Before the baby

 

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Stunning photo of me – by Dani Salmon Photography – more to follow soon hopefully

My pregnancy yoga classes are roughly split into three parts: the introductions, where we go around the circle of mats, say our names, how pregnant we are and a bit about how we’ve been feeling lately. Then the actual yoga bit, which is (just about) the longest section. Followed by a blissful guided relaxation close.

Having come from dynamic ashtanga yoga classes into pregnancy yoga, this was quite the pace change for me. No more sweaty mats and frowns if you stop for a sip of water.

Surprisingly, the intro section has proven to be one of the most helpful parts of the classes: a mini counselling session for everyone, where no one minds if you want to spend five minutes lamenting your pregnancy insomnia / SPD / how much you’re counting down to maternity leave. Everyone always listens and sympathises, with the added bonus of actually being interested, as they’re pregnant too. 

Anyway, today we discussed the strange transition stage between becoming a mother and being heavily pregnant with your first child. A strange no man’s land where you’re on the cusp of something that you know will be life changing: but you just don’t have a clue how it’s going to be. My mind seems to have opened up to these thoughts during the past week or so, after a couple of weeks of maternity leave feeling just like a standard two weeks off work.

Of course, there’s not much that I can do about this feeling of unsure in-between-ness. It’s just a case of waiting for this baby to turn up and dealing with the aftermath. But as my lovely yoga teacher reminded me this morning, that’s ok. I don’t need to feel incapable about not knowing how to feel. It will happen. The world will go on and I’ll cope.

And I’m sure that when it does, there will be aspects of pregnancy that I’ll miss. As an antidote to the seriousness of this post, I thought I’d document a few of the positive things that have come to mind when I think about not being pregnant any more. Things to look forward to after the baby, so I can’t forget that it wasn’t all sweetness and light these past few weeks:

  • being able to get out of bed without making ‘heave ho’ noises
  • going for more than an hour between needing to pee
  • shopping for some new gym wear and going for a run in the sunshine
  • getting back into spinning and body pump classes (eventually!)
  • starting mum and baby yoga
  • having a couple of glasses of wine/cocktails with a meal out
  • getting my non-pregnancy clothes out of storage and doubling my outfit options
  • my appetite getting back to normal, so I can enjoy a proper evening meal again, without wanting to just eat a packet of Refreshers instead.

All quite superficial things, but hopefully stuff I can embrace over the coming months to enjoy the new stage of my life.

Did you feel/are you feeling the same towards the end of your pregnancy? Have I missed anything off my ‘after the baby’ list? Any tips for avoiding the potential for baby/missing pregnancy blues – or is this just part and parcel of pregnancy ending and motherhood beginning?

Natural childbirth remedies: reflexology

Ok, not so much a remedy as an aid or induction technique, perhaps?

I am a firm believer in the benefits of many alternative therapies* – whether the effects are physical, psychological – or both. In fact, I’m a qualified massage therapist, don’t you know, so I’m probably a little biased. But I think it’d be hard to deny that touch has a wonderfully soothing, immediately positive effect on a huge range of ailments.

I’ve long heard reflexology mentioned as beneficial while pregnant – to tackle any hormonal imbalances, as a relaxing therapy and also to treat the dreaded third trimester pregnancy cankles/swollen feet.

In short, reflexology is built on the belief that different areas of the feet correspond to certain areas and systems in the body. Many reflexology points correspond with those taught in Chinese acupuncture and my therapy, Thai yoga massage, which is very interesting to a geek like me.

I’ve been lucky enough not to have suffered from swollen feet and I’ve had a couple of pregnancy massages over the past eight or so months, so time and money hasn’t allowed for any reflexology. However, at the end of my second pregnancy massage a few weeks ago, my therapist did five minutes of reflexology at the end to the treatment. A blissful, deeply peaceful five minutes where I nearly fell asleep. This led me to booking on an additional half hour of reflexology on my ‘congrats for reaching full term’ massage last week, to focus on getting this baby out now that I’ve passed my due date.

I find it really hard to switch off during ‘enforced’ relaxation time: during many years of attempted yoga relaxation wind downs. I often just compile mental to do lists as that’s way more soothing than getting agitated at being unable to join in with the guided visualisations. But for some reason, light repetitive pressure applied to my feet practically sends me to sleep.

Aside from the relaxation aspect, reflexology can apparently be used to induce labour, by stimulating specific pressure points linked to the endocrine system, thus releasing the hormones needed to get labour going. In spite of the very gentle pressure used, my feet also felt light and free of tension after the treatment.

I haven’t benefited from the induction benefits yet, but if I had the time, I’d definitely book myself in for a follow up treatment just for the blissful half hour of relaxation and would highly recommend as a pregnancy treat if you’re considering it. A series of treatments during the last month or two of pregnancy would probably be more effective than my random approach.

If you’re Warwickshire-based, I’d highly recommend Lisa Moore at the Leamington Therapy Centre (she also does a fantastic pregnancy massage, which I may blog about separately!) If you can’t get to a therapist, you could enlist a willing partner or friend to do a DIY treatment.

Have you had any success with reflexology to encourage labour – or any other alternative therapies?

*Not reiki, which just seems a little too hocus pocus for me – also – no massage involved; what’s that all about?

The four-word birth plan

You’d think that at 40+5, my birth plan would be complete; signed and sealed if not yet delivered. However, going past my due date has given me some time to give it some more detailed consideration.

The essence of my birth plan is four words: get the baby out.

I’m well aware that birth does not generally go to plan. I don’t mean that in a negative way: just that it’s impossible to know when, how, what and where labour is going to take place. I’m a great believer that thinking about something too much in advance of it actually happening usually leads to disappointment.

And yet, I am an organised soul; there’s no getting away from that. Yes; I’m the person who completed an audit of all wedding-related decor two weeks before the wedding, just because I couldn’t handle not having an itemised, numbered list of everything along with labelled boxes.

So alongside my unusually laid back birth plan, there is of course a little more detail:

  • minimal pain relief (if I can cope)
  • water birth if possible
  • encourage active labour
  • skin to skin after birth
  • wait until umbilical cord has stopped pulsating before cutting
  • husband to cut the cord and announce gender
  • yes to vitamin K injection and injection for third stage

These all seem like fairly arbitrary things to me though: over the past week or so, since I actually filled in the birth plan section in my maternity notes, I keep thinking that I’m missing something. Should I be more specific and add more detail? For instance, to keep active, I’d like my husband and the midwife to prompt me to change position when possible and necessary. But I’ve presumed that they will do that anyway and have discussed plans with my husband, so he’ll know to prompt this. I’d like to try and get the baby to latch ASAP on after delivery – but again, that seems to be something that will happen if possible anyway.

As I’m hoping to have the baby in our local midwife-led birth centre, I’m assuming that the less medicalised, more patient-centric approach will encourage my wishes as part of their ethos. But are these details that are worth spelling out? And does the birth plan even get more than a cursory glance in the delivery room anyway? Any thoughts and experiences are very welcome.

MAD Blog Awards (and 40 weeks!)

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So, this is a little embarrassing, given that I haven’t actually blogged for a number of weeks, but it seems I’ve been nominated for a blog award.

Some kind soul has nominated me for Best Pregnancy Blog in the 2014 MAD Blog Awards. If that’s you, thank you! Lovely to know someone’s reading and liked my blog enough to make the effort to actually nominate me.

I believe that the winner is chosen by the number of votes on the MAD website. If you enjoy reading and would like to vote for this here blog, you can fill in a short online form. The deadline is 14 March.

And on that note, I’m off to scribble down some post ideas so that I can make amends for lack of blogging over the next couple of weeks. However, please note that I’m now 40+3, so on borrowed time with the pregnancy blog status. Let’s see how long it lasts…