Pregnancy and your mouth. What’s being pregnant got to do with your mouth, I hear you ask?!
Well, stranger on the internet, I’m talking all about how Pregnancy can affect your oral health. In this case, my personal experience with both my gums and teeth during my pregnancies. Because how conceiving a baby can send your oral health into turmoil is something that just isn’t spoken about. It’s another one of those ‘pregnancy treats’ that you don’t find out about until you’re struck down!
My teeth were ground to bits when I was pregnant with Eli – for some reason, being pregnant gives you more of reason to grind those toothies. I’d also clench my teeth together too. As I type this, my teeth are currently clenched. But I think that this current clenching is due to stopping myself from feeling so nauseous. Some women tend to grind their teeth or clench their jaws, especially during deep sleep or times of stress. Teeth grinding is also know by the medical term ‘bruxism’. Sometimes, teeth grinding can lead to several problems. It can wear down tooth enamel, which it had/has in my case and can cause chipping of the teeth, increase the sensitivity of the teeth to heat and cold and cause pain to the face and the jaw. I also tended/tend to wake up with a sore jaw and headache. For this reason, I was fitted with a mouth guard for use when sleeping when I was pregnant with Eli. However, once Eli arrived, my teeth also had a shift about and the guard no longer fit properly!
Your teeth are more sensitive during pregnancy, even from the very beginning. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can make your gums more vulnerable to plaque, leading to inflammation and bleeding. This is also called pregnancy gingivitis or gum disease. Morning Sickness All Day Sickness is another treat that can cause some serious damage to your teeth and gums. During bouts of sickness and nausea, make sure you rinse your mouth with plain water after each time you vomit. This will help prevent the acid in your vomit attacking your teeth. Do not brush your teeth straight away as they will be softened by the acid from your stomach. Wait about an hour before doing so.
I wasn’t sure if the old wives tale of “you lose a tooth for every pregnancy” rang true – but I did have a wisdom tooth extracted shortly after Eli was born and I’ve had a total carry on with my teeth of recent. All of which is why I am beyond thankful to the amazing NHS for offering their dentist services for free during pregnancy.
Luckily, here in England, Pregnant women can apply for a Maternity Exception Certificate via their Midwife or GP. Details of which you can find, here.
At time of this blog post being published, in February 2019, if you’re pregnant or have given birth in the last 12 months, you are entitled to:
free NHS dental treatment
free NHS prescriptions if you have a valid maternity exemption certificate
A maternity exemption certificate:
entitles you to free prescriptions
can be used to prove your entitlement to free NHS dental treatment
You’re also entitled to continue to use your exception card for 12 months after your baby is born. If you did not apply for a maternity exemption certificate while you were pregnant, you can still apply at any time during the 12 months after your baby is born.
This pregnancy started with swollen, painful gums that bled and a struggle to brush my teeth without borking 😭 I was waking with that pain in my jaw and ear from clenching and grinding my teeth in my sleep and had impressions done for a new mouth guard; in hope it would bring some relief.
Fast forward to two weeks ago I went to the dentist again about a troublesome tooth that had cracked. It was so painful… or at least I thought it was painful until my dentist went gung-ho with a drill in an attempt to revive the old filling and where the tooth had cracked in half. The dentist filled the gaps and sent me on my way. Taking heed of the NHS advice to avoid painkillers; I basically laid my sad little face on a hot water bottle for a week.
By the Friday of the same week, I had cried every single day with the pain. After all my previous dental treatment (so many tooth extractions, braces, a retainer and my wisdom tooth removed), I’d never had pain like this. Another appointment saw that the nerves were damaged in my tooth where it was drilled earlier in the week. I was offered Root Canal treatment or pulling it out. The best option for me was E X T R A C T I O N. I just wanted the tooth gone, I was in total agony.
Brilliant. Nee bother. I’ve had half of my teeth removed since age 9, so loosing another one wouldn’t be a problem 🤷♀️
The anaesthetic soon got to work and my dentist began to pull and tug. She was pulling with such force she knocked my safety goggles off. 25 minutes later and a lot of me moo’ing like a cow (thinking I was being a wimp…) , I went pale, floppy and a first aider was sent in. I’d had a dip in blood pressure, blood sugar and it turned out that I had not been given enough anaesthetic. I was given a tablet, more anaesthetic (5 needles worth in total) and a further 25 minutes later the sodding tooth was out; in around 20 pieces. I’ve never had an extraction like it. I went home, totally shook.
My jaw, cheek, ear, sinuses and the gum were so swollen and I was in such agony. I threw up and eventually I gave in an swallowed two paracetamol and laid my face upon my trusty hot water bottle once again. It looked like we could see my jaw bone in my gum and I didn’t have a blood clot on the gum at all. Because of this, I was religiously, but gently, swilling with warm salt water to be on the safe side.
By Sunday evening, I was still in such pain – but just thought again, I’m being a right wimp, my pain threshold isn’t as high ‘cos pregnant. But Monday morning came and my gum wasn’t right. My mouth tasted vile. The ‘stuff’ we thought was ‘granulation’ on my gum, was in fact infection. Straight back to the dentist I went. As my dentist is beyond cautious of how she treats pregnant women, she diagnosed Dry Socket and cleaned out the infection then injected something into my gum. I was not prescribed antibiotics or painkillers, as my dentist felt that my body was doing a “good job” of attempting to recover the gum itself. Some medicine was packed into the socket and I was sent on my way. The medicine tasted rank – kind of like chewing raw cloves, but I got used to it fairly quickly. I’d say by 3pm, I was more of less pain free. I couldn’t believe the relief. I cried because it was so weird to feel more normal!
I went to bed on Monday evening feeling pretty smug that I no longer needed my hot water bottle. But POW, its 3am and your gum and jaw and ear and cheek and sinuses are back to screaming in pain. BRILLIANT. The infection had pushed the gauze and whatever else was packed into my gum, out. The taste was unbearable. I couldn’t fall back to sleep.
I woke up today feeling sick, lightheaded and my mouth tastes absolutely vile. I’m 5 tablets into my course of Amoxicillin however and I’m bloody hoping they do the trick because there is still pain there too.
Moral of the story? Visit your dentist regularly. Especially when you’re pregnant!
After lack of bleeding from my Medical Management, we went into the scan on Monday 2nd October kind-of hopeful. We had the Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, Dr Anita-Rao, along with our Sonography staff. Dr Anita-Rao had all my (many) previous scans in front of her, I knew by the movements of the scanner and her face that it wasn’t good news…
She put the probe down and moved the screen towards us. The sodding sac was STILL there. But it gets worse… not only was it STILL there, but it had GROWN. The empty sac had increased. I couldn’t believe it. I’d lost so much tissue and blood during my Medical Management, so how could this have happened? It was all kinds of insane. I went into that bubble of your own, where you can hear the sounds of conversation – but can’t make out the words. According to James, the Consultant explained that the hormones given during the Medical Management had encouraged an increase in amniotic fluid – thus enabling the sac to grow/fill with fluid. She showed us a heat map, indicating no blood flow, no heart beat, no life. By this point I would have been 16 weeks pregnant – the sac had increased in size from 7 weeks and 1 day (at the 12 week scan) to measuring 8 weeks. Dr Anita-Rao advised the only way to go forward with this now was Surgery. The dreaded (ERPC or ERPoC, which stands for Evacuation of Retained Products of Conception. You might hear it called it a D & C too) which is under anaesthetic.
Dr Anita-Rao then said “Ok Claire, let’s get you sat next door and make you a bit more comfortable”. To which I jumped off the bed and shouted “WHAAAAAAAT!”. As I was in my little bubble, I didn’t catch what the conversation actually was, and I thought they were going to take me off to theatre, there and then. Obviously, my first thoughts were – “My darling Eli! – he’s at school – I need to see him”.
What they actually meant was, they wanted to go back to the Quiet Room to discuss the procedure/dates/times.
Midwife Amelia came back to us, once again – so wonderfully compassionate and with genuine empathy. We discussed the Surgical Management of Miscarriage and she handed me the instructions for patients ahead of General Anaesthetic. I was booked in for the morning surgery on Wednesday 4th October – therefore, had to be at Broomfield Hospital for 7:30am (being Nil By Mouth from 2:30am).
LOOK AT THIS LIST.
My favourite thing on this list? The SILVER LINING in this whole experience…. take a look at number 5: 5) I will undertake to refrain from the following activities for at least 48 hours after the anaesthetic (please note that depending on the nature of the surgery this period may be longer);
Not to drive a car, motorbike or bicycle
Operate machinery or cook
Engage in any sporting activities
Return to work
Drink alcohol or take drugs, other than those prescribed
Sign any legally binding documents
YAAAAAAS to no driving, cooking (and cleaning) or signing of legal documents. Though, this did implicate James working – thankfully he works for a very understanding company. We don’t have any family down here, so we’re reliant upon eachother in times of need – and our friends help out around us as best as we can all manage.
So that was that. We had all our questions and concerns answered by Midwife Amelia and given well wishes for the future. I also had to not apply any perfumes and wash with this ^ Octenisan – in aid of protecting against MRSA.
Wednesday 4th October A301 – Theatre & Day Surgery – Broomfield Hospital
Upon arrival at 7:30am, we were in a large waiting area of A301. My name, along with around 30 other names, was called and we were escorted by the Pre-Anaesthetic team to ‘Recovery 2’ ward, waiting area. There were separate waiting area’s for Males & Females (adult surgery, only), the signs said this was in line with ‘protecting dignity’.
We were both acknowledged as being there – despite me being the patient. Which I thought was really kind of the staff. We both sat on a green chair each – all freshly cleaned (with green warning stickers to say so). I reclined the chair and waited for my first set of assessments.
We weren’t waiting long before I was ushered off to a side cubical and given details of who I would speak to and having my ob’s taken. After a bit of back and forth between waiting areas (and a lot of apologies and friendly chatter), I was sat down finally in another cubicle and awaited a chat with my Anaesthetist. Dr John finally came along – he had a familiar face – a bit like that of Actor James Redmond. I talked through how petrified I was of ‘being put to sleep’. He talked through the process, reassured me no-end and I felt so much better about the entire situation. I signed some forms and he said he’d see me again, just before theatre.
I then awaited a chat with my surgeon, Dr Mistry. Dr Mistry, again settled my nerves about the actual procedure. We talked about the fact I was left in quite a state after an Episiotomy gone very wrong, following the birth of Eli (which left me with early-caught-Sepsis and a very damaged undercarriage that was left to heal ‘on it’s own’ for neigh on 2 years). (Yep, not had a lot of luck on my side to be honest!)
I was then told that I was at the bottom of the list for the morning surgery. My last meal was at 9pm the night before (having only had a bit of water when I got up at 5:30am). By this time it was 10:30am and I was SO THIRSTY! I drink a lot of water, every day – more out of habit than anything else! But it was driving me crazy not being able to even wet my mouth.
I was given lots of updates and eventually told at 11:45am that I was ‘next’.
12:15 arrived and a lovely lady came with all my notes to take me to theatre. James and I said our “I love you’s” and off I went. I know it was a straight forward procedure, I know it wasn’t complicated, but the fact I was being put under anaesthetic, as a MOTHER, petrified me. You just don’t know how your body will react to things like anaesthesia. What if I didn’t wake up again? That was my big fear. Not the pain or discomfort. The FEAR of being put to sleep.
I thought I’d be taken down to the theatre on a bed, but instead, I had to walk there. It was a short walk. But I balled my eyes out the entire way. The nurse who took me along was brilliant – she wrapped her arms around me tightly and told me that she knew it was scary, but it would be fine. I needed her comfort. We walked into a room marked, Theatre 18. Once inside, she explained that this was the Pre-Anaesthetic room, where I would be put to sleep – once under, I’d then be taken through to the actual theatre. She took off my sliders and undid the back of my hospital gown and helped me up onto the surgical bed.
She stayed with me for a little while – then the Anaesthetic room began filling with medical staff. I looked around at the mass of machines and equipment. I could see the theatre ahead of me, through some double doors. A few members of the surgical team went through the doors – the light above now highlighted ‘IN USE’. I closed my eyes each time someone went through the doors. I didn’t want to ‘go to sleep’ to the view of the theatre. It was insanely bright and white. And frankly, it scared me. Maybe I’ve seen too many hospital programmes!
My lovely nurse then said her goodbye’s and passed me over to Julia. Who prepped me with chest electrodes, a blood pressure band & finger monitor and tucked me up under a blanket. She gave me tissues and stroked my hair. I was trying my hardest to be strong. But my god, it’s so hard when people are just so bloody lovely and all you’re talking about is your wonderful family.
Dr John prepped my arm for the cannula, as we talked about our trips to Cornwall. Everyone chirping in about their own experiences – so laid back! There were around 6-8 staff in this tiny, dim-lit surgical room by this point. My surgeon arrived with another doctor. All smiles.
Dr John administered the cannula (OUCH) to my left arm; and washed my vein out with saline. I remembered that cold feeling running down my arm, from when I had the drip during labour with Eli. The chatter was constant – this time turning to accents and how we’d managed to ‘end up’ in Essex. I could feel another fluid going down my arm and began fighting to keep my eyes open – focussing my attention on that ‘IN USE’ sign above the theatre doors – for I knew when that was out of focus, I’d be gone. I asked “have you given any anaesthetic yet, because I feel a bit weird?”. I then remember thinking, ‘they’re all chatting away to me so they can tell when I’m asleep – so I’m going to keep on chatting, so they can’t trick me’. It must have been Pre-Surgery logic… or something.
The last words I heard were “It’s now going to feel like I’ve just given you a few large Gin & Tonic’s, ok?”. I remember nodding and feeling really cosy… and that was it. Out like a light.
Fast forward to 1:30pm and I was on the first Recovery ward. My waking words were repeatedly “I love the NHS” and “Save the NHS” and “compliments to the staff”. YAAAAAAAS to #SAVETHENHS. The nurse who was looking after me told me to stop being apologetic (!!!) and that I was fine and everything went as it should have. She then asked for my consent to check the pad that I’d woken up with. I was bleeding a normal amount – phew. She then told me it had taken a little while for me to come round. I was surprised, shocked… and then felt so incredibly sick. She grabbed one of those egg-cup dishes and kept checking my blood pressure. It was slightly high. My temp was 37.8. I felt so, so sick and dizzy. But just so relieved to be awake! She said they’d already given me painkillers and anti-sickness medication – then she administered a little more anti-sickness medication for me. I then began feeling a lot better. Soon after, my stat’s began to normalise. In the time that I was settling down, I saw 3 patients transferred to the recovery ward post-surgery. It was so interesting to see. The quality of care was just incredible. The teamwork, the processes and attention to detail was above and beyond.
By 2:30 my nurse was happy to have me transferred back to the Pre-Anaesthetic ward, where James would be called to come and find me – I can’t remember her name, sadly. I wish I could. I was wheeled back to the ward in my post-surgery bed, feeling ridiculously happy? Not sure if this was a side-effect of the anaesthetic or if it was pure relief and the joy of feeling proud of oneself.
I played an ill-timed joke on James before he arrived on the ward – of which, he’s still pretty annoyed with me about – so I won’t go into it. Hah. But here I am, about 90 mins post-surgery. I had to be linked up to oxygen for a little while after as my level’s hadn’t settled.
But man-oh-man, that first water since 5am was SO GOOD. I drank a litre in a matter of minutes. It must have been about 3/3:30 by this time and I was told I could eat! SO EXCITED. I had a cup of tea and toast on their way. I don’t think ANYTHING will ever beat that tea & toast you have after childbirth – but this one, was pretty damn close!
James spread the butter and marmite while I supped on that lovely, perfect, cuppa! Oh it was so good. I had little pain/cramping. Nothing major – and like I say, I felt pretty bright in myself. I just couldn’t wait to get home to my boy.
I had a few after-care instructions to go over with the Senior Staff Nurse on the ward and would then be discharged. I signed a form to allow the Pregnancy Products to be disposed of, after investigation. I was given all the warning signs and symptom’s to look out for post-surgery – and told to expect bleeding for around 7-10 days.
Now then – I got home expecting to be filling pad’s and pad’s with blood. But again – I’ve had nothing. No idea if this is good or bad – but Dr Google tells me that this can be pretty normal. Infact, bleeding can sometimes begin a few days post-surgery, resulting in heavy bleeding with clots and a lot of pain. So with this in mind, I’ve sadly had to cancel my @LuckyThingsBlog night out tomorrow evening in aid of stayed rested. I just can’t run any additional risk of infection at this point.
So here we are today, Friday 6th – 2 days post operation. I feel ok in myself, still. I woke several times in the night with bad cramps – but after a few painkillers and a bit of To Kill A Mockingbird, I could cope and go back off to sleep. I feel generally achy (hips & back, must be from the procedure positioning) and my pretty bruised – I also have a massive ulcer in my mouth, from where the breathing tube went down my throat.
I have moments of sadness and waves of positivity. I’m mostly sleeping. Not really got a major appetite – though, as usual, I can drink my weight in water. So that’s fine. I’m not allowed to have a bath / stay in the shower for too long (again, risking infection due to open cervix) and I’ve got to keep those dashing surgical stockings pulled up to my knee’s (which is also fine, considering the cold snap – I have pleasantly toasty legs!).
I’ve been sent the most amazing Get Well flowers, plants, cards & chocolate. But mostly? I’m overwhelmed by the kindness I’ve seen in messages and comments – from friends and strangers alike. I appreciate every single one.
This has, so far, been my Miscarriage journey. Whilst I wouldn’t wish this experience on even my worst enemy, I do hope that in sharing my experiences, I have helped someone else. Just one person. This has been a truly cathartic process – and necessary for me. For me to heal and come to terms with things. It’s not for everyone – but if you feel the need to share, then please, please do. Miscarriage is such a common heartbreak that can happen to anyone. 1 in 4 of us – maybe even 1 in 3 of us. But we’re not just statistics – remember that. Sharing your story can make such a difference – not just to others who are going through the same horrendous journey, but also to those charities such as Tommy’s and The Miscarriage Association – that, as I’ve said before, support crucial research into Pregnancy Loss – something that would not be possible without YOUR stories too.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all your kindness, guidance, advice, laughs and positivity. I’m not entirely sure what kind of awful position I would be in if I didn’t have the support of my friends and family both offline AND online. It’s meant the world to me – to us, as a family.
As before – it’s good to talk about things. So please do keep getting in touch and sharing your experiences. It’s the only way we’ll learn.
I thought another ‘update’ was due from me & my miscarriage journey as quite a few things have happened since my last post >> Miscarriage & Me // An Update, (posted on 14th September). I’m sharing my experience because:-
1) It’s been cathartic for me to write everything down and actually go over what’s happened, as some days are a bit of a blur – especially with all that hospital jargon.
2) The only way to learn is from others’ sharing their own experiences – I had absolutely no idea how common Miscarriage was/is. It’s only through sharing that I now know so much more and understand so much more. It’s also been of great support for me (and I’m told by others – which has overwhelmed me like you’d never know). By allowing people in and allowing them to also share in their journey has kept me going.
3) Charities such as Tommy’s rely on people sharing their own story, to aid their crucial research into Pregnancy Loss.
This could be lengthy as I get up to date – but as I say, typing it out helps me to move along and have a bit of a ‘brain dump’, as it were.
19th September Re-scan // Broomfield Early Pregnancy Unit
The re-scan was done in EPU this time. Despite bleeding lightly, pretty constantly, since 27th August, I was quite shocked to hear that my scan was looking no different to the scan I’d had two weeks previous (the 12 week scan).
As the empty sac still measured at just 7 weeks, and by dates, I was now 14 weeks, the midwives advised that we need to now take some further action as it looks like my body (ridiculously cruelly) still thinks it’s pregnant and that sac ain’t shiftin’.
We were then lead to that dreaded ‘Quiet Room’ once again; where Midwife, Amelia, came to discuss my options once again. There was absolutely no pressure, but she did remind me that as things weren’t ticking over naturally and had been stationary for longer than expected – therefore leaving me open to potential infection. Ugh.
We talked things through – I was then booked in for ‘Medical Management’ Part One for Friday 22nd September; followed by Part Two on Sunday 24th September.
(Here is some explanation on Medical Management of Miscarriage – including some of that lovely hospital jargon, simplified. Scroll on to continue with my ‘story’).
What is Medical Management of Miscarriage?
“You may choose to have medication to remove the tissue if you don’t want to wait. This involves taking tablets that cause the cervix to open, allowing the tissue to pass out.
In most cases, you’ll be offered tablets called pessaries that are inserted directly into your vagina, where they dissolve. However, tablets that you swallow may be available if you prefer. A medication called Mifepristone is sometimes used first, followed 48 hours later by a medication called Misoprostol.
The effects of Misoprostol tablets usually begin within a few hours. You’ll experience symptoms similar to a heavy period, such as cramping and heavy vaginal bleeding. You may also experience vaginal bleeding for up to three weeks.
In most units, you’ll be sent home for the miscarriage to complete. This is safe, but ring your hospital if the bleeding becomes very heavy.
You should be advised to take a home pregnancy test three weeks after taking this medication. If the pregnancy test shows you’re still pregnant, you may need to have further tests to make sure you don’t have a molar pregnancy or an ectopic pregnancy.
You may be advised to contact your healthcare professional to discuss your options if bleeding hasn’t started within 24 hours of taking the medication.”
Medical management involves a single visit to the hospital. During this time, you will have pessaries (tablets) inserted inside your vagina, or you may be given the tablets orally if you are having vaginal bleeding. These work by making your womb contract and push out the pregnancy tissue. You may need more than one treatment with pessaries or oral tablets before the miscarriage happens. You may choose to stay in the hospital or go home following the administration of medication. If you prefer you may take the tablets home and take them yourself at home. Bleeding may continue for up to 3 weeks after treatment.
Does it hurt?
Once the miscarriage starts, most women have quite strong period-like pain and cramps and some find the process very painful, especially as the pregnancy tissue is expelled. This is because the womb is contracting and pushing (imagine tightly clenching and then relaxing your fist a few times) rather like the contractions of labour. You are also likely to have heavy bleeding and pass blood clots. You may see the pregnancy sac and it may be larger than you expect. You might see an intact fetus, which may look like a tiny baby, especially if you are miscarrying after 10 weeks. You may take Paracetamol or Co-codamol for pain relief, but you should not take Aspirin or Ibuprofen as they may make the treatment less effective.
Some women react to the medication with nausea and/or diarrhoea.
Are there any risks?
The risk of infection after medical management is low, at around 1 in 100. Signs of infection are a raised temperature and flu-like symptoms, a vaginal discharge that looks or smells offensive and/or abdominal pain that gets worse rather than better. Treatment is with antibiotics. In some cases you may be advised to have an ERPC. You will probably also be advised to use pads rather than tampons for the bleeding and not to have sexual intercourse until the bleeding has stopped.
There is a small risk of haemorrhage; a recent study reported that 1 in 100 women had bleeding severe enough to need a blood transfusion. If you have very heavy bleeding or severe pain and/or feel unwell, or if you just find it hard to manage, you may ring your Early Pregnancy Unit for advice, 111 or 999 if necessary.
Medical management is effective in approximately 80 to 90% of cases. Where it is not, women may be advised to have surgical management – an ERPC.
What are the benefits of medical management?
The main benefit is in avoiding an operation and general anaesthetic. Some women prefer to be fully aware of the process of miscarriage and may want to see the pregnancy tissue and perhaps the foetus. Some women feel this helps them say goodbye.
Some women see medical management as a more natural process rather than having an operation, but more manageable than waiting for nature to take its course. It may be helpful to know that if the treatment doesn’t work, you may be able to opt for ERPC.
Some women find the process painful and frightening, though good information about what to expect can help. Some women are anxious as to how they might cope with the pain and bleeding, especially if they are not in hospital at the time. Some fear seeing the fetus. Bleeding can continue for up to three weeks after the treatment and women may have to have several follow-up scans to monitor progress. This can be upsetting. Some women will end up having an ERPC as well as medical treatment.
I was given the usual consent forms ahead of being handed the Mifepristone along with anti-sickness tablets. I then had an hour to rest and had the typical stat’s taken before/after. All was fine and I was sent home. I had no pain, no nausea and more importantly, no bleeding in the 48 hours ahead of Part Two.
Although I was willing for SOMETHING to happen, nothing did. We went for lunch with my parents (who had visited for the weekend); and we even had a child-free trip to the CINEMA! (FINALLY saw Dunkirk, which is just the most incredible slice of cinema I’ve seen, ever, I think). The distractions didn’t offer up anything.
So we went back to the hospital bright and early on Sunday morning. I was mega nervous. I had a nervous tummy, sweaty palms and little-to-no conversation in me.
Sunday 24th September Gosfield Ward – Early Pregnancy Unit – Broomfield Hospital
The ward was pretty silent when we arrived at just before 10am. Eerily so. No sooner had we arrived before I was changing into a hospital gown and laid on the bed in my private room. I was given more information about the procedure and had my stats taken. After the birth of Eli, I was admitted to hospital for a week to treat near-death early-caught-Sepsis. The experience left me with ‘White Coat Syndrome‘ – of which I have to explain to EVERY caregiver who has the joy of taking my blood pressure – “White coathypertension, more commonly known as white coat syndrome, is a phenomenon in which patients exhibit a blood pressure level above the normal range, in a clinical setting, though they don’t exhibit it in other settings. It is believed that the phenomenon is due to anxiety that those afflicted experience during a clinic visit”. I have to say, I do feel for these poor individuals – I’m not the easiest patient to deal with!
By 11am I had ordered my lunch (from a pretty extensive and surprisingly appetising hospital menu!) and was awaiting the doctor to come with my medication to kick-start the ‘induction’, so to speak. I weirdly felt quite relaxed… I think it felt like there was finally light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe I was riding on nerves and adrenaline/anticipation.
The pessaries were inserted (all 4). Yes it was uncomfortable – and slightly painful – but it takes just a few minutes. So its completely bearable. I would then have to lay flat for an hour – hour & half. Within 10 minutes the bleeding started. It suddenly became very, very heavy. We called for a Nurse (Lucy), who got me up out of bed and took me into my private en-suite.
I was then given the ‘pan’ of which I would need to collect all tissue – which would then be taken for assessment. I’m sure all will agree that dignity is something very foreign when enduring anything child-baring related. This wonderful Midwife sorted me out at my most vulnerable – in the most caring and gentle way. She made no fuss and made me feel at ease; whilst giving me a ‘wet wipe’ bath to remove the blood stains from my legs and back. Sorry if this is a totally grim read – but I want to be honest. There’s no shame in any of this – and sadly, it’s just the way it is. This is the process. I won’t go into the whole NHS funding/Nurses wages thing – but my god, these wonderful, wonderful humans – they deserve the world. The things they must see, on a daily basis. I can’t even comprehend. What incredibly skilled and insanely caring people. Unbelievable. #SAVETHENHS
I spent my time back and forth from the bed to the en-suite for the next hour, when we managed to get the bleeding under some control and I could rest on the bed with maternity pads/bed pads. My lunch arrived – and I was ravenous. James went to the Hospital M&S to grab himself some lunch and for a bit of a breather too, I imagine. It’s all pretty gruesome and definitely something he’s coped with exceptionally well considering he was once very squeamish (he may well be squeamish still, not sure how you can’t be looking at what we went through this weekend – but he did a bloody marvellous job of comforting and supporting me throughout). The Chilli I ate for my lunch was beautiful – really hit the spot and cheered my mood right up – as did the Harry Styles album I had streaming.
The afternoon was again spent back and forth from the bed to the en-suite (I couldn’t just stay in the en-suite, I wanted to be on the bed and cosy) with Nurses coming and going – checking my progress – checking the tissues I’d expelled and the bleeding – but not overstaying, which gave us some well needed privacy that I really valued.
By 3pm I was in need of painkillers. The cramps were getting really painful – not unbearable, but I didn’t want them to get to a point where I was in need of severe pain management. So the Midwife (Pankaja) nipped the pain in the bud with 2 paracetamol and liquid morphine.
Not long after, I was given the menu for tea – even though I’d anticipated I’d be home by now. So I reluctantly I ordered Chicken Tikka & Rice and a Rice Pudding. Yep three meals with RICE, in one day – YOLO. I’ve got to praise this hospital food – seriously! It was super tasty, a great portion size, hot and not in the slightest bit sloppy, soggy or plasticky – which is what I’d encountered previously. My body definitely appreciated the good food too.
By 5pm, I was given a pretty painful internal. Which even the painkillers couldn’t fend off. A huge light was brought in on wheels along with the paraphernalia you’d normally see when having a Smear Test…and/or having your waters broken. The doctors agreed that the bleeding would continue and were satisfied with my progress thus far – my Cervix was open – so that was a good position to be in. Though, they were not convinced that the sac had passed and began discussing the repeat procedure of the pessaries – which would mean an overnight stay. While the staff debated my situation, Eli arrived with my parents. They were going home that evening. Thankfully the bleeding was nigh on stopping and the pain had eased. So he just saw his Mama in her “really pretty” hospital gown – and my god, I was so happy to see him and we had the BEST cuddles. His affection made me forget about it all – made me zone out – for just a few moments. (He also said I looked pretty in my hospital ‘dress’. There’s a first!)
By 7pm, the Registrar had decided against an overnight stay and repeat procedure – I’d had too much medication for one day. Therefore, I’d be discharged with a letter, antibiotics and a repeat scan for 2nd October. So I have until the 2nd to finish expelling whatever is left.
I was discharged at around 8:30. I was shattered and it was a surreal journey home – it felt like 4am or something. I then slept. Slept and slept and slept. Never have I ever slept so much. I even SLEPT THROUGH on Sunday night, something I’ve not managed since well before Eli arrived. So that was weird too.
Since then – and up until today, Wednesday 27th – I’ve had little/no bleeding once again. Though I’ve had the odd cramp, back pain and baaaaaaad head. So once again, I’m in limbo. Has it all expelled? Is it over? Is it stuck?! Has the sac come away? Has my cervix closed up again?! Am I anaemic with all this blood loss? Is that why I’m so damn tired? Guess I’ll just have to wait it out until 2nd October when I get scanned again. (I’m also eating allll the kale, cavolo nero and spinach I can muster to get my iron on the up, incase!). If there are still some bits of tissue remaining/the sac still clinging on, then it will be off to surgery for me – for the dreaded Surgical Management (ERPC or ERPoC, which stands for Evacuation of Retained Products of Conception. You might hear it called it a D & C too) which is under anaesthetic.
One thing I would say is though – Men/Partners do tend to get ‘ignored’ slightly during processes like this. I know I’m going through it harder – physically – but mentally, we’ve both lost out. We both desperately wanted that baby and we’ve both had the pregnancy loss. Both had the miscarriage.
Throughout the 30+ hours of labour with Eli, James was offered a cup of tea just ONCE. I was offered dozens of cups, despite being nil by mouth. The same happened again during this process – I was offered loads of tea/coffee. James wasn’t ever offered either – it was Sunday and the coffee shops closed early. So I really felt for him – he was going through it too – and yes, tea generally does solve a lot of things! If nothing else, it warms you up from the inside and gives you something to zone off with, even for just a few minutes. So perhaps it could be worth taking a flask of tea in – or whatever beverages/snacks you both need – should you be reading this ahead of venturing through this procedure too.
So there we are, thats where I’m up to now.
As before – it’s good to talk about things. So please do keep getting in touch and sharing your experiences. It’s the only way we’ll learn.
When the lovely ladies from Wriggly Rascals approached me about doing this guest post I knew that it was something I could definitely discuss at length… I’d had ligament pain since the very early weeks of my pregnancy…
To read my full blog post, head over to www.wrigglyrascals.com and straight to Ligament Pain During Pregnancy ! Please do tell us all about your experiences with Ligament Pain during Pregnancy. What helped you out the most? How was your birth and recovery? Did you encounter the pain in subsequent pregnancies?
And don’t forget to sign up to the website to join the conversation!
@wrigglyrascals is a new community to help #newmums, join in. www.wrigglyrascals.com About Wriggly Rascals Wriggly Rascals was set up by Shona Motherwell, a frustrated mum of twinsMhairi and Archie to get mums together to share pregnancy, baby and toddleradvice via quick surveys to get the facts about what other mums do. Ourmums pass on loads of great tips to mums who have asked for help. If youwould like some advice, get in touch atwww.wrigglyrascals.com
As I’ve documented over my recent Weekly Updates, I’ve been suffering with what I thought was just ligament pain. Albeit, with ‘just’ ligament pain I should have probably kicked up more of a fuss (I hate causing fuss and I hate fuss!). But since Saturday last week I’ve been in absolute agony with my coccyx. To the point of screaming to just roll over in bed. And I like to think I’ve got a high pain threshold! Needless to say, I’ve not slept since Friday night (and that was a rubbish night’s sleep anyway!). On top of this, I’ve had a cold… a proper cold. Every single time I’ve sneezed it’s felt like my undercarriage was going to rip out of me. Horrendous.
I’d reluctantly started taking paracetamol on Sunday as the hot baths and heat compresses had failed to ease the pain; and had the long Jubilee weekend to rest. But forced myseld into work yesterday. I cried on the train journey in, just limbering on the edge of the seat. I got to work and was completely drained. I felt emotional and tired out. I couldn’t sit in my chair at my desk. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m the first pregnancy in my department, EVER. So have found it difficult when having even just standard Midwife appointments – people continuously asking why I’m at the Midwife so much. (As if I need to explain my medical situation anyway! I would NEVER ask a colleague why they’d visited the Doctors, would you?!). So when I’d been suffering with the aforementioned ligament pain, I found that people were more or less confused or found my blatant explanation “distasteful”. Goodness knows why! So of course, when I got to work yesterday in obvious pain, explaining that my coccyx were killing me didn’t go down all too well. I don’t think people understand just how sodding painful it is!
So I thought SOD IT. And got myself to the doctors at 5pm. The Doctor examined me and diagnosed me with SPD (Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction). I’ve been referred to a Physio (not sure how long it will be before I get my appointment mind!) and has given me a cream to rub onto my coccyx and upped my paracetamol intake. He did offer to give me Codeine aswell, but refused this as it can affect the baby. He also gave me a sick note. My first sick note. So close to the end of work, before my Maternity Leave begins on 22nd June… so I’m quite disappointed with myself. I’ve never ever had a sick note. I didn’t even know what to do with the damn thing.
So that’s that. I’ve had my first day off work today and literally slept the entire day through. The paracetamol and sitting on a hot water bottle has helped.
I just need to keep on top of resting and relaxing. This is definitely my body’s way of telling me to SLOW DOWN.
Has anyone else suffered with SPD? What are your coping techniques? Did you get better post-partum?
My favourite image of our Baby Boy so far! Taken at 20 weeks, UCLH. 20th March 2012.
Yesterday morning we drove up to Broomfield Hospital for another appointment with our Consultant; to discuss the findings from our last scan –The Bilateral Talipes. But our actual consultant was stuck on the M25 (of course), so we saw someone else and had to go through the whole rigmarole of explaining everything that’s happened in this rollercoaster of a pregnancy!
Fast forward half an hour and I’m on the couch being measured up with a tape measure again. At my Midwife appointment, less than a week ago, my bump was measuring up at 30cm, so 30 weeks – Weekly Update: 28 weeks. So had expected it to be about the same.The two Doctors measured me again… I was measuring 34cm, so one would assume, 34 weeks! UH OH.
I was referred for an emergency scan to check out baby boy’s measurements properly, along with an index of my amniotic fluid. Had to sit around the hospital for 3 hours until the scan. MASSIVE YAWN.
Had the scan and everything was FINE. He’s measuring up at 29 weeks (of which I am 29 weeks tomorrow). He weighs about 2 and a half pounds. He couldn’t be more spot on measurements wise, he’s spot on all the ‘average measurement’ lines on the scan graph. Which is great!
Also, my amniotic fluid is showing up at 6cm at the deepest point, which again, is absolutely normal! So everything is great. I just have a lot of my own water retention and bloating..possibly because I drink far too much water. What can I say? I’m a thirsty girl!
Additionally, the Sonographer also said that we no longer need to go back to have a scan at 32 weeks. She’s more than happy with the progress of everything and doesn’t see why we should have to go back to the hospital to review baby boy’s Talipes. Which is also fine by us! We’re over the moon! But at the same time, I’m also a little bit sad that we won’t be seeing our baby boy for a little while… in fact, the next time we see him will be when he’s ARRIVED! Which to be honest, is also a little bit scary! It’s all very very very REAL now. EXCITED.
So the moral of this story is, don’t believe the measurements! It was never going to be an exact science, measuring your bump – who thought it would be?!
Wednesday 18th April: Re-scan at UCLH, Fetal Medicine Unit.
This morning we visited the Fetal Medicine Unity in UCLH (University College London Hospital) for the re-scan of baby boy bump’s feet – to confirm or exclude Talipes (Club Foot). Since my worrying Midwife appointment the other week, I’ve thought about nothing other than the results we might find at the scan today. Not about his feet though, I was thinking about everything else that it could be linked to. Yesterday the panic set in again and I started googling all sorts, which we all know, is probably the worst thing you can do – ever! Based on the, err, google search findings, I’d really worried myself about how his spine might be developing, as Talipes can be the result of other genetic disorders. This all combined with the Midwife appointment made me really really quite anxious in that waiting from this morning.
Appointment was for 9am, we arrived early, as always, at 8:30am. We went into see the FMU and Speciality Doctor who has performed our most recent scans at UCLH, at about 9:15am. Our Speciality Doctor is beyond thorough, so started off with checking the progress of the brain and heart. Then he went on to check other internal organs for size and function, making the necessary measurements and notes as he went along. (See below for measurements from this scan!) He muttered that “everything is developing beautifully”. Then he turned to the back, looking at the spine and ribcage. He pondered over the spine and I clenched onto OH’s hand. The Doctor didn’t say anything so I asked “Is his spine ok?”. He smiled and said “Of course, he’s beautifully in proportion and developing as he should be. It’s a good thing!”. PHEW. I was happy at that point 🙂
As baby boy bump has proven at every single scan, he’s a wriggler. He moves non-stop. Which is amazing! But not great when the Doctor is trying to desperately get a good view of his feet! It was at this point that he got the 4D scanning images up again – which is just incredible. It’s so amazing to see your baby’s face like that – unbelievable to be honest! But he was really wanting to get a good view of his feet… so it was a quick look at his cute-as-a-button face and then back to business.
The Doctor scanned his feet for about 15 minutes using both the 4D and 2D imaging. He then turned to us and said that he was “convinced there is a degree of Bilateral Talipes. But is extremely mild”. He then went on to discuss corrective methods and said he’d like the Consultant to take a look. The Consultant arrived and said that the Talipes was so mild that “I probably would have missed it to be honest!”.
So with all this in mind, we’re over the moon. Couldn’t be happier. We always knew this baby boy of ours would be a character, and he’s certainly that!
We”ve now been discharged from UCLH and referred back to the care of Broomfield. We will have another scan (YES!) at 32 weeks to see the progression of the Talipes. This will be our 8th scan, although these scans have not been under happy circumstances (mostly), we’re extremely grateful that we’ve been lucky enough to see our baby boy growing at every single stage. As long as the Talipes has progressed as it should (or hopefully, not at all) then we’ll remain within the care of Broomfield. We will not be treated any differently for the birth, so there is no reason for me not to have the Water Birth I’m planning! Once baba is born, we’ll obviously review the extent of the Talipes and take it from there.
Tuesday 20th March: 4D scan! Fetal Heart Echo (Echocardiogram) and 20 Week Anomaly Scan at UCLH.
This Tuesday we went back to the Fetal Medicine Unit for a repeat Echocardiogram, doubled up with our 20 week Anomaly Scan. We are absolutely chuffed to say that every appears normal and all of baby boys organs are working correctly. So we will have no further review organ-wise, which is great news! The specialist was also (more than!) kind enough to surprise us with a few sneaky peaks at a 4D scan of our baby boy! It was absolutely incredible.
The extensive scan did however highlight that in some views there was a suspicion of Talipes (club foot). But in other views both feet appeared normal. The specialist also noted that the range of movements in all joints is normal. So this basically means that we have to go back to the FMU in about 4 weeks time to have a repeat scan to confirm or exclude the suspicion.
If it is found that one of his feet are a little on the wonky side, there are tons of things that can be done – without the need of surgery. So we’re happy.
Just also curious to find out if you had a baby with a suspected club foot and your experiences? What happened after the birth?
Here are some measurements and findings from the Anomaly scan that you might find useful. We were told these measurements were pretty much spot on for gestation, 21+4 weeks.
Tuesday 14th February:Fetal Heart Echo (Echocardiogram), at UCLH.
Today we went back to the Fetal Medicine Unit in University College London Hospital (UCLH) for a specialist Heart scan. The scan was performed like any other normal ultra-sound scan, but was dedicated to looking closely at the heart; the way the blood flowed, the rate and a close look at the chambers of the heart. The sonographer will use colours on the monitor to look at the blood flow etc – so don’t be alarmed if you see lots of red and blue splats all over the screen! (This looks a bit like a heat map).
Look how much bigger he is! (Image above). All his organs are now well formed and his bones were all clearly visible. He was, again, moving all over! Such a lively little boy we have!
We’re very happy to say that everything looks on course here! The blood is flowing the correct way and he has a smashing heart rate. But we have to go back on 20th March just to have another look, when he’ll be much bigger; he’s still pretty tiny at the minute. But overall, no cause for concern! 😀
I had anxiously waited all week for that ‘BLOCKED’ number to call me again. It got to 4pm every day and I felt physically sick. I was shaky, dizzy and unable to concentrate at work. I was going to give it until Friday 3rd February at lunchtime, and then I was going to call UCLH to chase up the results. I couldn’t bear another weekend not knowing.
We got home from another tiring day at work, I felt withdrawn and exhausted and drained at the fact I hadn’t had that phone call, again.
There was a few pieces of post on the doormat… including one postmarked ‘London’, the address was handwritten. I just KNEW these were the results. I felt that pang of sickness and dizziness again.
We sat down together on the sofa as I struggled to open the envelope. I quickly glanced over the letter just looking for the words ‘normal’ and ‘positive’ and ‘clear’. The letter was a generic, photocopied letter.
But we saw the words we desperately wanted.
“We are writing to inform you that the results from your CVS demonstrate that your baby has a normal chromosome pattern“.
We were overjoyed! The letter was post-marked as 30th January, so the results took less than the two weeks to actually come back. Shame the hospital couldn’t call me to tell me directly – it would have saved a whole lot of agony. But still, we got the results we hoped for!
The letter also stated that we could call the FMU department to find out the sex of our baby. We we desperate to find out! So I called first thing the next day and they called back to tell me that we were having a LITTLE BABY BOY!! Absolutely ecstatic. We weren’t hoping for a boy or a girl specifically, but were beyond surprised to find out we’re having a boy! My partner is the last male on his families side, so we’ll be carrying his family name on – which is a wonderful bonus! We’re still in shock – but it’s so lovely to be able to bond with him properly now. Our little boy 🙂 Most people don’t get to find out the sex of their baby until the 20 week scan and even then, the scan isn’t 100% accurate! So we felt a little bit smug knowing that we’re having a boy, and that it 100% definitely is a boy! 😀
The next stage was an Echocardiogram (detailed Fetal heart scan) at 16 weeks – scheduled for Tuesday 14th February. Aptly, on Valentines Day.