Your Postnatal Body – The Truth

No one really wants to hear the truth. Your new hair cut you spent a ridiculous amount of money on doesn’t suit you. Your child is the devil and I don’t want her to play with my daughter any more. I’m not that keen on your boring husband so we would rather not come for dinner again. The meal you spent hours slaving over tastes like cardboard and I’m craving beans on toast. You get the gist, no one ever wants to hear that. So we all keep hush.

And then there’s the things no one tells you about when your’re pregnant, like a sort of extra added ‘Surprise’ once you’ve popped. And you would never dare tell other pregnant women any of these things, nope, everyone must discover them for themselves. As we all know ‘The first rule of Fight Club is: You do not talk about Fight Club’For example a wonderful friend once described having a bath when her baby was a few weeks old. Upon leaving the bath she said ‘It felt like I was taking half the bath water away with me’. I laughed till I cried because that’s exactly what it feels like, all roomy and well, wider down there even though this doesn’t last forever. *does 50 pelvic floors as she types*

Another area that us Mama’s don’t really talk about is our tummies and we certainly don’t show them to anyone. I for one am always trying to disguise mine, flatten with a pair of Spanx, wear a lot of black, constantly breathing in when in public. In fact ANYTHING to make mine look flatter. Now, if I’m completely honest with you all I never had a flat or toned tummy before having children. It was always a bit wobbly but now it has a mind of it’s own. It folds in 3 places when I sit down. My belly button is wide enough to fit a pound coin in it (yes I’ve tried) and the little black star tattoo I had done aged 16 to piss off my parents now resembles a meteorite. That will teach me.

After seeing Kate Middleton’s postpartum tummy as she emerged with Prince George last week, I whooped and cheered and thanked her for embracing her tummy in that gorgeous polka dot dress. Because that’s what you look like the day after you’ve had a baby! It then got me thinking, why are we so ashamed of what our bodies look like after doing something so incredible? Why do I cringe at the thought of wearing a bikini at the local Lido when it was 30 degrees last week? What has celebrity culture done to make us Mamas feel any less of ourselves after such a major life changing event?  (OK magazine I’m talking to you). We should all be immensely proud of what we have achieved. Each and every one of us. American artist Jade Beall has done just that and photographed women’s post baby bodies in a series of beautiful images, capturing what a powerful thing the female body is. Her photos went viral last week and I finally felt at last people can really see what women look like after having children. Her photos inspired me to write this post and photograph my tummy.

2 children aged 6 and 2

Mama to 2 aged 6 and 2.5

Then I wondered, would anyone else want to reveal theirs? A few Instagram, Twitter, Facebook requests later and my inbox was filling up with amazing tummy shots! I couldn’t believe it. Your stories about your scars and stretch marks moved me to tears. All of you said no matter what state your tummy was in, you ALL felt hugely proud of what it had achieved And so you bloody well should. Here are the results.

‘You’re body is not ruined; You’re a goddamn tiger who earned her stripes’

A huge thank you to each and every one of you that has contributed to this post, you are all tigers in my eyes.

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From Left to right

Row 1: 1 child age 1.5, 1 child age 6 months,

Row 2: 1 child age 1.5 and 12 weeks pregnant, 2 children age 2.5 and 9 months

Row 3: 2 children age 2 and 6 months, 2 children age 2 and 4 months

Row 4: 2 children age 5 and 3, 2 children age 2.5 and 1

Row 5: 1 child age 1.5, 1 child age 1.5

Row 6: 2 children age 3 and 10 weeks, 2 children age 5 and 3

Row 7: 1 child age 1, 2 children age 2 and 6 weeks

Row 8: 3 children age 8, 3 and 7 months, 2 children age 2 and 6 months

Row 9: 2 children age 4 and 3 months, 2 children age 4 and 3

Row 10: 1 child age 5 months, 2 children age 4 and 3,

Row 11: 3 children 6.5, 4.5 and 19 months, 3 children age 8, 6 and 4

Row 12: 1 child age 6 months, 2 children age 4 and 2.

So Did Kate Do It Her Way?

kate and will

Unless you’ve been living under a large rock for the last 24 hours or have no access to the media, Twitter, Facebook or any human contact, then you will know that Kate delivered a baby boy yesterday afternoon. My (invisible) midwife hat has been firmly on my head since the news broke that she was in early labour. I could not help speculating what has going on inside The Lindo wing and neither could my colleagues either. Heading over to Twitter this evening proved I wasn’t the only one with my spies out and here’s why.

The wonderful Rebecca Schiller aka The Hackney Doula has written a fantastic piece on her thoughts (and mine) on what we hope and believe Kate achieved to birth her baby boy.

rebecca

‘I’ll admit this is entirely speculation. I have no idea what has been going on inside the Lindo Wing for the last 36 hours and it’s good that I don’t know. Very few people, with the exception of Romola Garai , want the world’s media to have knowledge of the state of their post-partum perineum.

However on careful viewing of the footage of Kate emerging 27 odd hours after birth, I’m putting myself on the record saying that I think she had a spontaneous vaginal birth without instruments and without an epidural. Why? Well, as @midwifeyhooper, @beverleyturner and I have been saying on twitter she is walking and carrying her baby with ease. There’s no hesitation or grimacing when going down steps or into the car; all of which would be pretty impossible so quickly after a caesarean.

The baby has no tell-tale lumps from a ventouse cup or forceps marks on his face. Kate herself has no bruises on the back of her hands or wrists suggesting no epidural or synthetic hormones.

head and hand

Of course, anything is possible, but her apparent lack of discomfort, her energy and her short stay in hospital and seemingly quite speedy timeline all point to a straightforward birth.

In many ways I feel guilty for speculating, for grubbily pouring over the photos searching for evidence. She’s just a woman adjusting to one of the most momentous changes in her life and I’m sure she doesn’t need us all wondering about ‘mode of delivery’ (hateful phrase). It’s her business and as long as she feels happy, well-supported and that it was a good and safe experience who cares if she had an elective caesarean or a water birth?

Yet, I can’t help feeling it does matter. If Kate was really keen to have a natural, vaginal birth and had really spent time practising antenatal yoga, Natal Hypnotherapy and the like I feel delighted for her that she had the birth she wanted and prepared for. In many ways the odds were stacked against her. Like over 90% of UK women she gave birth in a consultant-led unit (in her case with two dedicated consultants) when the evidence clearly shows that midwife-led care is the most appropriate, safest and cost-effective for low-risk women. She also gave birth at a private hospital with, reportedly, a 100% epidural rate, a high caesarean rate and no birth pool. (Though I wonder if an inflatable pool is being deflated as I type).

Sadly many UK women aren’t so lucky. Shunted in to consultant-led care through lack of available options they have a 45% chance of having an operative birth. Shocking when you think that the birth centre down the road would have dropped that chance by nearly 30%, while costing the NHS less and giving identical outcomes for the baby.

While medical intervention is life-saving, much-needed and also for some a positive choice there are too many women wanting to have Kate’s birth who end up feeling that the decisions have been snatched out of their hands.

So, perhaps I’m justifying my tabloid curiosity as I guiltily examine the backs of Kate’s hands, but the fact that the most high-profile birth of our time seems to have been a natural one, in a sea of rising interventions and rising dissatisfaction amongst women, seems important.

The headline “Woman has birth experience that she wanted and planned for” wouldn’t probably go down too well at The Sun’s news desk, but sadly it is becoming almost deserving of the front page.’

Follow Rebecca here @HackneyDoula

The Midwives Royal Sweep!

Fancy a sweep?

Fancy a sweep?

Hello universe. Are you aware that the Royal baby is due to be evicted from the Royal womb any day now? Are you checking Sky News, Daily Mail and Twitter the moment you wake in desperation for the news that it has been born? Nope? Just me? I feel like I’m on call for lovely Kate and William, anxiously waiting for her to page me saying she’s had a ‘show’. Or possible regular contractions. Or water breaking. Or any news!!!!!

I can barely sleep at night. And I’m not the only one going Royal baby gaga for any news. The press are camped outside St Mary’s hospital in Paddington, like hysterical One Direction fans waiting to catch a glimpse of Harry Styles in his undies at the hotel window.

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Here at Gas and Air, I’ve decided to a do little competition to see if any of you clever readers can guess the Royal baby name and second name. And what’s even better, is that I’ve got some of my all time essential products for bumps and babies to give away as a prize! Trust me, you’re all going to want to get your paws on this little beauty!

All you have to do is think of yourself as a Prince or Princess, and name that baby! Something traditional? George? Alexander? Jemima? Or more trendy Mungo? India? Coco? You can guess up to 2 names. But don’t hang around she is due any day now…………

Click on the link below and follow the instructions. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

An Open Letter To Kate Middleton

Dear Kate

Firstly, I would like to congratulate you on choosing some great maternity dresses throughout this pregnancy. Re cycling your Top Shop polka dot dress went down a storm, I bet Sir Phillip Green couldn’t believe his luck.

I hope you’re enjoying your ‘nesting period’ now that you’ve finished your last public engagement before the baby is born. I also hope William isn’t spending too much time whizzing around in helicopters rescuing stranded people while you are on your hands and knees scrubbing the Royal floor boards to encourage your baby to get into the right position for labour. Don’t worry, I know you may be tempted to sniff the bottle of Bathroom Bleach due to those uncontrollable urges, it’s just those crazy hormones. Your body does not really want you to eat soap.

photo (5)Really embrace this time to perfect your Hypno-birthing techniques with William, remember ‘Surges not contractions’ and print off your affirmations to post around the delivery room walls. Something along the lines of ‘Opening like a flower‘ or ‘ If in doubt, breathe out’.

Show him how to massage the sacrum of your back during those difficult times of your labour, you may want to consider using aromatherapy oils such as Lavender or Chamomile which are relaxing especially if your Mum or William are getting a little stressed! Drop a few drops onto a tissue and let them have a whiff, this should do the trick. Perhaps this would be a good time to consider trying some perineal massage.

Make sure William knows how to use the TENS machine and can stick the pads on your back without him electrocuting himself! Could be a bit embarrassing for him and you. Not one to tell the Queen. I’m sure you have already, but pack your labour bag, Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream, a wide headband and a pillow are just a few essentials you will definitely need. And not forgetting the all important food bag, especially for William. A strapping lad like him needs to be topped up regularly with high energy snacks; Pot Noddles, a few bananas perhaps and some Lucozade for you to sip to keep you going. (bendy straws, don’t forget the bendy straws!)

Music! We know how much you and William are partial to a little groove once in a while so make a great playlist. You may be inspired here from some of my and my readers suggestions. Number 8 and 11 were particularly good through those final pushes!

Last but not least, remember to take photos! If William is down the business end, get your Mum to take them. Obviously these won’t be the ones The Palace will want to release. But the first one of you with the baby skin to skin and looking like well like you’ve just given birth is very special. Perhaps Instagram it, a nice filter should do the trick.

Sending you lots of positive birthing vibes Kate, and I do hope you achieve the natural birth you so want. I have a feeling your Obstetrician may not be so up for a water birth or Hypno-birth but you never know. One last suggestion, maybe consider a midwife looking after you. One you know, have a good trusting relationship with, one that will support all your choices and treat you like a normal low risk pregnant woman. You could even have a home birth at your parents house, in the private environment you so deserve.  Just like the soon to be Great Grandmother did. If home birth is good enough for The Queen, it’s good enough for the heir to the throne.

Let me know if you change your mind, I may know a few great midwives that could help.

Best Wishes

Even Princess’s Get Morning Sickness

Even the smell of roses made me vomit

Even the smell of roses made me vomit

Horrah Horrah!  A Royal baby has been conceived by the Duke and Dutches of Cambridge.  Unless you have been living in a cave for the last 2 days, you will all know that Catherine is indeed with child.  But poor old Kate has been admitted with severe morning sickness also known as hyperemesis gravidarum.  For anyone who has suffered with this horrible condition will know just how awful Kate must be feeling.

The severity of the vomiting can cause dehydration, weight loss and a build-up of toxins in the blood or urine called ketosis.  It affects 3.5 per 1,000 pregnant women and can cause women to vomit blood.  Symptoms also include severe nausea, low blood pressure and fast heart rate, headaches, lethargy or confusion.

I suffered with morning sickness (not hyperemesis) which included daily bouts of vomiting up to about 14 weeks of pregnancy.  But the sickness was mainly in the evening and the night which was great when I was working nigh shifts on labour ward.  I mostly lived on plain jacket potatoes with chunks of cucumber on the side.  I could barely open the fridge door and all flowers were banned in the house which is very unlike me.  I’m not really sure anything really cured it but a few things I found helpful.

  1. Haribo Star Mix, don’t ask me why but a packet of these in my bag were a life saver.
  2. Sea-Bands which you wear on your wrist and a small button pushes on a certain acupressure point thought to ease nausea.  The only problem is, if you’re trying not to tell anyone you’re pregnant you’ll have to wear long sleeve tops so not to show the bands.
  3. Chinese Ginger Chews I actually still eat these.
  4. Ginger Snap biscuits
  5. And sleep lots of sleep, I went to bed most nights at 8pm.  Not much fun for my husband but I was terrible company.

What tips helped you avoid praying to the porcelain gods?