Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 38

As I turned 38 weeks I felt back on track. I had reflexology with Jessie again and she brought me some more lovely oils.  Saturday was St Patrick's Day, but it was freezing so I brought the boys to the cinema to see Peter Rabbit. I thought between the parades and rugby match we would be the only people in the country there....I was wrong! We had to queue for 45 minutes for the tickets and book for the next viewing (in 40 minutes) so we hung around. The movie was very good and it was great to get out and about for the afternoon. 

Sunday brought more snow so we chilled out at home for the day. The boys didn’t even want to go out and play in it, they were totally over the whole snow thing. In fairness it was fairly blustery and yuck out so I didn’t blame them. 

On Monday Leon headed off to his friends birthday party in a play centre and Seth went to his friends for a play (they ended up going to Jump Zone and had a ball). While they were gone I did lots of Spinning Babies and some lunges/squats and sorted out the washing and a few bits around the house. After the party one of Leons friends came to ours for the afternoon and they played away.   

On Tuesday I had a real “get this baby back into position” day. It started with reflexology, then I went for a good walk, then I had shiatsu with Joanne Faulkner and used Moxa sticks to try to encourage baby to come back head down. I ended the day with spinning babies and then a bath with essential oils and listening to “perfect positioning” on my Gentlebirth app.

Our Cork DoulaCare Ireland team from l-r: Zoe, Mary, Claire and Jacquie at our Meet the Doula Event for World Doula Week in Cork. 

Our Cork DoulaCare Ireland team from l-r: Zoe, Mary, Claire and Jacquie at our Meet the Doula Event for World Doula Week in Cork. 

Wednesday I spent the morning dropping items for our World Doula Week events off to our doulas. I got a phone call from my GP to say my bloods showed that I have extremely low B12 and need to start a coure of B12 injections as soon as possible. She told me to go straight to her after my check up in the hospital. I am glad as I have been feeling very tired and breathless (presuming it was just normal end of pregnancy stuff). Hopefully with the injections I will feel a boast of energy before baby arrives.  Then I rushed back to take a DoulaCare Ireland conference call with a new business prospect. Mary and I are constantly working on growing the business end of things, while ensuring our clients remain at the heart of everything we do. We are excited to hopefully share some news over the next month or two! I finished the day with some body work and more Moxa sticks before bed. 

Thursday brought my hospital appointment. I dropped the boys to school and headed into the Rotunda. The midwives were all lovely and supportive as always. I met a new midwife called Bridget who spent a good bit of time with me asking how I felt and giving me space and time to chat. This midwifery support is so important in antenatal care (especially for me as I had wanted midwifery led care to begin with). They are all so kind and patient and really offer mothers space and time to process their emotions and get a clear focus on their thoughts.

When I saw my consultant she confirmed baby was still in an unstable lie, and my amniotic fluid levels were officially polyhydraminos (a medical term for too much fluid). The two combined creates a dangerous situation for baby, in that if my waters were to release the cord could get flushed out ahead of the baby. Of course the umbilical cord provides oxygen to the baby so that would not be a good situation if I was at home. She broke the news that I would need to be admitted . I negotiated heading home to pack a bag and explain to the kids what was happening. I collected them from school, then brought them both to McDonalds for a treat and we had a good chat. They both understood that both the baby and I were fine it was just for the doctors to keep an eye on things. I packed a bag and when Paul came home from work he drove me in. I was feeling pretty gutted as my mind movie of labouring at home, supported by Mim and Paul slipped away. The kids, especially Seth really wanted to be there too – Seth even learned how to do some back massages for the big day!  

The antenatal ward was pretty busy on arrival but the staff were all lovely. I had all the routine checks and everything was really good with baby and I. I have all my positive tools with me (Ear phones to listen to GentleBirth tracks, essential oils to keep my senses calm, my laptop to keep my mind busy writing or watching movies, books and so on). 

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On Saturday 24th at 38+6 weeks I lost my mucus plug, just as I was settling down for the night. I went into spontaneous labour (while on the antenatal ward).  Baby Kayla Rose arrived just over 3 hours later in an intense and quick, intervention free VBAC. She weighed 8lb 2oz and instantly we were head over heals in love. Birth story to follow soon x

Kayla Rose getting skin to skin after a very fast VBAC birth in the Rotunda Hospital 

Kayla Rose getting skin to skin after a very fast VBAC birth in the Rotunda Hospital 

 

 

 

 

 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 34

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Until next time...Jen x

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What Is Happening With Your Baby: 

 

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

Week 34: What Might Be Happening To Your Body

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

 

Week 34: Pregnancy Tip 

Perineal Massage

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

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

 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 29

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

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

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

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

Certificate of Attendance for my Training Day with Cuidiu 

Certificate of Attendance for my Training Day with Cuidiu 

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

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

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

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

Until next time....Jen x

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Week 29: What Is Happening  To Your Baby

  • Your baby is now approximately the size of a butternut squash and they are continuing to get plumber over the next few weeks as they lay down body fat. 
  • Their head is getting bigger to make room for their ever growing brain 
  • At this stage if baby were to be born early they would have a much better chance of survival (however, the closer to full term they can get the better for their mental and physical well being and development). 
  • There is such a huge increase in brain activity from this week on it is thought that your baby may be capable of dreaming now. 

 

 

 

 

Week 29: What Might Be Happening To your Body

  • If you have been suffering from heartburn or consitpation you may find it worsening now for the rest of your pregnancy until baby arrives 
  • Some women find they get headaches 
  • Your belly may be itchy as your skin here continues to stretch and expand. Drink lots of water and use a good moisturiser to support your skin. Do let your GP know if the itching is severe just in case it's a sign of something more serious
  • You may have pain in your back, legs and/or hips as your body manages the extra weight. As well as this your body is also producing the hormone Relaxin to help soften the ligaments and joints in preparation for your birth. Some women find they are in extreme pain with SPD and will need some extra help like a support belt, regular visits to a physio or maybe even crutches. Being in water can be a huge relief so regular visits to the pool might be on the cards to help. 
  • You may find you are leaking breastmilk as hormones in your body start to produce colostrum- so stock up on breast pads to help. Washable pads are much better for the environment and in the long term cheaper on your pocket. 
  • The hormone that is responsible for producing milk (prolactin) can also make you feel sleepy. So don't be surprised if you need to take naps again. 

Week 29: Pregnancy Tip

You should be looking into applying for your Maternity Benefit payment around now (or the equivalent payment for the country you are living in). Citizens Information is a very helpful place to read up on this payment. You can read if you are entitled to it and when you should apply (at least 6 weeks before you intend to take it). The form may take a bit of time to fill in so it's useful to get started around this point in your pregnancy. The Maternity Benefit Section of the Dept of Social Protection are usually very helpful if you are unsure of anything in particular.  Your local Citizen's Information Centre can also help you fill in the form if you need this support. Your partner can read up on Paternity Benefit on the Citizen's Information website so they are prepared and understand how to apply for their entitlements. 

 

 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 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 20

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

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

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

Reasons for low fluid (oligohydramnios) can include:

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

Other common reasons for induction include:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Until next time....Jen x

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Week 20: What Is Happening To Your Baby

Photo by  Mike Dorner  on  Unsplash

Photo by Mike Dorner on Unsplash

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

Week 20: What Might Be Happening To Your Body

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

Week 20: Pregnancy Tip

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

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

 

Jen's Pregnancy Diary: Week 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.  

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 14

This week was a good week. We had our booking in appointment with the Rotunda. As I am hoping to be with the Community Midwives I had to book in under the public system. 

Our Baby - Week 14 Ultrasound

Our Baby - Week 14 Ultrasound

We were seen to at each area pretty quickly. First I had to answer some questions at reception and receive my chart. I also signed an application for the Rotunda to request a copy of my medical notes from Holles Street (NMH) for my first two births. Then myself and Paul went down to a different waiting room for a scan. This was just lovely. We saw baby doing somersaults and waving and a good strong heart beat. Baby looked like a real baby as opposed to the peanut we saw in our early scan. All seemed well and the lovely sonographer printed out lots of pictures for us to being home and show the boys :)

We then had to go to the midwives desk where I had my blood pressure and pulse taken, and had to give a urine sample (by the way the pots they use now are significantly narrower than before and extremely hard to aim for while hoovering over the loo! What were they thinking with that new design?!) 

We then had to wait to see a midwife to go through my medical history. A lovely midwife called Ann introduced herself and said she was just waiting for a room and then we would get everything sorted. We waited about 10 minutes and then she called me in. Paul was not allowed to come into the room for this, which I found strange but went ahead. We had just started when someone knocked and needed the room so we were booted out! Back out to the waiting room and half an hour later Ann still hadn’t managed to find a free room, so she sent me to get my bloods done. Thankfully we only waited about 5 minutes for this and in the meantime I had to nip to the bathroom to get sick.

Another 15 minutes passed (and yet another trip to the bathroom to be sick) and then Ann found a room. We filled out the form in about 10 minutes. I highlighted my desire to have midwifery led care as all the evidence shows that women have better outcomes. She totally agreed but as Leon was an emergency caesarean birth she couldn’t book me in. So she has scheduled a meeting for me with the community midwife team to plead my case....and I am crossing fingers they will take me on! 

If the Community Midwives won’t take me on I can attend the NBAC clinic within the hospital or change to semi private.  I will wait and see when I get the appointment and make a decision then. 

As we spent 3 hours in the public system at this appointment I’m not keen to do that each time, however I do get that there most likely wouldn’t be the same wait on future appointments. 

This week was also Pauls birthday so we had family over for take away and cake and showed off our baby pictures. Then myself and Paul had a lovely night away on Saturday while the kids had a sleep over with their Grandparents. Fitting in clients alongside all this,  meant it was a busy week but very happy.

Overall a great week. Still lots of nausea but I am getting sick less....hopefully we are turning a corner (touch wood!). 

Until next time.....Jen

Week 14: What Is Happening To Your Baby:

Photo by  Brigitte Tohm  on  Unsplash

Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Unsplash

  • Your baby is now the size of a peach.
  • Your baby has eyebrows.
  • Your baby may have some hair on their head and is now covered with lanugo (a thin, fuzz like hair all over that will keep their body warm). This will start to fall off before baby is born (though some babies will not loose it until after the birth). 
  • Your baby is drinking your amniotic fluid and their kidneys are working so they can pass urine.
  • Your baby can now make facial gestures. Inside they are frowning, grimacing, squinting and smiling (awwww!).
  • Your baby's liver starts to make bile this week.
  • Their spleen is now producing red blood cells.

Week 14: What Might Be Happening With Your Body

  • You may notice your hair getting thicker and shinier. 
  • You may notice you are gaining weight now more rapidly.   
  • You may notice a dark line running down the centre of your abdomen. This is called the linea nigrea and will start to fade after the birth of your baby. 
  • Some of the early affects of pregnancy (sore breasts, nausea, lack of energy), should all be now gone by this week. 
  • However, other symptoms may start occurring! Some women find they get nasal congestion around this time, as the increase in blood flow around your body can cause the mucous membranes in the nose to swell. 

Week 14: Pregnancy Tip: 

Is it a boy or a girl? Do you want to know this beforehand? It can be helpful to start thinking about whether or not you would like to know the sex of your baby now, as with your next ultrasound (around the 20 week mark), you can choose to find out. There are pro's and con's to both finding out and waiting. So perhaps yourself and your partner can sit down now and discuss what you would like to do. If you decide you want to wait until the baby is born, make sure you let your sonographer and HealthCare Provider know so that they don't inadvertently say it to you! And if you decide you want to know - do be aware that sometimes the scans will get it wrong (so you still may get a surprise at the end!). 

 

 

Jen' Pregnancy Diary: Week 8

Our little peanut

Our little peanut

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some care advice for tummy bugs during pregnancy are: 

Tips for managing Tummy Bugs.png

 

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

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

Until next time...Jen x

Week 8: What is Happening With Your Baby

 

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

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

  • Your baby is the size of a raspberry this week

  • Your baby is growing their eyes and ears.

  • Your baby's tail is nearly gone

 

 

 

 

Week 8: What Might Be Happening With Your Body

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

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

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

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

 

Pregnancy Tip: 

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