Archive for ‘pregnancy health’

April 10, 2013

Where is baby no. 2?

Well, back to the blogdom.  These posts are so infrequent that they are more like a very neglected personal diary, collecting dust on the shelf but that’s what happens when you’re a working mum (with a sloth-like tendency for laziness).

Anyway. I’m back to vent about my troubles TTC (that’s trying to conceive, for anyone who hasn’t been in this position before).

After having Lottie I wanted a reasonable break.  In fact, I distinctly remember saying for the first three months after she was born that I was never having another one. EVAH, and at the same time thinking that people who had huge families (i.e. anyone with more than one kid) was nutso. This is despite, pre-baby, always wanting at least three kids to call my own.

Then about 6 months ago that magical memory-erasing wand was waved over me where I forgot how hard little babies can be to look after and I decided I wanted another one – pronto.

So I went off the pill and thought, like with Lottie, a new baby would be on the way very shortly, with very little effort.

A couple of months (and a fortune in pregnancy tests) later I thought hmmm…where is this baby? And so I started doing some basic charting with a phone app, to work out the best times to do the deed.

A couple more months came and went and still! No baby. So a couple months ago I bought some of those ovulation predictor kits (OPKs), thinking this will be a cakewalk now.

Not so! This month will be my third go using the OPKs and if nothing comes of it I’m going to lose my head!  Now, don’t get me wrong – I know there are lots, and lots, and lots of people who try longer than I have, and there is no doubt that age isn’t on my side, but it’s so frustrating when it was so easy the first time!

And an adorable toddler just makes you want another adorable toddler (but I probably wouldn’t say at 5pm when adorable turns to excruciating).

It is made more frustrating by the fact that I am a Planner (yes, with a capital P).  I’d planned to have the baby by November, enjoy a nice Christmas with my new four-person family then when the littlest one was old enough we could all go somewhere nice and warm (with cheap nannies) for a holiday.

I also have a bit of a work-life secret that (so mysterious!) and, if it works out, it will simply not fit in with a newborn.

Argh! What to do!  Will just cross my fingers that this month does the trick. If not? Well, we’ll just have to keep on trying.  If anyone has any advice I’d love to hear it!

PS just realised I never followed up my travel to Thailand post…maybe one day!

June 12, 2011

how miss charlotte got here (and other news)

Have finally found some time** to write about how Miss Charlotte came into this world!  

I hope I don’t scare anyone (especially those with a strictly ordered birth plan) but telling this tale will be a cathartic exercise for yours truly, so here goes.

In early May, at 36 weeks pregnant, I went along to the hospital for one of the standard midwife appointments.

Everything during my pregnancy had gone smoothly and I had no reason to suspect anything was wrong.  The only thing I wanted the midwife to check was the baby’s position.

My doctor had suspected she was tranverse (lying sideways) and I agreed – although I couldnt discern hand from foot I seemed to only get kicking on one side of my belly.

Doc said she was still likely to move which was great news for me as I desperately wanted to avoid a c-section.

I asked the midwife to check bub’s position, hoping she had moved by this late stage, and was greatly relieved when she said that not only had the baby moved to the ideal position for birth but her head was engaged. Not long now til delivery day!

The midwife explained that if she had any concerns at all she would order an ultrasound to check the position but she was positive all was OK, and told me she had never in her career had an undiagnosed breech or transverse lying baby.

I left this appointment relieved, and excited for the upcoming arrival of our little one.

That Sunday (appropriatly enough being Mothers Day) I dreamt my waters had broken, after which I awoke to what felt like mild period pains.

In the back of my mind I thought ‘hey, this could be ealy labour’ but only being 36 weeks pregnant pushed the thoughts away, assuming they were only wishful thinking.

The ‘period pain’ got progressively worse throughout the morning however, and got to the point while out at the in-laws house for lunch that I was feeling pretty uncomfortable.

At this stage I dont think anyone (including me) thought I was in labour as the pains were bad, but I wasnt writhing around on the floor screaming as I thought I would be.

Nevertheless, we took early leave from lunch to go home, pack the rest of the hospital bag, and wait to see what happened next.

After a couple more hours and worsening pain, I called the hospital – I couldnt remember if I was meant to call when the pains were 5-7 minutes apart, or go to hospital at that stage.

When I called the phone service, I was advised that it was probably false labour and to have a panadol and wait it out.

Ignoring my gut instinct yet again, I agreed and relaxed on the couch assuming the pains would go away.

But go away they did not, and when I started bleeding a little with each pain (now even I was convinced these were contractions) I called the hotline again only to be told “this is the bloody show, you are probably still days away from true labour”.

OK, I thought, not wanting to be one of those women who rush to hospital only to be told to go home again (especally as we are a good 45 minute drive away, and by this stage is was around 8pm on Sunday night).

A couple of hours later I called the help line again – these pains werent going away, and were now stronger and closer together (although still not agony inducing – more like really bad period cramps).

A different midwife answered the call and, god bless her, suggested that it was still probbably false labour but as I was not yet at term to come in just to get everything checked out.

By the time we arrived at the hospital it was around 11pm. I was convinced I’d be sent back home after a quick check. 

But by 11:45 I’d been told I was already 7cm dilated and due to the baby being in breech position (damn that midwife!) I needed an emergency c-section.

Being petrified of the idea of a needle in my spine I asked if there was any way I could deliver naturally but due to baby’s position and my advanced stage of labour it was either the spinal block or a caesarean witout anaesthetic.  No prizes for guessing which one I chose!

Darling boy and I chatted during the op, he with camera at the ready, neither of us believing we would soon be proud parents.

After what seemed like an eternity we began to wonder what was taking so long.  Dont they just pull it out and sew me up?

At this stage, the surgeon leant over me and gave us the last news we could ever want to hear:  “We’ve got your baby out.  She’s not breathing, so we have to take her away. You’re losing a lot of blood due to a uterine tear so we’re going to have to put you under general anaesthetic now”.

WTF?? A minute ago we were looking forward to meeting our new baby and now…well now darling boy was being ushered out of the room and I was being put to sleep, thinking I had a stillborn baby and was about to have a hysterectomy.

When I awoke I was being wheeled into the intensive care nursery to meet our new daughter, all the while being filled in on what had happened over the past three hours.

Our baby Charlotte (which was a name we hadnt really considered but quickly agreed on) had a very rough start – apparently the drugs they gave me to stop uterine contractions once the c-section was underway hadn’t worked and when they tried to pull Lottie out my uterus had contracted around her neck.

This resulted in her having no oxygen for a significant amount of time without oxygen (the doctors couldnt say and gave us anywhere between 3 and 18 minute timeframes).

It also meant my uterus had to basically be torn open to get her out, resulting in more than two litres of blood lost.

Meeting our baby girl for the first time I felt a number of conflicting emotions – all with an anaesthetic induced hangover which made everything more surreal.

Lottie had tubes coming in and out of everywhere and at this stage we still had no idea what the prognosis was – would she survive? And if so, what effect would the trauma of birth have on her?

Turns out she is a little trooper.  Both of us had to spend over a week in hospital (I’d planned om a 12 hour quick discharge), but she was out of the intensive care nursery after day 5.

At her first checkup with the pediatrician, he told us that he had expected her to have a lot of problems when he read the report of her birth, before meeting her. 

But after a thorough exmaination he said that if he hadn’t known about the problems she encountered during birth he wouldnt have known there was anything wrong with her at all!

It’s still early days but it’s looking good for now, and to us she is the perfect little angel.

Moral of the story – go with your gut instinct and if you think something is wrong, insist on getting it checked out.  A mothers instinct is powerful and you shouldnt put all your faith in the medical profession (who, in my experience, are overworked and time poor, and often looking for a quick way out!).

** despite only taking probably 20 minutes in total to write this post, it has been a 6 day work in progress.  And I always thought those women who said babies take up a lot of time were exaggerating!

April 12, 2011

burn baby burn

At this stage, I am well and truly feeling one of the more common but less delightful effects of pregnancy – heartburn (also known as indigestion or acid reflux).

Never having experienced before I truly feel for those who suffer from heartburn all the time, and don’t have the relief of knowing it will go away when the baby comes – as I expect mine to.

After having a chat with my doc about it, I’m at least relieved that nothing is wrong (and even more relieved that most heartburn relief/medication is in the safest category for medication during pregnancy).

He did say to keep an eye out for any additional pain in the right hand side of the abdomen, as this could indicate pre-eclampsia, but otherwise heartburn is a perfectly normal and safe side-effect of pregnancy.

So what’s with the ‘burn?

According to bubhub, food usually travels into the stomach where it is digested via stomach acid – luckily for (most of) us the oesophagus has a valve which closes this acid off from the rest of the body.

But in pregnancy?  Firstly, an increase in the hormone progesterone – a relaxant (the same one that loosens up your limbs and multiplies your clumsy factor) – relaxes the valve that closes off the stomach.

This means the valve is less effective at stopping stomach acid heading up the oesophagus, going as far as the mouth.

The good news?  While heartburn may be uncomfortable for now, labour would be a lot less comfortable without the muscle-relaxant qualities an increase in progesterone brings.

Another more obvious reason for the ‘burn? A simple issue of space – the rapidly growing bundle of joy is pushing everything else out of position – including the digestive tract.

And while he advised they are generally safe (check with your doctor or pharmacist first though), to avoid having to take heartburn meds in the first place my doc recommended avoiding high fat foods (ummm…) and chewing extremely well so the stomach doesn’t have to work so hard (didn’t want to tell him you can’t chew ice cream).

Bubhub has some further steps to avoiding heartburn (after reading these, it seems that I might be the culprit here, and cant blame it all on poor old bub!):

  • Avoid trigger foods – some women will experience pregnancy heartburn no matter what they eat, but some foods are known to trigger an episode or make your symptoms worse. As a general rule, avoid fatty foods, chocolate, coffee and cola drinks. Alcohol and cigarettes should be avoided during pregnancy regardless, but they are also associated with acid reflux.
  • Eat in moderation – as large meals will put additional pressure on your stomach’s sphincter valve. You may also experiment with an elimination diet. An elimination diet is a trial and error process – remove one potential trigger food from your diet at a time and see if this helps reduce the incidence and severity of your heartburn. With persistence you may be able to identify which foods are the most problematic for you and eliminate them from your diet permanently.
  • Let gravity help – it can be hard enough getting comfortable with a growing baby inside, but try sitting and sleeping in a more upright position. Gravity will help your stomach acid and food stay where they belong. Try using an extra couple of pillows on your bed at night – it may only take a small elevation to put a stop to nighttime heartburn.
  • Watch your weight – keeping weight within recommended limits will further help reduce pressure on your digestive system. Speak to your health care provider if you’re concerned about your weight.
March 17, 2011

spill the beans

image courtesy of Time Out - Sydney's best coffee

Despite all the horror stories I’d heard about comments from well meaning (?) strangers, today I got my very first unsolicited comment about whether my actions were good for bub.

I was minding my own business, sipping on a latte, when a man in the lift with me looked pointedly at my cup and asked “do you think the baby would be happy with that?”

“Yes,” I said.  “It’s weak!” 

“I don’t think that matters.  It’s probably not a good idea.  If you need a lift you could get the same from some chocolate”.

I felt like asking him if he had really looked at me, or just the cup – I don’t look like a chocolate dodger, that’s for sure.

Instead, I smiled weakly (like my coffee) and hopped out of the lift, saved by the bell.

Even though I have done tons of research into the things I do that could be construed as harmful to the baby, and have found that the majority of research shows that up to 200mg a day of  caffeine causes no harm, he got me thinking. 

And feeling guilty.

So I hopped online to do (another) investigation into caffeine during pregnancy.

Turns out I was right.

However, the helpful gentleman in the lift may have been recalling old guidelines which did indeed dictate that no caffeine at all should be taken during pregnancy.

These days, as reported on ninemsn, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) states that “pregnant woman can drink up to three cups of instant coffee, four cups of tea or four cans of cola each day. But if your daily caffeine fix is an espresso, cappuccino or latte, one a day is the recommended limit.”

BabyCenter reports similar findings (and quotes a 200mg limit as well):

Caffeine is a stimulant; it increases your heart rate and metabolism, which in turn affects your developing baby (OTIS 2006). But while unremitting stress isn’t healthy, brief bouts of fetal stress, such as that your baby would feel after you drink a cup of coffee, shouldn’t cause him any harm. It’s akin to your dashing to the bus, another situation that briefly boosts your heart rate and metabolism.

These guidelines echo most given for pregnancy (and life, in general) – everything in moderation. 

Perhaps during pregnancy, more careful moderation is required (when not pregnant, I tend to go by ‘everything in moderation, including moderation’, but thats not good for me now!)

Like most things it comes down to a personal decision about what you think is ok, and what isn’t.

As one woman said, she weighed up the pros and cons and decided that living with the lack of alertness she gets from her caffeine fix was more dangerous than drinking a small amount of coffee or tea every day.

And while not in any way, shape or form, research based, I mused to my co-worker that half of South America and Europe can’t be wrong.  His response?  “Sure.  But they’re all psycho”.

Hmmm.

I think I’ll stick with my boss’ advice, which was not to worry about a cup a day – just avoid it during breastfeeding, for my own sanity if not for baby’s!

PS if you’re interested in the caffeine content of what you’re eating and drinking, see the list at Food Standards.

March 8, 2011

a real side splitter

I was keeping myself busy the other day, doing sit ups.

OK, I wasn’t doing sit ups, I was trying to recline by the pool (besides, you’re not meant to do exercises lying on you back after week 16 or so, depending on what you read).

Anyways, I was in a kind of half sit up position and noticed a pretty unpleasant looking bulge in the middle of where my abs should be.

It was about the size of a baby’s head, and that what I thought it was, until I read about the separation of abdominal muscles, or diastasis recti, that occurs normally during many pregnancies, especially at later stages.

According to birth.com.au, “the internal organs in the abdomen are covered by two large muscle sheets (known as ‘Recti muscles’). These muscles cover the belly and run from the rib cage, down to the pubic bone. They meet in the middle of the abdomen, in line with the belly button. Towards the end of the pregnancy, it is normal for these abdominal muscles to separate, to allow the belly to accommodate your growing baby.”

Ouch! Well, not really.

In fact, I wouldn’t have even noticed if I hadn’t been looking, and many women don’t notice at all until a check-up after birth (if then).

Apparently it usually fixes itself once your body slowly returns to normal (ish), particularly if you get back into regular exercise and focus on strengthening your core after bub is born, although some women need assistance in the form of a health professional (physio etc).

So how do you know if this has happened to you?

Birth.com.au suggests the following test:

Lie flat on your back with your knees bent. Have you head lying flat as well (no pillow).

Raise your head forward, tucking your chin into your chest.

Hold this position, while you gently press your fingertips above and below the belly button, (vertically up the middle of your belly).

You are feeling for a 1 to 5 centimetre gap, or a soft bulge. You may even be able to see it.

While it isn’t a major issue, if this happens to you, befitmom.com offers some tips on movements to avoid.

  • Movements where the upper body twists and the arm on that side reaches backward, such as during a tennis serve. 
  • Exercises that require lying backward over a large exercise ball.
  • Yoga postures that stretch the abs, such as “cow pose,” “up-dog,” all backbends, and “belly breathing.” 
  • Most traditional abdominal exercises that work the exterior abdominal muscles, such as crunches and oblique curls. 
  • All exercises that cause your abdominal wall to bulge out upon exertion. 
  • Rising from a supine position by rolling up and twisting at the same time. Instead, roll first onto your side, and then use your arms to help push yourself up to a sitting position. 
  • Lifting and carrying very heavy objects. 
  • Intense coughing while your muscles are unsupported.

Oh, the joys of pregnancy! Just more motivation to hit the gym after I meet the baby.

March 4, 2011

dream on, dreamer

My beloved ‘what to expect…’ iphone app had bad news for me this morning – any discomfort I’ve been feeling is only going to get worse from here on in!

This is a little bit scary, because my sleep is already up the creek – and as someone who NEEDS 8 hours of solid sleep to function I’m not a happy camper (I know Ill laugh at this in a few months time when Ill be lucky to get a couple of hours at once).

So why the sleeping problems?

The cramps for one. The incessant kicking – which stops enough during the day for me to freak out, but really revs up at about 10pm or whenever I switch off the bedside lamp.

But more than anything, its the dreams.

Some horrifying, all way too vivid.

I read somewhere (damned if I can find it now, maybe I dreamt it) that these dreams/nightmares are actually very helpful at forcing you to think about your fears and anxieties, and often women who suffer form these vivid nightmare end up with less anxiety once the baby is born because they’ve sifted through a lot of their issues beforehand.

Yay for me!

If only I could find the article.

There are however simliar sentiments in other articles, such as this one from BabyZone, which also covers the different types of dreams you can expect during each trimester.

For example, “The second trimester is also prime time for anxiety dreams, reflecting a woman’s concerns as to whether or not she’ll be a good mother. These dreams often involve leaving the baby somewhere or having a baby born deformed or severely undersized.”

As someone who frequently dreams that I’ve left my undersized, premature baby somewhere (usually under a pile of clothes) I can breathe a bit easier knowing it’s a normal dream to have and nothing (too) prophetic.

Another reason for these dreams? BabyCenter reports that “you are more likely to interrupt a dream-filled cycle of REM sleep by frequent waking during the night to go to the loo, ease a leg cramp, or move to a more comfortable position.”

All makes sense, now.

Now if only someone could explain last night’s dream that was a drama/action/horror musical set to TLC’s ‘Creep’.

February 27, 2011

baby body

When I first started on the pregnancy journey, I was highly motivated to do the right thing – both for me and my baby.

But a few setbacks, interruptions and OK, laziness, have meant that the healthy eating, daily power walks and resistance training have made way in favour of the of the couch, cake and kicking back.

In a bid to get my health and fitness mojo back, I turned to Amy Mitchell, mum of two and a qualified personal trainer with a focus on pre- and post-natal health and fitness, for some much needed advice and inspiration.

Why is it important for women to exercise during pregnancy, and after childbirth? What are the benefits of exercising during pregnancy and after childbirth?

A small percentage of women are unable to exercise during pregnancy for specific medical reasons (such as myocardial disease or incomplete cervix) but for the vast majority, exercise can provide myriad benefits during pregnancy.

These include:

  • Maintaining fitness levels: this makes it easier to resume exercise after giving birth and can also contribute to an easier labour (and who doesn’t want that). 
  • Muscular strength and tone: helps protect against injury, and can also assist with an easier labour. When done correctly, with the advice of a fitness professional, resistance training is a fantastic way to stay fit and healthy during your pregnancy (and come out of it looking great!) 
  • Preventing excessive weight gain 
  • Great stress release
  • Promotes feelings of wellbeing

Postnatally, returning to exercise (when your doctor says it is safe to do so) also has a huge number of benefits, such as: 

  • Helps to strengthen joints and repair pelvic, abdominal and uterine muscles, which are all weakened during pregnancy 
  • Increases energy levels (and let’s face it, with a newborn we need all the energy we can get!) 
  • Helps you lose the baby weight 
  • Improves mental wellbeing and can minimise post-natal blues

Do you have any tips for staying motivated?

Probably the most important thing to remember is you’re not only looking after yourself when you exercise, but also your baby, and exercising during and after pregnancy (unless you have a specific condition that makes it unsafe to do so) benefits both of you.

Listen to your body, by all means, and if you’re exhausted then rest, but even walking regularly will make a difference to how you look and feel.

Also, don’t see pregnancy as an excuse to sit on the couch and eat what you like for nine months – it might seem great at the time but your body won’t be thanking you after your baby’s born! Maintain a healthy eating regimen and continue exercising and you’ll look and feel much better for it.

What types of exercise would you recommend during pregnancy/post childbirth?

It depends on the woman and her level of fitness, and if you have specific issues or concerns then it’s best to talk to your doctor and/ or a qualified fitness professional about what is safe and appropriate for you.

Walking is a great exercise that most women can do throughout their pregnancy and resume soon after giving birth (gently at first).

A Swissball is a great tool to help pregnant women exercise and can be used for things like squats against a wall, or pelvic tilts. And pelvic floor exercises are obviously a must both during and after pregnancy.

Swimming and water-based exercises are great during pregnancy because they’re non weight-bearing.

What types of exercise should be avoided during pregnancy?

Again it depends on the woman and her level of fitness and any specific issues she might have, but as a general rule during pregnancy it’s best to avoid:

  • High-impact exercise and contact sports. Relaxin, the hormone released during the first trimester, softens muscles and tendons and makes women more prone to strains and dislocation, so exercise that involves twisting and rotation or fast changes of direction are best avoided. It’s also important not to overstretch muscles. 
  • Exercises that require prolonged standing due to the extra weight load through the hips – think of seated alternatives.
  • Prolonged, strenuous exercise. During pregnancy women’s resting heart rate is increased so limit activity to a perceived rate of exertion level of “somewhat hard”. 
  • After the 16th week avoid exercises that involve lying on the back as it restricts blood flow to the heart and body. 
  • Most of all, listen to your body, stay well hydrated and cool. If you are concerned about anything or don’t feel right, then stop.

Postnatally, women’s ability to return to exercise will depend on a number of factors including their previous fitness level; what sort of birth they had (caesarean/ vaginal/ long/ short); health complications etc.

It’s always best to start gently and work your way back into it. Relaxin is still present in your body for up to 12 weeks after the birth so take care as you can still be susceptible to injury. Avoid jarring/ jumping exercises.

For women with weak pelvic floors, I would also avoid running/ jumping activities until pelvic floor is strengthened.

If you’ve had a caesarean birth, avoid sit-ups until about 12 weeks.

What areas do you like to focus on in your classes?

With both pre and post-natal women I like to focus on enjoying exercise and building muscle tone and strength, especially in the key areas of the pelvic floor, abdominals, glutes and quads.

Many women focus on weight loss, especially postnatally, but if you’re exercising regularly and eating well, that will come.

The main thing is to make exercise fun (ie not a chore!) and it can be a great way to bond with your baby, or just get some “me” time – both before and after bub is born.

Do you think babies like being involved in the exercise?

There are tons of exercises you can do with your bub and they usually love it – they’re with their mum, after all, what’s not to love?

The most obvious exercise you can do with your bub is to walk/ run with them in the pram, but I also love doing things like squats and sit-ups with my baby, too.

Even if they’re not involved in the exercise they’re usually pretty fascinated just watching mum exercise!

Thanks for your advice Amy – you’ve inspired me to dust off those walking shoes and get moving!

Amy runs mums-and-bubs classes, as well as one-on-one and small group sessions in Sydney’s inner-west. For more information, contact amymitchellfitness@hotmail.com.

You can also read more about exercising during pregnancy and beyond at BabyCenter.

February 23, 2011

cramping up

Not long ago, I heard that one of the side effects of pregnancy was leg cramps, especially at night. 

“That doesn’t sound good” I thought.  “I hate cramps.  Glad that doesn’t happen to me”

Oops!  Spoke too soon.

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been getting minor cramps that wake me when I’d rather be getting my beauty sleep.  But over the last two nights they’ve been so severe that even walking was painful this morning.

So much for thinking I’ve avoided them.

On the plus side, might be a good excuse for a massage.

So what causes these cramps?  The jury’s mostly out on this one.

According to birth.com.au (and many other sources) they can be caused by a lack of calcium, magnesium and/or salt.

I can wipe the first one out – am consuming so much cheese, hot chocolates, smoothies and ice cream I don’t think calcium is an issue here.

The magnesium? Not entirely sure where to find this in my diet but the pregnancy multi-vite covers that one.

And the salt?  I’m pretty sure the cheese covers this too (I always knew it was a super food).

BabyCentre gives a different (and infinitely more plausible) explanation.  “Your leg muscles are tired from carrying around all of your extra weight”.

Bingo!

Might be time to cut back on my sources of calcium, at least a little, to minimise the extra cargo.

If you’re also suffering from cramps, here are BabyCentre’s solutions (although the last one confuses me somewhat – downwards as opposed to how?!):

  • You could try some of these practical measures during the day. They may help you to have a cramp-free sleep:
    Calf stretches. Stand a metre from a wall and lean forwards with your arms outstretched to touch the wall. Keep the soles of your feet flat on the floor. Hold for five seconds. Repeat the exercise for five minutes, three times a day, especially before going to bed (CKS 2008).
  • Drink plenty of liquid (Lee and Thomas 2009). If you’re worried about having to get up in the night for trips to the loo, try drinking almost nothing for an hour or two before bedtime. Just make sure you drink at least eight to 10 glasses of water during the day.
  • Daily foot exercises. Bend and stretch each foot vigorously up and down 30 times. Then rotate each foot eight times one way and eight times the other way (Young 2009, DH 2009).
  • Try not to stand for long periods or sit with your legs crossed.
  • Have a warm bath before going to bed (Lee and Thomas 2009).
  • Try not to sleep with your toes pointing downwards (CKS 2008).

Maybe I just need to stop whinging.  It ain’t nothing on childbirth (or so I hear).

February 21, 2011

a bit of friendly competition

Much has been said about competitive mothers, starting with comparing Agpar scores taken at birth, up to (and beyond) reports cards in high school.

But the competition really starts at pregnancy, or perhaps even beforehand. 

From women comparing themselves to others in terms of how long it took them to conceive, to how much weight they did (or didn’t gain) during pregnancy, from ultrasound results to how much they could take on while pregnant.

It’s enough to make you crazy, if you let it, and I doubt there are many women who haven’t compared themselves and their pregnancy to someone else.

Even gorgeous singer Pink, who usually comes across as the picture of self confidence, has taken to posting self-portraits of herself to counteract the less than flattering papparazzi shots popping up in the media, accompanied by charming comments like “Pink looks horrible pregnant“.

Pink pregnant

Unfortunately there is little you can do to avoid it – even if you aren’t particularly prone to comparing yourself with other people, well meaning (?) friends, relatives and co-workers are likely to point out your shortcomings at some point or another.

Feeling nauseous?  Tired? Irritable Someone you know will have breezed through pregnancy feeling none of these things and someone else will be sure to let you know about it before you even open your mouth to complain.

Feeling a little plump?  Too tired to exercise?  You’re sure to hear about a friend’s (insert here) sister/cousin/colleague who didn’t gain a pound over the baby’s weight, continued jogging until the day their baby was born and wore their pre-maternity jeans out of the delivery suite.

Even if your pregnancy goes relatively smoothly, there is always someone to helpfully remind you that so-and-so did it better, healthier and happier, all while working 60 hour weeks, completing triathlons, looking like a supermodel and renovating a stunning designer nursery.

Earlier in my pregnancy I was at a wedding and when it got close to midnight I said goodbye to a friend, saying I was too tired to stay late. 

Her response?  “What’s wrong with you? I never felt tired after 12 weeks”.  Awesome, for her.

I couldn’t give two hoots about it now but at the time I was left with a feeling of inadequacy – what is wrong with me? And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to some of the comments/advice/’supportive’ information I’ve been given.

If you ever find yourself wanting to slap someone for their (hopefully unintentionally) insensitive comments, just remind yourself that for every Gisele out there (who was apparently up cooking pancakes for the family the day after a drug-free birth which didn’t hurt in the slightest, and back modelling not long after) there will be someone out there who is doing it just as tough, or tougher than you.

gisele bundchen working that pregnancy glow

It’s also important to realise that while there are some truly blessed people out there (yay for Gisele) there are a lot of people who are selective about what they choose to broadcast about themselves so that they are always seen in a more positive light.

All you can do is the best you can, and smile to yourself that you are about to bring a lovely, precious little bundle into the world who won’t care if your hair is greasy or your thighs are more cottage cheese than coltish. 

The baby will just want love, smiles and cuddles from mum (food and a clean nappy won’t hurt either) and that is something no one can do better than you!

(as an aside, if you ever feel like you don’t measure up, check out this clip from Killing Me Softly as posted on MamaMia – a must see for any woman, pregnant or not.  Go Kate Winslet!)

February 15, 2011

on the plus side

A little while ago I posted on some of the unwanted side effects of pregnancy, but I don’t want anyone to think that it’s all doom and gloom – far from it.

Apart from the obvious reasons why it’s nice to have a baby on the way (bringing a new life into the world, strengthening the bond with your partner etc) there are definitely some other perks that can bring a smile to your face.

Some of these might seem trivial but, much like getting an unexpected discount when you get to the cash register, they can make your day.

Carte blanche to eat whatever you want

OK, so that may not be the case. But I’m used to eating (almost whatever) I want, so having that last bit of restriction lifted has been a real pleasure.

Afternoon tea? Sure. Ice cream for dessert? Why not! Feeling a bit hefty from all the extra food? That’s just the baby weight!

And while I wouldn’t condone eating EVERYTHING in sight, it sure is nice not to feel guilty about having seconds.

Public transport

Getting an almost guaranteed seat on the bus is another little joy that can really make the day end on a high note when you’ve finished work late and don’t feel you have the energy to smile (this quickly changes when someone offers you their seat, though).

If only there was a big sign above your head begging for a seat in those early days of pregnancy when the fatigue seems at its worst!

That pregnancy glow

I’m not sure about the whole ‘glow’ thing, as a matter of course.

Most women I’ve spoken to, have felt decidedly un-glowy during certain times in their pregnancy.

But while there are days when you feel as sexy as a beached whale, paying better attention to my health does make me feel a lot healthier and happier, at least from the inside!

And I know my liver is probably dancing for joy. Which brings me to…

No ohmygod moments after too many vinos

Not everyone will get this one, but I love my wine (and beer, vodka etc). And I’ve been known to enjoy more than a couple on an embarrassingly large number of occasions in my pre-pregnancy life.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with anyone letting their hair down once in a while but if you’re like me you tend to shoot off at the mouth a bit (or a lot). And get a bit silly (insane/stupid/obnoxious).

So it’s great to wake up on a Sunday morning knowing I didn’t do anything to embarrass myself or offend anyone.

Shopaholics paradise So many excuses – sorry, important reasons – to shop!

Asos Maternity

Clothes for me (just discovered Asos Maternity, woo-ee), clothes for baby, clothes for me for after the baby, nursery gear…there are so many essentials to sort out that you pretty much won’t have time to even look at the real money wasters (that too tight frock for your old flatmate’s brothers party that you just know you’ll only wear once).

And to make sure I spend my hard earned dough in all the right places, I also get to indulge in extra glossies to satisfy my ridiculous obsession – Cosmo Pregnancy (what a joy!), Shop 4 Kids, Inside Out, Vogue Living (for the nursery, dahling).

There are plenty more to add to the list (a babymoon, well-deserved time off work and no heavy lifting to name just a few), but it’s time to put my feet up and have a bowl of ice cream.