Birth Story Of The Week – Alice and Etta

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I have absolutely loved telling my birth story to just about anyone and everyone who would listen but have never actually put it down on paper (or screen) before. Greg and I weren’t exactly ‘trying’ for a baby, I had been told that for a variety of reasons I would find it difficult to conceive and although we were only recently engaged, we thought we might just stop not trying to have a baby and see what happened.

We were living in Singapore at the time and had possibly the best doctor I have ever met, I had one ‘chemical pregnancy’ (I lost the baby before the first full month) and, despite us thinking we were set to have a few low moments to come, the next month Etta arrived.

The first 3 months were hell, Singapore is a very hot and humid country and that coupled with smells of street food that I used to adore made for one very very unwell lady. Because of my history, I spent the first 3 months petrified, in tears and only able to keep chocolate Magnums down. Luckily everything after that went swimmingly (if you call moving country at 34 weeks swimmingly – but that’s another story).

At 11:30am on the 9th I went to Tooting medical centre for a midwife check up (I was due on the 10th) and was told that Etta’s head, which was previously engaged, was completely free and that it was unlikely she would be making an appearance any time soon. I was going to say that I was a little disappointed but that would be the understatement of the century – I was hot, I was swollen, I had leg pains, back pains, and reflux and I was so ready to meet my little girl. I stomped all the way home to Wimbledon hoping to encourage her down with the walk.

That evening at 5:00pm my contractions started – at the time I was in the park talking to a fellow dog walker. I suddenly said ‘I have to go my baby is coming’ and ran off, he probably thought I was crazy. Luckily Greg had just got off the train, so we both started up our ‘count my contraction’ apps and tracked my progress.

At 10:00pm I was pretty sure labour had started (I thought I was in pain) and I wanted to get checked to make sure things were progressing well. Unfortunately the midwife had to tell me that my cervix hadn’t even opened or softened enough for her to do a sweep and technically I still wasn’t in labour. I was told to head home and expect a long night.

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I called my mum and dad and told them what was going on, at which point my mum insisted that ‘her baby needed her’ and came to ours to ‘help’ us watch TV, chat, try to eat and pass the time.

At 1:00am the pain changed, this was the type of pain that meant I couldn’t chat and 8 Out of 10 Cats does Count Down was really really starting to piss me off. At 2:00am we headed back to St. George’s. I was examined again and told that I was now 2cm dilated – things were only just starting. I was shocked, how could I be in that much pain if nothing was really happening?? I begged the midwife for drugs – at this stage I think I should mention that I had planned a beautiful serine all natural water birth, but that had 100% gone out the window –she told me that if I had the drugs I would have to stay but Greg would have to go home.

We went home had some painkillers (which killed no pain) and tried desperately to sleep in between the contractions (every 2-3 minutes).

At 4:00am the pain changed again. Now I knew I was in pain, I was in serious serious pain.

My mum drove us into the hospital and all three of us headed up to the labour ward (me desperately praying I was more than 2cms dilated). This is where I got quite (ok, very very) ugly – there were 3 other couples in the waiting room and we ended up waiting an hour and 40 minutes to be seen, for this hour and 40 minutes I was rude, I was angry, I swore, I stamped my feet, I cried, I actually dug my nails so deeply into Greg I drew blood and I decided (adamantly) that despite everything I had said and everything I had hoped for for our birth, I was taking all the drugs they could possibly pump into me.

After an hour and 40 minutes I felt something and thought my waters had broken, I went to the toilet and there was blood – quite a lot of blood. The midwives decided to examine me and we were told that I was just 4cms dilated. I was heaving on the gas and air in between screaming at Greg, my mum, and anyone else that would listen for an epidural.

All of a sudden I had this extreme urge to push I told my midwives and they looked at me very skeptically. I insisted and they checked again and were amazed to find that I had gone from 4-10cms in just under 1 hour. I started pushing at 7:30 and at 8:26 Etta was born happy and healthy and plonked on my chest for a rub down and a cuddle.

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Despite giving up on it completely, I had had the natural birth I had hoped for and Etta and I were discharged a record-breaking 5 hours after arrival (which I was very happy with until we got home and realised that we were all totally on our own to figure things out). We did work (most) things out and having Etta was the most indescribably happy moment of my entire life, one year on, I still relive that moment every morning I walk into her bedroom.

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Alice is a freelance writer and editor and publishes the online magazine Avocado Magazine

Why It Sometimes Can Suck Being a Pregnant Midwife

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There seems to be this common perception that when you’re a midwife and become pregnant that all will be fine because you know what you’re doing, you’re a midwife after all.  Well sometimes I want to scream I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING! And it doesn’t just come from friends and family, it comes from fellow midwives, GPS, obstetricians, the lot. They all believe because you’re a midwife you have some special powerful uterus and an extra special cervix and vagina. Well let me let you into a little secret….. my reproductive organs are exactly the same as yours and knowledge doesn’t always give you power.

  • I sometimes secretly wish I knew nothing about pregnancy and birth and erased any of the trauma and negativity that I’ve seen
  • I actually know very little about twin pregnancies (I still haven’t decided if that”s a good thing or not)
  • If I’m ever in the SCBU I glance very quickly at the tiniest of babies and squeeze my stinging eyes together trying not to think about the ‘what ifs’
  • But it might be ok if they’re born early because the care for premature babies nowadays is so amazing
  • Every tiny cramp or bleed (I’ve been having a few of those) my mind immediately reminds me of those women I’ve looked after who’s babies were too premature to make it
  • I can never forget the 16,17 or 18 weekers who I’ve wrapped in tiny hand knitted blankets no bigger than a handkerchief and carefully taken those precious hand and foot prints for their parents to keep and treasure
  • I keep focusing on getting to the next week and might feel reassured when I hit 28 weeks
  • I still spend hours at night in bed reading other twin mum forums for reassuring stories of great outcomes at full term
  • I have no idea which one is moving when I feel them move and wonder if I ever will be able to tell them apart
  • If one more person asks me what sort of birth I’m going to have I might scream because I don’t know, I’m not thinking about it yet I’m just focusing on getting through the weeks
  • And the same goes for feeding, I have no idea how I’ll feed them hopefully with milk whether it’s my own or formula but sanity will help me make that choice
  • I keeping having thoughts about the next scan and what if there’s something wrong with one of them, or both, what if I have to make an awful decision?
  • I silently curse when it feels like my cervix is going to drop out by the end of the day but have to think rationally that it won’t (hopefully)
  • Sometimes I just want to be treated like every other normal pregnant person and not be greeted with shock/gasps/laughter from others when they hear I’m having twins
  • I’m still answering the same 4 questions – when are you due? are they identical? are there twins in your family? do you know the sex?

*Just to say it isn’t all bad there are a million perks to being a pregnant midwife for example my lovely consultant scanned me today after another little bleed and told me what we’re having*

 

Food For Thought – Guest Post

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Food for thought: second trimester nutrition.

The nausea is waning. You’ve got your capsule maternity wardrobe sussed. Hell, you might even be starting to glow! You’ve only gone and made it to your second trimester. This is allegedly the good ‘middle bit’ before you start dealing with piles, gargantuan nipples and uncontrollable wind (You’ve got that already? Totally normal). It’s also the bit where your baby starts noticeably growing. Nutrition is the cornerstone of a healthy pregnancy, but we all know the last thing any mother-to-be wants is more sodding advice. Consider the tips below as suggestions rather than the law:

* Try starting the day with hot water and lemon. It’s a good alternative to caffeine, alkalises the  body’s PH levels and jumpstarts your digestive juices.

  • Focus on the quality, rather than the quantity, of food that you choose (unfortunately the school of thought that says you should be eating for two has closed down).
  • Try and make better choices, rather than perfect ones. We all know fresh, unprocessed food is best but if you accidentally inhaled a box of doughnuts, don’t beat yourself up.
  • Omega 3s are your best friends and great for brain health – yours and your baby’s. Find them in pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, eggs and dark leafy vegetables, as well as low mercury fish sources such as sardines, mackerel and wild salmon.
  • You’re using a lot of iron to make all that extra blood for your baby. Up your intake with green, leafy veg such as spinach or kale, good quality (preferably organic) lean meat, beans, lentils, cashew nuts and pumpkin seeds. Try a watercress and baby spinach salad with lightly fried halloumi and ripe papaya (vitamin C aids iron absorption).
  • Drink lots of water. Constipation is the LAST thing you need right now.
  • Chew your food really well and eat slowly. Heartburn and indigestion are common in pregnancy and often get worse as your growing baby starts putting the squeeze on your internal organs.
  • Try taking a good probiotic or add a natural source such as kefir (fermented yoghurt) to your diet. Good gut health is all-important.
  • Fill your fridge with healthy, easy prep foods such as avocados, quinoa, CoYo or Greek yoghurt, fresh berries, nori wraps, energy bombs (recipe below), eggs, salads, juices, smoothies (good practice for all that pureeing you’re going to do later down the line), sweetcorn cobs and almond butter (delicious with slices of apple).

Here are a few quick and easy, nutritionally-loaded recipes that will hopefully inspire and give you time to focus on the more important things in life, like poring over F&B charts for the perfect ‘greige’ to paint the nursery.

Easy Breakfast:

Chia pudding (protein, iron, calcium, vitamin C)

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In a bowl or mason jar, mix 4 tablespoons of chia seeds with 250ml of almond milk . Add a blob of yoghurt, a tsp of vanilla paste, some desiccated coconut and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Leave in the fridge overnight. In the morning add fresh berries, pomegranate, nuts, goji berries, seeds, nut butter – whatever you have – to make a delicious breakfast or snack that you can easily take to work or eat on the go.

Something to keep you going:

Green Smoothie (fibre, iron, vitamin C and E, calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc)

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A handful of kale, a handful of spinach, juice of half a lemon, a cup of almond milk, half a pear, half a banana, a tablespoon of almond butter. Blitz the lot and enjoy.

Quick lunch or supper:

 

Pea and feta frittatas (omega 3, calcium, fibre, vitamin D, B6, B12, folate, choline)

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120g defrosted peas, 2 eggs, 30g rice flour, 125g of red pepper*, 60g feta crumbled, 1 finely chopped red chilli, 3 spring onions, small bunch of parsley, salt and pepper to taste.

  • Alternatively use peppers, mushrooms, ham, bacon – whatever you have in the fridge.

Blitz the peas and eggs in a food processor. Add the rice flour and fold in, being careful not to over mix. Add remaining ingredients and combine gently to form your batter. Heat 1 tbsp of coconut oil in a frying pan and spoon a large dollop of mixture into the pan, use a spatula to form a round patty shape. Heat gently til it starts browning and firming up, then flip over and cook the other side.

Urgent snack attack:

Raw chocolate love bombs (EFAs, fibre, folate, vitamin E, fibre, iron, potassium) – makes about 12 bombs

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100g hazelnuts, 100g desiccated coconut, 100g fresh dates, 50g raw cacao, 3 tbsp coconut oil, tiny pinch of salt.

Blitz the nuts in a processor, then add the rest of the ingredients and blend thoroughly. Roll into balls then freeze for 20 minutes to ‘set’ them. Will keep in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Emma Bardwell is a freelance writer and health & nutrition blogger for Active In Style. She’s currently studying nutrition at CNM (where Deliciously Ella studies) and is a staunch believer in all things in moderation. Follower her on Instagram @eightypercentclean