Category Archives: Pregnancy

Things you may want to know about Being Induced

induced

Being induced is something that no-one wants but many of us pregnant first timers end up going overdue and needing to be induced. To be honest, no-one talked to me about being induced very much and the most information I got was from a leaflet I was given by my midwife. So when I was sent off to the hospital at 12 days overdue to start the process, I wasn’t very sure what was going to happen. This is what happened to me; you may experience things differently, I guess it all depends on your pregnancy and what they advise. This may give some idea though of what can happen when you are induced. I had absolutely no twinges, no pains, and both times a sweep had been tried, I was told that my cervix was still closed. So this baby really was going nowhere fast.

I had to wait until a certain day (I was 12 days overdue) and then call the ward, and they then told me when I should come in. I was told to call at 12, which I did, and then was told to call back at 3 as there was no beds. So even before you get there, you have to wait! I used this time to have the last supper as it were, at Pizza Express. You may wish to do something more useful such as packing stuff, but I recommend doing something nice. I was half hoping I’d go into labour halfway through my Pollo Ad Astra, but alas, it was not to be. Eventually the ward called me back, and told me to come in at 7pm that night.

It’s A Waiting Game

The first thing I am going to say, is that being induced is a long, boring, waiting game. I had some notion of going in to hospital and it all being done by the next day. Nope. Some people may be lucky and things may kick off a bit quicker for them, but for me, I was in hospital for three days before they put in the drip, which is the last resort.

To start with, I was taken to the antenatal ward. You don’t go to delivery suite until you are in established labour. This means that you are admitted to hospital, and therefore visitors and birth partners have to adhere to the visiting times rules. My partner Dan could stay with me at certain times of the day, and visitors could come at the normal visiting times. It meant Dan could stay with me most of the day, and visitors for a couple of hours in the afternoon and the evening.

The Pessary

The first thing they did for me was put in a pessary which was to soften my cervix to make it ripe. They put this in and then leave you for 24 hours! It’s basically a tampon-like thing they put up there, and a tape dangles down. Once put in you have to lie down for about half an hour or so and have a heart monitor thing done, but after that you can more or less do what you like. I’d already had 2 attempts at a sweep and it was clear my cervix was clamped shut, therefore I needed the pessary to sort this out. So then you have 24 hours of basically waiting around, with people taking your blood pressure and doing baby monitoring every so often.

After 24 hours, I had an examination, where I was happily told that I was about 2-3cm and could have my waters broken. This was about 7pm on the saturday evening. You have to go down to delivery suite to have your waters broken, and so you have to wait for there to be space, and a midwife, for you. Of course, as you are not in established labour, the priority are people who are, and therefore, this can be quite a wait. I ended up waiting 21 hours before they sent me down to have my waters broken. The midwife did a stretch and sweep after examining me, and I can tell you that it was the most excruciating thing I have ever had done. I started having some mild pains, but was told to rest and get some sleep, as best as I could. I really hoped this had kick started everything off, but alas by the morning, these pains had subsided. Therefore I was just waiting, yet again. I read a book, I watched TV a bit, I listened to the radio. I ate the dodgy hospital food. I waited for visitors to be allowed in. I packed up all my things, and then had to get most of it out again as I was waiting so long.

Breaking Your Waters

Once you get down to delivery suite, you are shown to your room, and you have to go through all the questions and introductions and everything again. Then, you have your waters broken, which for me, was a bit uncomfortable but no more so than a smear test or the stretch and sweep (after the one I’d had the day before, everything else was much less painful than that). You are then told to walk around, bounce, keep mobile, and try to get things going. I think you get about 2-3 hours to get things going before they go to the next step. I walked around the hospital a bit, had some fresh air, got a drink, and bounced on a ball a bit. I was having some mild pains but nothing that bad. I could still talk quite happily through it all. As I didn’t really know what I was supposed to be feeling, it was a bit irritating the midwives keep asking me “Anything happening yet?”. I just thought once I started screaming in agony, they’d probably know, and so would I. So again, more waiting around, more wondering, more thinking and not really knowing what I was doing.

So, for me, breaking my waters had no real effect. And so I was told I needed the drip. I was anxious about this as I had been told that the drip does make contractions more painful. But for me, there seemed no other option. So I had to wait for a midwife to be available to set the drip up. One midwife came and put the venflon in (which, I hadn’t had done before, and as a nurse, I had supported people to have put in. It was actually quite painful and uncomfortable and made using my left hand rather difficult, so I now appreciate a lot more why people don’t like them). I then had to wait for a midwife to start it off.

The Drip and the Start of Contractions

Basically, from what I can remember, the drip is put in, and every half an hour they up the dose. So you start with 2mls, then 4mls, then 8mls, up until a certain amount (I think 12? but don’t quote me on that). Then they stop upping it when you are having strong regular contractions. I think it takes a few hours to get to that point.

When they start the drip, they also hook you up to the monitor so that they can monitor the baby’s heartbeat. This means you have to sit on the bed and not move. initially they told me this would only be for a bit and then I could walk around for a bit, which I was desperate to do. (However, it turned out I had to be strapped to the monitor for the whole thing. It was not what I wanted, and I felt very trapped and stuck on the bed, which was very uncomfortable for me. I had to at times take myself off the monitor to get up and walk around, or go to the loo. That bed was agony.)

So, at about 7.30pm I was started off on the drip. How exciting! This is it, I thought. It was terrifying and exciting at the same time. Waiting to feel pain, and wanting to feel the pain, is a bizarre experience indeed. It was lovely to feel that my baby was going to be here within the next 24 hours, though. It wasn’t long, maybe an hour, before I started to feel the pains a bit stronger. For me, these felt like a ‘wave’ of pain, very much like period pain, it wasn’t a physical sensation of tightening at all, but a feeling, of pain building up and then ebbing away again, much like a wave lapping the sand on a beach. It wasn’t too bad initially, and I was chatting away to my sister and Dan, who were my birth partners. But the more they whacked it up, the more painful it became. Panic is a natural reaction and you have to calm yourself down. No-one had discussed pain relief with me, and I asked about gas and air, which I was given. I was examined and I was 4cm when they gave me the gas and air. However I didn’t get the hang of it very quickly, and by this time the pains were starting to come thick and fast, as they kept cranking it up. I tried to do without it, but the pains were then extremely close together and so I asked for pethidine. At almost the same time as I was given the pethidine, I worked out how to use the gas and air, and so I managed to relax my breathing, and basically had gas and air, and concentrated on my breathing, for a few hours. For me, the pethidine and gas and air was enough, but I had been on the verge of having an epidural if I hadn’t grasped how to use the gas and air. So now I was in established labour.

So that was the Induction process for me. The next bit is about the birth and I will blog about this soon.

So, what do I think you need to remember if you’re having an induction?

  • Remember your notes! And your birth plan. It may not be part of your plan to be induced, and a water birth may be now out of the picture, but you can adapt it and it does give the midwives something to go on.
  • Take books, magazines, MP3 Player to occupy you as it is a waiting game
  • Get as much information as possible about the process and what the plan is for you – I wasn’t vocal enough and didn’t really understand what was happening at times.
  • Be brave enough to tell people if there is anything you’re not happy with or you don’t want to happen
  • Bring snacks in as hospital food is crap and if you’re waiting a long time, you will need something to keep your energy up
  • Try and get visitors to spread themselves out across visiting times so that you have different people to see and other things to talk about
  • Don’t bring in your baby things until you get to delivery suite or else you have way too much stuff with you
  • Bring lots of PJs, slippers and tops, and don’t bother with proper clothes – someone can bring these in for you once you need them. Try short-sleeved as 1) its boiling on the wards and 2) easier for bloods, blood pressure, etc to be undertaken.
  • Try and get people to take things back you find you don’t need or else you accumulate a load of stuff to bring to delivery suite which you don’t need – I had so much stuff it was ridiculous.
  • Make sure you have a bottle of water and an energy drink with you when you are on delivery suite – I wasn’t allowed to eat in case I needed a c-section but was allowed water and energy drink (I had lucozade orange sports drink)
  • Bring money in with you – for TV, snacks, papers etc. It’s awful if you haven’t got any change and you’re desperate for a drink other than tea or water.
  •  Let visitors know about visiting times and how many can visit at once etc before you go in – I could only have 2 visitors plus Dan so when more people came it was a bit of a hassle and got me stressed.
  • Bring in or get someone to bring in once you know you’re going to delivery suite, a birthing ball if you have one or any other equipment you want – I had to wait ages for someone to find a birth ball for me, as they only had these on the birth suite, but I did feel it helped in the early stages.
  • Ask about what happens after the birth – I didn’t have a clue what happened next. Turns out you go to postnatal ward!

 

Money matters: money saving during Maternity leave

I recently took part in a tots100 twitter chat about money-saving. I realised throughout the conversation that I had quite a few money saving tips. This is something I am particularly conscious about during my maternity leave; the longer I am off, the less money I get, and eventually the money will stop. It’s not nice when you have to factor in your finances when you just want to spend time with your baby, but the fact is, if I run out of money, I will have to return to work, and that is the last thing I want to do before my year is out.

Image Courtesy of -Marcus- www.freedigitalphotos.net

Image Courtesy of -Marcus- www.freedigitalphotos.net

For me, this year is more than just being a Mum; it’s about taking time to be yourself, focusing on what’s important, and not having to worry about the stresses and strains that work can bring. There is a lot of debate at the moment about working vs staying at home parents. I love my job as a nurse and working with patients is very rewarding.  I know I will have to return to work as I am the one who earns the most money. I am OK with this in one respect as I worked very hard to get where I am in my vocation, but on the other hand I do feel sad that for me, there is no real choice. We rent our house and if we want any chance of getting a mortgage and continuing to save for a deposit I need to return to work full-time. Anyone who says looking after your children at home is easy, probably hasn’t had one. The last 8 weeks have been a challenge and I can see that whilst it does get easier, the challenges still arise for you to overcome whatever age. There have been times in the last 8 weeks I have thought about going back to work just for a break! Even going back to work takes some thinking about, as costs of childcare are a big chunk of your wage. It is not an easy decision to make but I am holding off thinking about the realities of that for now. This year, for me, is more important than ever and I want to enjoy every moment. This means thinking ahead with regards to money is really important each month I get my wages. I don’t know whether I will get this chance again so I want to enjoy it and not stress!

In case it is useful for anyone else out there here is what I have done/am doing/am planning to do with regards to money, money saving, and all that jazz to make this maternity leave a success.

Baby Expenses

Having a baby is an expensive time and there is no getting away from that. But I think it is up to you how expensive you want to make it. All babies need the essentials – nappies, wipes or cotton wool, clothes, somewhere to sleep and if required feeding equipment. All the other bits and pieces are lovely, but you don’t *need* them. Of course you want to buy things but I would say hold off, as there are probably a lot of family members who want to buy something or may want to contribute to something you want. Save the things you’d like for people to buy you, rather than spending your own money on these.

Spread the cost

During my pregnancy I focused on buying things that I would need once the baby came. Every shop at the supermarket I started to buy a few baby wipes if they were on offer, or nappies, nappy sacks, creams, etc. This way it was just a few pounds added on the shopping, but now the baby is here I have quite a few packs of wipes and creams to work my way through!

Free Baby Things

By joining baby clubs you can get free samples and some give you a free gift for signing up. These are also great ways of getting money off coupons, and finding out about baby events when the shops do some money-saving deals.

Sainsbury’s Little Ones – Nectar card members can get a free gift when they join the baby club

Asda baby and Toddler club – sign up and get a free gift

Boots Parenting Club – get extra advantage points on baby products and a free changing bag

Tesco Baby and Toddler Club – Get vouchers and free parking permit for the parent parking

Aptamil baby club – I got a free cuddly toy and tea and bath products sent to me

Mothercare Baby and Me Club – Money off vouchers and invite to in store events where you can get freebies and advice

Emma’s Diary – You can pick up a pack of goodies from Argos or superdrug when you join and I was also sent a free sample pack from Johnson’s because I had signed up with them.

I also got free samples by looking on specific brand websites such as nappy creams, nappies, etc

Bepanthen – free sample on their website

Competitions

There are a load of competitions out there which are baby related. There are many on blogs (see my favourite blogs post for some to get you started) and many brands and companies do competitions through twitter or Facebook. I have won bibs, tickets to the baby show, shoes, clothes, toiletries and books doing competitions on twitter. If you search #win or #RTtowin on twitter a lot of competitions will crop up to look through. Or a site like twitninja shows you what competitions are out there. Beware though, it will fill your followers timelines! Websites such as Direct2Mum are great for competitions (I won a maternity dress on there!) and bounty also have loads of competitions on their website. I think you may as well be in it to win it!

Pay off any debts if you can during pregnancy

I prioritized paying off my credit cards during my pregnancy. This would free up money in my pay packet and would mean I didn’t ‘owe’ anyone anything once I was on maternity leave. I was lucky in that I had paid off my small student loan by the time I was pregnant and was nearing finishing the payments on my car too. This meant in theory I have more money in my pay packet than I did before. As I was used to paying this amount out of my pay packet I put the money I had extra into savings.

Get Utility Bills Sorted

Make sure that you are on the right tariffs for gas and electric and get in the habit of taking your gas and electric meter readings to ensure you get accurate bills. You also have to factor in higher heating and electric bills as you are at home all day and so they will go up.

Use Apps to make savings and get offers

I use apps all the time to get money off,  special offers and sometimes even free things. I am with O2 for my mobile phone, and o2 Moments app gives you special offers, deals and money off. This is especially good for things such as restaurants, cinema and shopping deals. Download the apps for your favourite brands and sign up for newsletters for special offers and discounts.

Nectar app is a good way to get bonus nectar points on your shopping and the search facility within it also earns you extra points. Your Gas and Electric meter readings can also accrue nectar points.

Other Savings

Some employers have deals with local businesses so check out with HR or on the weekly newsletter or notice boards if there are any deals – I have had discounted Gym membership through this, for example.

If you are an NHS Employee you can get discounts as high street shops and restaurants,and usually in businesses local to the hospital, if you show your work ID. I have had reduced cost hair cuts doing this for example. Show your card in high street shops that accept student cards as they may also accept your card.

Also, if family members work for some companies there can be incentives or money off deals for the family on days out etc.

Do You Have Any Money Tips?

So this is what I have done and am doing with regards to money during my maternity leave. I am sure I have probably missed some things out so I’ll add more posts if I think of any more. If you have any money-saving tips or advice for others then let me know and I’ll add it to the post. Most of all, enjoy maternity leave and try not to worry about money too much! That’s what I’m trying to do anyway!

Overdue and Overasked!

Well, I am now 10 days overdue! What on earth is that about? I was prepared to go over my due date but to be honest I feel 10 days is taking the piss slightly.

I have had a pretty trouble free pregnancy, and health wise things have been good, and I have been lucky. So I can’t really complain that I have to wait a bit longer. However, since about the week before my due date I have been inundated with nosey parkers and people I barely know and my actually family who also drive me mad…asking me where the baby is?

Er, it’s quite evidently still in my bloody stomach!

I have had people tell me to eat curry!, pineapple, have sex, bounce on my ball, go for a hike, jump up and down, drink raspberry leaf tea, and god knows what else. As if I hadnt thought of any of these before! They look at me as if to say, ‘What are you playing at, Emily? Why havent you had the baby?’ as if I am purposely clenching my cervix together to keep this baby in.

I know people mean well, and the effect of having a baby spreads far and wide – it brings happiness to a lot of people, even people I havent even met (people at my sisters work have been knitting and crocheting things for the baby!) and in a way its nice that it can have such a positive affect on people. But I dont appreciate people hassling me for news. They start subtley.

1st Cousin Twice Removed: ‘Are you OK’? (interpretation: have you had this baby yet?’)

Me: Yes am fine

1st Cousin Twice Removed: ‘Any News?’ (interpretation: why havent you mentioned the baby yet?’)

Me: ‘No News!’

Now, I’m pretty sure that if I had anything to say, I would have told you – Im not likely to hide my newborn baby away and pretend to be pregnant just for the sake of it.

And if anyone tells me again that first babies are always late blah blah blah – it’s stuff I already know, actually. Talk to me about eastenders, or the news, or whether ive eaten a horsemeat burger. But please stop trying to inquire about my cervix.

Yes, I know it appears that being pregnant I have signed away my dignity, apparently (thanks Mum for that pearl of wisdom), but I actually dont want to talk about my vagina all day long, or my cervix. When people realise I am so overdue, they ask me ‘Have I had a sweep yet?’ meaning a stretch and sweep. I’m not that comfortable having to discuss such things to my partner’s Mother’s neighbours.

To top it off, the midwives have tried a stretch and sweep twice and both times my cervix has been clamped shut. Therefore when people ask this, and I say yes, It sort of leads to having to explain my cervix is not open. and hence more conversations about how to get it to open. It’s not stuff I like to discuss on the driveway. I dont understand why people have to ask such intimate questions. Like they tell me to have sex! start talking to me about sperm and its effect on the cervix! To. Much. Information….

It’s funny though, when I ask them if they want a photo of the aftermath of the birth and its affect on my vagina, they start to shut up a bit…..

So, anyway, here I am, 10 days overdue, ready to punch the next person who tells me to eat a vindaloo. I have been booked in for an Induction. I know I could leave it a bit longer, leave it to nature, see what happens but I am tired. Yes, I am tired of being pregnant. I have been feeling a bit lost these 10 days and it has only reinforced my feelings that I feel this is not really happening to me, and I still can’t imagine actually having a baby to look after. So I’d rather just get it over with. I am also worried about leaving it too long due to risks of stillbirth and I know the placenta does start to shut down after a certain length of time. After all I have been through, I don’t want anything to happen now.

So I have maximum 2 days to go before they start me off. Which to my organised mind, makes me feel better as I have something to aim for, and something to prepare for. If it happens in the next 2 days naturally, then all the better. And it will at least shut people up for now. I am going to spend the next two days coming up with a list of witty and possible offensive responses to the inevitable array of questions I will get once baby appears….

 

Drinks in Pregnancy – Pregnancy Tips

 Drinks in Pregnancy

Alcohol

Not that I’m an alcoholic but it was a little difficult to adjust initially to the sober lifestyle. My midwife advised me that current guidelines state that 1-2 units of alcohol per week is OK but then I had read other information that told me that it is best to abstain from alcohol altogether – advice on NHS Choices website. To be honest I felt so sick initially I didn’t fancy any alcohol anyway! But for me it was not the lack of alcohol but the lack of variety of alcohol-free drinks when I went out and about.

Surely it would be better and healthier to promote different drinks especially in this day and age when people may not be able to drink as they are driving andso on.  I like going out and about and I still went to concerts, gigs and other events whilst pregnant. However there is only so much diet coke you can drink. It did make me a cheap date though!

water was one of the limited non-alcohol choices at Hard Rock Calling

water was one of the limited non-alcohol choices at Hard Rock Calling

Caffeine

As well as the well-known lack of alcohol in pregnancy, one thing I hadn’t realised was that in pregnancy you should also cut down the amount of caffeine you drink (200mg a day – the equivalent of two mugs of instant coffee). This meant that I had to cut down on my beloved tea. However this has meant I have widened the variety of drinks I consume. You should be aware that caffeine can also be in items such as Cola and chocolate – I found good advice at NHS Choices website.

Alternatives to Alcohol and Caffeine Drinks

At home and at family’s houses I was able to experiment a bit with drinks and some pubs also had a good selection. Some restuarants and pubs also do mockails which can be a good alternative and something a bit more fancy.  Some of my favourite drinks have been:

 

Enjoying a Mocktail on My Birthday!

Enjoying a Mocktail on My Birthday!

 

  • Crabbie’s Ginger (Non-alcoholic) Beer – this is the original John Crabbie’s ginger beer which is not alcoholic. I found this in the non-drinks aisle near other glass bottled drinks such as appletizer. This is a lovely refreshing drink and in my opinion extremely close in taste to the alcoholic version. It is lovely, refreshing and the ‘kick’ of ginger make you feel a bit perky.
  • Soda water and lime cordial – this is something you can get in most pubs and restaurants. It’s cheap, tastes nice and I can almost pretend I have vodka in there too (good when you’re keeping schtum in the early weeks and you don’t want people to notice you’re not drinking.). I bought loads of soda water at home and experimented with different cordials – cherry and lime were my favourite choices (not together I may add). I used this soda water and found it kept fizzy for quite a few days and tasted nice.
  • Elderflower Cordial – refreshing and a nice alternative which I found as a nice replacement to drink at dinner instead of wine
  • Tea/Herbal teas –  I found Yorkshire decaf tea the best substitute for real tea. I have always enjoyed herbal teas, but if you haven’t drank them before they can taste a little bland initially. I keep the teabag in my cup to ensure the flavour is strong, and you do need to leave your cup to brew for a few good minutes. Herbal teas are much more delicate flavour than regular tea so beware of this, brew well and give it a go! My favourite herbal teas are peppermint, raspberry and elderflower, lemon and ginger (nice if you feel a bit sickly), camomile (good if you feel a little stressed) and Liptons Moroccan mint but there are loads out there so experiment.
  • Water – sounds silly but drinking loads of water in pregnancy is a must! Keeping hydrated will help keep nausea at bay, help keep you alert when you feel tired, and generally make you feel healthy and glowing!
  • Lemonade/Sprite/7up – great substitutes for cola and  Sprite and 7Up are both caffeine free which is good to know!
  • J20 – I don’t particularly like J20 as they have a lot of sugar in them but at Christmas they do a lovely glitter drink which does make you feel like you’re having a special drink at this festive time of year!
  • Alcohol free wines and beers– Now I didn’t really drink many varieties of alcohol-free wine or beer but I do think you have to check the labels carefully as it does state some alcohol content – many alcohol-free wines and beers have 0.05% alcohol or similar. I tried Becks Blue at my work’s Christmas Party and found it to be a decent replica of a bottle of beer. I have also tried Sainsbury’s Non alcoholic sparkling wine – this was OK if you like the taste of what I can only describe as flat lambrini! (took me back to my university days! except with no hangover)

Anyway there are a few ideas that have worked for me throughout my pregnancy. What alternatives have you found worked for you? I really have enjoyed having different drinks, and I can honestly say that most of the time I haven’t really missed alcohol. This is good of course as I am intending on breastfeeding so I will mostly be continuing in the same style I have got accustomed to! But I shall look forward to grasping a great big mug of steaming tea after the birth knowing I can have as many as I like!

What to Wear When You’re Expecting: My Tips

clothes

 

Pregnancy Tips

As I reach the end of my pregnancy I have been considering what wisdom I can pass onto others. When I think about it, it’s quite difficult to think of what advice I would give other pregnant women; everyone is different and we all experience pregnancy differently.  I will post a different ‘tip’ as and when I remember something important.

Tip No 1: Clothes

Don’t rush out and buy maternity clothes – high street cheap brands work just as well. I didn’t put much weight on and still am wearing the same tops and jumpers as I did before I was pregnant.

What I have found is that a lot of maternity clothes are online and not necessarily on the high street, or a much smaller selection on the high street. M&S, John Lewis, Next all were online and not in the shops. It’s best to try to go to the larger stores as they are more likely to have a maternity section.

I did however invest in some stuff which I have outlined below.

(If you buy maternity wear buy your normal size as that should fit and accommodate but look on individual website for their sizing guide.)

‘Ings’

Initially things like leggings are great as you are still you’re usual size but you may feel a bit more bloated and need more room to breathe. I also did buy some jeggings (I hate that word! and in fact I hated myself for buying them) as they were elasticated and fitted better than my jeans. These teamed with tea dresses or summer dresses make for a rather fashionable outfit and it’s comfy.

Trousers
When I started looking at trousers I had no idea what I was choosing. However in hindsight I would go for above/over bump rather than under bump but that’s my personal opinion. Over the bump I felt fitted better and was more comfy; under the bump I felt the trousers were falling down. I also like that with over the bump, the material over your bump acts a bit of extra material to your tops so you’re not showing your midriff off.

Tops

I didn’t bother with those bandeau tops or anything like that – vest tops or t-shirts under other tops worked just as well for me and were much cheaper! As I just said as well the over the bump trousers also act as a cover for your midriff.  Vest tops and t-shirts are great, comfy and go with anything, especially for work

What Did I Actually Buy:

Maternity jeans:- I bought these ones from Next and I must say theyhave fitted reallywell and have been really comfy.

Work trousers – I also got these from Next – I didn’t even need to tighten them up at all and probably could have got away with a smaller size.These were under the bump and as they were slouchy were very comfy but as I said with under the bump I did feel that they were more prone to fall a bit.

Stretchy PJ’s from Marks and Sparks (not maternity)- a size up from my usual. These were great for getting into as soon as I got home from work, really comfy and great for those initial months when you feel rather bloated and sicky.

H&M do lovely maternity clothes reasonably priced. I bought 2 jumpers and a dress (I was pregnant during the Christmas party time otherwise I wouldn’t have bought one really) from there which fitted really well and have lasted me throughout my pregnancy. They change the styles often so always lots to choose from.

 

 

Shoes

Seriously think about shoes! My feet seemed to ache a hell of a lot more as soon as I was pregnant. As having a job where I was on my feet for a large proportion of the day, as well as walking to and from work, I had to ditch the fashion shoes and go for something more quality instead. I bought some Clarks slip on shoes which were £29 but they are still in brilliant condition today and I must say a very good and comfy pair of shoes and I probably should have got a decent pair of shoes anyway. I also bought some ‘ugg’ style boots from Primark for £6 which were lovely to walk in when it was cold or my feet felt a bit swollen or sore. Sandals/flip-flops again are comfy to wear but I found my feet ached if I wore them all day. I also would get some slipper socks or slippers as there’s nothing better than getting into your PJ’s and a nice pair of slipper socks when you’re feeling like death of an evening.

Look and Feel Good

Clothes are a necessity and you want to feel good in pregnancy and look good too, not a frumpy fat thing. Look at what options you have and try things on, treat yourself to some nice clothes but mix and match with stuff you already have. I wouldn’t spend more money on ‘maternity’ clothes if I can find something that fits and is not maternity as they are loads cheaper.

I hope some of this may be useful to you – please let me know what you think of my tips and if you have any yourself let me know!

Gender Agenda: The Gender Issue in Pregnancy

GENDER

Pregnancy isn’t a time you may think about gender issues but it appears that from the moment of conception there is one question that everybody seems to want to know – what sex is it? is it a boy or a girl?

Finding out the sex of a baby has been something that over the last 30-odd years has become more relevant. More and more people are finding out the sex at their 20 week scans. It seems now it is more usual to know the sex rather than leave it as a surprise. My partner and I had lots of discussions about finding out the sex. He really wanted to, whereas I was in two minds, Our families were vehemently against us finding out (which to my rebel mind made me sort of want to find out) but it wasn’t until we were in the scan room that we decided not to find out. In the end I chickened out of it – just being pregnant and getting so far was enough for me – I didn’t want to have to process that information as well. And in a way I wanted to keep this little person a mystery for a bit longer as well. My partner has coped well with not knowing but for him, it is different. He can’t feel the baby like I can, he isn’t growing the baby like I am. Knowing the sex for him, he argued, would help him to bond. But as it has turned out he has just called the baby his little mate, and has bonded just as well not knowing. I don’t have anything against people who find out before, as I said I only decided not to once in the room. But it is the experience I have had since not finding out the sex which has made me think about the issue of gender. Nowadays it appears we need to categorise and tick boxes about people before they are even born.

One question I am getting sick of is – “What do you want, a boy or a girl?” as if that is the only question that concerns me about having a baby. My answer is, I don’t mind. Then they ask “What do you think it is?” To which I reply “I don’t know, and I don’t really think about it”. They look at me as if I am mad. It’s as if I NEED to have a preference, that we need to have some idea in our minds of who we are, or who we want our children to be, from the very beginning. Why would I favour one sex over another? Is a boy worth more than a girl? Surely having any baby is a big enough challenge in itself.

I am a girl (obviously) and I was brought up in a family with 2 other sisters. It was a female household apart from my Dad – even the Dog was a girl. My childhood was not all pink dolls and pretend ironing boards though – I helped my dad build cupboards, carry washing machines, and I even went to football – I still do. I still remember the day when I realised I wouldn’t be able to play in a Football Team – as I was a girl. I still enjoyed Barbie dolls, and music, nail varnish and the like – but I also liked doing other things, seemingly ‘male’ things. I also remember when I requested to do Resistant Materials at school for GCSE – I was put in the Textiles group. Oh yay me. (You should see the cushion I eventually managed to put together – I keep it as a sign of my ability to make applique look like a map of my varicose veins)

What I’m getting back to is that I am not too concerned with sexual stereotypes. I am who I am. I like being a woman, I like who I am. I like the fact that I can give life to another, and give birth and all that shizzle. What I don’t like is the expectations that we can put on ourselves or others, including babies. Interests and personalities shouldn’t be dictated by gender.

It’s quite unnerving how the gender divide is apparent right from the start of pregnancy. Not knowing the sex of the baby, buying anything for the baby that isn’t pink or blue was surprisingly difficult. Moses baskets, babygros, blankets, even car seats are seemingly gender specific. I found it rather annoying to walk into a shop and see boys clothes on one side and girls clothes on the other. A baby is a baby – a babygro is a babygro – why is it any different? I started having arguments with my partner – he felt some things were too ‘boy’ or too ‘girl’ – I just liked the look of them and bought them anyway. I even dislike the way even I find pink or blue selected as ‘boy’ or ‘girl’ – why can’t I just see them as colours? And why are boys clothes lots of lovely bright colours and why are girls clothes all pink or purple? And don’t get me started on toys!

I like the fact I don’t know what sex my baby is yet. In a way I find it rather odd that very soon they will have a name (another issue – I have to NAME this baby – a NAME that will stick with them for the REST OF THEIR LIVES) and an identity of their own. They are who they are. And soon enough they will be girl/boy and have a path in life, but it’s up to them what they do in that life, and up to me to provide them with opportunities to broaden their horizons and have experiences – irrespective of their gender. This sometimes rattles me as I realise I have some influence in this and I hope I do a good job. I just don’t want my son/daughter to have to feel they have to be anything or anyone they don’t want to be. It’s fine to be proud of who you are – it’s OK to enjoy being a boy or a girl – but life shouldn’t just boil down to what bits we have, surely?!

Losing My Identity?

One thing I am rather concerned about is losing my identity as a person, once Ive had the baby. I suspect if anyone is reading this who has had a baby, will be laughing at that statement right now.

As things draw nearer to the due date, an overwhelming feeling of unsettlment and fear is coming over me. How much of the ‘me’ I now know, will be there once the baby has been born and sleep deprivation has destroyed many of my brain cells?

I am also wondering how I will be as a ‘Mum’, Just referring myself as a Mum at the moment makes me feel a bit awkward. I don’t ‘feel’ like a Mum. What does a Mum feel like anyway?

Another thought of mine is that I dont really want to be like my own mother. I wonder if everyone says that?! Is it part of nature that you metamorhasise into your own mother?!

There are parts of ,my Mum I of course want to be like. I love my Mum but I dont neccessarily agree with everything she has done to bring me up as well as my siblings. I know we all make mistakes but surely there are things we can take from our upbringing and make concious decisions about how we want to bring up our children in comparison to how we were brought up?

A lot of my friends don’t live near me and so I am also aware I need to make a big effort to start making friends which are baby related. Living in bristol I know a lot of people but havent really found a group of friends like myself, work doesnt help as I work with mainly people over the age of 40 which never really meant wild nights out.

I appear to and I can be rather critical, and I have quite a dark sense of humour which sometimes people just don’t ‘get’. I love having a laugh and I enjoy a glass of wine and a boogey once and a while. I just hope that I can keep myself and extend myself as a Mum rather than turn myself into a totally different person. And I hope this means that as a Mum I get to make ‘mum’ friends who are also like me.

People don’t really talk about what it feels like to be a Mum and how it changes you as a person, as your identity changes. At this moment in time I can’t comprehend how this baby will make me feel, how it will change me, and I suspect all this other stuff will fade into significance. But as long as I can try and hold on to the essence of me, I’m hoping that it will be OK.

Sneaking Up on You

Pregnancy. It sort of sneaks up on you,you know. One minute you’re feeling naseous and wondering why you have a really, really bad 3 day hangover and the next you find out you’re up the duff.

You then spend the next 8 or more weeks in denial, trying not to tell anyone your news, trying to act ‘normal’, pretending to drink wine whilst eyeballing your drunk partner who’s had to literally drink for two. At the same time as anxiety levels rising and thinking you’re about to heamorrage everywhere  due to a tweak, twinge or just breathing. Oh and feeling so sick and so tired you can’t really function.

Then having a scan, seeing the baby and realising ‘fuck, I am actually having a baby’.

Then having to tell everyone, having to deal with the extreme happiness, and what some would say madness, of family members who are of course excited about the news. Having to contain your mother from buying out Mothercare, and tolerating her constant calls and texts about a non-existent ‘bump’. And bump names! Dont get me started on bump names. You are constantly trying to calm everyone else down as it’s too early, you can’t think that far ahead, No Mum I’m not sure what position I’ll give birth in – IT’S TOO SOON CALM DOWN

You have to keep working, keep focused, every appointment and scan is a step towards the big day. But every time you realise you’re not that far ahead and it’s all a long way to go, and you have to suppress you’re excitement as your Mother is calling again with baby names and her opinion on breastfeeding and have you felt it kick yet.

And then WHAM – you’re sat at home 36 weeks pregnant and you realise that it really isnt too soon that you are actually having a baby and it will be within the next  weeks. Oh Joy!

Everything you have had to suppress for so long, suddenly you can think about. And I tell you now it’s a bit of a mindfuck, really.

I have no idea what I’m actually doing, what I’m feeling and now Im so close Im wondering whether I should have listened more to the 80 year old obsetric physio at the antenatal class rather than laugh at her gyrating on a play mat simulating birth.

At least One Born Every Minute is back on the TV, right?!