How my daughter helped curb my eating disorder

As my baby got bigger, the more curious she got about food, and the more I had to force myself into a routine of eating meals.Its a challenging, but positive change for me. I also can’t get away with eating too little; dinner time is a family event, which keeps me accountable, in a good way.

I’ve struggled with Anorexia more on than off since I was sixteen (so nearly ten years). At my worst, I was spending time in hospital, unable to attend university, eating less than half an apple a day and then taking double the recommended amount of laxatives to combat that half an apple (or 48 calories, if you’re interested in that kind of thing).

My weight had dropped down to less than 7 stone (45kg), I was dizzy, cold, my hair was falling out and I spent more time asleep than awake because I just didn’t have the energy. I was lying to my friends about what I’d eaten, wearing baggy clothes so that people couldn’t see how slim I was, and excessively exercising to drop my weight even lower.

At that low point, I never would have imagined being where I am now. My beautiful daughter is nearly 14 months old, and dinner time has actually become one of my favourite times of day. There’s something very healing about watching someone so tiny enjoy food so much, because they haven’t learnt any differently.

When my little monkey was approaching six months old and we began to prepare for weaning, I struggled. I’d worked so hard for so long not to measure portions, and ‘keep tabs’ on the amount I was eating, and suddenly I was having to do this for someone else. We were initially doing traditional weaning (using puree) and trialed this for a few weeks, but eventually switched to Baby Led Weaning as it was much more relaxed on the measuring front.

As my baby got bigger, the more curious she got about food, and the more I had to force myself into a routine of eating meals. I won’t lie, it’s been pretty challenging as I have Gastroparesis to deal with too, which medically affects the amount of food I can digest at a time. However, I haven’t been in a routine of eating meals like this since I was fifteen years old. Its a challenging, but positive change for me. I also can’t get away with eating too little; dinner time is a family event, which keeps me accountable, in a good way.

I’m trying my best to model good habits for my daughter. I’m hopeful that she grows up with good relationship to food, and she doesn’t go through what I still struggle with now. Nonetheless, if she does, I hope she knows she can always talk to me about whatever she struggles with.

Have you had to overcome similar hurdles? Let us know in the comments

If you liked this you’ll love…

#The ups and downs of baby led weaning
mummy and baby bears porridge
Parenting with a chronic illness

Postpartum haemorrhage : what you need to know

While delivering my daughter, I suffered a primary postpartum haemorrhage (PPH). I knew it was likely, because due to my EDS I’m prone to bleeding and have weak connective tissues. However, during my recovery in the postpartum period, I was surprised by how little others knew about PPH, but I understood every mother’s fear about suffering excessive bleeding.
Here’s what you need to know about postpartum haemorrhage.

What is it?

A postpartum haemorrhage is defined as losing more than 500ml of blood from the female genital tract after a natural delivery, or more than 1L after having a caesarean section.  There are two types of postpartum haemorrhage –
1) Primary – this occurs within the first 24h after giving birth, and affects 5 in 100 women. A severe primary haemorrhage is much more rare. This affects 6 in 1000 women, and involves losing more than 2L of blood.
2) Secondary – this occurs between 24h and 12 weeks after delivery, and affects 2 in 100 women.

What causes it?

A PPH happens most commonly because the womb doesn’t contract strongly enough after birth. It also happens because part of the placenta was left in the womb (retained placenta), or because of an infection in the lining of the womb (endometritis).

Who is more at risk?

How is it prevented?

During labour you will be offered an injection of Oxytocin as your baby is being born to stimulate contractions to help deliver the placenta.

How will having a PPH affect me?

It is important to treat a PPH quickly, as it can be life threatening. Once treated effectively, it is important to remember that having a postpartum haemorrhage can worsen the tiredness all women feel after delivering a baby.  If you had a previous PPH you have a 1 in 10 chance of experiencing it again,

How is it managed?

PPH is managed in different ways depending on the severity of the bleed. Treatment can involve massaging the uterus to stimulate contractions, inserting a catheter to empty the bladder to help the uterus contract, injections to make the uterus contract (which may cause nausea) and checking to make sure there is no retained placenta. If bleeding continues heavily, blood transfusions or surgery may be required. 
The NHS has a fabulous leaflet with more detailed information on more detailed management of PPH here.
While the concept of a PPH is scary, the reality is that doctors and midwives are trained in controlling heavy bleeding, and bleeding after childbirth is quite normal. Have you experienced a PPH or know someone who has? Let us know your story below.

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

Diastasis Recti 101

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
  • constipation
  • bloating
  • 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

  1. Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor, knees together and bent.
  2. Raise your head and shoulders off the floor so that you can see your tummy.
  3. Place your hand flat on your stomach, fingers pointing towards your toes.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

If you liked this you may enjoy reading…

Feel the burn, mummy

7 Actual Important Things Pregnant Women Need to Know

The New Baby Bubble

Mental Health Monday: Coping with a relapse…

It’s not always plain sailing…

Our mental health, much like our physical health, can be up and down. You can be fine one week, and  find yourself in a bottomless pit the next. Whether you’ve largely recovered or you’re gradually on the road to recovery, it’s important to remember that relapses are normal.

You won’t always feel as great as you do on your best days and you won’t always feel as bad as you do on the worst days. It can be a rollercoaster ride of emotions, helterskeltering to the bottom or being chucked up in the air in a fit of happiness!

What do you do when you are relapsing?

1. Remember that just like having any kind of physical relapse, this is normal! You will have bad days (probably for a long time) but they’ll get fewer and fewer as time goes on and as your brain repairs itself.

2. Take some time out – self care is even more important when you’re going through a relapse. One of the easiest ways to keep yourself going is to pamper yourself a bit, make sure you look after yourself, force yourself to get out of bed and have a shower, but do take it easy. If you need to rest, then rest. You know what you need, so listen to your body and give it a break!

3. If it lasts longer than a few days, seek help. Sometimes relapses do need some medical attention and you might need support when you’re dealing with them – don’t be afraid to reach out if things get too hard. If you don’t feel like you can talk to the people around you, you are always more than welcome to reach out to one of us for a non-judgemental rant and rave, but we still advise speaking to your GP if you’re struggling!

4. Remind yourself that you are not a bad mother… When depression strikes, you can feel like the whole world is against you and that you’re completely worthless. It can take a long time to realise that those thoughts are the depression talking – you’re a perfectly capable mother, and you should never ever criticise yourself for having a relapse. You wouldn’t criticise someone for suffering with cancer, so why criticise yourself for suffering mentally?

5. Focus on the good days, they’re what will get you through the bad ones. When those bad days do come and plague you, it’s important not to dwell on them for too long or to overanalyse the way you felt when you were at your worst. You’ll have days that are equally on the opposite side of the scale that are amazing, and focusing on those days will help you pull through in the long run!

Is there anything else that you do when you suffer with a relapse in your mental health? Let us know!

Mix It Up Linky