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PREGNANCY & ME // MY POSITIVE BIRTH STORY

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  • STM
  • Edith (Edie) Lavender Aurora Hill
  • 🌈 Bébé
  • 02/08/2019 at 00:18
  • 40 weeks + 6 days
  • 7 lb 1.5oz
  • Spontaneous labour
  • No pain relief
  • No intervention
  • Gave birth in Triage
  • Stepping Hill Hospital, Manchester, UK

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I feel so bloody chuffed to be finally writing a POSITIVE birth story. Despite beginning our Hypnobirthing journey at 25 weeks pregnant, I think its fair to say that I doubted how this labour would pan out. I had a traumatic birth with Eli that lasted 30+ hours due to induction at 42 weeks. I won’t go into the story of Eli’s birth, because I have made ‘peace’ with it now and its not healthy to continue to dwell on it (hiya Mum-Guilt, great to see you again).

So I’ll push the previous history to one side and start from the beginning with Edie’s birth now.


I had initially set out to avoid ALL intervention with this pregnancy, including any sweeps.  I’d had 4 failed sweeps with Eli and felt it was a pretty pointless procedure, in my opinion. I voiced this in my birth preferences and talked through interventions with my community midwife team. Instead, from around 35 weeks I started drinking in my all of the Raspberry Leaf Tea, I started eating 6 dates a day and then when we hit 37 weeks, I started taking a bath on an evening infused with Clary Sage essential oil, I started eating fresh pineapple (including the core, ‘cos Bromelain), I added Clary Sage to the oil diffuser with lavender, we added Clary Sage to Cowshed body oil and massaged it into my bump and ankles (!!), I used my Medela Swing for 5-10 minutes on each breast in an attempt to stimulate oxytocin and continued to go to bed and meditate using my Positive Birth Company MP3′s.

But at my 40 week appointment, I was HOT and beginning to feel a bit fed up. When asked if I still wanted to decline any intervention….I said “sod it” and agreed to a one-time sweep. Just to see…

I was advised if anything was to ‘happen’ it would do so within 48 hours. Obviously, all of the above are old wives tales – Hypnobirthing science aside, of course! Nothing is going to push your body into giving birth. Your baby will come, when your baby is ready.

At 1pm, 48 hours (practically!) to the minute, I started to have what I thought were Braxton Hicks. Eli and I hauled ourselves into my bedroom and I whacked Friends on whilst he played on Minecraft. We had lunch and I kept an eye on the frequency of the surges (contractions). They seemed regular. I opened up the Freya App on my phone and began timing the surges – they were lasting 30 seconds or so and were 6 minutes apart. I convinced myself this wasn’t labour and decided it would be a good idea to tidy the entire house, hoover, clean my bedroom window and then sew up a pair of James’ trousers that I’d been putting off.

Now it was about 4pm and the surges had continued to stay regular throughout all my weird nesting chores. I texted James and asked him to keep an eye on the trains (we’d had dreadful local flooding the day before) but assured him that I was fine and it ‘probably’ wasn’t even real surges. By 5:30, the surges were more frequent and lasting 40-60 seconds. I texted James and asked him to leave work because the surges were lasting longer and had become more powerful (painful). I was really feeling the effects of ‘Up Breathing’ at this point – I couldn’t get through a surge without it.

James got home just after 6:30pm and made me beans on french toast, incase I was in labour. Then he fannied about making tea for himself and Eli. Meanwhile, the Freya App told me I was in established labour…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By 7pm, the surges were less than 3 minutes apart and I was reallllllly feeling it. I had two paracetamol (LOL) and made James get a rush on with eating his tea and sorting Eli out. Of course James was ridiculously laid back about all of this! By 7:30pm I got in the bath and I asked James to ring Maternity Triage to ask for advice. We both spoke to the Midwives on Triage – they were so lovely and advised I should go in to be assessed.

I said my goodbye’s to Eli – and he kissed the bump for the last time. He told me he was proud of me and that I MUST remember to keep breathing! (I did). He grabbed his suitcase, iPad and monkey and off he went on his own adventure next door!

 

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At 8pm, we were in the car making the 10 minute journey to Stepping Hill Hospital. I had the soothing tone of Siobhan Miller in my headphones and whacked on a eye-mask so I could concentrate – I’d also added Clary Sage and Lavender to one of Eli’s old muslin’s to breathe in. I’d convinced myself I must have been about 5-6cm, especially as the surges were so close together now.

We made it to Triage just after 8:15pm and were immediately seen. I really struggled with the examination due to the frequency and power of my surges. It took my Midwife, Deb, a little while to get me on the bed to be assessed. Eventually she managed and announced that I was JUST 1cm dilated. I couldn’t believe it. If this was barely the beginning, I had absolutely NO IDEA how I could cope with the rest of labour. I had to knock that doubt straight out of my head and by 9pm, we were on our way back home.

James put candles around the bedroom, closed the curtains then on the oil diffuser went. I kept the Positive Affirmations MP3 going via my headphones, rocked back and forth on my birth ball and we continued to time the surges. By 10pm James noticed that my breathing had changed and kept putting me back on track. Sadly, I couldn’t deal with him massaging my back or doing the light touch we’d planned on – I was completely in the zone, kept my eyes closed, and was doing exactly what my body told me to do.

By 11pm, I couldn’t cope with the sheer power of the surges and there was little to no break between them now. I had to switch off the MP3 at this point because some of the affirmations weren’t totally relevant. Instead, I used my visualisations (of St. Ives beach! and also of the placement of my favourite positive affirmation cards around the house) and I kept repeating my favourite affirmations to  myself: ‘my surges cannot be more powerful than me, because they are me‘ and ‘every surge brings me closer to my baby‘. I got James to ring Triage again, they advised that being in our home environment for as long as possible would be better than going back to the hospital again – especially as it had only been 2 hours since we left (and my waters were still in tact).

Reluctantly, I continued to labour at home – we knew I was in real labour so I turned off my phone and the Freya App which had proven to be so invaluable during and up till this point. By 11:30 I  found I had too much discomfort in my coccyx and it felt like my bladder was overly full – but I couldn’t pass urine (I couldn’t get off the ball to get to the toilet to be truthful!). I’m not gonna lie here, I was in total agony. My breathing had changed once again and I was actively ‘Down Breathing’, James kept trying to bring it back to Up Breathing, but there was no chance. I was screaming out as I reached the peak of each surge now too. It was an animalistic release – which brought me a real relief too.

I was thinking I needed an immediate Epidural – or even better -to be knocked out for a C-Section. I felt like I couldn’t go any longer*. There was no way any other drug would help me now. I needed my baby to come out and we HAD to get to the hospital. Then POW my waters broke. It was a massive gush of warmth down my legs, which I ignored and continued to breathe and bounce. Thankfully, my waters were clear. PHEW.

*I now understand that what I was feeling here was TRANSITION.

Transition is the final phase of the first stage of labour, following early and active labour. At this point, a woman progresses from seven to 10 centimetres, often in less than an hour. The word transition means that her body is making the shift from opening the cervix to the beginning of the baby’s descent.

 

As I’d been induced with Eli and the midwives failed to break my waters on no less than 3 occasions, I had no experience of what it felt like to have your waters break naturally. It was absolutely crackers – it was a big pop towards my public bone and I knew then, that she was coming. James rang Triage and told them we were en route again and my waters had now gone.

It took me about 6 minutes to get from our bedroom to the car on the drive. How I managed to get down the stairs I will never know.

Outside was so eery. It was midnight and there was a low cloud – you could barely see in front of you – it was completely silent. James drove SO carefully to the hospital – I screamed at him “this is one time you’re allowed to rag the car about!”. It was quite honestly like a film.

But he kept his cool. He has since admitted he didn’t think I was much further along than the 1cm, so he was relatively laid back.I do have a reputation for over-dramatising situations – so this isn’t his fault.

We got to the hospital and he parked up. I couldn’t get out of the car. I was screaming through my surges and my body started pushing down. I had no control over the pushing. It’s what my body wanted to do. Once through the hospital entrance, James grabbed a wheelchair. I jumped onto it, on my knees and he dragged me to the lift. There was another woman behind us, who was apparently also pushing. She waited for the next lift.

James tried to get me through the double doors once at Triage, but he was struggling, so I jumped off the wheelchair and ran into a room, stripped all of my clothes off and got on the bed, on all fours. I announced I was Hypnobirthing and pushing.

Deb, my midwife, who I’d seen only 3 hours earlier, was attempting to calm me down so she could assess if I was indeed dilated enough to be pushing. She said she could see the baby’s head and that she was going to coach me through the pushing. Sarah, the second midwife on Triage came in and let us know that the lady behind us was also pushing and she had alerted the Delivery Suite about the two of us. But it was too late for me – I was going to give birth in Triage!

I pushed Edie’s head out in 3 pushes – 2 pushes later she was completely out – shocked, but blinking. She’d been born in the wrong department, 10 minutes after arriving. I scooped her up between my legs and rubbed at her little body. She wasn’t breathing – Deb cut the cord and grabbed a towel to try and rouse Edie. After a minute or so, Edie was taken away to Resuscitation.

 

As we’d not been able to have delayed cord clamping because Edie had rushed into the world, I used my B.R.A.I.N and agreed to having Active Management of the placenta. Deb administered the injection of Syntocinon and began massaging my tummy. A few minutes of surges and pushing later my placenta was delivered. While the placenta was in tact, Deb noticed that out came a gush of meconium with it. This indicated that Edie had passed her first bowel movement with the stress of coming out so quickly.

We were all shell-shocked.

Completely shell-shocked.

It felt like a lifetime before Edie was brought back to us.

 

When she was finally placed in my arms, I relaxed down. I felt the biggest rush of love, EVER. I’d done it. I’d given birth to our daughter, using Hypnobirthing tools and without any pain relief whatsoever. I’d gone from 1cm dilated to giving birth in the space of 3 hours.

I couldn’t believe it.

I still can’t believe it – almost a fortnight on. It still feels like a totally surreal, but serene, experience. Kind of out of body. I can remember every single detail. Which is something I am missing from Eli’s birth, due to the amount of drugs that were administered.

A run-down of my labour – total time is cited as 1 hour, 40 minutes!

Deb finished cleaning me up and then we were taken to the Delivery Suite (ironically). Once there, Edie was taken to the warming cot by my new Midwife Eileen, who took bloods and called a Paediatrician down. There had been issues with the PH gasses of the placenta, meaning Edie needed some extra monitoring. Eileen was an Irish midwife who was just the biggest and brightest soul. She was old school and simply magical.

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There was a struggle with getting the right amount of blood from Edie so more specialists were called. Remembering my Hypnobirthing kept me as calm as I could possibly be. James didn’t leave her side – he held onto her tiny hand while Eileen repeatedly checked my stat’s and then called for a Doctor to repair the 2nd degree tear I’d received. After a fairly shocking Episiotomy (that landed me with blood poisoning and a week back in hospital following Eli’s birth), a specialist was required for the repair job. I finally got my hands on Gas & Air. I did as I was asked and took 10 deep and quick breaths on the gas, I shouted that it didn’t work in that oh so familiar low-tone and then felt that floating feeling. My Doctor, Sarah, started stitching, I could feel it, so I got my breathing in order using Up Breathing and sailed high and free. Bliss.

I didn’t want to hand the gas back, but Eileen made me. She then brought that Tea and Toast… so all was forgiven!

 

 

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If you know, you know!

 

This experience was so far-removed from my previous labour and recovery. For one, James was addressed at every single opportunity. Which made such a difference.

Eileen ever so sweetly grabbed my toiletry bag from my case and started unpacking the shampoo and conditioner so I could have a shower with everything I needed. It’s such an intense relationship that you form with a Midwife, in such a short time. I felt so overwhelmed with love and support from Eileen – I could actually cry right now, remembering how she cared for me.

We weren’t rushed at all; given all the time we needed, but by 5am, it was time to head to the postnatal ward, MAT2. I went into a wheelchair, pulled by Eileen, holding tightly onto Edie who was now bundled in blankets and her very first baby grow. A red knitted hat was given – this was intentional – we later found out that different coloured hats meant different things. For us, the red hat was a signifier for staff that Edie had needed special care (as well as keeping her little head warm!). We said our goodbye’s to Eileen and settled into the cubicle on the ward. James was even allowed to stay – again, this meant the world to us as he’d been sent straight home following the birth of Eli.

6am and James was snoring in the corner, I watched the sunrise through the gap in the curtains and felt the most intense love for this little human in my arms.

At 6:30am I was introduced to Emma, the Midwife on duty – she took mine and Edie’s stat’s and I was given Paracetamol for the after-pains you experience post-birth. We were also shown to the family kitchen, which was stocked to the brim with breakfast foods and an array of tea’s and coffee – of which James was allowed to access too. I was soon given a menu to choose my main meals for the rest of the day. We were then left to chill for 3 hours until our stat’s were repeated again. I tried to sleep, but it was warm and loud as new patients were added to the ward – along with people having their own stat’s read. I couldn’t stop staring at my new sweet baby girl anyway, so nothing was going to interrupt or impact on that!

By 9am, James wanted  to grab Eli from our amazing neighbours next door and freshen up. At 11am he returned and our glorious children met for the very first time.

 

To say I was emotional at our little family all meeting for the first time, would be a total understatement. I cried the happiest tears I imagine I’ll ever cry. I am so proud and so happy and so full of love, I’m not sure how I haven’t burst yet!

As Edie had needed special care, she was closely monitored by specialists – they found that her temperature was going up and down (only very slightly), but enough to warrant an extra night in hospital.

This was completely fine by me. It was a welcome stay. I wasn’t rushed out – in fact, the nurses told me we could stay as long as we wanted to! This really helped with my anxiety and stress. I felt like we had real personal care here – by professionals who were passionate about our wellbeing. We weren’t just another ‘number’ – which is how we felt at the hospital where we had Eli. (I am trying not to dwell on that past experience!)

Unfortunately, our first night, just us two, was not so successful. Edie screamed the ward down from 11pm until around 6am. I think she was over-tired and nothing I could do would overcome that. Two midwives came to the rescue and she eventually calmed down. I tried my best not to get stressed over it, but when you’re on a ward, its difficult to not worry about everyone else! I ended up walking up and down the hospital corridors for a few hours. As soon as I fell asleep, James and Eli arrived for the day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had a full day of monitoring to get through before we were allowed to go home. Edie’s temperature eventually stabilised and all my stat’s were good. We then had a the Newborn hearing test and as Edie had received special care, a Paediatrician had to sign her Newborn Check off before we were discharged.

Everything was signed off and we were given the A-OK to head home in the evening!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We got home and all our neighbours came out to greet us. We had fish and chips and we all slept mega soundly. It was just the perfect start to our new family life.

In complete honesty, I would not have had the same pregnancy OR indeed  birth experience without The Positive Birth Company. I may not have had any of the TEN birth scenario’s that I wrote preferences for, or planned for (didn’t get to use the LED tea lights, playlist, oils or massage, birth pool or delayed cord clamping) but this was still such an incredibly positive birth.  An amazing labour and birth and so far, postpartum period.

From the Digital Course to reading the daily positive birth stories, I would not have been able to do it without the PBC and the Freya App. I felt so prepared and at ease this time around. I was genuinely excited for Edie’s birth and I’ve probably never felt more ‘zen’ in my entire life – which is quite the statement, coming from me. I feel a peace with both my birth experiences and the Hypnobirthing tools I learned will live with me forever!  I’ve even used several affirmations and the breathing techniques since having Edie.

I have never, felt so empowered and strong and brave in my entire life – and I doubt I ever will feel like this ever again.

So thank you Siobhan and the PBC for allowing me to have confidence in myself and my own decisions. I cannot recommend The Positive Birth Company enough. From our little family of four to you Siobhan, THANK YOU!

C
✖️✖️✖️

 

EDIE LAVENDER AURORA HILL
02/08/2019 at 00:18
7lb 1.5oz

 

 


For clarity, I was kindly #gifted The Digital Course by The Positive Birth Company. This is not a sponsored, paid post or an ad.

I only shout about items that I genuinely believe in, so be safe in the knowledge that I’m in love The PBC!

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BRAND IN FOCUS // THE POSITIVE BIRTH COMPANY

I’ll try and be brief with the introduction here, because I’m doing my upmost to avoid all and any negativity right now!

(I’m currently 40 weeks and 2 days pregnant). 

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My pregnancy with Eli wasn’t straight forward. We had a lot of complications and constant monitoring. We were high risk. Then came labour. I won’t go into the details, but I had a pretty awful and traumatic labour with Eli. I was induced at almost 42 weeks, I had no say in the labour, it was an agonising 30+ hours with every intervention possible. It all ended in a whirlwind of a dodgy episiotomy and ventouse that saw the room fill with 15+ people and before the threat of emergency C-Section.

It was VERY medical. I was never given options – I accepted what was told to me, because heck, Doctors know best, right?

We knew no different. We actually thought it was a ‘normal’ labour!

Following the stress of Eli’s pregnancy and in hindsight, the trauma of his birth, plus my miscarriage in-between; falling with this my third pregnancy, I KNEW something had to change.

My anxiety was through the roof when we began trying again; despite my medication and an abundance of self-help. The anxiety was surely inevitable following a miscarriage, yes. But the anxiety surrounding labour didn’t need to be there. This is where Hypnobirthing comes in…


I started researching into Hypnobirthing properly as soon as I got the second line on that pregnancy test back in November 2018.

My initial belief was that Hypnobirthing was all about being hypnotised during labour… L O L. No, it’s definitely nothing to do with being hypnotised. But after reading the birth stories on forums and blogs, I still sat on the sceptical fence… I mean, what even is this HIPPY, DIPPY, BALONEY?!

The more I read, the more I became obsessively intrigued by it. To the point where, yep, you guessed right, my anxiety surrounding labour took a real back-seat.

Having used The Yes Mum cards for daily affirmations I ordered the book: Your Baby, Your Birth.  I would pick the book up and fall asleep and it became clear I needed something more engaging. I also wanted to do something that James could get involved with at the same time. Local classes were really expensive and not at convenient times for us.  It’s certainly worth mentioning here too that James found my labour with Eli horrendous. He felt totally helpless and all he could do was sit beside me with his hands turning white under my constant clench. Him being there was all I needed at that time, but he will be first to admit that its scarred him somewhat – he definitely experienced birth trauma too. This time he wanted to be helpful, to have a real role in my pregnancy and subsequently, the labour.

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Then pops up The Positive Birth Company on Instagram. Boom. I began following and was hooked. Incidentally, Siobhan had been following me too and very kindly offered for us to give her Digital Course a try.

I obviously jumped at the chance! I’d read that starting a Hypnobirthing course would be best from 28 weeks onwards. But as we had it at 25 weeks, it seemed daft not to begin straight away.

Once my profile was all set up on the Digital Pack, I familiarised myself with the platform. From a user point of view, it’s a really neat and simple platform first of all. It’s organised perfectly and so easy to use. The branding is spot on too – which really helps when you’re trying to learn but also ‘zone out’, the colours and fonts used are quite obviously well-thought through. I was so impressed with how thorough the course looked – six sections with everything you could ever possibly need to know (and more!) surrounding pregnancy, labour, birth and beyond.

It came to bedtime so we grabbed the laptop, put candles on and cosied up in bed with the first of the 6 sections in the Digital Pack. Each section is from 40-60+ minutes long. So you want to dedicate some real quality time to this. We decided we would look at one section a night – where possible; spreading it over days where needed, so it wasn’t too much information at once.

We were immediately into it. Siobhan has such a gentle and clear tone – plus the information was exceptionally thorough and we really, really enjoyed learning. We were pausing videos along the way to recap what we’d learned so far- and again when we had decisions to plan between us. Learning to use more positive ‘birth language’ still has me on my toes at times – for instance, we refer to contractions as a Surge  – it just rids the questioning of any negativity and apprehension that could slow labour down. Likewise, talking about the ‘power’ of a surge, as opposed to the amount of pain I’m in, will help me to understand how my body is working to birth my baby – allowing my body to be in total and instinctive control of the labour.

I think we’d both agree that one of the most interesting sections for both of us was the SCIENCE section. We both learned SO MUCH about the female body and what it goes through during pregnancy, labour and birth. I honestly can’t believe I’ve reached the age of 33 , having had one child, not knowing some of the actual childbirth process. I feel like Siobhan really needs to take elements of this course into schools – its been a true education for us!

One of the best bits of this course has been getting to grips with the roles each of us will ‘play’ once labour begins. My only job here is to remember my Up & Down breathing and to keep calm, relaxed and at ease. Whereas James has an actual  list of things he will be seeking to fulfil – something he’s genuinely excited about and so grateful to have responsibility for; especially following the helplessness he felt during my labour with Eli.

It’s also worth highlighting here that Hypnobirthing isn’t just for ‘normal’ vaginal delivery – this is an education that will take you through all aspects of labour, whether that be via water, land or theatre – whether thats planned theatre or unplanned. The relaxation tools and techniques will enable you to have confidence in your OWN decisions during labour and birth (and postpartum too!). The tools will give you back the control of your labour. This feeling of being in full control is something that I’m finding very empowering after such a dreadful labour with Eli.

After completing all 6 sections of the Digital Pack, you can quickly review specific sections in the Course Notes Booklet (which you can download and print – we’re taking a copy with my Maternity notes) – which is great for back-referencing. There are also a series of MP3’s included too, which have been so invaluable during my pregnancy – especially these later weeks when I can often get into bed feeling deflated. I listen to the Positive Affirmations for Pregnancy MP3 on repeat when I’m in the bath or for an hour or so, as soon as I get in bed. This normally soothes me into a lovely slumber (before I’m awoken shortly after for my first loo-trip of the night!). I can imagine this MP3 being perfect during labour – I’d been looking at Spa Music to play – but actually, I think I’d prefer to have the MP3 running in the background as a reminder that I’m getting closer to meeting my baby.

 

On top of all of this, you also get a (now editable!) downloadable PDF template for highlighting your birth preferences; should you wish to prepare any.  Obviously, you can do this yourself, but the sections on the template are perfectly set out and clear to read in a rush. My midwife was very impressed when I presented them at my 36 week appointment (!). My birth preferences have completely changed since starting this Hypnobirthing course – and again since reading the positive birth stories on the closed Facebook community page (which you also get access too once you sign up for the course!). Reading these stories every day has been so helpful in cementing the notion that I CAN do this and I WILL do this – whenever my baby decides is the right time.

To surmise, I can quite honestly say that this Digital Course has changed our lives. Obviously; we have the birth bit to come. But I have to say that the course, by @thepositivebirthmama (and her amazingly soothing voice), has provided such wisdom, scientific facts, relaxation tools and the foresight to retain control this time; for both @jameshill.tv and I. Weirdly, I am actually excited for labour to begin – however and whenever it does happen✨ And I most certainly would not be feeling this way had we not studied this course. I’m not even sure I would have gotten through the last 20 weeks so easily without it either. How many people can say that?

Thank you so much @thepositivebirthcompany for making me feel so different this time around – and the tools you’ve taught us both will continue to be helpful for life in general postpartum, I’m certain 🖤 We’re both shocked at how informed and relaxed and prepared we feel.

I will be doing a full write-up post-labour, however it pans out! But for now, I cannot recommend @thepositivebirthcompany enough. Currently pregnant? You MUST go forth and seek for yourself!

C
✖️✖️✖️

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MORE FROM THE POSITIVE BIRTH COMPANY

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Upon completing the course, I purchased the Little pack of positivity directly from The Positive Birth Company website. Each pack contains 28 cards, each with a positive affirmation for pregnancy. I immediately placed the cards around our house where I would see them as a little reminders; reducing anxiety and boosting confidence around birth. The more confident you are, the more relaxed you will feel. The more relaxed you are the better your birth will be.

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Also available, to continue your understanding of Hypnobirthing (or instead of doing the course), you can find Hypnobirthing: Practical Ways to make your Birth Better, by founder, Siobhan Miller. The book is widely available, including from Amazon.co.uk, here.

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Now that I’m mentally prepared for labour – I also wanted to share the accompanying App by the Positive Birth Company. The FREYA app is currently available on the App store. I’ve used it frequently when tracking Braxton Hicks – again, its simple to use, effective and we know this is going to be an essential when labour begins for real. During the timing of surges, the Up Breathing soundtrack is so useful  – especially if you don’t want your birth partner to attempt to do it for you (we tried and I found James’ voice too distracting – and we also creased up when he attempted to read out the positive affirmations too).

“Freya is the world’s first hypnobirthing-friendly surge (contraction) timer and virtual birth partner. She will coach you through each surge with a simple breathing technique and help you to relax in between with positive affirmations, calming visualisations and guided relaxation. The more relaxed you are, the more efficient and comfortable your labour will be. Freya will help you to remain calm and in control throughout. She will also keep track of how frequently your surges are coming and how long they are lasting. She will even let you know when it might be a good idea to contact your midwife! Freya will be with you every step – or surge – of the way!”

ALSO COMING SOON – THE POSTPARTUM COURSE.

Follow @ThePositiveBirthCompany for the latest details!

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MORE ABOUT SIOBHaN MILLER

Expert hypnobirthing teacher and founder of The Positive Birth Company Siobhan Miller has made it her mission to change the way women around the world approach and experience birth. Through her teaching she seeks to educate and empower women – and their birth partners – so that they can enjoy amazing and positive birth experiences, however they choose to bring their babies into the world.

Siobhan debunks common myths about hypnobirthing and explains why she believes it can make every type of birth a better experience – from a water birth at home to an unplanned caesarean in theatre.

So, what is hypnobirthing? Essentially, it’s a form of antenatal education, an approach to birth that is both evidence-based and logical. Hypnobirthing certainly doesn’t involve being hypnotised; instead, it teaches you how your body works on a muscular and hormonal level when in labour and how you can use various relaxation techniques to ensure you are working with your body (rather than against it), making birth more efficient and comfortable.

Siobhan’s advice and guidance will change your mindset and enable you to navigate your birth with practical tools that ensure you feel calm and in control throughout.

By the time you finish this course  you’ll feel relaxed, capable and genuinely excited about giving birth.

To read more about how and why Siobhan started The Positive Birth Company, please click here.

 

 


For clarity, I was kindly #gifted The Digital Course by The Positive Birth Company. This is not a sponsored, paid post or an ad – but does contain a highlighted Affiliate link, above.

I only shout about items that I genuinely believe in, so be safe in the knowledge that I’m in love The PBC!

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PREGNANCY & ME // THE HOSPITAL BAG

So last time I packed my hospital bag for labour, I packed WAY TOO MUCH. We ended up taking a medium sized suitcase, a bag for me, the changing bag, a bag for James AND a bag full of food and drinks and snacks. We didn’t even open the suitcase during labour and James could have done without a bag, I could have done without a bag and I’m SO GLAD we have a PROPER changing bag* this time around (its mega organised).

*Kindly #gifted by the wonder women at Tiba + Marl

If you’re feeling nostalgic, you can see a bit of that nonsense here >>> I’VE FINALLY DONE IT! HOSPITAL BAG(S) ARE PACKED!

Don’t get me wrong, you do NEED to take a lot of STUFF into hospital with you, if thats where you’re choosing to birth your baby, of course! If you’re opting for a home-birth, then:

  1. I envy you (!!)
  2. You will have everything you need at your immediate disposal…
  3. …although, some of the below items may still be useful for home birth – and could be useful to have packed incase of a hospital transfer too.

So here we go, a list for the Mama, a list for the Baba and a list for your birth partner – plus a list of things that are good to have sorted and at hand for when the time comes. I’ll add in links for you to quick shop where possible too!

 


FOR ME //

To have packed in suitcase //

Hynobirthing essentials //

**DO NOT USE CLARY SAGE OIL BEFORE 37 WEEKS OF PREGNANCY.

Other items for consideration //

  • Your pillow from home
  • Pregnancy pillow
  • Socks with grip – some women get cold feet during labour
  • Music / CD’s
  • A treat for the Midwives for afterwards
  • Plastic water jug – can be helpful for easing the pain of your first toilet trips afterwards
  • Birth ball – if your hospital doesn’t supply them
  • TENS Machine – if you plan on using one
  • Make-up if you’re that way inclined
  • Small pack of Dettol wipes – if you’re concerned about cleanliness post-birth
  • Hot water bottle – to help ease back pain

 

A few ideas for food, drinks, snacks //

  • Eat little & often!
  • Pack your favourite snacks that are easy to chew down and won’t wilt in the heat of the hospital – items of high energy are what you need!
  • Cereal bars
  • Bananas
  • Frozen drinks – it’s quite hot on the wards,  a frozen drink will melt slowly, so will be much nicer than warm bottled water!
  • Bottles of water / Isotonic drinks – avoid fizzy drinks!
  • Glucose tablets
  • Bendy straws/a sports bottle/bottle with straw – useful for drinking at any angle!
  • Peppermint teabags – useful for trapped wind and cramps afterwards

 

 

FOR JAmes //

  • Clean clothing for James, my birth partner
  • Food, snacks, drinks
  • Toiletries – Deodorant, Toothbrush, Toothpaste, Mouthwash, Skincare items / wipes
  • Car Seatwe’ve gone for another MAXI COSI car seat this time as we loved the security of the one we had for Eli, but the laws have all changed since he was a newborn. Just a reminder that many NHS trusts will not allow the baby to leave the department WITHOUT proof of a car seat for safety reasons.

To have ready to hand //

  • Birth preferences
  • Maternity notes
  • Cash for car park
  • Pen & Paper – just incase you need to leave a note in a hurry
  • Cash for payphone – there might not be signal. The battery might go on your phone!
  • List of important phone numbers on paper
  • In the lead-up to your ‘due window’, ensure you have enough fuel in the car
  • Headphones & Eye Mask for the journey to the hospital

 

FOR BABY BRISTON-HILL //

Is there anything I’m missing from above, that might prove absolutely essential for you during labour or afterwards? Comment below or send me a message and I’ll get it added in!

For ease – you can check my most favourite essentials out via the SHOP, here>>> HOSPITAL BAG

C
✖️✖️✖️

 


For clarity, this is not a sponsored or paid post – but does contain some Affiliate links. I was also kindly #gifted a few items, as highlighted above – this was not in exchange for payment or a post. They’re just damn lovely and generous women!

I only shout about items that I genuinely believe in however, so be safe in the knowledge that I’m in love with these essential baby items!

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Pregnancy & your mouth

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.

For all commonly asked Pregnancy and NHS related questions, you can find a comprehensive list of answers on the NHS website, here.

 

Can you tell which tooth was causing all this trouble?!

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.

Post tooth-extraction trauma. Notice how all my make up has melted off.

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.

 

Having a bath to try and distract me from the teething pain.
Having a bath to try and distract me from the teething pain.

 

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!

 

Image may contain: sky, cloud, tree, outdoor and nature: I was up in pain at 3am, but I did get to witness this glorious sun rise from my bed!
I was up in pain at 3am, but I did get to witness this glorious sun rise from my bed!

 

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.

So, back to the dentist I went yesterday. After a little clean up I was prescribed Amoxicillin for the next 5 days. Amoxicillin is one of the Antibiotics that are safe to take during pregnancy.

 

Please work, please work, please work!

 

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!

C
✖️✖️✖️

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Miscarriage & Me // An Update: 3

As I’m currently bed-bound, I thought I’d try and get my brain back into some kind of ‘gear’ and write an update on my miscarriage journey. The final one, I hope.

See also:
READ MORE >> Miscarriage & Me.
READ MORE >> Miscarriage & Me // An Update.
READ MORE >> Miscarriage & Me // An Update: 2.

—–

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.
JUST LOOK.
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.

All my love,
C
✖✖✖

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Miscarriage & Me // An Update: 2

Could not have picked cards that were more appropriate // YES MUM ORIGINAL Pack

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.

Oh those ‘Quiet Room’ paintings again…

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.”

– Information taken from NHS Guidelines for Medical Management of Miscarriage // Treatment.

What happens?

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.

Disadvantages?

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.

– Information taken from NHS Guidelines for Medical Management of Miscarriage // Obstetrics & Gynaecology Department

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 coat hypertension, 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.

Because we’re British and Tea makes everything OK again.

 

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.

All my love,
C
✖✖✖

 

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Guest Post for Wriggly Rascals: Ligament pain during pregnancy.

 

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!

MM.

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If you need any #pregnancy reassurance, ask @wrigglyrascals for help. www.wrigglyrascals.com

@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 twins Mhairi and Archie to get mums together to share pregnancy, baby and toddler advice via quick surveys to get the facts about what other mums do. Our mums pass on loads of great tips to mums who have asked for help. If you would like some advice, get in touch at www.wrigglyrascals.com

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Woe is me… I have SPD.

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?

MM.

 

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Hospital Update: Meeting the Consultant and measuring 34 weeks at 28 weeks.

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?!

MM.

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Hospital Update: Baby Boy bump has (mild) Bilateral Talipes.

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.

Measurements at 25 weeks and 5 days.

Biparietal Diameter (BPD): 67.9 mm

Head Circumference (HC): 243.9 mm

Abdominal Circumference (AC): 213.3 mm

Nuchal Fold Thickness (NT): 5.6 mm

Nasal Bone: 7.4 mm

Femur Length: 45.5 mm

Estimated Fetal Weight (BPD, HC, AC, FL) :842 g / 1 lb 14oz

4D scan of baby boy’s face. He has my nose and chin and OH’s eyes. He’s playing hide and seek here though unfortunately! 

MM.