Posts Tagged ‘baby’

A couple of months after DD’s birth I wrote a post called Things they don’t tell you before or during a pregnancy which has been far and away my most viewed post. I still like it because I still think the things I wrote about aren’t talked about enough, and I still think knowledge is empowering! With that in mind, I thought I might write a follow up. For my second baby, I had some definite ideas about what to expect and also about what would be acceptable to me during pregnancy and birth, so this one feels a bit more serious. Here goes.

1. The professionals have your best interests at heart, but they also have their own best interests at heart. And your best interests, in the opinion of most midwives and consultants I’ve spoken to, are to have a healthy baby and be a healthy mother. Of course! You wouldn’t expect anything less. So their priority list goes: healthy baby, healthy mother, don’t get sued. Which is completely fine, but your own priority list might go: healthy baby, establish breastfeeding, look after mental health, be at home, etc etc. Or: healthy baby, be left alone. Or: healthy baby, don’t be left alone. Or whatever. Whichever way you look at it, your list of your own best interests is going to be longer and more complicated than the list your caregivers have, and sometimes that means there’s a clash of priorities, because their ‘don’t get sued’ is fighting for space with your ‘have a water birth despite being advised against it due to factors x, y and z.’ And of course, they’re professionals, and if they advise you to do something or not do something then you’d be stupid not to listen to them – but, and here’s the bit that makes me and other similarly-thinking mothers like me a giant pain in the midwife’s arse, you don’t have to take their advice. How you give birth is up to you. That means if you want an elective caesarean they cannot say no. And if you want to have a home birth, they cannot refuse to attend you. These, and any number of other things, are up to you.

Listen to the advice from your midwife and/or consultant, take it seriously, do your own research, talk to independent midwives, talk to a doula, talk to people you trust, make lists of pros and cons, decide on your own level of risk that you’re comfortable with or not, and make your own decision based on being informed and knowledgable, not scared. I was dead set on a home birth this time around. I saw a terrifying consultant who refused to go through DD’s birth notes with me but simply said no, and couldn’t or wouldn’t give me a reason other than ‘it would be dangerous’ while quoting anecdotes at me about babies that had died. I did masses of my own research and eventually my lovely community midwife got my notes from DD’s birth and went through them in her own time and explained them to me. My doula sat with me in the meeting because, frankly, I was an emotional wreck, and asked pertinent questions that I hadn’t thought of, and I asked more questions of my own. There was no pressure either way and eventually I decided, based on the facts that I wanted to go to hospital. So I came to the same conclusion as the terrifying consultant, and in terms of NHS time I’m sure she would have said I wasted it, but I felt a hell of a lot more confident in knowing that I had made an informed choice, and when I gave birth I was comfortable birthing in the place I’d chosen to be. So here’s a middle finger for Ms M the consultant. You were a cow.

2. A doula could change your life. Truly, madly, deeply. Our doula gave me confidence in my body, managed the birthing space, ensured I had the things I needed to feel comfortable, gave DH the space to do nothing but exactly what he and I wanted rather than having to worry about anything, and generally made me feel like an incredible goddess, doing a normal but wonderful, magical thing. She held my hand and said encouraging things and cried when our son swam into the world, and then she left us to our new bliss at the right time and came back a couple of days later to debrief, feed me homemade granola bars, kindly and gently support me and not judge me about how difficult I was finding breastfeeding (again), give our baby a bottle while I had a little cry and give me many hugs. I still see her occasionally and I am amazed every time at how good she makes me feel. I am convinced that my positive mental health and bonding with DS are in no small part down to how much compassion she showed me before, during and after labour. Not everyone wants a doula with them in labour and some people are horrified at the thought of a non-medical professional seeing them in such an intimate way, but if it’s something that interests you, do some research and find someone you click with. If finances are an issue then look into hiring a trainee (as we did) or apply for funding. Lots of information can be found at Doula UK.

3. Your body is strong but it is also delicate and needs to be taken care of. If you think you have any kind of prolapse, hernia or other pregnancy/birth related injury, don’t suffer in silence. There is a whole community of professionals out there who know how to help, but these are issues that people feel uncomfortable talking about and so many women are in pain as a result. Start with your GP and if they’re not helpful for any reason, look into physio, post-natal fitness specialists etc. There is so much help available. MuTu, which I’ve already written about, is one option for post-natal fitness, or a specialist personal trainer like Vanessa Barker (who is a friend of mine – there are many people like her though so look for someone local to you if she isn’t!). You would be surprised how many people have incontinence issues, pain during sex, spasms, tears that don’t heal etc etc. They’re not so common that pregnant women need to worry about them excessively, but they do happen, and if they’ve happened to you, you are not alone. I’ve been lucky with both pregnancies and births in physical terms, having a second degree tear with both that healed easily. I know several people who weren’t so lucky and getting help as early as possible is key to a swift recovery!

4. In many parts of the world the post-natal woman is positively tended to hand and foot for a significant chunk of time – up to three months in places. After DD’s birth as soon as I was released from hospital I was UP, entertaining, making cups of tea for visitors, keeping busy, keeping in charge, keeping in control. This was all despite my husband and mother both being there – I had no need to be out of bed, but I felt that somehow I must. In retrospect, this made my physical healing harder and it made my mental state more shaky. This time around one of the women leading our ante-natal Mindful Breath Birthing course said something that really resonated with me – that post-natal women who have had straightforward births need to try to spend roughly five days in bed, five days on the bed and five days near the bed. I did. It was bliss. I stretched, I did my pelvic floor exercises, I pottered a very little around the house (to the bathroom and back mostly!), but mostly I – and the baby – were in bed. If anyone wanted to see us, they came to us. I didn’t make a single cup of tea or a single meal. I just recovered, stayed mostly naked with my mostly naked baby and, as far as possible with a tiny, fragile, up all night newborn, relaxed!

5. Babies are different to each other, including to their siblings. DD arrived after an awful labour experience, screamed a LOT as a newborn and then slept through the night and self settled from 3 months. DS arrived after an amazing labour experience, doesn’t cry very much but also doesn’t sleep for longer than a couple of hours or self settle, and he’s 6 months now. If you’ve got one and you think you’ve got parenting nailed, you may be in for a shock when the next arrives! But they’re different in wonderful ways too. They have their own personalities and their own wondrous gazes and their own amazing ability to poo at 40mph. Even when you’re at the end of your tether and just. want. to. go. the. fuck. to. sleep. they will surprise you and make you laugh through your gritted teeth. Babies are hilarious, tiny dictators. And even if you’re sure you never want to go through it again and you’ve decided you’re definitely done with having children, the sight of a tiny new one will make you ache.

That’s it really. If I ever have a no. 3 I’ll write another list!


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I completely forgot that I used to write this blog. Just like a diet, when you get to goal and you stop trying, I guess I did the same with this. And then tonight, on a whim, I logged into wordpress and saw something completely astonishing…in the 2 or so years since I last posted, I have had over 25,000 views.


I’m amazed my ramblings were interesting enough to get one person reading, much less 25,000. (Or maybe it was one person, 25,000 times. Hm…)

Anyway, as I’m here, I thought I should update. Did I gain all the weight back when I stopped thinking about WW and my diet? Well, yes, but I had a good reason for it – our baby boy is now 6 months old and an adorable addition to the family. I maintained well until I got pregnant and then I didn’t quite gain all of it back, thank God, presumably because I was SO much healthier before this second pregnancy than I was last time around. In fact it was annoying because I really didn’t gain much at all during this one until the last month or so when my PGP got so bad I was reduced to lying on the sofa all day while poor DD amused herself at my feet. I gained a stone in 5 weeks. Ugh. But anyway, gorgeous DS arrived, all was good with the world, I celebrated with lots of cake, waited the requisite 6 weeks and trotted back to WW. And now, here I am, oh so nearly but not quite back in the healthy zone. I’m currently weighing in at 11st 9lbs and a size 12, so I’ve got just under a stone till I’m officially BMI OK, and then another stone or so until I’m back to where I’m comfortable.

This time round it’s coming off much more slowly. Much more. By this point last time I’d lost over 3 stone! But I have a feeling I’ve buggered my metabolism by being fat then getting pregnant then dieting then getting pregnant then dieting, so I’m happy for it to come off more slowly and hopefully not do any more damage. I’m also being more proactive about exercise this time round, and have started doing the MuTu System which is designed to rebuild core strength after pregnancy (any time after – even 30 years after – quite extraordinary!) and help close Diastasis Recti. Wendy Powell, the genius behind it, advocates eating whole foods and little sugar (it’s a sort-of-almost-approximation of Paleo – ish) and I’ve been following those rules as much as possible, while continuing to count ProPoints just to check that my portion sizes are under control. There’s also a Facebook group to go along with the exercise videos from Wendy with a lot of super inspirational Mamas helping each other out, which I’m enjoying a lot.

So that’s it, that’s where I am. I don’t fit into most of my clothes but I’m on the way to feeling strong, I have the most scrumptious baby you can imagine, a completely mental and delightful three year old, a very tired but very wonderful husband and life is pretty damn sweet. And now I’ve remembered I’ve got a blog to write.

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