I will at some point post more information on my stocking up the freezer marathon. I don’t know where the energy came from, but I spent five hours in the kitchen cooking up 16 dinners for after the family leave and it’s just us settling back into our routines. I was seriously impressed, too, at home much food I could get out of the remains of two weeks veggie deliveries, and a portion each of mince and chicken!
This was a feat for me though, because I’m usually not very good at ‘one pot’ meals or plan ahead cooking. The top picture has vegetables steaming in the colander over potatoes boiling in the pot, a curry and the start of the mince for cottage pie. Ameli helped too, for the first three hours till bed time. It was her job to put the veggie tops and tails in the food recycling bag.
48/366 – False Labour
I don’t know if it was yesterday’s exertions, but I was expectedly exhausted in the morning, and didn’t do too much in the afternoon. In the evening, I started having regular contractions that lasted most of the night.
I’ve been slowly getting everything together for the birth. My table is covered in bits. I need to sort them out, ideally, but at least it’s all there and together should we be in business….
49/366 – Happy Birthday Cake In A Jar
I woke up still having contractions, and really, really early, s0 decided it was time to get my act together and get a few things ready for the birth, should this baby decide to come today. S/he didn’t, but I managed to pull together another item for Ameli’s labour activity pack – something for us to do together. I’ll post more details on this another time, but it’s a Cake in a Jar, with the dry ingredients and eggs ready to go. We just need to add oil and water and we’ll be half way to a cake. Hopefully labour will last long enough for us to make a birthday cake for our new arrival. Oh, and the Love Hearts are for decorating the cake before eating it!
Oh, and the quote on the back says “Before you were conceived, I wanted you, Before you were born, I loved you, Before you were here a minute, I would die for you, Such is the miracle of love.” Soppy? Why not!
50/366 – Baby Shower
I had a lovely, low-key baby shower at just over 39 weeks. I was so tired, but had an absolutely lovely time just having a drink and amazing cake made by my friend Gloria. We played a few games, and just had a general chinwag and catch up. It was great, and I enjoyed it – and then went home and crashed onto the sofa playing a sorting game with Ameli for the rest of the day. I can’t believe how much energy things I normally relish are taking!
Games included: using anagrams of our names to come up with names for the baby, sculpting ‘babies’ from balloons, and using a piece of string to guess how large my belly is. Ameli had a few gifts from her god parents and from our lovely NPN friends, and she was convinced it was a party for her!
51/366 – Daddy Time
As with most dads, Ameli’s doesn’t always get to spend as much time with her as he’d like. Over the last month as both SPD and general tiredness have incapacitated me more and more, Martin has really stepped up to the plate and taken over much of the house and child care. I can’t say how much I’ve appreciated the ability to sit on the sofa with my swollen feet up.
52/366 – Learning Colours – Pasta
We’re in the throws of learning colours around these parts and I have plenty projects coming up (and plenty posts) that deal with teaching a toddler colours. We’ve been having fun with it, actually.
53/366 – Visiting
Our friend Yuri from Urbanvox was in the area today, so Ameli and I met up with him for a coffee. We also got to look through our maternity photos and choose our favourites – I can’t wait to share them with you! Ameli always gets really excited about seeing Uncle Yuri. It’s very sweet.
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Preparing for a homebirth is one thing, but preparing your older child for a homebirth has been a whole different adventure. I think how much you’re able to prepare them depends massively on the child’s age, and while I have no evidence of this, I suspect the younger they are, the more ‘easily’ they’ll just ‘go with it’.
We’ve been reading books and practicing mooing and making groany noises together so that Ameli knows what mama might do when the baby comes. With her birth there was no crying or screaming, it was actually very calm and gentle. I’m hoping for the same again this time.
As with any birth, our preparation will only take us so far, then it’s up to nature and a little bit of luck to take you the rest of the way. It’s no different with preparing a child for a birth, whether it’s a home birth or hospital birth. Having never been through it before, we have no idea how Ameli will react, whether she’ll be in any way interested, or will in fact even be awake!
But on the hope that she’ll be there and understand what’s going on, we’ve been watching birth videos together, for preparation.
Below are the best we’ve found. I’ve specifically chosen videos that aren’t overly graphic, and are relatively short – while the lead up and pregnancy pictures and all that make for a beautiful dedication, they don’t really captivate a two year old! I’ve also gone for gentle and calm births. There were some amazing ones with lots of screaming. She found them disconcerting, and I didn’t feel they were contributing to the positive preparation we were hoping for.
This is an unassisted birth at home in the bath. Mama doesn’t make a sound the whole way through!
Another in the bath at home. Another really quiet mama! Birth happens about a minute in.
Here the mother labours in a birthpool and it is probably closer to our setup. Mama rocks up and down in the pool while holding her belly through the contractions and there’s some heavy breathing. This is useful for explaining the way you’ll be breathing (i.e. golden thread breathing) and to ‘practice’ it together with your child/ren. (For the record, I don’t think her breathing would be ideal for me – it’s too panty, but it obviously worked for her.)
While we’re not planning a land birth, there’s no harm in preparing Ameli for it too. Also, they’re a bit for explanatory of where the baby comes from, since they show a little more. These are still not very graphic.
Here mama labours on all fours and has gives birth around the 2 minute mark
Quite explicit and straight on, but I still thought this one was tastefully done in a way that was child friendly to watch too.
Older siblings at birth:
Here’s a mix of different births, but with older siblings present. I found these really useful for comparisons. “See how the boy stands next to the pool and doesn’t try to climb in? Ameli mustn’t climb in either when mama’s having the baby.” And so on.
This clip has the nine year old sister aiding in the delivery of the baby, along with the midwife. It’s good though as it shows the baby coming out without actually showing any gory bits.
There’s about a minute of pregnancy pictures here, then a few seconds of labour pictures – birth ball use and so on. This video is good as it involves a bit of groaning and ‘noise’ but nothing ‘violent’ or frightening. The boy gives his mama cuddles and kisses and generally ‘hangs around’. It’s a beautiful and gentle birth and Ameli copies the lady’s ‘ooh,ooh’s’.
A longer video that has the older brother in the tub with mama for much of the labour. This was a good clip for me to watch too, as I’ve been concerned about being able to focus in with Ameli around, but if this mama can do it, then it obviously can be done! Birth happens around 7 minutes with a realistic amount of panting and groaning and moaning.
And of course, no birth viewing session would be complete without the picture slideshow of Ameli’s own birth. This one has the lead up of labour, including the birth ball, gas and air for a while, and labouring in water. Birth occurs around 2:20.
I have a confession to make. Well, I’ve kind of made it already, so now I can just ask you to hear me out. I do most of my shopping at SUPERMARKETS. I have supermarket loyalty cards and I get points for buying stuff from them, and special offers on things I regularly buy and rewards for choosing them over their competitors and every now and then, I get free stuff. (more…)
During my pregnancy with Ameli, I learned everything I could about everything pregnancy and birth related! I wrote a book full of notes, typed it all up and kept it with my birth plan so that if I had to have a justification for my decisions at any point, I’d have it on hand. I was blessed with an amazing midwife who didn’t even question my choices, so I never needed them, but here are my notes on Vitamin K… maybe you’ll find them useful. These notes formed the basis of my decision and are only intended to provide reference materials to start you off on your own research.
Vitamin K is routinely given because:
“The problem of bleeding into the brain occurs mainly from 3 to 7 weeks after birth in just over 5 out of 100,000 births (without vitamin K injections); 90% of those cases are breastfed infants because formulas are supplemented with unnaturally high levels of vitamin K. Forty percent of these infants suffer permanent brain damage or death.”Linda Folden Palmer, DC in International Chiropractic Pediatric Association Newsletter September/October 2002 Issue
Vitamin K may be needed when:
Premature clamping of the umbilical cord deprives babies of up to 40% of their natural blood volume, including platelets and other clotting factors
The use of vacuum extractor or forceps causes bruising or internal bleeding, which uses up the baby’s available clotting factors
Antibiotics are used in the birth, as they inhibit the baby’s generation of clotting factors.
There are alternatives to a vitamin K shot:
For breastfed infants, an oral vitamin K preparation (Konakion MM) given in 3 doses of 2mg at birth, 7 days, and 30 days of life results in higher plasma vitamin K concentrations than a single injected dose at birth (although my current midwife doesn’t agree with this statement). The preparation must be Konakion MM, which contains lecithin and glycocoholic acid; vitamin K require emulsification and the presence of bile salts for its absorption.
For formula fed infants, formula contains enough vitamin K that no supplement should be necessary.
Arguments against the routine use of vitamin K – three main observations (Falcao):
Nature seems to go to a lot of trouble in regulating the baby’s vitamin K levels: the level at birth gradually rises over the eight days following birth to a higher level. It is almost as if nature very specifically wants the baby to have a specific level of clotting factors at birth, followed by a higher level of clotting factors a week after the birth.
This may be related to the fact that in a physiological birth, where the baby gets all the blood from the placenta, the baby’s blood is a little thicker; this is especially true in the 72 hours following birth, since the babies naturally become a little dehydrated until the mother’s milk changes to a higher volume flow, so the blood is thicker.
There has been some association between vitamin K injection and childhood leukaemia. (Parker) Theoretical observations are that precise levels of vitamin K are required to regulate the rate of cell division in newborns and that excessive levels of vitamin K disrupt this regulatory process, thus increasing the possibility of leukaemia and other childhood cancers. (While a few studies have refuted this suggestion, several tightly controlled studies have shown this correlation to be most likely1,2.The most current analysis of six different studies suggests it is a 10% or 20% increased risk. This is still a significant number of avoidable cancers.3)
Research shows that babies who contract meningitis are more likely to die if they have higher clotting factors. It’s not clear whether this is due to genetic factors or whether it applies to all babies who receive vitamin K. ( I can’t find any actual links to this research, despite it being mentioned all over the web!)
The warning label on Vitamin K injections is pretty scary too:
Severe reactions, including fatalities, have occurred during and immediately after the parenteral administration of Phytonadione. Typically these severe reactions have resembled hypersensitivity or anaphylaxis, including shock and cardiac and/or respiratory arrest. Some patients have exhibited these severe reactions on receiving Phytonadione for the first time. The majority of these reported events occurred following intravenous administration, even when precautions have been taken to dilute the Phytonadione and to avoid rapid infusion. Therefore, the INTRAVENOUS route should be restricted to those situations where another route is not feasible and the increased risk involved is considered justified.
Dangers of excess Vitamin K:
When a baby is born gently, without any intervention, antibiotic, or trauma, and no apparent bruising, and is breastfed, there is no need for Vitamin K. Administering vitamin K to these babies – especially if they are formula fed – can lead to excess Vitamin K, which in turn may lead to newborn jaundice.
Signs Suggesting Need for Vitamin K after birth:
bleeding from the umbilicus, nose, mouth, ears, urinary tract or rectum
any bruise not related to a known trauma
pinpoint bruises called petechiae
black tarry stools after meconium has already been expelled
bleeding longer than 6 minutes from a blood sampling site even after there has been pressure on the wound
symptoms of intracranial bleeding including paleness, glassy eyed look, irritability or high pitched crying, loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, prolonged jaundice.
(This list is written by Jennifer Enoch. Midwifery Today. Issue 40.)
Keep the umbilical cord attached until it stops pulsing. Do not cut it prematurely, as average transfusion to the newborn is equivalent to 21% of the neonate’s final blood volume and three quarters of the transfusion occurs in the first minute after birth. (As Vitamin K doesn’t cross the placenta, this should make no difference to Vit K levels, but will help with iron levels etc.)
When breastfeeding (or just before starting), make sure to eat plenty of leafy greens or take a vitamin K supplement – vitamin K does not cross the planceta in pregnancy, but does enter breast milk in feeding. Anti-acids (used for heartburn) decrease the absorption of Vitamin K in the body – bare this in mind if you have lots of indigestion during pregnancy and be sure to increase with Vitamin K intake from around 38 weeks of pregnancy, as this will help prevent against haemorrhaging too.
Nettles are rich in Vitamin K – made into a tea you’ll get everything you need. Otherwise try a Nettle soup.
My conclusion on this sensitive matter, based on the information available to the public and its potential impact on my own family, is thus:
Nature says a baby doesn’t need large amounts of Vitamin K, but that delayed cord clamping and the transfer of oxygenated blood gives the child enough resources to cope with the effects of a ‘normal’ birth. If the mother has been consuming Vitamin K in some form or another, it will immediately begin transferring through her colostrum, which is rich in Vitamin K and breastmilk and by eight days of age, baby will have the ‘right’ amount of Vitamin K (and since formula is fortified with vitamin K, formula fed babies shouldn’t require it at all) – since the disease it is meant to prevent doesn’t tend to occur until between 3 and 7 weeks I personally question the need for the injection.
At the same time, bleeding kills almost 2 in 10,000 babies, and this is the closest I could find to statistics as todeaths from the injections ** although we know that they have occurred. It says so on the label. So really, the conclusion is inconclusive.
Every parent has to make their own decisions on this, but for me and mine, we’ve decided against vitamin K injections unless something in the birth necessitates it. We’ve also decided to follow natural alternatives, such as breastfeeding and a high maternal Vitamin K intake and to keep a close eye on the signs of bleeding as described above.
** The FDA database contained a total of 2236 adverse drug reactions reported in 1019 patients receiving vitamin K by all routes of administration. Of the 192 patients with reactions reported for intravenous vitamin K, 132 patients (69%%) had a reaction defined as anaphylactoid, with 24 fatalities (18%%) attributed to the vitamin K reaction. There were 21 patients with anaphylactoid reactions and 4 fatalities reported with doses of intravenous vitamin K of less than 5[emsp4 ]mgs. For the 217 patients with reactions reported due to vitamin K via a non-intravenous route of administration, 38 patients had reactions meeting the definition of anaphylactoid (18%%), with 1 fatality (3%%) attributed to the drug.
L. Parker et al., “Neonatal vitamin K administration and childhood cancer in the north of England: retrospective case-control study,” BMJ (England) 316, no. 7126 (Jan 1998): 189-93.
S.J. Passmore et al., “Case-control studies of relation between childhood cancer and neonatal vitamin K administration,” BMJ (England) 316, no. 7126 (Jan 1998): 178-84.
E. Roman et al., “Vitamin K and childhood cancer: analysis of individual patient data from six case-control studies,” Br J Cancer (England) 86, no. 1 (Jan 2002): 63-9
I’m not a list person. There’s something about spending time making a list that irritates me. It takes my hubby about as long to make a to-do list as it takes me to just do the stuff on the list. Yet, when it came to my last pregnancy and labour, I made a list long before the day of things to do when contractions start.
This list will differ from person to person, but I thought I’d share it with you, in case you’re not sure what to do ‘next’.
In Hollywood, your waters break in a great gush and everyone rushes off to hospital in a mad dash. In reality, very few women’s water’s break in the shopping centre, on the train or as you’re about to set off on holiday. Of course it does happen, but for the most part, in real life, you have time – if your waters even break before contractions start!
Without further ado, my list for what to do when I go into labour if you’re having a homebirth: (more…)
I’m writing this a few days in advance of actually posting it. It’s called ‘scheduling’ and at the moment it’s one of the few things I seem to be able to do to feel like I’m doing much to prepare for your birth. I have this persistent cold that comes and goes, but each time it returns it does so with a vengeance greater than the time before. It’s all I can do to sit up at the moment, so I’m trying to use this ‘bed rest’ time productively.
My lovely midwife gave me a list of things we needed to get ready for our homebirth, and – no surprises here – but I lost it! I’ve been trawling the web looking for the definitive guide on things you need to prepare for a homebirth but ‘definitive’ is so subjective.
I absolutely love how Homebirth.org.uk puts it – “All you really need for a homebirth is a pregnant woman and a home, but sometimes a few other things are handy”. Isn’t that just my philosophy for birth and parenting?
So what are those ‘handy’ things that you can have ready and waiting for labour? (Ideally in a box or bag so that there’s no running around searching for stuff on the day!)
For the birth:
Birth Plan. If you end up with a midwife you’ve not seen before, she’ll need to know your birth plan, so have a copy in your birth box
A plastic liner for outside the pool, should you have to climb out to give birth
A plastic liner for the sofa/bed for delivering the placenta
A towel to cover the plastic – for comfort and to not slide off
Towels, sheets or bed wetting sheets to absorb liquid (this is where a waterbirth is so much less fuss)
Garbage bags for double bagging trash (although the midwives will probably have human waste bags that go back with them to be incinerated)
A tub for the placenta, if you’re saving it, and space in the fridge/freezer
If using a birth pool, make sure to do a trial run and to keep all the ‘bits’ together.
Towels for if you are getting in and out of the pool
Many women vomit during labour. Have a sick bucket in reach, just in case. No one wants to be cleaning up puke during labour. Also useful for disposal of other body wastes!
Hot compress or flannel for perineum if you are birthing outside of water
Hand mirror – to see crowning, but also if so midwives can see what’s going on without disturbing your position
Ambience enhancers – music, candles, aromatherapy oils. I honestly cannot remember if we lit the candles during my daughter’s birth or not?! I know I needed a fan on me during transition, so am very glad we had one in the house or I might not have been able to stay in the water, despite it being the ‘right’ temperature. The music was wonderful and I sang along to it – quietly- during transition and remember the exact song my daughter was born to.
For the mother-to-be:
Your birthing outfit, should you wish to have one
Hot water bottle, if that helps you with period pains
Something clean and comfortable to wear after the birth
That’s a really simple question, actually, with a ridiculously difficult answer, because the variables on it depend on the birthing woman, the environment, the birthing assistants, experience, relationship and about as many other things as you can imagine!
*For the purpose of this post, the birth partner is assumed to be the dad, but can be anyone the birthing mother wants or needs!
Never the less, men, especially, often find themselves completely hands off and lost when it comes to the birth of their babies. You only have to watch an episode of One Born Every Minute (which I strongly recommend as a contraceptive, but not as birth instruction!) to see how dads can feel uninvolved and at a loss when it comes to childbirth. (more…)
I haven’t written to you in weeks. I can’t believe how quickly the last couple of months have gone. Just a few days ago it was Christmas – and suddenly here we are in February and I’m counting down the days. It’s crazy. You’ll be here within the month, and there still seems to be so much to do.
Actually that’s part of why the time has been going so fast. Every second of my day seems to be accounted for.
I’ve been teaching baby massage classes, and I’ve been doing training for another class I can teach once you’re born. I feel really bad that I have to go to work straight after you’re born, but things have been a bit tight with what they call ‘the recession’ and Daddy hasn’t been working much, so I have to do what I can to help him out.
Actually, it’s been a really stressful time and I’ve been quite worried and then, on top of the worry, I’ve been worried about what being worried is doing to you. Sounds rough, doesn’t it? But it’s okay. We’ll be fine. And you’ve been so spoiled by the people in this world that love you, even before you’re born. Mama’s been so amazingly touched by friends who’ve come through for you at a time when I was feeling really low.
The love from people around us has been amazing, and while we’ve really not needed much to prepare for your arrival, we’ve been so blessed by the things we have been given.
As for preparations, we’ve slowly but surely been getting on top of things. We’ve done a trial run on the birth pool, and I’ve been drinking the right tea and taking evening primrose oil capsules. I’ve been doing my kegels and we’ve washed the clothes you’ll need for the first while. We’ve acquired a Moses basket for your day time naps, and I’ve started making some extra meals to put in the freezer. I seem to be getting on top of the things we need to prepare for your arrival. Slowly, but surely.
What I am not on top of is the house stuff… the tidying, the cleaning, the constant picking up and the suddenly endless amount of laundry – I blame winter. We have to wear so many more clothes in this horrible cold weather.
I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but you were transverse for ages, and on New Year’s Eve you turned, just suddenly. You seem to be head down now, which is great, and you’re moving a lot. Some days I’m pretty sure you’re on the right side, and other days you’re most definitely on the left. In fact, I’m often lopsided. It’s a great look.
Oh – and my belly button finally popped out at 37 weeks. Just thought I’d make a note of the – it’s rather momentous.
I feel like there’s so much I have to say to you, yet sitting here staring at this page, I can’t think of the right words.
I think you’re the perfect gift for our family. I think we’re so blessed to have you joining us. I can’t wait to count your little fingers and toes. I can’t wait to put your gorgeous newborn nappies on you. I’m terrified, too, of the changes, the new stresses, the new things I’m going to have to learn. Having a baby once was such a learning curve, it changed everything about me. And I realise that you’re a new person, and the knowledge I have gained in this journey of parenthood may be useful, but may also mean nothing. You may be totally different. You will be totally different. There’s no doubt about that. It excites me, and it terrifies me.
I love you Squidgy. I love you already. (Now I just need to start thinking of potential names for you!)
(Q9 I would like to be in the following position to give birth:)
I sat in a hospital waiting room during my first pregnancy, waiting to see someone when a couple came in looking for labour ward. Her waters had broken and they were trying to find out where to go. They waited for the receptionist, and while doing so, were looking at the posters on the wall. The one just beside me had a whole variety of labour positions depicted in pictures. The woman said to her partner, “Hey, look here. You can have the baby in all these positions. You don’t have to lie down.”
My jaw dropped.
I’m sorry if this sounds judgemental, but I struggle to fathom how you can get to that point in one of the biggest occasions in your life and not know something as simple as labour positions. Especially when your position during labour can have such a huge impact on your experience of childbirth.
Humans are the only mammals that try to give birth on their backs. It’s illogical as it defies gravity.
In The Business of Being Born, Michael Odent, the reknown doctor from France, explains why doctors want women on their backs – it makes their job of observing and interfering much easier. He shows, in the video, the best position for a woman, which has him low down –hard on his back, but better for the labouring woman.
In reality, the best position for a labouring woman is the one she’s comfortable in. I spent most of my pregnancy with Ameli practicing squatting so I could give birth in that position. When it came down to it though, I found having my back out of the water to be excruciating and ended up delivering in the pool, sitting bolt upright. An illogical position, but a perfect one for me. (more…)