All content of this blog is my own opinion only. It does not represent the views of any organisation or association I may work for, or be associated with. Nothing within this blog should be considered as medical advice and you should always consult your Doctor.

Emma's Pregnancy Diary - Armadillo Style

When the lovely Emma (who helps as an admin on Facebook) rang me to share some news, I thought it would make perfect blog fodder to share with you all.  Ever modest Emma wasn't sure people would want to read her story, but after a little harrasement asking nicely, she kindly agreed <grin>.

Whilst we see lots of journals shared by first time mums, I thought hearing from a mum of two planning her third addition might be of interest to those who already have children and perhaps are thinking about more! :D
Over to Emma:

I'M PREGNANT....Well, it’s a good start. That was the plan. We’ve been “trying” for quite a few months, but as my periods haven’t started since the birth of son #2 and I’d had no signs of ovulation so I didn’t think that we were going to get anywhere fast.

The Armadillo is chuckling heartily at this point, because I recently rang her recently to discuss my nursing son’s fussy behaviour and tiredness. When she asked if pregnancy was a possibility, I assured her it wasn’t – because of course, I was sure it wasn’t.

Quite how I came to find out I was pregnant is another story in itself - so here’s what happened.

Given that I knew quite clearly I could conceive on my first ovulation, I was looking out for signs of egg laying (fluids, cervix position and Mittelschmerz, I wasn’t bothering with temperatures). I pride myself on being pretty switched on with this stuff; Which as they say, comes before a fall!

So I didn’t notice any signs of ovulation, and was assuming that they were still suppressed by son #2’s breastfeeding. I’d been chatting to my breastfeeding counsellor about ways to trigger ovulation, and we were aiming for a 5 hour gap within each 24 hour period as for some women this is enough to get things going.

However, given, I thought, that I may just miss that I’d ovulated, and given that I might just conceive on that first cycle, I thought I’d be very smart and be one step ahead of myself. So I ordered 20 cheapy ebay tests for about £2 so that I could take one test every 2 weeks, thus knowing for sure when I wasn’t pregnant, so I would then know how far on I was when I did get pregnant.

They duly arrived and I quickly did one, just to get a job out of the way, and nearly passed out with shock when the pink line appeared. It’s a good thing that I bought 20, as I used the next 10 straight away (well, you never know). It’s a good thing that hubby works from home so I was able to go straight up and tell him. That put a grin on his face.

So the next question is – how pregnant am I?

I’ve been really, really tired for about three weeks now and just not managing to keep up with my normal “stuff”. So, I’m guessing 7-8 weeks would be about right. I’ve obviously conceived on my first ovulation post delivery, which is great, which would make it about 13 months without periods. Good old breastfeeding.

Now to see if I’m right…

24th October
I’ve booked in with the midwife this Friday. I’ve actually moved surgeries to do so! I am a peer supporter and one group that I sometimes cover has a midwife drop-in at the same time. The midwife is really pro home birth, and a few months ago was running a big fun day at the local Children’s Centre to raise money for homebirth pools. I was very happy to be able to help, running a stand for our local NCT group. A friend made an amazing cake with a waterbirthing mum and baby on top! That went into the raffle and was very much admired including by one small boy (not mine!!) who decided to try to have a taste. It was a good day. I liked the midwife so much that I decided to find out which surgery she was at, so this afternoon saw me filling in new patient forms for me, Son #1 and Son #2 (hubby is sticking with his GP, thank you very much).

The receptionist asked me how pregnant I was and I was very embarrassed to say that I had no idea, but I guessed 7-8 weeks. Hopefully my midwife will be able to give me a better idea!


28th October
Midwife booking appointment - she was as lovely as expected and delighted to take me on as a homebirth booking. We had a good chat about my last two births and how things didn’t go as planned, and why I was so determined to home birth this time. She explained about the Trust’s obligations to provide a home birthing midwife and how to be firm on the day should it be necessary.

We discussed some of my really big concerns, such as the PPH (post partum haemorrhage) that I’d had last time and how she would handle it and was extremely reassuring. In both my last deliveries I’ve aimed for an unmanaged third stage. With Son #1 they got very jittery and scared me after an hour had passed, and persuaded me into the injection. With Son #2 they were very encouraging and supportive, and all was fine, but then I did start to lose blood which was rather worrying for everyone and I ended up very weak after birth and anaemic for some months afterwards. It was all fine, but I think a bit less messing around with me and a bit more letting me get on with it would have ensured the contractions would have racked back up more quickly and limited the blood loss.
So after all of this, out came the pregnancy wheel and she asked me when my last period was. I don’t think that “2009” was helpful! So she then asked me if I’d any idea of my dates and I had to make a full confession: not only did I not know how pregnant I was, I’d not actually thought I was pregnant when I took the test!

Once we’d established that I for one couldn't help with dates, I popped up onto the couch and she had a rummage around.

Shock number two – she estimates 12-14 weeks. Aarrgghh!

31st October
Emergency scan at a private scanning clinic as the NHS can’t offer me a scan for another 2 weeks. We want the nuchal scan (Down’s Syndrome test) and if I’m really that far on then that might be too late for the nuchal. Despite been here twice before with Sons #1 and #2 it didn’t make it any easier. In a sense we didn’t really know why we were doing it because if it came up as high risk, what then? It’s not a diagnostic scan, just a screening giving a risk, not an answer. We really don’t want to have an amniocentesis with the risk of miscarriage. I think we’re both burying our heads in the sand a bit and hoping for the best.

On the other hand it all seems a bit silly, because there are so very many ways in which a baby may have problems, so why a low risk result would be reassuring I don’t know! Still, it was wonderful to see that the pink pregnancy test line had magically morphed into a cute little baby shape, complete with heartbeat and nasal bone (which apparently is a good thing on the Down’s test). Baby measures at 14 weeks! It seems to get longer every time! I have a blood test taken to get the most accurate screening results which we’ll get in a few days.

We drive home armed with lots of fuzzy piccies of a rather skeletal looking baby and memories of the sound of the heart beat, hugely happy and excited and just ever so slightly embarrassed. Or I am, at least. Hubby really can’t believe that I’m over 3 months pregnant and didn’t know. So much for me being “in tune” with my body. Much ribbing was undertaken.

3rd November
Flu jab. I’d been told in no uncertain terms that contracting flu could be quite dangerous for a pregnant lady so after some research I decided to go for it. I’ve never had one before so was hoping I wouldn’t have a reaction to it. Everyone seemed to be really pushing it at the surgery and saying that it was totally safe, etc etc, until I actually got to the nurse who did the jab who then proceeded to tell me that it was untested in pregnant women (because it’s unethical – but apparently quite ethical to just dole them out), we don’t know if it’s safe for the baby, blah blah. I made some comment about how it’s been around for a while now and we’d have heard about any significant problems to which she replied, “well we’d hope so” which didn’t fill me with confidence! I asked if my having the vaccination would pass any immunity onto Son #2 through my milk, which she didn’t know but she did then pull out all her documents to see if it was safe for lactating women (which it is, apparently. Either that, or untested!). Nice that she didn’t bat an eyelid that I am breastfeeding a toddler (who was with me causing havoc and destruction as is his norm).

4th November
UK Association for Milk Banking Trustees meeting today. We’re planning some awareness campaigns including one in May so I fessed up to the fact that I was likely to be busy on or around the 1st May. A fellow trustee with 3 children made it clear that I was totally nuts by joining the club J. Ah well, at least we know it’s not twins.

And we got the results from the nuchal scan! Excellent result – risk of 1:21,000 compared to my age-related risk of 1:175. It is a relief and yet I can’t help but wonder why. There are so many disabilities out there, so why did we put so much score on just one? And then there was the awful question of what would we do if the risk factor came back as a high risk? This is a screening test, not a diagnostic test. Would we then risk the diagnostic test with a miscarriage rate of between 1:100 and 1:200? And let’s say we did that, and it came back as positive for Downs. Then what would we do?
These questions, in one form or another, are questions that most pregnant mums or couples will need to work through, even if it’s only to decide that they’ll have no screening at all. For us, we chose to bury our head in the sand and wait for the screening results, feeling that there was no point in trying to resolve the “next step” questions unless necessary.

I feel very lucky in many ways that we have reached this point in this pregnancy without having the weeks of anticipation. I think one of the hardest things is finding people to discuss it with because of the high levels of emotions involved with all “options”. We can now close this door and move on – at least until the 20 week scan. But many people can’t, and that’s tough to think about.

I wish that a more open discussion about the euphemistic “options” was possible. I don’t think that anyone can imagine themselves being the parent of a child with a serious disability, but the idea of aborting one’s child is also abhorrent. For some it would never be an option and for others it would be the only choice. Emotions, quite rightly, run so strongly on both sides that to even think about mentioning it risks deep distress – and yet not talking about it leaves mums approaching screening in a state of confusion and worry. This is why I have written this post. I don’t have any answers but I know I’m not alone in wishing that there were some.


7th November
I took Son #2 for a cranial osteopathy session today.  He goes every 4-6 months after this was recommended by Milk Matters.  It seems that babies who are born with tongue tie are more prone to having cranial tension, and Son #2 had the additional problem that my waters had broken 5 days before he was born so without the cushioning effect in utero he got a bit more squashed than he might have been.  He was actually a “C” shape when he was born – I called him my little comma!  It took him a week or so to straighten out but there was definitely tension left in his little head.  The work now, though, is to ensure that as he grows the normal tension from just living and getting bigger is released a couple of times a year.  He’s got a high arch palate (related to the tongue tie) and these few things together mean that going just every so often seems to help. 

Afterwards he slept for 4 hours in the afternoon, then went to bed at his normal time and slept brilliantly overnight so clearly something positive happened!

24th & 25th November 
Could it get any better? I’ve just spent 2 days at UNICEF’s Baby Friendly conference in Liverpool That’s rig
ht – 2 days talking breastfeeding and child development!  Absolutely fantastic.  I travelled over with a friend who is a Breastfeeding Counsellor and we stayed overnight which was a bit scary as it’s the first time I’ve been away from Son #2 for that long.  I was planning on getting the first full night’s sleep for 2 years, only it was far more interesting chatting to my friend!  We eventually stopped nattering at 1pm.  But it was worth it.

The conference was fab.  There were some amazing speakers, perhaps most notably two speakers discussing the ways that babies’ brains develop and how they learn to love and have solid, positive relationships from before birth to just 6 months into their lives.  It’s a case of “use it or lose it” with the human brain, and if they don’t receive that love and care then it’s much harder for them to learn to give it.

Much guilt all round as each of us sat there and remembered our not-so-positive mummy moments, but of course there are extremes in all this and really what we are talking about is proper neglect and its life-long impact on a person.

Most tragic was the brain scans that were shown of babies born into a healthy, loving family and babies who were raised in those horrific Romanian orphanages.  It clearly showed the differences between the development of the babies born into the loving families and the virtual absence of certain areas of the brain for those who went through the most severe neglect.

More chirpy talks came from a lady from the US who was discussing the studies that she’s done in her hospital’s NICU into the ways that a mother’s own breastmilk makes a highly significant difference to the outcome of a premature baby compared to babies fed artificial milks.  She went into the science of how this works, from colostrum to mature milk, and how formula disrupts this process.  She works in an area with dreadfully low breastfeeding rates and they have achieved an initiation rate of 95% which is incredible!  They have paid peer supporters – including a fella – who work with the parents to talk through their mutual experiences and to encourage them to see their milk as medicine for their precious babies.  They do weekly discussion and support groups where they introduce specific topics so parents can not only go through things that are concerning them, but they’re learning about the science as well.

Sadly the rates of breastfeeding after the babies are well enough to leave the hospital aren’t so good due to the cultural pressures put onto these women.  However many of them leave with months of expressed milk so their babies can at least continue to be fed breast milk for quite some time.

One disappointing talk was by one of the founders of the website “Mumsnet”.  The topic was “What Mothers are Talking About” but a great deal of time was spent talking about Mumsnet as a company, and very few slides were dedicated to actual discussions from the site.  This was a shame as I feel that Mumsnet discussions are a great way for Health Care Professionals to see what’s being said from “the other side”.  She greatly emphasised Mumsnet’s support of the Nestle Boycott and their decision not to allow formula advertising but at the end of the talk she was asked why in that case their logo featured a woman holding a baby’s bottle.  She replied that it was filled with expressed milk which, to say the least, was not well received as an answer…

It was very exciting to meet two fabulous people at the conference – Mike Brady of Baby Milk Action and Gabrielle Palmer, author of the wonderful “The Politics of Breastfeeding” and the essential “ComplimentaryFeeding”.

On a personal note, I’d taken my pump with me in case I needed it, only I found I’d missed a critical part.  I’ve never been good at hand expressing so was a bit concerned, but in fact I was fine and didn't get too full.  By the time I got home late on the Friday night I was definitely ready to feed him, but he was also very happy to me my boobs so all was well!  Apparently he’d been signing “milk” at nursery in a rather sad way all day, but otherwise had been fine.  I was glad to be back together with him, his brother and my lovely husband though.  Getting a break was great, and coming back was even better! 

One final note to the conference, I did see a few people there who have helped me on my breastfeeding journey with son #2 and I did wonder how many people go to a conference and see 4 different people who have seen their boobs!

7TH December
We’ve had a tough few days and I’m exhausted.  Son #2 has been unwell following the over consumption of oak milk (if allowed to he will drink gallons of it and he did a play-off between hubby and me where neither of us realised we were both filling up his cup”).

Following my night away at the conference we decided that we were going to have another go at night weaning him.  He’s 18 months and clearly doesn’t need the food, as he usually just has a quick suckle and he’s sleeping again.  Problem is that I’m getting pretty tired even though I’m only halfway through this pregnancy, and I’d like to see if him not getting a boob will encourage him to not bother looking for it if he wakes, and go back off on his own.

We’ve tried it before and he’s got upset so we’ve just let it go (neither of us being really bothered about it) and this time it seemed to be working well.  We had a cup of water for him in case he was thirsty and he did sometimes have a sip of that and settled straight back to sleep.

But, it’s all gone pear shaped since he’s been unwell, even though it was only one night of a poorly tummy.  Since then he’s been not only waking frequently from about midnight onwards but absolutely refusing to sleep again (even when given a boob) and I’m on my knees right now.

On a positive note I’m feeling lovely baby movements which I am really enjoying.  S/he’s doing little rolls and some quite solid kicks from time to time, and my favourite me-and-baby time is when I’ve just snuggled into bed next to a sleeping son #2 (hubby is currently consigned to the spare room with his snorey-coldey head) and I lie there in the darkness just tuning into my baby’s play.  I am so loving being pregnant and with this being the last time (or at least the last planned time!) I want to try to make the most of it.

I’m looking forward to a call from our region’s Independent Midwife tonight.  Hubby and I have decided that we are really nervous about trusting our homebirth to the NHS.  While our midwife is passionately supportive of homebirth, and the region is very good at providing good homebirth cover there have also been instances of women being told to come into hospital as there’s not enough cover.  While I know that I can fight this when the time comes, I feel that fighting’s not the best thing to be doing while in labour.

12th December
20 week scan!  It’s a bit scary going to these scans when the point of them is to check on the health of the baby, and I’m always a bit nervous about what they might find.  Of course at the same time it’s just so exciting to have the chance to see him or her!  Sneak previews are ace.

I made it very clear that “we” didn’t want to know the sex when we went into the scanning room, but then had to clarify that it was actually that I didn’t want to – poor hubby rather did!  But he went with it anyway, and didn’t look until she’d finished doing all the important checking of everything stuff and was able to give us a peek while keeping away from sensitive areas…  We got a beautiful photo where the little face is really clear.  All seems well from what they can tell, and the placenta is in a good location, so that’s all for now.

I was annoyed, though, to see a banner in the entrance which stated “it is dangerous for your baby to sleep in your bed…” especially given that the hospital is working towards Baby Friendly status, and this is absolutely not the guidance that they’re supposed to give.  They can say that the safest place for a baby to sleep is in a cot (etc) your room for the first 6 months but not that it is dangerous to bed share.  In fact, the evidence shows that safe bed-sharing by non-smoking parents who have not taken drugs or alcohol, and with a safe set-up of the bed, can protect against SIDS and it certainly helps to maintain breastfeeding which itself has a protective effect.

I’ve emailed UNICEF/BFI about it.  Will be interesting to see what they think.

13th December
Nights are improving!  Son #2 is taking to night weaning really well again.  He’s sometimes sleeping longer, too, but even when he wakes there’s no crying at all.  He will drop straight off again with a pat and a back rub – in fact probably quicker than on the boob really!  Feeling so much better about life.

19th December
It’s funny, I just don’t seem to have been focusing on this baby as much as I’d like to.  With my other babies I spent a lot more time thinking about them and preparing for them.  It’s partly because it’s not such a novelty, now, being pregnant, and partly because life is so busy with a toddler and young child! 

So I’m really making an effort to connect with the smallest one at least every morning and evening.  I spend time listening in to what s/he’s got to say, to his or her little wriggles and kicks, and thinking about how life will be when s/he arrives.  It’s lovely J

21st December
Breastfeeding is much more comfortable now, although I’m still getting discomfort on one side so I’m going to see someone about it in the New Year.  I think it’s an attachment issue but if not I want to get to the bottom of it before this one arrives.  I’m terrified of going through the pain and agony that we did with his undiagnosed tongue tie.  My milk supply is dramatically reduced by the pregnancy but he’s still loving his boobies.  He’s clearly not getting much from me and he comes off pretty quickly, but he’s asking maybe 4-5 times a day.  I don’t always say yes but sometimes it’s nice to have the excuse to stop and sit down for a few minutes!  I’m not worried about accidentally weaning him by not always letting him feed when he asks (a la “Never Offer, Never Refuse” method) as he seems enthusiastic enough and if he does slow down his asking I will begin to offer more.  We still have our lovely, snugly, early morning snooze feed and he usually feeds to sleep. 

I need to get together with some tandem feeders to work out positions for tandem feeding because he generally feeds in a cradle position, which will get in the way of the smallest.  Another job for the New Year!

But in the meantime, present wrapping.

1st January 2012 
Happy New Year it is then – or certainly a very busy one.  Christmas was quiet, and lovely, with a big kid well into the swing of things and a little kid who just loved the paper, boxes and the Christmas Tree decorations.  A lot.

I have such mixed feeling about handling “Santa” and all the Christmas “stuff”.  I hate trying to force Son #1 to write Christmas thank you cards.  I know he appreciates the gifts but like most children he just doesn’t want to take the time to say so.  I feel awkward about the whole “Santa” thing as we try (and often fail, to be fair) to be honest with him all the time, but to not go with it seems rather unfair too.  I tell myself it’s all a bit of fun, make sure that there’s gifts from us too (don’t want him to get all the credit!!) and just go with it.

It was fun seeing Son #2, at 1 ½, just starting to realise that something special was going on.  It was also the first time that we’ve been around a lot of family since he was tiny (the only seeing people at Wedding, Christenings, Funerals and the odd Christmas effect).  I was surprised that I was slightly uncomfortable about breastfeeding an 18 month old in front of people who didn’t know that I was “still” breastfeeding and who weren’t strangers.  It was fine but it wasn’t something I’d expected.

3rd January 2012 
“Booking In” appointment at the hospital today.  Following this experience we’ve decided that we are absolutely, without question going down the route of hiring an Independent Midwife.

Although the midwife that I saw was really lovely, I’ve come away with “high risk” highlighted on my notes.  Why?  Because:

a)      Last time my waters broke at 36 weeks, and
b)      I had a PPH after the birth of Son #2 which was marked on my notes as 500Mls (not technically a PPH) but was in fact a lot more of this (judged by my doula (mum), a retired midwife herself and the fact that I was nearly given a blood transfusion a few days after birth).

This means that if I transferred to hospital, or indeed planned a hospital birth, I’d automatically be pushed to have continuous foetal monitoring, no waterbirth, a managed third stage, probably augmentation of labour if I didn’t progress “fast” enough (which is unlikely as my labours are fast).  I’m under “shared care” which means that I’m under a consultant as well as a midwife.  Now this is all very well, and I appreciate that the NHS wants me and the baby to be healthy and well, but this just is not the way to go about it.

My waters breaking early before does not make me high risk per se.  If they break early again then the risk is to be dealt with at the time.

The PPH was clearly caused by a combination of the following factors:

  • I chose a physiological third stage.  This means that I didn’t want the artificial hormone to release the placenta which is given by injection to most women just after birth.  This then requires the uterus to continue to contract naturally which after a straightforward and non-augmented labour should be fine, but the Oxytocin levels need to be maintained after birth for this to work well.  This means keeping mum warm (very important), comfortable, relaxed and secure.  Not, as I was, pulled out of the birth pool, dripping wet, cold, naked and vulnerable which interfered with my body’s ability to contract and deliver the placenta.
  • With a managed third stage the injection is given and then it is important to ensure the fast removal of the placenta to avoid it being trapped.  Certain interventions can happen at this stage including various bits of messing around with the uterus externally and sometimes even pulling on the cord.  It is very, very important to not do this as a matter of course with a physiological third stage but unfortunately in the hospital environment many midwives don’t understand this, and assume that a physiological third stage just means not having the injection, and getting on with everything else.  It is likely that the messing around that was done to me triggered excessive bleeding.

None of this makes me high risk next time round as long as my birth attendants ensure that my third stage is treated with the respect it deserves.

I found the book by AIMS (Association for the Improvement in Maternity Services), “Birthing Your Placenta - The Third Stage” to be extremely helpful in my understanding of what is likely to have happened to me, and what I can do to avoid it in the future.

January 18th 2012 
Trustees meeting for UKAMB (UK Association for Milk Banking) today which was, as always, very interesting.  I’m a trustee of this brilliant charity and currently working with a wonderful volunteer web designer to create a new website.  I donated milk with Son #2 and I’m so glad that I did.  He had an undiagnosed tongue tie which was only found by Milk Matters when he was 6 months old.  I’d had a really tough time breastfeeding him as it was always painful, never a nice experience, at least for me (he is a major boob monster so I’m assuming he likes it!).  It was such a relief when Charlotte spotted his tongue and lip tie and the high arch palate which so often goes with it.  Because of the tongue tie he had to work extra hard to get milk which explained his ultra-long nursing sessions, but unlike some mothers in my situation whose milk production can be affected by inefficient milk removal, I’ve always had a strong milk supply.  It is likely that my daily expressing for the milk bank was enough additional stimulation to ensure a robust level of production.  Kind of a karma thing, I like to think!

January 19th 2012 
I’m about 25 weeks pregnant now so certainly over halfway.  I really have mixed feelings at this stage about that.  I’m so determined to really enjoy this, my final pregnancy (or at least that’s the plan!).  I want to remember every moment of feeling my little baby growing and wriggling.  I’m getting bigger, just starting to feel a bit uncomfortable, and a bit fed up of peeing at night but on the whole it’s just lovely! 

At the same time I just feel nervous about the idea of my waters breaking early again and want to get to term as soon as possible so that I know my baby’s ok.  That was the trigger for a week of horrible stress and worry, with lots of pressure from the hospital to go in for induction but a real frustration that there was no information at all given about the risks of induction, or indeed the size of the risk of not being induced and the potential for infection.

We spent 5 days in front of the computer, going from no knowledge about PROM (prolonged rupture of membranes) to knowing an awful lot about it!  We ended up with a great consultant who was very happy to talk through what we were learning but despite him being the senior consultant in the region it seemed that he had huge gaps in his knowledge!

For instance, he told us that being induced was the same as natural labour because the same muscles were being used, so it was no more painful.  I pointed out that in spontaneous labour the body is also flooded with endorphins which counter the experience of pain, and it’s not the actual level of pain that is important, it’s the perception of that level of pain.  He did concede this but I wonder how many other mums have been given this incorrect view of induction?  We discussed the risks of induction such as an increased risk of C-Section, or instrumental delivery (which are very high), versus the risks of waiting for spontaneous labour in the absence of any sign of infection (which increases the risk of extremely serious, possibly deadly infection to the baby but the risk of this happening in any case is absolutely miniscule).  None of these things were offered for discussion; everything was brought up by us. 

He also had no knowledge of the risks to the baby’s gut of IV antibiotics in labour.  He did not mention at any time the risk to the life of the mother from anaphylactic shock, and that the number of women who die from prophylactic and almost certainly unnecessary IV antibiotics in labour is not hugely different to the number of babies who die following delivery when an infection is present.  He did not mention the diverse range of medical opinion over whether, indeed, the antibiotics significantly improve the outlook of babies statistically.  He did not mention the babies who die from infection post birth not from the birth itself but from contracting something completely separate within the hospital but with an bacteria that cannot be treated because the antibiotics given to ward off an infection that may have not been there in the first place have caused resistance in the bacteria that is now making the baby sick.  And he did not know about thrush, and how painful thrush in the milk ducts is, and that antibiotics can make the likelihood of contracting thrush much more likely.

There is no right or wrong choice when something happens such as premature and/or prolonged rupture of membranes, Group B Strep infection (although treated with IV antibiotics in labour) and other “higher” risk factors.  All parents must make their own choice for themselves.   What I find so upsetting is that the information to make these informed choices is just not given.  Waters break and mothers are “on the clock”.  They are told that induction is important “to avoid infection”.  They are not told why, and this, to me, is a travesty. 

24th January 2012 
I decided to pop along to my NHS midwife to see if I could talk to her about borrowing one of the community birthing pools.  Unfortunately the surgery messed up and while I’d asked for an appointment specifically with the midwife that I’d hoped would be able to be at my birth, it turned out that she was on holiday.  So I saw her colleague – another community midwife who could just as easily be the one on call when my time comes.

I asked her about the birthing pools.  Her reaction?  “You have to speak to ‘M’ about that – she’s the one who is into that home birthing stuff!!”

Thank goodness we’ve signed on with the Independent Midwife.  I knew I was with the right person when we both sat nursing our toddlers at the booking-in appointment!

30th January 2012 
Peer support update training.  Very useful but I was finding it hard to sit for the whole 2 hours in a low, “comfy” chair and had to switch to a more upright, firm one.  I’m definitely getting bigger!

4th February 2012 
That’s it, I’m off to buy some maternity clothes!  I am alternating between a lovely, comfy pair of maternity trousers from last time and a seriously tatty pair of jogging bottoms.  I’ve not got enough tops, although finding nursing maternity tops is tough anyway!  We’re going to York to Paul Stride, a nursery shop which sells a really good range of rear facing toddler seats because I want to get ours checked for fit as we’ve bought a new car ready for the new arrival (it’s tough to find one with three proper seats at the back that isn’t an SUV!).  There’s a water park there which we’ll take the boys to, and afterwards I’ll go across to the retail park and do some shopping.  Wish me luck… I hate shopping!


Well hurrah, success.  Toddler seat was fitted properly (phew), water park was loved by all (note to self, swim more, it feels great to take the weight off the bump) and I’ve bought 2 nursing tops which are really long and cover my bump really well, a nursing tank which can be worn under a normal top but covers my huge belly, and the most comfy pair of maternity trousers ever created.  Nice one Mama and Papas.

Shame the rest of the store was filled with very, very pretty, very, very expensive and almost totally unnecessary “stuff” which shouts “buy me” very loudly.  OK, so most people want a cot.  Some babies never sleep in it, others use them from day one until well into toddlerhood.  We have a cot.  Son #1 slept in his cot from 2 weeks old, in his own room and Son #2 has never slept more than 5 minutes in it (once we managed to pop him in when he was deeply asleep but he almost immediately woke up and screamed blue murder).  Baby number three will join us in our bed and we’ll play it by ear from there – although if they do prefer their own space it will be in the cot next to us, not in their own room.

But is it really necessary to have a cot, all the trimmings, a matching moses basket, matching mobile, soft toys, curtains, floor mat, nappy changing mat, nappy stacker…? 

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong at all with choosing to buy these things.  It can be such a huge pleasure to go and buy beautiful nursery items and have everything waiting for your baby to come and complete the picture.  But I just wish that it wasn’t seen as necessary.

9th February 
I covered a breastfeeding group today as the peer supporter.  I get so broody looking at the little babies.  It’s a good job I’m pregnant!  I do really enjoy it but I really do feel that sometimes it’s frustrating when I can’t “fix” everything.  Fortunately we have a brilliant NCT breastfeeding counsellor/IBCLC in our region, and a small team of IBCLC qualified lactation consultants from the PCT as well as a large team of paid and volunteer peer supporters.  It worries me, though, how few people know the differences between the different people who offer help – although not surprising.  There is no legal protection for the term “breastfeeding counsellor”, few people know what the term “peer supporter” is so often they assume that a peer supporter is a breastfeeding counsellor and very few people know what IBCLC means.  Fortunately, Milk Matters have a useful page on it all here:

21st February 
Midwife appointment again with my fabulous Independent Midwife, Debs from Wharfdale Independent Midwifery.  As always she stayed for well over her 1 ½ hours and went through all sorts of questions with me.  I was being called in for my 28 week blood tests and when I’d spoken to the NHS midwife about them, she just couldn’t give me any useful information about what was being tested. She did mention that it included rhesus antibody testing but I pointed out that I am rhesus positive and this is my last baby anyway, so, I asked, was there any need?  Her only answer was, “it’s up to you” which wasn’t at all helpful in helping me to make an informed decision.  Fortunately Debs was there to go through it all and help me to come to the right decision for us.  It’s a non-intrusive test (if you can call a needle non-intrusive), meaning that it’s not going to affect the baby or me in any way, but it’s another thing to fit into the diary and that’s not easy right now!

22 February 
UKAMB trustee meeting today.  We’ve decided to get the new website live by the beginning of March – eek!  Very exciting to actually get it up there though (to be seen at  We are so lucky to have a fabulous volunteer who has done almost all the work on it for us (thanks Rebecca!).  Hoping to make it a really useful resource for all potential and current donors of breastmilk, hospitals, milk banks and health care professionals.

28th February 
Hypnobirthing session!  Well this is new.  I did something relaxing!  And it was lovely.  I’m really hopeful that it will be useful in labour but finding the time to actually practise it (and practise is key) is going to be really, really tricky.  I definitely recommend it though!  As much as anything to just have a break in the day!

10th March 
Sheffield Home Birth Conference! 
What a brilliant day.  I was on the UKAMB stand with Gillian Weaver (one of UKAMB’s founders) and also had the opportunity to listen to all the talks as well.  The visitors were mostly either midwives or student midwives and they all got to hear about the effects on the critical hormonal components of a natural birth of standard “interventions” such as just going into hospital, pain-relief drugs, artificial rupture of membranes and just being around people that the mum doesn’t know. 

It was a wonderful day with everyone learning so much about the way that birth is a hormonal event, using the analogy of sex.  If we had to “perform” under bright lights, in hospital, with random people coming in and out to check on progress and threatening us with drugs if we didn’t get on with it I’m not sure that many babies would be being born at the other end of it all!

We had loads of interest on the UKAMB stand with lots of people going away with information on donor breastmilk banking and why it’s so essential for the health of premature and sick babies.  We had an amazing boobie cake donated by my friend Victoria which we raffled off to raise funds for the charity.  A very successful day all round!

11th March 
Eeek, lugging those boxes around and standing around all day has done nothing for my pelvis.  Ouch!

15th March
Great.  I’m supposed to be giving a presentation today, together with one of our regional Lactation Consultants, for people who have passed the council’s “Eatwell” award – a way of encouraging catering outlets to offer healthy options on their menu.  The award includes asking the outlet to be breastfeeding friendly, but with the Wakefield Breastfeeding Welcome Scheme now launched we wanted to make it a bit more in depth, and also bring companies onto the scheme where possible.  However, I’ve pretty much lost my voice and I feel really rubbish.  Just a cold but still, it’s a nuisance.  Well, here goes, I’ll do my best.

Later… well other than sounding pretty odd the whole day went really well.  We got several companies signing up and lots of interest which is fantastic.  All we need now is some funding!  Off to bed – I’m shattered.

16th March 
Had to cancel my hypno session today as I just feel rubbish.  Lots of Braxton Hicks going on and I’ve been finding it quite hard to sleep at night as well.  This cold I started with last week is really taking hold and I think I’m heading towards chest infection territory.  I usually shake things off quickly but being pregnant lowers your immunity to help to stop the body from rejecting the foreign genes in the baby.  Really feeling rotten and just exhausted.  Is it being ill or is it being very pregnant?

19th March 
Went to docs this morning as I’m convinced I now have a chest infection, ear infection and probably a sinus infection.  I am exhausted and am sleeping 2-3 hours a day, and just can’t do anything without it wearing me out.  I’m in awful pain across my ear, around my eyes and a horrible headache and I’m coughing badly, too.  Doctor says it’s just a viral infection so I suppose I’ll have to wait it out.  I’m not the world’s best patient though!

Midwife back again this afternoon.  Slight concern that the baby, at just 34 weeks, is now definitely engaged which I’d thought was the case as my bump has dropped significantly and pressure has lessened on my lungs (good timing with my cough) but I can really feel it in the pelvic area.  Not good when I’m coughing a lot, having that lump on my bladder!

So all out now for getting the last few things sorted out.  Pool arriving in a couple of weeks and my friend is sorting some girls and boys newborn clothes out for me.  I’d always expected an earlier arrival but I really do hope it’s not just yet.  34 weeks is too soon L

22nd March 
Feeling utterly terrible so my lovely hubby took some time off work and drove me to the health centre.  We were lucky to see a fabulous prescribing nurse, who knew about the Breastfeeding Network’s drugs in breastmilk line ( and was able to ensure that what I was given was safe for both breastfeeding and in pregnancy!  She said that I was in fact right, I had a serious ear infection (no wonder I was so ouch), sinus infection and a chest infection.  Given me some antibugs and hopefully they’ll start to work soon.  Maybe I feel so rough because I really am ill, not just pregnant!

25th March 
Finally, the antibugs are working and I’m starting to really, really feel so much better!  I can actually do things with my todder without feeling horrendous and we can turn Cbeebies off!  Definitely it was being ill, not being pregnant, although at nearly 35 weeks I’m starting to really feel the weight, not to mention that bowling ball in the pelvis sensation.  I’m getting nervous about tandem feeding again after a friend has had a gorgeous little girl and her toddler, a few months older than mine, has gone milk mad!  My son’s latch is pretty poor so I hope I can cope with it.

28th March 
Birth pool arriving by the end of the week and my friend has given me my birth ball back and lent me her TENS machine.  Just need to get practising with the hypnobirthing now and hope that the little one hangs in there a bit longer… 


  1. so how many weeks are you?!

  2. Congratulations! :) My first two are 18 months apart, with pregnancy achieved with the first ovulation. It was a surprise, to say the least.

    You have encouraged me to take a pregnancy test, actually, b/c my youngest is 18 months old and I haven't had a period yet! I, too, have been looking out for signs of ovulation, but they might have passed me by as well.

    Good luck to you!

  3. Lovely reading this! I still feel like a wally asking my doctor about xraying my pelvis to see if I can vbac and him asking if we are ttc and me answering rather sheepishly soon. I will keep up on your story Emma!x

  4. Hi! How is the best way to get in touch with you please? Emma x

  5. Haven't seen this before but loved reading it, thannks for sharing.

    Fab sex/labour analogy, will be stealing that ;)

    If you have time and there are any near you, I can thoroughly recommend Lazy Daisy antenatal classes - some hypnobirthing elements but also movements for birth, breathing techniques, active birth education etc.

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  7. Is the rest of this story somewhere here?


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