the left-over Turkey and Ham. The kids help to set and decorate the table and enjoy choosing a place for everyone to sit. I love being surrounded by family and spending that special time together. The boys are so special to everyone as they are the only grandchildren on both sides so they got lots of attention! Of course everyone is over the moon about their new granddaughter on the way and excitement is building!!

I always find the few days after Christmas to drag a little. The boys were on their best behaviour playing with their new toys so on the 27th I had a nice day of tidying up and resting. We went to see the new Star Wars movie, which was brilliant! The boys loved it, as did Paul and I. We all stuffed ourselves with popcorn and nachos and chilled then for the evening. 

Paul and the kids at  Swords on Ice  

Paul and the kids at Swords on Ice 

Later in the week we went to Swords on Ice. I didn’t chance skating myself but loved watching the lads and Paul having fun. Leon flew around and was a natural! He is always so brave and just throws himself at a new experience. Seth was a little more wobbly and had a few falls but enjoyed himself all the same. Paul did very well, while holding the lads up in parts. He only had one fall which was very funny :) 

I have been so busy these last few weeks, it only dawned on me that I am in my last week of the second trimester! I am not ready for the third trimester to begin!! I feel I have not enjoyed this pregnancy as much as my previous pregnancies as with this one I have been so sick for so long and experienced lots of cramping etc. Also factoring in running a business, working with clients, finishing off my Antenatal Teacher course (after 3 years) and being a wife and a mam..... I just want to feel I enjoyed it. I feel so bad for this little baba as I loved every second with my first two pregnancies and savoured every moment. I feel like I’ve kind of ‘got through’ this one so far. It makes my heart hurt as I love this little baby so much already and smile every time I feel her move. 

As  a result I have decided I need to slow down a bit more. I need to take at least 10 minutes out each day to just be with my baby and feel my bump. I love my pregnant body. It’s strange to say but I always feel most comfortable with my body when I am pregnant. I love my bump and feel it’s my happy place ;) Hopefully things will slow down a little so I can enjoy the end of my pregnancy. It’s such a special time. 

Until next time.....Jen

Week 26: What Is Happening  To Your Baby

Photo by  Jez Timms  on  Unsplash

Photo by Jez Timms on Unsplash

  • Your baby is the size of a courgette this week (both in length and weight). 
  • Your baby is soaking up your antibodies - and by doing so is preparing their own immune system 
  • Your baby's eyes are starting to open this week and they have eyelashes
  • If you are having a boy - his testicles will start to descend very shortly into his scrotum (and this will take a few months)
  • Your baby's lungs are developing 'surfactant' - this allows them to inflate and keeps the lung tissue from sticking together 
  • Your baby's hearing system is now complete and fully formed 

Week 26: What Might Be Happening To your Body

  • You are probably having some trouble sleeping (and we have some tips to help with that on this blog post)
  • You may be experiencing swelling and puffiness. While this can be normal, it is also something to keep an eye on in case it is a sign of something more serious. 
  • You may have headaches. While these can be due to changes in hormones it could be that you are dehydrated. So be aware and drink plenty of water throughout the day. 
  • Pregnancy brain - yes it is a thing! Mary was on Cork's 96 FM chatting about this recently. 

Week 26: Pregnancy Tip 

It's probably a good idea to start stocking up on baby items now. There is such a wealth of items to choose from and many Mums find they buy items that they don't really use. Ask other Mum's what their most important buys were and what they ended up passing on or taking up space. It's important of course to have a safe and secure car seat and this should be bought new. Lot's of other purchases however, can be sourced second hand. There are a number of fab baby market's around Ireland where you can pop along to and source items that have been pre-loved. Check out The Baby Market to see when the next one is in your area. If you prefer to buy new there are lots of lovely local Irish shops around. One of our favourites is Pip and Pumpkin. They have a physical shop in Mullingar but they will also have a website coming soon and you will be able to order online. They are extremely competitive (they do their best to price match) and shipping is only €5 for orders under €75 and anything over €75 is free. And you are supporting a local homegrown small Irish family run business. Elaine the owner is hugely helpful and will answer any questions you may have about products. I don't know about you but when I was a first time Mum I hadn't a clue what half the baby stuff was for, so it's always great to be able to chat to someone who can guide you through your purchases. You can connect in with them on their Facebook page at the moment (and keep an eye out for the website). They are also on Instagram 

 

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 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 21

I started this week off at my local Cuidiu Breastfeeding support morning. As one of the volunteer breastfeeding counsellors it was my turn on the rota to cover the group. There were lots of small babies there, some with a few issues, so thankfully one of the other BFC's - Orla -attended. Everyone left with their questions answered, a few cups of tea and some cake in their bellies so all around a good morning. I love giving back to our community in this way and hope that breastfeeding rates will grow with the support. 

Straight after the group it was off to a postpartum client on the South side. This client was a lovely new mum, a paediatric nurse herself – who just wanted a sounding board and some help with the big ‘firsts’ like bathing and cutting nails! It was a lovely shift. 

After my shift I drove to Drake Chiropractic Clinic in Sandyford, run by the very knowledgable Ros Drake. I had been meaning to try it out as Seth was OT and Leon was OP so I always wondered was there a reason within my pelvis for their positioning. While I laboured to 10cm and pushed, Leon was a caesarean birth in the end – so I imagined with all the pushing and pulling my body was probably in need of some realignment. I know Ros from attending conferences together and I was not disappointed with her care. She was professional and friendly and explained everything as she went. It was the strangest sensation as she readjusted different parts of my body. No pain but as I heard the cracks and my neck/back/hips etc moving that little bit further than feels comfortable part of me resisted. I did feel good after and was happy to hear that things were looking pretty good. On Tuesday I had Leon at the fracture clinic in Temple Street to review his broken toe. There was still a noticeable crack but they were happy with the healing process and said in 3 weeks time he should be 100% again. We don’t need to go back again unless we are concerned about anything (as Leon has been pretty much walking on it as normal since it happened I think we are good!) 

Then of course on Friday we had our anomaly scan! There was a good wait as the Rotunda are starting their online charts system (meaning patients no longer have their paper chart and every department logs into their system on a computer and writes notes there) I feel it’s a good thing as every department has access and there will be no missing charts. It does however mean that we can no longer snoop in our chart and see what they have written about us! I guess I will have to wait for after baba is born when I request a copy of my notes. At least with everything typed I will be able to decipher the doctors writting unlike Seth and Leons charts. 

You can request a copy of your hospital notes for you and your baby under the Freedom of Information Act 2014.

Our little girl at 21 weeks 

Our little girl at 21 weeks 

At our scan we found out that our baby is doing perfect. Myself and Paul were both so relieved as I have been so sick I was worried baby would have been lacking in the correct nutrients. The sonographer said she hadn’t seen such an active baby in a good while and that baba wouldn’t stay still (sure I knew that with all the movement I have had recently) After watching the chambers of the heart pump the blood, and seeing all babas organs, checking measurements and so on, we found out that we are having a little GIRL!! I couldn’t believe it. I really thought we would have another boy. Paul was very quiet, so when we left I asked was he disappointed. He said of course not, but he was terrified. He said he doesn’t know what to do with a girl – he only knows how to parent boys. So after a good chat he has come around to the fact it is a new adventure and we will learn together. 

Seth was absolutely thrilled with the news as he had decided he wanted a sister. Leon was not so impressed – as he ‘doesn’t want girl stuff all over the house’ LOL! My mother and grandmother were thrilled and Pauls parents cried down the phone. Babies can bring so much joy to a family unit and I am so excited for next year! Now to start thinking of names... Any suggestions will be gratefully received. 

Until next time...Jen x

 

Week 21: What Is Happening To Your Baby

  • They are approx the length of a carrot this week
  • They are becoming extremely active inside with lots of kicks and nudges as they somersault around your womb. Baby has more control over their limbs so this movement will be more co-ordinated. 
  • Your baby now has very clearly formed eyebrows and lids. 
  • As their taste buds are now developed there's a good chance that whatever you eat this week - baby will taste it too! 

Week 21: What Might Be Happening To Your Body

  • Due to the increase in oil production in your body you may find yourself suffering from acne. Talk to your GP about what you can do. Most over the counter oral acne medications cannot be used during pregnancy. 
  • Your heartburn or indigestion may be getting worse
  • You might be able to feel warm up surges (or Braxton Hicks as they are often called). This is totally normal as long as the surges disappear when you switch position. If they don't give your GP or HCP a ring. 
  • Your skin can develop stretch marks. Despite what the cosmetic companies will promise there is no way to get rid of these if they develop. You can improve the condition of the skin by keeping it moisturised. Mary has a lovely Nourishing Bump Blend which feels and smells lovely on the skin and is completely natural and safe for you and baby. 

Week 21: Pregnancy Tip

Don't forget to leave some time to pamper yourself during your pregnancy. Especially if this is your first pregnancy. You will never have this time again or the luxury of having nobody else to worry about. So book yourself in for a lovely pregnancy massage, or a spa day, or get your nails done - what we find pampering is different for everyone, but whatever it is - make time for it now. Some Mums will enjoy going for regular reflexology or acupuncture - it can feel lovely and also help with the pregnancy aches and pains. Many Mums will attend Pregnancy Yoga classes and these can be a lovely way to meet new Mums, take some time for yourself and pamper yourself as usually with a class like this women say they feel amazing after it. Body work such as going to an osteo may not be pampering but it can be something that helps you to feel better in your body and can also be great for positioning of baby - so this can be helpful to try as well. What you choose of course has to be something that you enjoy, or feel good about going to and gives you a lift. Enjoy yourself whatever you choose. 

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 17

Storm Ophelia hit at the beginning of Week 17 of my pregnancy.  In Dublin we were all fairly ok. In our estate it certainly just seemed like a normal Irish winter day (windy and raining, but nothing to write home about). However, many parts of the country were badly affected. Up to 400,000 homes were left without power and 3 people lost their lives. Checking in during the storm, we were grateful that our doulas and clients all remained safe and well. 

I received an appointment this week for a GTT test. This is a Glucose Tolerance Test to screen for Gestational Diabetes. You can read more about this test in my blog post here. I was given a test date for 28th December, with instructions to eat my normal diet the few days before the test!! WHO EATS THEIR NORMAL DIET OVER CHRISTMAS ARGH!!!????!!! 

I called and changed it and have now been booked for the week before Christmas, much better for me and my chocolate diet! Hopefully all will be clear as the only risk factors I have are that I am over 25 and my second baby was over 9lbs. I am healthy otherwise and have no pre diabetes markers in my blood  (I was tested before getting pregnant). 

This week I brought my father in law to an oncology appointment. He will need more surgery to remove the rest of the tumour from his throat and possibly more biopsies but overall the prognosis seems good. The oncologist seems to feel it is totally treatable and hopefully with some TLC this will all be sorted soon. 

My belly is gradually expanding and I love it. It is so nice to have a pregnant belly and feel all the flutters from baby. I am starting to feel much better in general. I am having crazy dreams that are causing me to have unsettled sleeps but this is just all the hormones settling in my system. 

At the christening of my friend Julie's little boy - Senan. Julie is third from the left holding the star of the show. 

At the christening of my friend Julie's little boy - Senan. Julie is third from the left holding the star of the show. 

I am up early this morning as I woke at 6am and could not settle back to sleep. I have answered a few emails and I am relaxing on the sofa in a quiet house.  The kids are still asleep and Paul is gone to work. It is lovely to sit and blog while chilling out. Later today my friend has her baby's Christening in Howth Church and then the after party, which will be in her new house. They have recently finished a huge renovation and extension, so it will be like a house warming too. I’m excited for a day spent with friends and switching off from work. Paul will come up to the party once he is home from work, around 6pm. As we will have the kids we will most likely head home early enough and leave the group to enjoy a few drinks and party the night away ;) 

Until next time....Jen xx

Week 17: What Is Happening To Your Baby:

Week 17: Your Baby is the size of a Pear this week 

Week 17: Your Baby is the size of a Pear this week 

  • Your baby is about the size of a pear this week
  • Your baby's sweat glands are beginning to develop
  • Your baby's fingerprints are forming this week
  • Their hearing is improving and they may enjoy you playing music to them
  • You might be able to feel your baby hiccoughing this week

Week 17: What Might Be Happening To Your Body:

  • You may find you have dry eyes. You can ask in the chemist for some lubricating drops to see if they will lessen the discomfort
  • You will have increased bodily fluids (excess mucous, sweat and vaginal discharge will be noticeable). 
  • You  may be experiencing heartburn and indigestion.
  • Some women will start to get stretch marks at this stage. There is no cream that will get rid of them (no matter what the bottle might promise). You can help minimise them by staying hydrated and moisturising every day. Cold pressed Sunflower Oil with some Calendula, RosehipSeed Oil or Avocado oil added is fantastic for your skin and doesn't cost the earth. Alternatively try the Nourishing Bump Body Butter from Essencia Aromatherapy, or ???? from Lisa Heeny. Both are hand blended ????

Week 17: Pregnancy Tip

Heartburn can occur when the valve between the stomach and oesophagus is unable to prevent the acid from your stomach from passing back to the oesophagus. This can happen due to the increase in the hormone progesterone in your body which can cause the valve to relax - thus increasing the frequency you suffer heartburn. Your growing baby and uterus also contributes to it (as everything in the space around your belly gets squashed together. 

To help prevent it, or to minimise it occurring, it can help to eat more frequently during the day but make your meals smaller.  Avoid lying down after eating and avoid greasy, spicy or fatty foods, as well as fizzy drinks and caffeine. Increasing your intake of fluids can help. And try not to eat at least 3 hours before going to bed. 

For relief eating some yoghurt after a meal can help some women, and drinking Ginger Tea. Many women swear by Gaviscon. Do check with your Health Care Provider and see what medication might be safe to take during your pregnancy as not all will be safe for pregnancy.  

What is the Glucose Tolerance Test (GTT):

Many women will be recommended to get the GTT by their Health Care Provider. GTT stands for Glucose Tolerance Test. The GTT tests for Gestational Diabetes, which is a type of diabetes that develops during pregnancy. With this type of Diabetes,  normally symptoms subside once your baby is born. If a mum has GD (Gestational Diabetes) she is more susceptible to developing Type Two Diabetes later in life. 

Why are some women offered the GTT?

There are certain risk factors that make you more susceptible to developing GD. If you have any of these risk factors, your antenatal care provider may suggest a GTT to screen for markers. 

Risk factors for GD include:

  • High Body Mass Index (BMI of 30 or higher)

  • Previous large baby (above 9lbs or 4.1kg)

  • Women older than 25 years

  • Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)

  • You had GD during a previous pregnancy, or you had an unexplained stillbirth in the past.

  • Family or personal health history. Your risk of developing gestational diabetes increases if you have prediabetes — slightly elevated blood sugar that may be a precursor to type 2 diabetes — or if a close family member, such as a parent or sibling, has type 2 diabetes.

  • Race. For reasons that aren't clear, women who are black, Hispanic, American Indian or Asian are at higher risk to develop gestational diabetes.

So what is involved if you agree to take a GTT? 

Methods can vary slightly from each hospital, but they remain generally the same. The woman is asked eat her normal diet for the days leading up to the test and to fast for 12 hours before the test (this includes no water). She is then asked to attend an appointment with her Health Care Provider early in the morning (usually around 7.30am). 

You will receive a fasting blood test, as well as 2 more blood tests at hourly intervals with a Glucose Tolerance Test

You will receive a fasting blood test, as well as 2 more blood tests at hourly intervals with a Glucose Tolerance Test

The test then begins with a fasting blood test. After this the woman is given a jug of lucozade or high sugar drink. She is expected to drink this over 10 minutes. The woman is requested not to eat or drink anything else until the test is fully completed. 

Your care provider will then take two more blood tests at hourly intervals to monitor how your body metabolises sugar. You will be expected to stay in the clinic during the testing process so it is a good idea to bring a book or laptop (as I can imagine 3-4 hours sitting there while starving is not fun).

After the test you will be free to head home,  and as you will have been fasting it is probably a good idea to grab something to eat before you hit the road. 

The blood tests are analysed very quickly and you will be contacted the same day if there is any abnormalities showing up. Most hospitals do not contact women if the test is normal so no news is good news in this situation ;) If you are not contacted you continue with you antenatal appointments as normally scheduled. 

 

What are the pros and cons of agreeing to take a GTT?

Pros:

  • If you are found to have GD, it can be carefully controlled to avoid any complications, most women with GD give birth to healthy babies with no complications. However GD, if not carefully managed does carry risk to mother and baby.

Cons:

  • It is not pleasant to fast for 12 hours when you are pregnant.

  • Drinking a full jug of sugary and processed lucozade is not something most pregnant women would choose to do.

  • Blood tests are uncomfortable.

 

Complications that may affect a baby if their mother has uncontrolled GD:

High birth weight – Babies with a birth weight above 9lbs statistically have higher chance of complications during birth. This includes interventions such as ventous or forceps and increased instance of caesarean births. It is important to note that many women can and do give birth to high birth weight babies without complications or interventions (we all know the pressure women are under if they have a ‘big baby’ during scans, GD or not). 

Low Blood Sugar (hypoglycaemia) – Sometimes babies born to mothers with GD develop low blood sugar shortly after birth because their own blood sugar is too high. Lots of regular feeds or in some cases a glucose drip can help to return babies levels to normal. Again it is important to note, many mothers feel pressure to top up with formula if this situation arises, even when their wish is to exclusively breastfeed. These mothers can hand express extra colostrum or breast milk to offer their baby instead. Some mothers with GD choose to express some of their milk antenatally, to have milk for baby after the birth.

Early (Preterm) birth and Respiratory Distress Syndrome – Babies born early may need help with their breathing until their lungs mature. Also, even babies born at term to mothers with GD are at risk of having respiratory distress syndrome. A mothers high blood sugars can put extra strain on babies body as they fight to maintain a normal level. 

In extreme cases untreated gestational diabetes can result in the death of a baby.

 

Complications that may affect a Mother from having uncontrolled GD:

  • High Blood Pressure and Pre-eclampsia – Gestational Diabetes increases your risk of high blood pressure. It can also increase a mothers risk of preeclampsia which can be life threatening to both mother and baby and usually requires birth by caesarean even before term.

  • Future Diabetes – Having Gestational Diabetes increases a mothers risk of getting it in future pregnancies. It also increases risk of developing Type Two Diabetes later in life. Making healthy life style choices such as eating well and exercising can decrease instances. Breastfeeding your baby is also shown to reduce both mother and baby's risk of diabetes later in life.

You do not have to consent to a GTT. It is your choice to make an informed decision – weighing up the pros and cons and deciding what is best for you and your baby. I hope this blog has helped you to understand risk factors and the process of the test itself. 

Doula Jen 

Jen Crawford, Co-Owner & Founder DoulaCare Ireland.

REFERENCES AND FURTHER READING: 

HSE https://www.hse.ie/eng/health/az/D/Diabetes,-gestational/Testing-your-glucose-levels.html

AIMS http://aimsireland.ie/the-glucose-tolerance-test-gtt/

NICE guidelines https://www.nice.org.uk/news/article/new-thresholds-for-diagnosis-of-diabetes-in-pregnancy

WHO guidelines http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/85975/1/WHO_NMH_MND_13.2_eng.pdf

Irish Health http://www.irishhealth.com/clin/pregnancy/conditions02.php?con=574#pregnancy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 16

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Week 16: What Is Happening To Your Baby:

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

Week 16: What Might Be Happening To Your Body:

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

Week 16: Pregnancy Tip

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

 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 15

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time......Jen x

 

Week 15: What Is Happening To Your Baby:

Photo by Michał Grosicki on Unsplash

Photo by Michał Grosicki on Unsplash

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

Week 15: What Might Be Happening To Your Body:

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

Week 15: Pregnancy Tip

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

 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 13

Well this week I was back doing the job I love. I was working with 3 different families and then on Sunday I spoke at the Baby Wearing Ireland, Wear a Hug Fair. It was a great day and I was honoured to speak as part of their expert panel. There were lots of people to catch up with too. Over all it was a fantastic day full of chatting with new or expecting parents and catching up with old friends. 

With the other women on the expert panel at the Wear A Fair - BabyWearing Consultant Olwen Row from  Born To Be Carried  and Lactation Consultant Mairead Murphy from  Better Breastfeeding . It was so lovely to catch up with them. 

With the other women on the expert panel at the Wear A Fair - BabyWearing Consultant Olwen Row from Born To Be Carried and Lactation Consultant Mairead Murphy from Better Breastfeeding. It was so lovely to catch up with them. 

I have been feeling pretty rough this week. My sickness seems to be getting worse again. Perhaps it is the shock of being back at work (LOL!).  I am lucky to have many friends in the maternity field so I made a few calls and spoke with some HCPs about the sickness. One new drug that seems to be up and coming in Cariban. It is for severe morning/all day sickness and has been used in Australia and USA for many years. It is still new here so I plan to speak with the hospital staff next week at my booking appointment. 

I have taken to driving with a big plastic bowl beside me in the car. I have had a few hairy moments where I could feel I was about to get sick but was in 3 lane traffic with no where to pull in – so the bowl has saved me a few times! 

On Friday I nearly rang my husband to collect me  when I was half way home as I wasn’t sure I could drive any more. After 20 minutes of driving I had stopped 4 times to get sick. I managed to pull myself together and get home. I literally crawled into bed and conked out for 2 hours!

I have decided to pull back a bit on my work load. I absolutely love what I do and I am so lucky to have amazing clients who make me excited to go to work every day. However, I spend my working day minding everyone else and ensuring they are ok. It is time I do the same for myself and baba. So next week I will be working my last night shift for probably a year or two! I can’t believe it. It does seem surreal. 

I managed this week to pop all my pre-pregnancy clothes into black bags and up into the attic. I am firmly out of them now. I am in leggings next size up and some baggy tops from Pennys. I also have a few items I bought that are maternity. To my frustration Paul couldn’t find my bag of maternity clothes from Seth & Leon so I may have to buy some more as I go along. 

Anyway....Until next time... Jen x

 

Week 13: What Is Happening To Your Baby: 

Photo by  Ernest Porzi  on  Unsplash

Photo by Ernest Porzi on Unsplash

  • Your baby is the size of a lemon
  • They may be able to suck their thumb from this week
  • Tiny fingerprints are forming on your baby's fingers
  • The part of your baby's brain responsible for solving problems and memory is starting to form this week 
  • If you are having a boy his testicles are now formed and his penis is growing
  • If you are having a girl, her ovaries are now developed (and contain all her millions of eggs). 

 

 

 

 

Week 13: What Might Be Happening With Your Body:

  • Woo hoo!!! You have made it through the first trimester.
  • You may be noticing an increase in vaginal discharge which will increase throughout your pregnancy due to the increase in the levels of oestrogen in the body. It is there to protect your birth canal from infection. 
  • Your clothes will be definitely getting too tight now. 
  • You might find your energy levels and appetite increasing.
  • You might find your sex drive increased. 

 

Pregnancy Tip: 

You may still be suffering from nausea and vomiting at this stage of your pregnancy. It may just be lingering for a bit longer than the first trimester. For some women it can last a few weeks into the second trimester. There is a chance, however - especially if the nausea and vomiting are still very severe at this point - that you may have a condition called hyperememsis. This is a complication of pregnancy that involves severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss and dehydration. If you suspect you might have this,  it can help to talk to others for support. There is a fantastic group on Facebook here. If you think you may be vomiting excessively do talk to your GP and Healthcare Provider and see if they can provide anything to help. 

     

    Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 12

    What a magical week this has been. We went on our trip to Zakynthos and it was wonderful. The weather was mixed and it was a little colder than we hoped but it was lovely to be together as a family and not have to worry about work or normal day to day things. 

    Unwinding in Greece

    Unwinding in Greece

    We stayed at Alykanas Village Hotel and it was a real family resort. We went all inclusive and we were spoiled with choice at each meal. Unfortunately my sickness is still pretty bad so I could not enjoy it as much as I would have liked. I did eat little bits of the yummy things (putting a spoonful of each dish on my plate to do a taste test and see what one my body would allow) There was lots of running to throw up but it was great to relax. 

    The apartments were a perfect family destination. There were several pools. One dedicated mini water park with slides and a ship to play on. Super child friendly. They had a kids club running events. The all inclusive meant the kids could potter over and grab a drink or ice cream whenever they wanted. We could also walk straight from the snack bar down onto the beach. On our strip of beach there were lots of water activities. Paul and Seth enjoyed jet skies and we all took out a 4 person pedal boat. The weather wasn't great this week so the pools were cold but if you travelled earlier in the year I am sure it would be a big hit with kids and adults of all ages.

    Seth got stuck into the Greek food but Leon basically survived the week on chips, cucumber, bananas and ice cream (even though there were many options – he insisted they didn’t taste like normal food!!!! Kids!) 

    Both boys enjoyed meeting lots of local animals, including one really friendly cat who had two tiny kittens. The animals were well fed this week anyway!  They also found frogs, lizards, dogs and enjoyed some pony riding. 

    The big news of the week was Leon learning to swim. He is chuffed with himself! And of course we are super proud. 

    Seth and Leon relaxing in Greece 

    Seth and Leon relaxing in Greece 

    I spent a large part of the week curled up reading. I haven’t read a book for pleasure in a long time. My Map of You by Isabelle Broom was candy floss for the brain, just a nice light book. Not like my usual ones for courses or work. Nice romantic story with a few twists. Few passionate moments to spice things up too! The author described the island perfectly and you could experience a little holiday from home when reading. 

    When we returned the kids of course told everyone their highlights.... finding a frog on the beach, the Greek dancing night, the cats....and...oh yes and Mam having to jump out of a taxi and spew all over the place LOL They were suitably impressed with the viscosity it came and the gross factor had them chatting about it for days. Thanks lads!

    I’m still in that - she could be pregnant or maybe she’s just fat stage - so I’m not sure what people thought of my in my swim suit but sure what can you do!  

    We will all be hitting the ground running now that we are back. It’s amazing how fast the week goes. 

    Until next time....Jen x

     

    Week 12: What is Happening to Baby this Week: 

    • Your baby is the size of a plum this week
    • They have doubled in size over the last few weeks
    • Baby's bone marrow is making white blood cells
    • Your baby's digestive tract is starting to practise and is doing contraction movements of the muscles (these are the muscles that will push food through the digestive track when baby is born).
    • Your baby can suck on their thumb now and scratch their nose
    • From now until 18 weeks is an important time in your baby's brain development 
    • You should be able to hear your baby's heartbeat at an ultrasound appt this week. 

     

    Week 12: What Might be Happening to Your Body

    • You are usually starting to feel better by week 12 - your energy levels may be increasing again and that fatigue and exhaustion is diminishing. 
    • Many women start to relax into their pregnancy by this week as they pass through the first trimester
    • Some women may notice changes to their facial skin - with patches of pigmentation on their cheeks, nose or forehead. It is not dangerous and nothing to be worried about. To lessen the changes use a good sunblock regularly as it's more likely to happen to women who are exposed to a lot of sunlight. 

     

    Week 12: Pregnancy Tip 

    Now that your energy levels are beginning to improve and hopefully any nausea is clearing up, you may want to get back to exercising again (if you had to put it on hold). Staying active is important throughout your pregnancy and exercise is recommended for most women.  If you have any doubts do check with your GP but in general exercise such as swimming, Pilates, Yoga or walking are encouraged for healthy low risk women throughout their pregnancy. Don't overdo it though, and make sure to drink lots of water and listen to your body as you get back to activity.