Before Olivia was born, I didn’t give very much thought to what would happen postpartum. The extent of my worrying into that period was limited to my mental health, as I was already suffering from antenatal depression. But, actually, there are a lot of things that I wish I had known about what I would experience in the days and weeks postpartum. Warning, some of them are gross, but childbirth is gross so I’m not apologising!
I was in slow labour for a solid 2 weeks. I’d had 2 sweeps and I remember so vividly on New Year’s Day going into hospital for a midwife to say, “something is definitely happening, you’re 2cm now rather than 1.” Woohoo! One whole cm in a week, I thought to myself… I practically sulked in the car on the way home.
The next day, things picked up, so we went back up to the hospital. This time I was told; “okay, you’re 3cm. I don’t want to send you home as I can see your contractions are really picking up, but I really need either your waters to go or for you to be 4cm, can you try walking for me and we can get things going”, Despite being booked to be induced the next day on my due date…I became a woman on a mission.
After some lunges, walks and a bumpy car ride the midwife checked me again. “Yep, you’re 4cm…and….there go your waters, you’re in labour”… HALLELUJAH.
I remember looking at the midwife and saying “HA, you can’t send me home now!” The poor midwife, she had suffered enough with my waters going all over her hand, let alone me sassing her.
My labour progressed surprisingly quickly from then. I had pethidine and gas and air in labour, I slept pretty much most of it once I had pethidine, I would wake up, have a contraction, make some sort of moo-ing noise while using gas and air then go back to sleep. When I was around 9cm I remember my midwife just staring at the contraction monitor. Throughout the labour she had been coming in, checking the monitor and going again…but this time she wasn’t, she was staying in the room with me for longer and she looked concerned. There was an elephant in the room for sure (and that wasn’t in reference to the size of heavily pregnant me)!
“Is everything okay?” I heard my mother in-law at the time ask my midwife, Emily. Emily smiled sweetly and said, “I’m just going to get another midwife to check something, Amy can you just roll onto your right side for me, Baby isn’t liking how you’re laying.” Another midwife came in and looked at the monitor with Emily and it was very hushed and secretive, but I remember so clearly her saying, “yep, you’re right it’s classic…,” completing the sentence by gesturing her hands around her throat to mimic strangulation. Alarm bells were ringing in my head.
“Amy, we’re just going to fast bleep the doctor. Baby is having something called lates.”
Lates – Emily explained that during a contraction, a baby’s heart rate can drop, but it’s expected to pick up pretty quickly afterwards…except my little boy’s wasn’t. It was staying at about 50-60 bpm for a little longer than it should have (nearly half of what it should be). The doctor arrived promptly and again the hushed tones were talking and one of the sisters mentioned an emergency C-section but the doctor shook her head and said, “she’s 10cm, let’s look at another option, this isn’t cord around the neck, this is foetal distress.”
Foetal Distress- An uncommon complication of labour which is when the baby isn’t receiving enough oxygen.
“Amy, your baby is in distress. Now, we need to get him out as soon as possible, ideally. His heart rate isn’t picking up – you’re 10cm now so I would like to do an assisted delivery if that’s okay?” I nodded. “Just do whatever needs to be done,” I shouted, mid-contraction. My bladder was full and had to be emptied via catheter during my contractions, too – lush, eh?
“Okay Amy, what will happen is I will attach this to baby’s head and as you push, I will pull.”
I was ready to go. The pushing was a military operation.
“Okay, you did really well then. I want you to grasp your breath ready for the next contraction…I can see it’s building…1,2,3 Push!” The Doctor said. “Chin to chest, that’s it Amy, PUSH,” the sister said holding my hand.
I was tiring quickly, but every minute that passed my baby boy was getting more and more distressed. “Amy, I can see his head,” Oliver’s dad cried out. I remember throwing my head back saying, “I can’t do this”. The Senior midwife took my hand and placed it on my baby boy’s head (which I still to this day think was super gross). “Amy, that is your baby’s head, you are so nearly there. Now come on and push,” she ordered.
The maternity assistant patted my head down with a cool flannel (it might have been wet paper towel to be completely honest) but at 00:32, the room went silent. “Happy Birthday to you little man,” I heard the doctor say. “Amy, he’s beautiful,” another midwife added. I couldn’t see Oliver at this point, nor could I hear him crying. “Why can’t I hear him cry?” I asked, with an underlying tone of panic to my voice. “No, no, no he’s fine Amy. He’s perfect,”my mother-in law added. I didn’t get to hold Oliver straight away due to me needing a lot of stitches and Oliver needed checking over where he was in distress for so long.
The sister wanted to take the gas and air off of me while I was stitched, but I think the doctor saw how scared I was (either that or she did a real job on me with my episiotomy ) because she let me keep the gas and air while I was stitched. Of course, my problems continued, my placenta wasn’t delivering naturally. They gave me an injection to try and hurry it along, but alas…No placenta, the doctor grew concerned as my blood pressure started to drop rather quickly and placentas need to be out once baby is out. So she decided to remove it manually, which was probably more painful than the actual labour, but she was sweet and still let me keep the gas and air while she did this. Once my placenta was delivered I finally got to hold my baby boy, but only for a short while. The sister insisted I had a bath she had ran for me…Which was one of my less relaxing baths to say the least.
My labour started smoothly but towards the end became a bit traumatic, but I urge new mums to be not to be afraid, every womans labour is different so please don’t be scared and try to embrace what will be the most…unique experience of your life.
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Hello everyone! I’ve been a bit quiet on the blog recently as my gorgeous husband is back from Afghanistan for a very short 12 days.
What do you remember about your two girls being born?
Aah, the mum tum. The pooch. The overhang. While the post-baby jelly belly is something most mums expect to encounter to some extent, fixing it isn’t always as straightforward as you might first imagine. It took nine months for your tummy to get that big, so it’ll take at least nine months to fix it, right?
But what if it doesn’t shrink? What if you still look 4 months pregnant months (or even years) after delivery, and nothing you do seems to be shifting the baby weight?
You might be amongst the 60% of mums who have a Diastasis Recti
From a medical perspective, (according to the Mayo Clinic):
“During pregnancy, the growing uterus stretches the muscles in the abdomen. This can cause the two large parallel bands of muscles that meet in the middle of the abdomen to separate — a condition called diastasis recti or diastasis recti abdominis.”
These muscles form part of a wall of muscle that holds the uterus, intestines and other organs in place and lends support to the pelvic floor. Typically, the gap will go back to normal around 8 weeks postpartum. However, the gap sometimes does not close on it’s own, which can cause a number of health issues (not to mention leaving you perpetually frustrated at your stubborn tum).
Signs you may have a Diastasis Recti include:
- lower back pain
- poor posture
- incontinence that lasts for more than eight weeks postpartum (separated abs can cause issues with your pelvic floor)
- a pooch or bulge in the middle of the stomach
- dome like bulge in the stomach when coughing or getting up from lying down
Before you start to panic, it’s not all doom and gloom. Below is a list to help you check yourself for a diastasis, and what to do if you think you have one.
Checking for a diastasis
- Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor, knees together and bent.
- Raise your head and shoulders off the floor so that you can see your tummy.
- Place your hand flat on your stomach, fingers pointing towards your toes.
- Try and feel for the gap between the muscles above and below your belly button. You might feel them squeezing your fingers tightly. You might not. That’s ok too.
- Note how many finger widths you can fit in the gap, and how high up your torso that measurement is. You may find your diastasis is larger at the bottom than the top, or vice versa.
Typically a diastasis recti is measured as 1 finger width = 1cm. Therefore, if your diastasis is 3 finger widths, it is 3cm wide. If you feel a gap wider than 2cm, you have a diastasis. A gap wider than 4-5cm wide is considered severe.
What to do if you think you have a diastasis recti
If you’ve found that you have a diastasis, it is more than possible to improve it. The best way to do this is to get guidance from a physiotherapist, who can advise you on the best exercises to do to close the gap. In the meantime, here’s a list of things to avoid:
- traditional crunches, sit ups and planks, as these can increase intra-abdominal pressure and actually make the gap worse by putting too much strain on the muscles, effectively pulling the gap wider rather than closing it.
- holding baby on one hip, if it is painful
- coughing without supporting the ab muscles
- lifting or carrying heavy loads
Alternatively, there are many diastasis recti repair exercises on youtube, which you may like to follow along to. Just be careful you don’t put too much pressure on your stomach, as this can delay your healing and even make the condition worse.
Last but not least, if exercises from your physical therapist fail to improve your condition, surgery is always an option, however this should be a last resort, and always discussed fully with your medical team.
Needless to say, if you’re experiencing any physical difficulties postpartum (be it months or years) you should always speak to a medical professional about your concerns. While having a Diastasis Recti can be a pain (both literally and figuratively), it can be improved over time.
You’ve got this, mama.
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Ah colic, every parent’s worst nightmare. I still have flashbacks to this day. I was a super lucky parent with Oliver getting both reflux and colic – lush, huh? I remember at around 5pm every night we would all look at each other and give each other a mutual nod; that was the time his colic and reflux would start to pipe up, and we would almost start preparing in advance. Cooled boiled water, muslins and infacol at the ready. Right on cue at 5pm my baby boy would start getting upset, we all took turns trying to comfort him and help him.
So the NHS describes colic as: the name for excessive, frequent crying in a baby who appears to be otherwise healthy. It’s a common problem that affects up to one in five babies…
As a new parent I had no idea what colic was, I was out of my depth. All I knew was that my little pumpkin wasn’t happy and I didn’t know why. Fortunately at the time, we lived with Oliver’s grandparents (his dad’s mum and dad) who were amazing with colic. We called them the baby whisperers because all his grandad would have to do was place Oliver on his shoulder and he would settle, despite the many minutes I had spent bouncing, rocking and shhh-ing Oliver, meanwhile during this time Oliver’s Nonna would make me a cup of tea and we would prepare to tag in…and honestly I don’t know how we would have made it through the colic phase without their help. As time went on his colic got more severe, resulting in 111 sending an emergency ambulance at 4am one night because his screaming was so intense.
The paramedic was so lovely, understanding and empathetic as soon as he came in the atmosphere changed, the first words he said was, “oooh that sounds like a grumpy baby, let’s see what’s going on” he examined Oliver and comforted us; “you did the right thing calling, I do think it is colic, maybe a bit of reflux, prehaps take him to his GP tomorrow and see what they advise.”
From that moment on I was a woman on a mission. We started baby massage, cranial osteopathy and took him to the GP. Baby massage was perfect, I felt so close to Oliver at the class and it was fascinating to see him learning the cues for massage and it was something everyone could do at home with Oliver. Cranial osteopathy was an interesting one, I was intrigued as my mother in-law at the time said it helped for Oliver’s dad. At the first appointment, we talked about Oliver’s birth and the osteopath had a theory that his traumatic birth could have been a big contribution to his colic/reflux now. He taught us some things we could do at home to help with his colic spells, and one thing which seemed most effective was the “tiger in the tree” holding pose which was a godsend! We just simply laid Oliver across our arm face down and rubbed and patted his back which helped massively.
However, a few months in and Oliver’s colic was back with a vengeance – none of the normal tricks were working, so the health visitor advised we went to the doctor. The doctor prescribed him infant gaviscon which did work, however it also caused some constipation for my little boy so
we were advised to give him more cooled boiled water to help.
I remember Oliver was such a “pukey” baby. I’ve said previously in a post how much Oliver would throw up over Sarah, her carpet and her sofas, though it wasn’t just Sarah! We pre-warned anyone who would hold Oliver and insisted they used a muslin, I almost felt like I needed to do a terms and conditions speech “we will not be liable for any puke-age on your clothes or personal belongings as you are holding the said infant at your own risk.”
All in all, I 100% think colic/reflux/wind is the most terrifying thing any new parent will experience… after all surely it can’t be normal for an innocent baby to scream so damn much?! Well, turns out in a warped kind of way it is. If, however, you find yourself awake at 4am at breaking point, praying your child will settle there are a few things that helped me:
- Message your mummy-friends; chances are they’ve been there or are currently there, and even if they don’t read it until the morning you’ll feel better for getting it off your chest.
- Skin to Skin with your baby – Oliver took a lot of comfort from being on my chest and it really helped calm him.
- Infacol/colic granules – ABSOLUTE HEROS, the granules are what Sarah actually recommended to me when I was at breaking point one night.
- Cranial osteopathy/Baby massage – Even if you are unable to get to a baby massage class there are tutorials on the internet.
- Look at cry-sis who are an amazing support line for any parents who have a crying and sleepless baby, offering support and advice for any exhausted parent.
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Personally, I’ve suffered with depression since the ripe old age of 12. Back then, it got really, really bad. I tried to end my life twice, and ended up in a mental hospital… so, of course, when I began noticing the same signs in myself of depression during my pregnancy, you can imagine the fears and anxieties that went with it.
I’ve previously talked about how to recognise antenatal depression, and I truly think that, had I not been depressed throughout my adolescent years, I wouldn’t have recognised it in myself while I was pregnant.
There can be so many things that trigger depression or any other mental illness, but for me it was a multitude of past demons that were resurfacing. They were resurfacing because, very soon, I was going to be a mother myself, and that was the most terrifying thought of all.
Not because I didn’t want to be a mum – I’d always wanted children. I grew up with 4 younger siblings (2 of whom I raised in part) and from the age of about 9 I had known what my children’s names would be, because, OBVIOUSLY, I was going to have twin girls (Lily and Olivia – I got one at least) and a boy (Henry). I had it all planned out.
But nothing goes to plan.
Instead, by surprise, I was pregnant in my final year of university, and had to deal with that pregnancy completely alone except for a couple of very amazing and supportive housemates. By the time that my pregnancy was nearing the 7 month mark, I had essay deadlines looming and was about to move back to Kent to prepare to have my baby, and become a mum. It was what I’d wanted so why did I feel so incredibly anxious about it?
It may sound cliche… but I was so petrified of turning into my mum. Of being the type of person that could cut her children out of her life as and when she pleased, or the type of person that would prioritise her vanity and her boyfriends over her children’s wellbeing. I came out of those 15 and a half years living with her so emotionally damaged, and I was terrified that my own daughter would feel the same way. I didn’t want to lose my baby before I even had her, and I felt like it was an unchangeable fate that she would end up hating me.
Those feelings of inadequacy before I had even given birth to my daughter were so difficult to overcome, but I did overcome them. It took counselling, peer support, regular GP visits, medication, and a round of CBT for me to get to the point that I am at now. I’ve felt the ups, downs and in betweens, and I still feel them, but the downs are becoming fewer and farther between.
No matter what demons there are in your past, they won’t stop you from being a good mother. It took me a long time to come to that realisation, and I have tried so hard with everything that I am to be the complete opposite of the woman that my mother is.
I have tried so hard to give Olivia everything she deserves and more – everything I deserved as a child but never thought I was worthy of. All I can hope for is that it will be enough, and as long as I’ve put my all into being the best mum I can be, then I’m sure that it will be more than enough.
It’s 4:30am on a Saturday and I’ve just woken up with pains in my abdomen. I had been having false labour contractions for about three weeks prior to that (you were exactly a week late) so I wasn’t too quick to wake up daddy and tell him that I thought it was for real this time. Instead I went downstairs, used the toilet, bounced on my birthing ball and put on the nightie that I wanted to go to the hospital in.
I was timing the contractions and seemed to be having them about every 7 minutes, and they weren’t too painful at that point.
At about 5:30am I ran a bath. In the run up to having you I was adamant that I desperately wanted a water birth, and thought that the warm water would soothe the pain from the contractions. I got in the bath for all of about 5 minutes before deciding that it was actually irritating me and I didn’t want to be in water at all!
It’s now 6am, contractions are speeding up a bit, once every 5 or 6 minutes and getting a bit more painful. I decided to go and wake Daddy up. Now Daddy is not a morning person, as you will learn, and we had a late night staying up and watching films with Kiera, so I had about 3 hours sleep and Daddy had about 5. Needless to say Daddy was a bit grumpy at first, but he got up quickly, made me a cup of tea and looked after me while I rang the midwife. He also put on the music channel, and for some unknown reason I was listening to Cotton-Eyed Joe and bouncing on my birthing ball at 6 in the morning.
At about 6:30am I started being sick and there was a bit of blood in it too, so Daddy rang the midwife again and they told us to come in as they weren’t that busy anyway. So Daddy went and woke Kiera up and got her dressed. We got into the car and Kiera was crying, you see, we’d booked tickets to watch the new Alice in Wonderland and she was upset that she couldn’t go! You were so inconvenient.
We dropped Kiera off at her mummy’s and by about 8am we made it to the hospital. Between about 8:30 and 9am the midwife came in and asked if I wanted to use the birthing pool, to which I responded with my bath story, and then checked me over and told me I was 3cm dilated, and then my waters broke all over her hand and the bed and everything! Oh great! We thought we would be in for a long while yet.
I got hooked up to the tens machine and Daddy was rubbing my back (though the wrong end, the blithering idiot) and all of a sudden it was too much and too painful and the midwife came in to tell me that as I had a long way to go I should get transferred upstairs to the labour ward for an epidural, and I gave in and agreed to have a bloody huge needle in my spine.
But here comes the twist…
The times become less accurate here because of gas and air (bloody good stuff btw) but roughly an hour later I had another examination upstairs and I was 8cm dilated!!!! Oh, and the anaesthetist was dealing with an emergency c section so no epidural for me! You were coming too quickly and about an hour later again I was being told to push.
Uh oh, there’s another twist…
You got stuck!
I was pushing for about an hour and a half, my legs flatteringly up in stirrups and about 6 people at the end of the bed, Daddy next to me with a straw and a cup of water and the room being like the tropics to everyone else as I shouted at a health worker not to turn the air con on!
I convinced the doctor that I needed help, and so more people came in wielding forceps before they changed their minds and used a kiwi cup instead. They asked Daddy if he wanted to watch but he said no as he knew I didn’t want him to see all the gross stuff. Then with 2 or 3 pushes you were out, and up on my tummy. I said “oh my god” and Daddy laughed. Then he cut the cord and you were moved further up my chest so we could have skin to skin.
It was perfect for a few seconds until I started being sick again and had to have someone put you in the crib as I was shaking so much from the adrenaline and the gas and air comedown!
Once the atmosphere had settled I cried, more out of guilt of having someone move you as I couldn’t hold you straight away after you came out, and I asked Daddy and the midwife if you were okay. You were fine, sleeping peacefully as if nothing had even happened.
I asked if I was just being a blind mother or if you really were that beautiful. And you are. You’re more beautiful than anyone on the planet and I love you so much.
So there you have it, that is how you arrived at 13:06 on your birthday weighing 3.9kg/8lbs 9.5oz.
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Every parent wants to give the very best available to their child, and this usually starts with the big decision of which formula you should feed your baby. We all know that breast milk is the absolute best for newborns until 6 months old, but sometimes, due to many different reasons we cannot feed our baby fully on breast milk and need to add or substitute with Baby Formula.
Today Mummykind has a special contribution from Ylva Williams, co-owner of the Organic Baby Food Shop and mother of two, will share her experience.
Over to you, Ylva!
Today, the Organic Baby Food Shop imports directly from Germany to our offices in Austin, Texas , Los Angeles, California, New Jersey / New York and personally check each shipment before it departs Germany, as well as when it arrives in Texas, California, and New Jersey, to ensure the best quality and freshness for your baby.
While nowadays it seems to be nearly impossible to completely avoid exposure to chemicals and toxins, we are what we eat! Limiting dangerous ingredients especially in the most important stage of your baby’s life is essential to ensure healthy growth and a happy healthy future life, as well as giving you peace of mind as a parent!
Thank you for reading and be sure to check out the Organic Baby Food Shop products!
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As a new mum, I thought that the anxiety of leaving your child, leaving the house with your child etc. was normal. What I didn’t realise was that not wanting to be alone with your child and having the constant fear that you would do something wrong and having your child taken away from you was not normal. This is how I felt 90% of the time and it completely ruined the bond I so badly wanted with my daughter. 90% of the time I’d be at somebody’s house, or out of the house with people around because I was scared of being alone with my daughter. Scared that something would happen and nobody would be around to help me. Or if I did something different to the mums at baby group, I would panic that I was doing it wrong and my daughter was going to taken into care because I didn’t know what I was doing.
I continued on with a therapist but this time, with CBT (Cognitive behavioural therapy). Each week I would have a different thing to do e.g. messy play at home for 15 minutes, watching a TV show with Evie at home on my own etc. Slowly, I started to create that bond with her that I had been so desperate for and could cope with being alone with her. Don’t get me wrong, the anxiety still creeps about and springs up on me when I least expect it but the bond between me and Evie now is amazing. She genuinely is my best friend and I love spending mummy & daughter time with her! I wish I had known that postnatal anxiety was a thing sooner. You hear a lot about postnatal depression and postpartum psychosis during pregnancy but never the anxiety part. (Not in my pregnancy anyway). So please make sure you are familiar with the symptoms!