40 weeks: Pregnancy Update (OVERDUE)

39
Taken at 39 weeks!

Oh my, it’s been almost a month since I last updated. Life has got somewhat hectic recently – plus there have been lots of changes! I have started maternity leave, our kitchen was gutted and replaced, my parents are in the country and … erm, I’m still pregnant. Yes, it seems Baby Bug may need a bit of a push (and a shove) to get him out. I’m now going more by my dates (which are 40+4) than the NHS dates as they make me feel better.

In other news, I was somehow, crazily nominated in the MAD Blog Awards for Best Pregnancy Blog. To whoever nominated me: THANK YOU! I absolutely was not expecting it (and thoroughly do not deserve it) and it was such a lovely, wonderful thing to have happen.

Weeks: 40 + 4 (my dates) / 41 + 2 (NHS)

New developments:
I am overdue. My actual dates have now become quite a bit more important because I knew my dates within a 48 hour time period – but, when we had the scan, they bought the dates forward by a few days so due date was 21 March rather than 26-27 March. I know this may seem trivial but, when you’re really, really pregnant, it becomes really, really important. It means that, today, I’m 4 days overdue rather than a week and 2 days.

Importantly, it also means that they are talking about inducing me earlier than I believe necessary. I also don’t want to be induced but that’s a whole other story. My takeaway lesson from this is, if you know your dates, highlight this earlier as it’s easier to discuss it when you’re not the size of a house and desperate for baby to arrive.

Symptoms:
I received a bit of an annoying blow last week when I was told I tested positive for Group Strep B (GSB). I was told, however, that they weren’t sure if the sample had been contaminated or not. Argh.

For those who haven’t heard of it, GSB is a pretty common bacteria which CAN – in rare circumstances – cause newborns to be quite seriously sick. For this reason, women who test positive are given IV antibiotics during labour and bub needs to be monitored afterward. It’s not a massive deal but it will (would) mean that I have to go to the labour ward (old and crap) not the birth centre (new and swish) at my hospital.

However, as mentioned, there was some confusion over whether the sample was contaminated so I have taken a five day course of antibiotics and, today, given another urine sample to see if it comes back clear or not. It does mean that, if I go into labour before the results come back in a couple of days, I’ll need the IV antibiotics as a precaution. So I’m now in the weird position where I’m overdue but really hoping bub gives me two extra days so I can get the all clear!

Apart from that, I’m huge – so sleeping, walking, breathing, eating is all, as you can imagine, SUPER FUN.

I’ve been having loads of practice contractions, a show, bub is super engaged…and yet, nothing. No cigar.

Sickness:
Nausea is back intermittently.

Cravings:
Randomly, I’ve developed a sudden, unending love of grapefruit. Grapefruit has not really featured massively in my life before but, suddenly, at around 39 weeks, I insisted we go and get one (someone on Four in a Bed ate one and I was insanely jealous) and I haven’t looked back.

Bump:
See pic above (which was at 39 weeks – it’s got bigger!).

Maternity fashion:
I am living in leggings. A lot of my tops are now a bit too tight. I bought two long-line cardigans which I adore. My Mum also bought me a massive pink hoodie which is my at-home uniform. Suffice to say: I’m not going to be winning any fashion awards.

Anything else:
I have a midwife appointment tomorrow and plan to have another sweep (I had one last week). I’ve also had to book an induction date which is Sunday (3 April). However, I’m planning to see if they’ll be happy to do the continuous monitoring thing for a while given my dates are slightly off (on Sunday, I will be 41+1).

Follow me on twitter / instagram for more up to date news (or just because it would be fab to connect).

Are you judging my birth choices?

midwife-led-unit_c1_w555
New generation of birthing units

An overdue post! I’ve actually got quite a few posts to write up on various subjects (progress on the nursery, my pregnancy updates – am 34 weeks now! – and some reflections on pregnancy buying) but let’s start with this one as it’s a bit grittier. I love gritty topics.

I am generally discovering that I’m not immune to the parent / pregnancy / labour / birth / [insert any word ever] judginess that is rife on the internet and in real life. When people are really judgmental and nasty about the choices that you make or want to make, well, it HURTS. I think this gets worse the more personal the judgement is – and what is more personal than how you choose to give birth to your child? Which brings me onto my current post topic, and my current dilemma.

We went on a tour around our chosen Hospital the other day. Like many hospitals, it’s been set up with a midwife-led unit (MLU) and a consultant led unit / labour ward (CLU). During the tour, there was a lot of emphasis on having a natural birth in the MLU and how the CLU ‘should’ be kept free for the complicated/difficult/dangerous births. Obviously, though, being on the MLU means no doctors/anaesthetists so gas and air and maybe pethidine (there were conflicting responses on the pethidine question) is available. For more pain relief, a transfer (across reception, into the lift) to the CLU would be required.

We walked around the newly opened, very nice MLU and then around the CLU – this was then followed up with a Q&A session with one of the head midwives. I asked a question about their approach to mobile epidurals and received a rather bad-tempered, snappy response. Questions about transferring from the MLU to the CLU etc were shut down. Generally, the message was that, barring any medical issues/limitations, “women (should?) want a natural birth in a MLU”. At least, that was the message that I heard quite loudly. And, to be honest, it isn’t the message that I want to hear.

Let me be clear: I would LOVE to have a straight-forward natural birth. I would love to be able to deal with the pain, put my hypno-birthing training to the test and pass with flying colours. But birth, like life generally, doesn’t always go according to plan. There may be complications, bub may not want to come out. Or, heaven forbid, I may not be able to deal with the pain. If any of the above happens, I want the option of choosing pain relief for myself. Because, guess what, not all women DO want a natural birth in a MLU. We are, God forbid, all different.

What all women do want (I hope) is to be empowered and informed enough to make the choices they want. I know exactly what I want. I would like to start off with as little intervention as possible; gas and air; possibly try a birthing pool. But, if at ANY point, I decide I would like an epidural then I would like an epidural. I don’t want anything else (we have done research into all the options and things like pethidine aren’t going to work for me) and, importantly, I don’t want to be argued with. I want to feel that those around me are supporting the decisions that I’m making and respect my right to choose the birth that I want.

Which brings me back to my current issue with our Hospital. I did not get the impression that women are REALLY free to choose whatever they want. I got the impression that MLU-led natural births are what I’m expected to want, and I will have to argue for any deviation to that ‘norm’ that isn’t due to medical need.

Not to put too fine a point on it but: screw that. If I’m struggling in labour and decide I’d like an epidural, I will go ballistic if I’m ‘encouraged’ against it. It’s MY CHOICE.

However, I also know ‘me’. If, in that crucial, vulnerable, stressful, difficult moment, I am given the impression that someone, anyone, thinks I’m failing at birth because of the choices I am making, it’ll hurt. Because things like that hurt. It’ll stay with me, I’ll remember it, I’ll internalise it. Yes, my husband will be there and can advocate on my behalf but he’ll be stressed too and, importantly, he cannot control how other people act.

So, I’m taking steps to try and have the birth that I want:

  • On Saturday, we’re going to visit the other hospital near where we live so I can assess their attitudes and see if I feel more comfortable there
  • Arrange to speak to the midwives and explain my concerns. See if I can write something up on my preferences that make my issues clear.
  • Explore option of a doula.
  • If none of the above get me anywhere, check out nearby private maternity options.

I have no pre-conceived notions of what birth is going to be like because I’ve never given birth before. What I do want is to ensure that I feel as comfortable, relaxed and supported as possible. That’s what everyone woman should feel like going into labour, through labour and out the other side.

Mummuddlingthrough
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my petit canard

F*** the guilt, ladies

Scared baby against crazy mother

I often see comments and posts about how being a Mum means you feel guilty all the time. As a Mum-to-be, I found that intriguing yet, even without being a Mum, I understood the sentiment. I was also heartened to see that there’s a real ‘push’ against making Mums feel guilty in the parenting blogosphere – a movement away from judging and denouncing and more toward being supportive and inclusive.

That’s awesome. But why is it necessary in the first place? What is it about being a Mum that means we have to accept being under the spotlight and prepared (and ready) to justify our parenting decisions, whether they’re related to how we give birth, where our child sleeps, whether we breastfeed or not, or anything else (that has absolutely zero to do with anyone else in the entire world). The reality seems to be that you’re going to feel shit no matter what you do because, whatever decision you do make, there will be people who do it Differently and then you’ll either feel guilty or they’ll try and make you feel guilty, and it’s a whole mess of judgey pants and guilty pants, and you have to roll your eyes and ignore it if you can.

But there’s something quite important about this guilt – it’s actually not about being a Mum; it’s about being a woman. Women are brought up primed to feel guilty. We are taught to internalise everything, to look at our own behaviour, to see what WE can change or do differently/better. Men are not taught this. Men are taught that they can be confident, that they can be in control, that being assertive is awesome (assertive isn’t even a word men have to use, it’s just ‘being a man’), and they don’t have to worry about labels like “bossy” or “feisty”.

Let’s take one of the most extreme, horrendous examples of this: sexual assault and rape. Women are told to be careful; don’t drink too much; don’t wear short skirts; don’t flirt. Men are told…well, what exactly are men told? Nothing much. The focus has historically been on women to consider their actions rather than on men to just, y’know, not rape. Happily, things *are* changing and we’re taking steps away from the vomit-inducing “don’t get too drunk on a night out, ladies” to messages like the awesome Tea and Consent video from Thames Valley Police. Consent is everything but it has absolutely NOT been the overriding focus in cases of rape and sexual violence – women have been the focus.

I’m using this example to show that we live in a society that will blame a woman for something terrible happening to her because of someone else’s horrific actions – an extreme example but an important one. And women will take this blame; they will blame other women; they will accept that status quo because we are socially conditioned to do so. We grow up being expected to judge other women on everything because we are judged in turn. We grow up unsure, insecure, always examining our own actions, afraid. And then, when we become Mums, all of that insecurity, that fear, is magnified a million times because, if we make mistakes, we aren’t just harming ourselves, we’re harming the little person or little people that we want to protect more than anything in the whole world. That, to us, is unforgivable. We worry that we will fail those little people, no matter how much we love them because we are always responsible, it’s always our fault and we should always do better.

This was really brought home to me during a recent #matexp twitter chat. One sentiment, which blew my mind, was from women who felt as though they had ‘failed’ at giving birth. The reasons for this feeling of failure varied hugely but, oh my god, can we take a moment to consider how insane that is? These are women who have managed to successfully give birth to their babies and yet they feel as though what they did wasn’t quite good enough. I haven’t given birth yet and I’m really quite scared (er, petrified!) of it. To me, any woman who has managed to give birth to her baby – IN WHATEVER WAY THAT HAPPENED – is a freakin’ rockstar. It breaks my heart that they, themselves, don’t feel that way because of these ridiculous and impossible pressures and standards that society places on women – especially when it comes to pregnancy and parenting. This is where we need to push back, to be more assertive, and to tell the world to stop effing judging and start supporting each and every mother and the choices that she makes.

Birth is the most visceral example but there’s breastfeeding, sleeping, weaning, using dummies…the list goes on and on. Every decision that you make will be one that you make fearing that someone will think you’re a damn idiot for making it. But this all stems from our insecurities, our conditioning, our expectation that we will be judged and should judge others – it’s a really shit, anti-feminist self-fulfilling prophecy. If I decide not to give my kid a dummy and I shout really loudly about it then hopefully others will agree with me and no one will tell me that I’m a bad Mum because, as I haven’t been allowed to feel confident in the decisions that I make my entire life, I really don’t want anyone to tell me I’m a bad Mum and, if anyone else does something differently (like, er, give their kid a dummy) that will make me feel like one because they’ve made a different decision to me and what does that say about me and OH MY GOD THE SKY IS FALLING IN.

Seriously f*** that. It’s time for ALL of us to feel confident in what we’re doing with our own bloody children and supporting other Mums in their choices, even if they’re different from ours. If my mate wants to have an elective caesarian and I’m all about my natural birth then that’s freaking awesome and I can’t wait to meet her afterward and toast to how awesome we both are over a well-deserved glass of Prosecco. As is clear in this post, there is a wider, social sickness of condemning and undermining women that we can’t expect to fight all on our own – but we’re starting with the little things, the parental support networks, the confidence-building (our own and others), the empathy and understanding. Hopefully from that, other things with flow.

Vive la difference.

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Mummuddlingthrough
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