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Preparing for Birth

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      09.02.2010 13:02
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      The birth is the easy part, actually looking after the baby is when it gets scary

      As this category is called preparing for birth I tried to think about everything I did when I was preparing for the birth of my daughter.

      I borrowed lots of books, read lots of magazines and found any and every website about pregnancy and labour that I could. I found lots of hints about preparing your body and panicked quite frequently that I was not doing enough pelvic floor exercises. Apparently as well as helping you to not pee yourself every time you laugh, sneeze or even move the wrong way, they are supposed to help you strengthen the muscles you use when you push the baby out. I kept forgetting to do these and was convinced my baby would get stuck because I wouldn't be able to push hard enough and I would then end up an incontinent wreck. Neither of these things happened thankfully. I would still recommend you do them though just in case 'cause who wants to be sat in a wet patch every time they laugh.

      The thing that helped me the most though was reading as many real life labour stories as I could find and trying to prepare myself for every eventuality. I've got to say I read more of the ones that went wrong than the ones that were plain sailing as I just wanted to know what could go wrong just in case. I would recommend you do read the stories of the ones who had it easy though as then you know its not all bad.

      So to help you prepare for your birth experience here's mine - and luckily mine was one the of the easy ones.

      I could go on for ages and go into every detail but I'll try not to bore you too much, this is the shortened version.

      At 39 weeks and 4 days pregnant and thinking nothing was ever going to happen I woke up one morning and had what I presumed was my show. This is basically the mucus plug coming away from your cervix - lovely! I was unsure whether this was actually what it was so spent an hour googling to try and reassure myself. On doing this I discovered that if it was the mucus plug it could still be days before I actually gave birth so I carried on a normal. I rang my husband and told him just in case but I wasn't holding out much hope that my daughter would put in an appearance too quickly.

      Fast forward to that evening. We were preparing tea at around 6pm and I started to have a very mild back ache so went into the living room to have a sit down. Before I could sit down I got a sharp pain and leant again the arm of the settee and within a split second my waters broke. I'd always wondered what this would feel like and my midwife kept reassuring me that it was very uncommon for them to go with one big gush but that is what happened. I let out a yelp and my husband shouted at me to get in the kitchen so it didn't go all over the carpet! So I ended up leant against the sink stood in a pool of water. There was just so much of it and it kept coming and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Gradually it slowed down but then every time I moved or had a contraction it would gush again. My contractions seemed to start as soon as my waters broke but they didn't really hurt, it was just a bit like a tight feeling and they were easily manageable and about 20 minutes apart. Wonderful I thought, if it stays like this it'll be a doddle!

      After I'd managed to get over the shock of this happening. I rang the hospital who said they would send someone out to check me over when he had finished his sandwich. No rush then! So 2 hours later a male midwife showed up. Must have been a big sandwich! I was a bit put off by the fact that he was male but he didn't really examine me just asked a load of questions and basically just said I looked like I was coping fine and to carry on as I was and ring the hospital if my contractions got closer together.

      So I had my tea and watched some TV all while either sitting or standing on a thick layer of towels just in case. The contractions gradually got closer together but were still not too painful. We went to bed at around half past ten I didn't really sleep but managed to rest and doze a bit between contractions. I timed them on my husbands phone and wrote down how long they were and how far apart they were. I wanted to stay at home as long as possible and managed to do this till about half past 4 in the morning. The contractions were then about 5 minutes apart and getting quite painful. So I rang the hospital and they told me to come in.

      When I arrived they examined me and told me I was 4 centimetres dilated and it could be a while. I got so annoyed and though I should have stayed at home and expected to be there for hours. So I had bath to help the pain and got into my manky old nightie that I was going to give birth in. I bounced around on a birth ball for a while and fell asleep sat on it with my head on my husbands knee - unusual position but it was so comfy at the time. Eventually the midwife suggested I try some gas and air just to take the edge off. This was so much fun and I wish I'd done it sooner. I could still feel the pain but it didn't bother me any more. Everything seemed so funny too and I couldn't help but laugh at anything and everything and kept saying lots of strange things but I didn't care. I was actually enjoying myself, despite being able to hear a woman screaming in the next room!

      Everything was a bit of a blur after this, time seemed to pass quite quickly and the midwife kept popping in and out. My husband went for some breakfast and I just carried out puffing on the gas wondering if we could get one to take home with us!

      Eventually the midwife came in and suggested that after the next contraction I should try and get up and go to the loo. So when the next one eased off I tried to stand up. As soon as I stood I felt massive pressure down below and a huge urge to push. I couldn't help it, my body just kind of took over. The midwife looked at me and said "Are you pushing?" I said yes and she had a bit of a panic and threw me back on the bed. There was a lot of fussing going on and they shouted for another midwife and I just carried on pushing because I had no control. The other midwife was trying to get the trolley ready for cleaning the baby but didn't have time. After 3 pushes and 6 minutes of active labour my daughter was out at 10.20am. 5 minutes later I delivered the placenta and presumed the worst was over.

      Due to the fact that she flew out so quickly I tore a little bit and needed some stitches. Now that really hurt!!! It was so much more painful than the actual labour and seemed to take forever. However, I managed to just focus on my gorgeous little daughter and that made everything worthwhile.

      After the stitches I had a bath and we were basically left to get to know our new addition.

      So don't panic and scare yourself with horrific birth stories. It's not all bad, just think about what you're going to have at the end of it all. The birth is painful but that's the easy part. The hard part comes when you take your little one home and wonder what the hell you're going to do now!!

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        22.06.2009 15:21
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        It's worth it in the end

        I couldn't decide under which topic title to write this (I was overdue, went with the NHS and had an emergency c-section, that's three possible topics already!) so I thought I'd write it here. Hopefully my experience will help those preparing to give birth, as I know I was keen to hear of any birth stories when I was expecting.

        Be prepared for a long read, I apologise in advance!

        So let's start at the very beginning (a very good place to start!)

        ~ Can you see a line? ~

        So let's go back to June 2008. We had just moved house and were well into planning our December wedding when I started to feel unwell. I didn't think anything of it and dismissed it as either a bug or something stress related (I thought wedding planning was supposed to be fun!) However after having a couple of days off work feeling unusually lethargic and vomiting for England, I returned to work, not particularly feeling any better but couldn't really afford to take too much time off work. My boss asked was I feeling any better and I admitted I wasn't, still feeling nauseous and extremely tired. She looked at me and said "oo you're not pregnant are you?" I laughed, and said "oh I hope not, I'm getting married in 7 months!"

        It was all very amusing until I did a quick mental calculation of dates. Amusement quickly turned into panic. Was it really 6 weeks since my last period? Oh pants. So lunch time came around and I talked to a colleague I'm particularly close to and told her of my predicament. She sneakily bought a pregnancy test on my behalf (working in a pharmacy has its advantages and disadvantages; I didn't want to be the subject of staff room gossip!) and I dragged her back to my house (only 5 minutes away) while I did the test. Who knew pee-ing on a stick could conjure up so many emotions?! And as you can probably tell, that little line appeared. Only very faint though so I took another test just to make sure. Yep. Definitely pregnant.

        Now what? A thousand questions ran through my mind. I'd always known I wanted to be a mum, but the timing certainly wasn't great. I was due to get married in seven months (in Austria I should also add). Would I be able to get insurance? Could we afford a baby? What my fiancé say? Cut a long story short: yes I could get insurance, the wedding could go ahead (although my beautiful wedding dress would have to go), my fiancé was thrilled and we would "just have to manage" financially. I could finally begin to be excited about the prospect of a new addition to our family.

        ~ Antenatal appointments ~

        I attended all the regular routine antenatal appointments, check ups and scans. I made a doctors appointment and told him I'd done a pregnancy test and it had shown up positive and so an appointment was made. I was expecting him to do a check himself, but no, they just took my word for it. What if I was wrong? What if the four (yes, I didn't stop at two, a girl needs to be sure on these things!) pregnancy tests I took were wrong? He just congratulated and told me an appointment would be made for me to see my midwife in a couple of weeks time.

        My midwife appointment was also not what I expected. The midwife was a big burly woman with a sickly sweet, insincere sounding voice. She talked me through all the questions, last period, will the father be involved, etc etc. The problem was I found her incredibly patronising. I may have been young in some people's eyes (I was approaching my 23rd birthday) but I'm reasonably intelligent, I have a lot of experience with children and babies (I completed a three year child nursing degree) and I was due to be married the following winter. I didn't expect to be talked to like a 14 year old who'd been knocked up by a stranger on a park bench.

        It got worse. When deciding what consultant I should be under she um-ed and ah-ed between two and then looked at me and said "We'll put you with 'X' as 'Y' doesn't like fat women". I was speechless! Ok, as a size 16 I'm not going to rival Kate Moss in the skinny stakes but this came from a woman who looked perfectly capable of eating me whole! She was double my size! Despite this, what a thing to say to a newly pregnant emotionally charged woman! This set the tone for all my midwife appointments. She was constantly rude, patronising and disorganised and I regularly came home from my appointments upset.

        My pregnancy progressed scarily quickly, my scans showed that everything was fine and that our little addition was going to be a boy. Fast forward to four weeks before my due date, March 10th. I started to have antenatal appointments every week as is the norm at that stage. Imagine my delight when with three weeks to go, I walked in to find a completely new midwife I had never seen before! Hurrah! She was everything I felt a midwife should be; motherly, reassuring and an all round lovely lady. She told me that our baby's head had dropped and it was a case of any day now. I was beyond excited. I got home, phoned my hubby (we were married by that point) and my mum and told them what she's said.

        Two weeks later, nothing. Nada. My due date came and went. Still nothing. I was beginning to become disheartened. Why didn't he want to come out? I had an antenatal appointment a day after my due date. I walked in and to my dismay, there she was. The burly beast. Great. She did all the routine examinations, blood pressure, urine check, baby's heartbeat, and everything was normal. I then, in a moment of stupidity, decided to ask her a question. "Is there any indication of how long it's going to be now?" She looked at me pityingly. "No dear, because then we'd be clairvoyants not midwives". Right. Thanks for that.

        The delightful woman also led my antenatal classes. My husband suggested more than once that she was in the job because she was sadist and enjoyed women's pain and discomfort, not for the joy of bringing life into the world. She gleefully told us in graphic detail how difficult labour could be and seemed to revel in talks of cuts, tears and episiotomies. We were all sat there looking around at each other, traumatised and horrified. I went home and cried. I wasn't going to be able to do it. My poor husband tried to comfort me, "of course you can, people wouldn't have lots of children if it was that bad". Pah. What did he know?"

        ~ Overdue, fat and miserable ~

        After the delightful "clairvoyant" comment, the midwife from hell asked whether I would like a "sweep" in the next couple of days. A what? I'd never heard of one. She looked at me like I was a moron and said "a membrane sweep that might help to stimulate labour". Um. Ok. I really had no idea what I was agreeing to but anything that would bring me closer to my little one sounded ok to me.

        That is, until I googled it.

        "While internally examining you, she will simply "sweep" a finger around your cervix. The aim is to separate the membranes around your baby from your cervix. This releases hormones called prostaglandins, which may kick-start your labour. A membrane sweep increases the likelihood that labour will start within 48 hours. A membrane sweep can be uncomfortable as the cervix is often difficult to reach before labour begins. Some women find the procedure painful so you may want to try out your breathing techniques to help your relax while it's being done. There may also be some slight "spotting" of blood and irregular contractions immediately afterwards"
        (Taken from babycentre.co.uk)

        She wants to do what?! The only words that registered were "uncomfortable", "painful" and "spotting of blood". The thought of this sadistic burly beast internally examining me at all made me want to hide in the corner and cry. I prayed that I would go into labour before then. Of course I didn't. However much to my complete joy and relief, the beast was on holiday that day and a different midwife carried out the procedure.

        I have to be honest. It was painful but it didn't last too long. She allowed me to maintain my dignity and made the situation as stress free as was possible under the circumstances. She told me that it may work, but it may not, every woman is different, and made me an appointment for the 20th March, ten days after my due date. I was praying I wouldn't need to go, because I'd have given birth by then.

        Nope. I got the occasional twinge but that was it. I started researching ways to naturally induce labour, pineapple, curry, raspberry leaf tea, sex...we tried everything. Still no baby. So I dragged my miserable self back to the midwife. The beast was back. She told me she'd try and book me in to be induced. The next available date was on the 25th March, meaning I'd be 15 days overdue by then. Inwardly groaning, I thanked her and went on my merry way.

        I read about being induced, some good stories, some completely horrifying ones, so naturally it was the horrifying ones I took notice of. I was absolutely terrified. I'd heard how it made the pains stronger and more intense as it was forcing your body to do something that it wasn't doing naturally. Super. As if I wasn't scared enough.

        ~ Induction~

        So the 25th March soon came round, and of course, still no baby. I was told to arrive at the ward on 8.30am to be assessed. I arrived there on time and was greeted by a grumpy midwife who showed me and the hubby to my bed space and left us there for 30 minutes while I became increasingly terrified. What was it about grumpy midwives in Warrington?

        I eventually was assessed at around 9:15am. I was internally examined and told I was 2cm dilated and when put on the contraction monitor they told me I was actually contracting naturally, so they didn't want to induce me as it appeared it would all happen naturally. I thought this was weird as I couldn't feel anything at all. No pains. No twinges. Buy hey, they're the professionals. So me and hubby sat around for 4 hours until the midwife came back to see us. Any progress? We told her there wasn't so she sent us for a walk around the hospital and that we could take as long as we wanted as I'd only need to be assessed in another four hours unless something happened. So we trudged around the hospital grounds, had some food in the café, walked a bit more. Still nothing. I was beginning to get annoyed. What was the point in being there if they weren't going to do anything? I may as well be at home.

        8pm came round and still nothing. A different midwife had started her shift and was assigned to me. Finally a nice one! She examined me and told me I was still 2cm dilated. Great. She told me that in the morning she'd arrange to have my waters broke and I'd be put on the drip that was used to stimulate and speed up contractions. She asked if I was comfortable and whether I required pain relief. I didn't but it was nice to finally have someone who was interested. My husband was asked to leave at 9am and I cried when he left, making him feel terrible but the rules are the rules. The nice midwife told me to get some sleep because I had a busy day ahead. Yeah right. Sleep? I think I slept for about 3 hours, I tossed and turned all night.

        The next morning I had my breakfast and bang on 9am I was told I was being taken up to delivery suite to have my waters broken and I would stay there until baby arrived. Finally, we were getting somewhere! I firstly had to be examined again. The midwife that was assigned to me up there had a good go, making me cringe with the pain and then popped her head up to inform me she couldn't actually find my cervix. Um, what? It was there yesterday! She then called a doctor and another midwife to help her out. Oh please, invite as many people as you can to have a peak, I left my dignity at home! The doctor (who, incidentally, was lovely) had no problem locating my cervix and informed me it was still refusing to budge from its 2cm. While she was "down there" she broke my waters so she wouldn't have to invade me twice. I was really nervous about having it done, especially as she showed me the metal instrument with a hook at the end. You want to put that up where?! But, true to her word I barely felt anything but the gush as my waters broke. From what I'd seen on TV, I'd always assumed that it would be one big gush and that would be it but the doctor informed me that it could come gradually a bit at a time. A very weird sensation. I felt like I was wetting myself.

        The doctor then put a cannula in my hand and set me off on the drip. I was strapped to the contraction monitor which showed any tightening as well as the baby's heartbeat. The contractions started quickly and started to come every two minutes, each one increasing in intensity. The drip kept being upped to keep my contractions coming regularly. During this time the midwife that had been seeing to me left and was replaced by a new one. A completely lovely one which was a nice surprise.

        ~ Pain and how to manage it ~

        My mum had a horrible time when she had Pethidine during her first labour with my sister; she had hallucinations and struggled to bond with my sister when she was born due to feeling "spaced out". Although I was aware that medication affects people in different ways, I wasn't keen on trying it. I'd also heard horror stories about epidurals and I also didn't want one of those either. I had read up on pain relief options whilst I was pregnant and decided to loan out a TENS machine from Mothercare for about £30. A TENS machine (Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulator) delivers small electrical pulses to the body via electrodes placed on the skin and are thought to affect the way pain signals are sent to the brain, meaning that if pain signals can be blocked then the brain will receive fewer signals from the source of the pain. I thought anything was worth a try.

        When the pains started I realised that everyone had been talking about. I can't lie, they hurt. A lot. The only way I can describe it is it feels as though someone is squeezing your womb from the inside. Very hard! You feel them starting and they increase in intensity until they reach their peak, and then they start to decrease. I started using my TENS almost straight away. I don't want to go into too much detail as I have done a separate review on my TENS but what I will say is that while I felt it didn't necessarily ease the pain, it distracted me from it, which made the pain more manageable.

        However after a couple of hours I began to struggle to manage the pain and asked if I could have any pain relief. The midwife offered me a shot of morphine in my leg. I cannot recommend it highly enough! It was amazing! I felt the effects really quickly and while the pain didn't disappear completely, it made it feel distanced from it. As morphine also is known for causing drowsiness I felt myself drifting off to sleep, something that my midwife encouraged to help keep my strength up for later on.

        ~ Alarm sets in ~

        And so it went on for a couple of hours. The contractions continued to come every 1-2 minutes and I was praying that something was happening. After a few hours my midwife seemed to become concerned with the reading from the monitor. It seemed that every time I had a contraction my baby's heartbeat would drop significantly. The fact she was concerned alarmed me. She got a doctor to come in and review the readings and they agreed that he was becoming distressed. The doctor recommended that I was examined again because, according to them, I could be well on my way and not have long to go. I prayed he was right. So yet again I was prodded and poked while I prayed I was at least 8cm dilated. The doctor looked at me and said "2cm". WHAT?!? Still?! I felt myself begin to cry. All that pain, all that effort, for what? Not even one lousy cm. The doctor and the midwife went to the corner of my room to discuss options. They returned and the doctor told me my options. 1) I could continue as I was until the next morning and they would continue to monitor us both. If the baby continued to be appear distressed I would have to have a caesarean. Option 2) I could opt to have a caesarean straight away. I was that exhausted and frustrated I opted for option 2. If I could end up needing a c-section anyway, why put my baby, and myself, through another 12 hours agony.

        The doctor agreed with my decision and told me he'd go and arrange the consent forms. I asked the midwife how long I'd have to wait for the operation, her reply was "about ten minutes". That quickly! She had just enough time to prepare me for it, answer any questions, change me into a theatre gown and I was on my way.

        ~ The op ~

        Due to everything happening so quickly I didn't really have time to stress myself out. I was wheeled into theatre and given my consent form to sign while the doctor told me all the complications and what would happen. The atmosphere in there was relaxed and friendly and I could feel myself de-stressing. I was going to see my baby soon!

        The anaesthetist told me he was going to use a needle in my back to temporarily paralyse me so I couldn't feel anything from the waist down. It was uncomfortable but I was used to uncomfortable by that point. He ensured it was appropriately numb by applying cold water to my body and told me to mention when I could stop feeling it. This reassured me no end as I was beginning to panic I'd be able to feel everything!
        I was told I'd have a catheter put in (nice!) and a small incision would be made and my baby would be out in about 10 minutes.

        My husband was given "scrubs" and a theatre hat to wear and sat next to me, telling me how brave I was and how proud he was of me. A sheet was put up so we didn't have to watch the horrors that were going on down there. The lovely theatre assistant told me I wouldn't feel any pain but it may feel like someone's washing the dishes inside me. I couldn't describe the sensation any better! It was bizarre but not uncomfortable or painful in any way. The surgeon told my husband to stand up just as they pulled our son out. He sat back down and looked at me and told me "he's perfect". I instantly burst into tears!

        They took my son away while I was being sewn up. It took a minute or so before he began to cry, the longest minute of my life! After what felt like an eternity my little man was finally brought to me, all wrapped up in a little blanket. I was instantly smitten. Pain? What pain? None of it mattered now he was here. There are just no words to explain the rush of love I felt.

        I was wheeled into recovery where the midwife showed me how to breastfeed and she dressed him in his little baby grow and sleep suit. It was amazing to see the clothes I'd bought months ago actually being filled by or son! The midwife told me I'd be taken back to the ward I'd started on the day before (oh no!) She advised me that as soon as I felt any sensation returning to my legs, to ask for painkillers as they would take a while to kick in.

        ~ After care ~

        We got back to the ward and as it was now 11pm, it was past visiting time so my hubby had to go home. I was so disappointed, our baby was only an hour old, I wanted him to stay! That first night was difficult, it was hard to hear my baby cry and not be able to reach him as I still had no feeling in my legs. Add that to the fact I was absolutely exhausted!

        I gave birth on the Thursday night and stayed in hospital until the Sunday. The aftercare I found was a bit hit and miss. As I mentioned in my breast feeding review I struggled to breastfeed and I felt I was constantly being fobbed off. One of the midwives was really helpful and understanding, the others made me feel like a nuisance.

        I was also annoyed with one of the health care assistants. She was offering everyone tea or coffee and as I don't drink either, I asked whether she could please top up my water jug. Her reply was "yes, the taps over there" and pulled the curtain back round me. I had a drip (due to become dehydrated), a catheter, and couldn't get out of bed! I had to wait for my hubby to arrive to do it for me. I found her a bit rude throughout my stay here,

        The pain relief side of things was very good. I was given morphine initially and gradually ended up on Paracetamol and Diclofenac which managed my pain quite well. I was given stock of these to take home.

        The midwives made sure we were happy in caring for our son, such as bathing him and feeding him, before I was allowed to be discharged. I couldn't wait to get home! My son had his hearing check and was checked over by the paediatrician while I was seen by the physiotherapist and advised what I should and shouldn't be doing.

        When I eventually got home I found that I managed easier than I thought. My husband helped a lot with lifting and things and I felt comfortable moving around and walking after a couple of weeks. My scar healed nicely, its barely even noticeable now.

        At my 6 week check I was informed that I had the option to opt for an elective c-section for subsequent pregnancies but it was also possible I'd be able to give birth naturally.

        ~ Summary ~

        I found my caesarean experience went really well, the only negative was the length of time it took to recover. It wasn't as scary as I imagined it would be. I was disappointed by some aspects of care, but I do realise in retrospect that the midwives were busy and not always available to be there for me 24/7. I cannot however justify any of the actions of my community midwife. She was just horrible.

        It's a lot of hard work being pregnant and giving birth but it's so completely worth it. My little one is three months old now and quite possibly the most loved little boy in the world.

        ~ Advice for pregnant first timers ~

        1) Do your birth plan but be prepared not to have everything go exactly to plan.
        2) Keep open minded about pain relief - there's no awards for suffering!
        3) Any questions you have, ask them. There's nothing worse than being kept in the dark
        4) Accept any support from friends and family after the birth, you'll be glad of the help!
        5) Remember that every contraction is one nearer to meeting your baby
        6) Go to all the antenatal classes and drag your man along too - I found it great having my husband know exactly what was going on
        7) Enjoy it! It can be hard work (that's why it's called labour!) but it really is a beautiful and moving experience

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          20.06.2009 19:42
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          only about a week to go cuz they inducing i think next wk sometime!

          Hi everyone!! I've just joined Dooyoo and I love it! I've read some beautiful birth stories which have really inspired me. I am 37 weeks pregnant at the mo with my first baby, and its been a pregnancy full of highs and lows. And now I am preparing myself for the big birth day - there have been moments when I've thought I just cant do it, and that my mother is right and I should have a C-section (mainly cuz she had difficult births) - and there have been times where I have felt I can do this, I am destined to give birth and be a mother, a woman - not just a little girl anymore.
          I know deep down that whatever birth I end up having will be the right one - the safest one and hopefully the most natural one, and that the decisions will be made by me and my sweet husband.
          I laughed out loud reading some of your stories and have found some of the tips really helpful too - thanks loads for them ;-)

          Lizi xx

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            23.03.2009 08:31
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            it isn't as bad as you think it will be!

            when i thought about trying for a baby i was worried about the birth - before we actually conceived so you can imagine how scared i was when i found out that i was pregnant!

            Well i quickly decided that there was nothing that i could do to change what ever was going to happen so i tried not to think about it too much - i think that this was the best way forward for me as by the time i was in labour i wasn't too scared!

            It sounds strange but i almost forgot about it - i think i was more focused on buying things for the baby - being pregnant ment that i had a whole new set of shops to go into !!

            The best preparation for birth and having a baby generally is sleep sleep sleep as when they arrive this will be lacking for a month or two and with hormones flying everywhere the lack of sleep added to this can be really hard.

            Thant and keep active - i went on lots of walks and think that this also helped!

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            06.02.2009 13:25
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            Hard work, very painful, but so worth it.

            I am conscious as I write this that most people reading it, will have already given birth. For most of us, giving birth is THE most amazing thing we have ever done - amazing both in a bad and also a fantastically good way. That's why we go on about it all the time, and love to read of other people's experiences.

            For the few who are reading it before giving birth - I think it can be summarised in the following way. The enormity of child birth only hits you when you are right in the middle of it. But by then, you won't have time to think about it. You've just got to get on with it! And the majority of the well meaning advice you received before hand is likely to be forgotten.

            But there are a few things you can do, and are perhaps useful to know. Here are a few of top tips based on my own experience.

            1. The most important thing (in my view) is to get your birth partner geared up to be your support and your advocate during labour. Whether it be husband, partner, friend or mum, you will need someone there to be thinking and speaking on your behalf.

            There is a lot that goes on during labour and you will be very busy. What sort of pain relief do you want? Is the gas and air working? Do you need to shift position? For me, during my first labour, I got upset that they kept asking if students could give me internal examinations. It was my husband who spoke up and told them 'no more.'

            Preparing the birth plan with your birth partner will really help them get tuned into the issues and what you want. They will then be better prepared to help you and speak up, should you need it.

            You probably won't stick to your birth plan. But at least having discussed it beforehand, ensures you are on the same wavelengh if and when there is a change of plan and decisions have to be made.

            Things get pretty busy in hospital - but you deserve professionals best treatment and attention and to be treated with respect. Sometimes this can be overlooked. Its then that your birth partner needs to speak up on your behalf.

            2. Re the pain.

            Childbirth is one of the few times in our lives when pain is a good thing.
            The muscles involved in childbirth are huge and immensely powerful. When they kick into action, its gonna hurt.

            There are three sets of muscles, vertical ones, horizontal ones and diagonal ones. They'll work in turn, firstly dilating you and then pushing the baby forward and out of your body. This is amazing stuff. Your body is stronger than you could ever imagine. But it is going to hurt. Probably an awful lot.

            So - whilst the intensity of the pain of contractions may surprise you, remember they are necessary and taking you forward to the birth of your baby.

            During my first labour, I was completely panicked about how much it hurt and tried to beat the contractions. I remember having this bizarre mental image of being in the TV Gladiators show and battling up the travellator, during each contraction. I was pretty fit then, and I do think I managed to prolong labour, by working against my own body. It was only when they gave me some pethidine, that I suddenly relaxed, and then things seemed to happen much quicker.

            Secondly, don't panic. If you can't cope with the pain, there will always be another form of pain relief. Pethidine did it for me, even during my home birth (third pregnancy). Some manage with just with gas and air. My sister fell in love with the doctor who administered her epidural.

            Finally, whilst a caesarean is a major operation, which needs to taken very seriously, they are also a very safe way of delivering your baby.

            So you are going to get through this. One way or another, your baby will be delivered.

            3. The bit where you going bonkers.

            Just before you commence the second stage and get ready to push, your body is flooded with a special hormone that kick starts the diagonal muscles in your abdomen. These are the real bad boys - so strong they are going to push that little human being out of your body.

            It is nature's cruel trick that the effect of these hormones can also be send you temporarily bananas. During my last pregnancy, I took off all my clothes and had the overwhelming sensation of having turned into a cow.

            During a previous pregnancy, I grabbed hold of my husbands collar and tie in a grip I had learnt from ju jitsui classes many years previous. No amount of persuasion would make me let go, though the midwife managed to loosen my grip sufficiently to allow him to breathe.

            However, on each occasion I rolled over onto my left side, without knowing why. I have since read that this is a very good position in which to give birth. So maybe I wasn't completely mad after all.

            Giving birth - no matter how you do it - will test you to your limits, but you will be up to it, with the assistance of those around you. You and your body are amazing and you are about to find this out.

            And nothing beats the wonderful feelings of exhaustion, happiness, peace and hope as you hold your baby for the first time.

            Jolly good luck.

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              25.01.2009 04:58
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              I loved giving birth - don't be afraid of this part but embrace it - and enjoy it.

              My experience of childbirth was good so read on!!....

              Firstly I got to the final realisation, a few months before giving birth, that come hell or high water the baby was coming out either by C-Section or normal delivery so I may as well not worry about it. This set me at ease. Basically even if I changed my mind about the whole business of having a baby I was still going to have to go through labour one way or another!

              What is childbirth like exactly? My research showed that it's different for all women. Some orgasm (lucky buggers!), others swear the pain is horrendous - and they couldn't possibly go through it again (but they do!), and others like me are fine and veritably sail through.

              The pain. Here's the big question that has us all worried first time around. How bad is it really. Well...maybe I have a high pain threshold but I do remember thinking whether or not the whole "excruitiating pain" thing was something made up by women who'd had a baby just to put the rest of us off.

              My direct experience of "pain" was...well...think of it in these terms....Have you ever had really bad diahorrea? The type where you just want to lie down on the cold floor and for it to stop - you feel hot/sweaty/feel like you want to faint - and you get stomach cramps. Most of us ...especially if you've been to India like I have... have had this.

              Well SURPRISE! Childbirth was exactly like that for me. I kind of went into a trance like state and went through all these feelings - then suddenly things changed and my body just started bearing/pushing down. I can only liken it to the way your body naturally pushes poo out! The body pushes the baby out in the same way - and I just sat there power breathing (!) and then my body just let out these big screams while my body pushed.

              Now...I always thought the pain got worse when the women screamed on the TV while they were giving birth. But for me it was no different to the diahorrea feelings of earlier - except that my body just insisted on screaming (presumably this is a natural instinct and helps push the baby out?). It almost sounded as if it wasn't me yelling but someone else.

              The doctors told me to shut up at first (charming!) because I couldn't possibly want to push as I'd only started contractions less than 1.5 hours beforehand - but they were wrong - my baby was coming (albeit 5 weeks prem!) and when they checked me they apologised and said the baby would be arriving within 5 minutes. No shit!! ;-)

              When she finally arrived I was so out of it (despite not having any drugs) that I just looked at her and didn't have use of my arms so the nurse turned her around so I could see my beautiful daughters face - then they whipped her away to the ICT to check she was OK since she was prem. That, in a nutshell (albeit a large nutshell) was my experience of giving birth. Hope that helps and good luck to you. xxx

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                06.01.2009 22:12
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                I personally can't wait to do it all again...

                As soon as you get a positive result on a pregnancy test, your life really does change. Whether planned or otherwise, if you're newly pregnant there are many things to do and think about in the months leading up to your baby's birth.

                A year ago (yesterday), I got what is known on pregnancy websites as a BFP (Big Fat Positive for those not in the know) on a Clearblue test and although it was planned and hoped for, it really was only the beginning of a very big adventure... Here are my tips and advice for what you can do to prepare for pregnancy, birth and beyond...

                The 1st Trimester:

                If you haven't already, it is probably wise to go to the Supermarket or Chemist and get some Folic Acid tablets. Ideally these should be taken before conception, but if your pregnancy was a surprise then taking them after you find out is okay. Folic Acid is very important and can prevent birth defects of the baby's brain and spine.

                After getting over the shock that you are actually going to become parents, the next thing to do is to make an appointment with your GP, who may give you a rough idea of your due date and let you know if there is anything that you should not be eating. In my area this is the first step as although your Doctor doesn't confirm the pregnancy, they do refer you to the Midwife. You will then see the Midwife regularly throughout your pregnancy and go for scans at your local hospital.

                Think about where you want to give birth - your nearest hospital is not always the only choice available to you. Perhaps you'd prefer a home birth or to go to a Birthing Unit instead? Also consider who you want your birth partner to be.

                If you're not really sure about what is happening to your body and how to deal with it, it may be wise to consider buying a Pregnancy book or magazine, as these usually tell you what is happening each week and what changes to expect. Alternatively, www.babycentre.co.uk and www.babyworld.co.uk have email newsletters that are sent weekly if you sign up.

                You may want to tell people your good news. Some people wait until after the 12 week scan, as the main 'danger' zone has passed, but it is a matter of personal preference. You may also want to inform your workplace, but you do not legally have to do so until the 15th week before the week that you are expecting your baby.

                The Second Trimester:

                The second trimester is a great time to start looking for those perfect names for your baby!

                Now is also a good time to look at your finances and try to save as much money as possible throughout your pregnancy to help when you are on Maternity leave. Alternatively you may want to buy things gradually - perhaps stock up on consumables such as toothpaste and baby wipes if these are on offer. Anything to reduce your shopping bill slightly during the months when you are off work will help! Now is a good time to think about when you would like your Maternity leave to start too, so you have a date to work towards.

                Lots of people also now start to buy baby equipment, so shop around for the best price and consider what the essentials are. There are a lot of gadgets and amazing contraptions on the market, but ask yourself what you really need and can afford. Babies actually need very little - is that cot bumper really necessary? Remember that you will probably get lots of gifts when the baby is born too... You may also want to get the nursery decorated and sorted, as you do not want to be doing this when you are tired and heavy in the last few weeks!

                If you haven't already done so, now is a good time to think about booking into Antenatal classes, either NHS ones or NCT ones if you prefer. These can be great sources of information and many people make friends through them too!

                The Third Trimester:

                If you are starting to get worried about the birth itself, it may help to do your research! If you are anything like me, then you will want to have the knowledge to make informed decisions and will want to be prepared for all eventualities. A good way of doing this is to write a Birth Plan detailing your wishes, but be warned - do not make this too set in stone! No one knows how your labour is going to go, so try to be open if possible. You might swear that you're going to do the whole thing on Gas and Air, but be screaming for an Epidural as soon as you get to the hospital!

                In addition to this, if you decide that you'd like to try using a TENS machine for pain relief, or perhaps try an alternative therapy such as aromatherapy or hypnobirthing this really needs to be organised/booked ASAP.

                As the big day approaches, you'll need to pack your hospital bag (even if you are having a home birth this is still a good idea, as you may need to be transferred if there is a problem). Remember to pack enough things for you and your baby, but don't go overboard. Important things to pack are your pregnancy notes, sleepwear, clothes for your baby including a hat, nappies, maternity pads and breast pads and toiletries to freshen up afterwards. You may also want to take change for the telephone, snacks for you and your birth partner and your camera to capture those special first moments!

                Some women choose to take Raspberry leaf tea or tablets from 30 weeks onwards. I personally took the tablets and felt that they helped. This is basically a herb, which although does not induce labour, may help to encourage a quicker one!

                Whilst you are waiting for your baby to arrive you may want to clean your home in preparation for your new arrival or to perhaps batch cook some food for your freezer. Things like lasagne work well and you will be grateful for this in the early days when you don't have time to cook nutritious meals from scratch!

                Finally, if you are overdue and getting a bit fed up then you may want to try to encourage your body to go into labour. There are numerous ways in which to do this, but none of them are really proven as your body will only go into labour when it's ready to! However you may want to give nipple stimulation, sex, walking, acupuncture or eating pineapple a go!

                I hope that this advice has helped a little. All that is left for me to say is 'Good Luck'! The time really does fly and it really is true -when your baby is delivered you really do forget the pain!

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                  05.01.2009 10:39
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                  Good luck xxx

                  Firstly, congratulations to anybody reading this who is about to become a parent for the first time. It is probably the most difficult but amazing experience of your life (and I'm talking about parenthood as a whole, not childbirth - that's the easy part!)

                  In many ways, the whole process of giving birth and becoming a parent isn't actually something that you can really be prepared for. You won't be prepared for the physical pain (labour hurts, it really hurts!), nor the strength of your own emotions when you finally start to bond with your new baby (whether that be immediately after birth or a few days later). When that moment comes, it will totally blow you away with its intensity and you know that everything you have been through was worth it. Having said that, a bit of preparation can't go amiss. Here are some of my tips based on my own personal experience. Feel free to accept those that you like the sound of and ignore those that you don't. Everybody is their own person and we all have different beliefs and ways of tackling things.


                  1. Physical Preparation

                  I'll get this over with early as it can be a bit gory thinking about your own body and what it goes through during pregnancy and labour.

                  From the moment you realise you are pregnant, I'd recommend massaging some sort of oil or cream into what was your flat belly and eventually becomes your bump. Health professionals do say that it doesn't actually make any difference to whether you get stretch marks or not, but it does make you feel good to be spending time pampering your own body, if nothing else. I've seen several reviews on here recommending Bio-Oil. I used a Boots own brand massage cream and ended up with lots of stretch marks from around week 36, so make of that what you will.

                  Pelvic floor exercises! I confess, I didn't do these and I thought you only had to do them whilst you are pregnant but, in fact, you're supposed to do these every day for the rest of your life after you've had a baby. Oops - that probably explains why I literally PMSL when I read funny reviews! If you can get into a regular routine whilst you're pregnant, it will probably make you more likely to continue after the birth and keep everything working properly down below.

                  Midwives also recommend perineal massage in the last few weeks before your due date. This is supposed to stretch the area between your two main orifices (sorry!) and make it more flexible - ideal for giving birth. In antenatal classes, it was even suggested that your other half could do the massage down there for you! I'm sorry - but the mere thought of my other half firkling away down below at 8 months' pregnant made me feel queasy. Then again, I did need episiotomies with both births so there may be some benefits to doing this, if you can face it.

                  I would also recommend drinking Raspberry Leaf Tea as this is reputed to speed up the labour process and encourage the baby arrive closer to their due date rather than later. In fact, it can be so strong and effective that pregnant women are advised not to start drinking it (or taking it in tablet form) until about 32 weeks into pregnancy. (Double check with your midwife as medical advice does change over time.) I took it from about 34 weeks into both my pregnancies. Whilst I can't say that it made the labours any shorter, both babies did arrive before their due dates (but not prematurely) so it avoided the horror of going past the 'date'. Raspberry Leaf tea-bags or tablets can be picked up from most health food shops.


                  2. Mental Preparation

                  By this I mean arm yourself with as much information about pregnancy, labour and early parenthood as you can digest but also be prepared to disregard a great chunk of it too. Ante-natal classes are invaluable. I'd recommend the NCT ones but any that you (and preferably your partner) can go to will be useful. Also try to have a good relationship with your community midwife and make sure you ask her questions about anything that you're not sure about. Don't worry about looking silly, they will have heard it all before.

                  You will be encouraged to draw up a Birth Plan as you get closer to the birth. This can be useful as it gives you the chance to consider some of the pain relief options available. Don't be too rigid on the specifics of the plan as you might have to rethink your options midway through your labour. I've gone through one labour without pain relief but there are no prizes for doing so!


                  3. Emotional Preparation

                  This can be by invloving your partner in the whole pregnancy experience (as men can get sidelined) and trying to make sure that your relationship is as strong as it can be - as pregnancy and parenthood can place a great strain on your relationship. Try to make as much time for each other whilst you're pregnant as time for you as a couple will be in very short supply once baby arrives.

                  Also try to make time to socialise (without the heavy drinking!) and catch up with old friends and relatives as you might not be in a position to be travelling or partying for a while. (I'm not trying to paint a really bleak picture of motherhood. It's just that your priorities and your focus will change once you have a baby, so it's nice to make the most of being just 'you' before you become 'Mummy' for ever!)


                  4. Practical Preparation

                  Try to buy any major purchases between the 3 month - 6 month period, as you won't feel like traipsing around shops when you're in the final trimester. You'll just want to be at home with your feet up. Alternatively, order big items online but get them set up well in advance of baby's expected arrival. Also practice setting up and using items like car seats, pushchair and baby slings etc.

                  Don't leave organising the baby's nursery until the last minute either - particularly if it needs painting, as some paints should be avoided whilst pregnant because of the toxins in them.


                  5. Financial Preparation

                  Having a baby can place a lot of pressure on your finances, particularly as you will most probably be losing a salary and adjusting to living on one wage! It's easy to get carried away with all the 'essentials' that a new baby must have. It's worth remembering that babies actually need relatively little. Draw up a list of the real essentials and set a realistic budget and stick to it. You will often find that relatives and friends will be more than happy to buy some of the major purchases as presents for the new baby and you might be offered lots of stuff from other parents. Don't turn anything down - just because it's been used before doesn't mean that it won't be worth having.

                  Also, have a look at your day-to-day outgoings and do those things that you've always meant to get around to - switch utility companies, change broadband providers, use cashback sites for any major purchases, cut back on those cappuccinos whilst in town etc, etc. If you can reduce your outgoings before the birth, it will help to ease the pressure once little one arrives.

                  Lastly....


                  6. Relax

                  Try to make time for yourself whilst you're pregnant. So much attention will be on your baby and your new role as a mother, that it's easy to neglect your own needs. Get your hair done at least a few weeks before you're due to give birth (as both my two arrived early.)

                  Don't rush about trying to get everything organised and feel that you have to be the best parent in the world. As for the birth - that baby will come out whether you're prepared or not! All your baby needs is a parent who loves him or her and tries their best to care for them. You'll do that bit easily, no worries. xxx

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                    22.12.2008 14:08
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                    Each pregnancy is unique so make the most of it.

                    It's quite comman for your first baby to arrive late. Many of my friend got well over-due with their first babies. Some even had to be induced.
                    However for women in my family it's very different. Fortunately our babies are on time and the birth is not always as stressful as some mothers tell their horror stories.
                    We have some family traditions that the older generation have kept alive for the expectant lady. These are to help her have a smooth transition from conception all the way to child birth and beyond.

                    I'd like to share this advice with you and hope that it will help and benefit you just as much it has to us.

                    During the first trimester the mother should try and rest as much as possible, especially if she has had a miscarrige before or there is a history for it in the family.
                    The first few months of pregnancy are the hardest for most women. Your hormones are forever changing, which will not only throw you through masses of emotions but will drain you phyically aswell. Feeling nauseous is also very common at this time.
                    A vicious cycle may take place here; you're feeling sick so you don't eat, hunger makes you more sick, which puts you off food even more making you more nauseous and so on. What you need to do is brake that cycle.
                    Try eating a dry piece of toast first thing on waking up whilst you're still lying in bed, (hopefully there will be someone to bring it to you, if not leave it nearby the nigt before). This should hopefully help with your morning sickness and wet your appetite a little so you can consume some food in order to energise you and make you feel less faint.

                    The second trimester is a time to help your baby. Here you should make sensible food choices that would assist your baby's growth and development. It doesn't have to be all hard and boring. All you have to do is add some fruit and veg into your diet, drink plenty of fluids and keep a check on your iron levels with appropriate foods. A supplement such as pregnacare may be beneficial to some women.

                    The third trimester is all about preparing for the birth. At this stage you should gradually build up your physical activities. Yes it may be difficult as you will probably be sporting your bump, but a 10 minute brisk walk each day is all that's asked.
                    Cutting down on cold drinks, ice-cream and similiar cold type foods is also a good idea.

                    When you are around 2 weeks away from your due date, try increasing your daily walks for longer.

                    Each morning and before you go to bed drink a mug of the following herbal tea:
                    add 1 ts of dil seeds to a mug of water and put to boil, once the colour starts to change, pour water into a mug (without dil seeds) allow to cool and drink.
                    You could also add a tiny piece of fresh ginger into your usual tea.

                    I hope all this helps, but the best advice i've been given is to take each day as it comes and enjoy it.

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                      02.12.2008 10:42
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                      I don't think anyone can quite fully prepare

                      Even though we can try to do everything in our power to try and prepare for birth, I don't think not one person really knows what to expect from the whole issue. From first seeing that blue line appear in the test window to actually getting to hold your baby in your arms, we over come so many different experiences and feelings that although the time leading up to the birth is supposed to be exciting it can be very daunting and scary to.

                      Being 7 months pregnant myself, expecting my third child, some people might think I'm a pro? But in reality I'm just as nervous as I was first time round. In all we have 9 months to physically and emotionally prepare ourselves for birth and for what lies ahead- Sleepless nights, dirty nappies, and coming to terms with the fact that you will become the sole provider for this little person growing inside you.

                      Whist being pregnant we have on offer so much guidance and support from so many different people, that at times it can be hard to take everything in. From reading all the baby books under the sun, listening to other people's experiences, and having regular checks from midwifes.

                      This pregnancy was a little unexpected to say the least, with my second daughter being just 17 months, there will be a small age gap between them. Me and my partner weren't planning on having children so close together, but at the end of the day what's happened has happened and it can't be. Looking back we were a little weary, but have come to a theory that we would like for them to grow up together, at first I thought that it would be very expensive, but in actual fact it isn't because i have the majority of things from last time.

                      Ok so here is my pregnancy diary so far and what i have done this time round in order to help me prepare to meet my baby.

                      ==Week 9==
                      This week after having major bouts of sickness, and feeling very unwell, I originally thought I was unwell; the sickness appeared in the mornings and at night. It never crossed my mind that i might be pregnant until I saw a baby advert on telly, and then it suddenly clicked. I rushed out to get a test (or two). My partner was at work, but I couldn't wait until he got home. Stood in the bathroom, those three minutes seemed to drag on for so long. I plucked up the courage and there before my eyes were two blue lines- I was pregnant.

                      At first I was shocked, so many feelings ran through my mind, how would I cope? What would my partner say? , what would my parents say? But then none of that mattered, It was what I thought that mattered. It took about ten minutes to get used to the idea, but the thought of becoming a mum again sent a rush of love through me, and that inside me was a tiny bean that needed my help to grow and neuter.

                      As soon as my partner came through the door after work I was so excited I shoved the test at him, and a big cheesy grin spread across his face and I knew that he was happy to. We did another test to make sure and again that came up positive. We both decided not to tell anyone just yet, and to wait until the 12 week scan in case anything where to go wrong.

                      In my head i started making mental check lists, having been pregnant before I knew there were things I would have to do, to start with would be to start taking folic acid, so the next day off to the chemist I went, I brought some pregnancy vitamins called pregacare, by taking one of these a day would ensure that me and my baby would be getting all the right vitamins and minerals we would need.

                      Next i rang up my Doctors and made an appointment to see my GP. He did some checks like my blood pressure, urine, and helped me fill in my pregnancy booklet, which I would keep hold off until my baby is born. He asked me if i had any questions and then said he would refer me to the local team of midwifes for my booking in appointment, bloods, and would also make an appointment at the hospital for a scan.

                      ==Week 12==
                      This week I had both my 12 week scan and my first appointment with the midwife. My scan was to determine how far long i was, and to check that there was only one baby on there! The scan lasted about ten minutes and put my mind at ease, as i got to see this little bean wiggling about on the screen and its heartbeat.

                      The midwife appointment lasted about half an hour, she took all my details, did some checks, and explained everything that would happen each week, and what appointments I would need. Because i had group strep b in my other two pregnancies, and that my blood group is O negative, I would be classed as a higher risk pregnancy, which meant i would have to be checked a bit more often, and that at 28 and 32 weeks i would anti-d injections.

                      She made sure I was aware of the different foods I couldn't eat, like soft/blue cheeses, liver, nuts etc, and that meat and eggs where properly cooked. I knew all this and was reminded of the thought that for the next 7 months or so I couldn't eat my beloved pate or camembert. I had another appointment booked for 16 weeks where she would take my bloods.

                      ==Weeks 12-20==
                      During this time I constantly felt tired and sick, my appetite had gone and the only things i could manage to eat was toast and fruit, my sickness never stopped and it hit me morning, noon and night. Having two other children to look after was hard because all i wanted to do was spend all day in bed. Around the 19-20 week mark I did start to feel better, and knew i had my 20 week scan to look forward to. The scan went great and my dates where still spot on, the scanner checked my baby and made sure it was growing well and that there we no potential problems.
                      I also had a few more appointments and everything was going fine with the baby, it just seemed to be me who was suffering. During my last pregnancy i had developed sciatica in my legs, and it hadn't gone away. So by now I was in a lot of pain, so my GP prescribed me some stronger painkillers and I was referred to a physiotherapist, it did help but there where times when even walking became a chore and it still is today.

                      ==Week 20-30==
                      Known as the 'home stretch' or the third trimester, if started to feel a lot better and started to enjoy the pregnancy, I had my energy back, and although my bump was growing fast I loved every minute of it. I wanted to try and bond with my baby and knew that I had to slow myself down in order to care for it. I would be rushing around during the day, playing with the children, cleaning, etc, and sometimes my body would be telling me to slow down. I kept forgetting that i had a bump and things like bending and lifting became such a task. And at week 27 I started to feel tired again, it got the point where I couldn't get out of bed, my instinct told me I had to get checked out, so my midwife took some blood which confirmed that I had dangerously low iron, I was put on iron tablets and after a couple of days I started to feel better.

                      Coming up to 30 weeks i could hold out any longer and started baby shopping, as we didn't want to know the sex I went for neutral colours, and picking up the little outfits sent butterfly's through me. D day was fast approaching and the last 20 weeks seemed to have flown by. My daughters are still quite young and don't really understand what's going on, my eldest knows there's a baby in mummy's tummy, but also thinks there's one in daddy's to. I have started to wash bits and bobs and I'm really looking forward to meeting my baby.

                      As i write this I'm 32 weeks, 8 weeks seems a long time, but as were so close to Christmas, time seems to be flying by. I am desperately trying to get organized with Christmas and as i know once that's over, i will have very little time.

                      I'm hoping to have as natural birth as possible, with my last two I managed on just gas and air and really want this to be the same. I haven't written a birth plan as they never go to plan, and I think it's much nicer to just go with the flow. Although I do have one request, that my partner does actually make it this time, as he missed it last time. It couldn't be helped as my daughter made quite a speedy entrance and shocked us all.

                      The sickness has died down, but I do still get the occasional bout, my legs still hurt, but I'm making the most of what I have left. I think I'm mentally prepared, and yes a little scared to. I love lying down and watching my baby's foot pop up against my skin, the feeling of it kicking is such a magical experience and although sometimes it can hurt, the pain is priceless.

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                        28.10.2008 17:22
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                        brief looks at my labour experiences.

                        I really don't think that you can fully prepare for your first birth. At least I could'nt anyway. I gave birth to my son in November 2007. I am the most organised person I know, and I wanted to be ready for the birth, and really prepared for what was to come. I read all the books, talked to all my friends who had children, and looked online also. This did me absolutely no good whatsoever. I was prepared in the fact that I knew what to pack in my hospital bag, and what type of delivery I wanted. I had decided that I wanted a water birth. When the time came, my waters burst at home after several contractions that afternoon. Thats another thing, I didn't know if what I was feeling was contraction at first. It starts off like period pain. Feels just like it, and is all over the place timing wise. I had pains on and off all day. Then at 11pm I rang the hospital to say that my contractions were 2 mins apart, but they put me off coming in. When my waters broke at 1am I phoned again to say I was on my way in!! It was then that the fun (not) began. The pain changed from period pain to the worst pain I have felt in my life. It went from my stomach right round into my back, that was the worst bit. When I arrived at hospital I was sick shortly after. My body felt like I was in the tropics, and the waves of pain only got stronger and stronger. The other thing I was not expecting was the mess!! I had no idea that as soon as your waters burst, you start to leak out a browny bloody liquid constanly. I wish so much that someone had told me that!! The rest is just much of the same.... mess, pain etc etc etc. I was not able to have a water birth as my baby had poo'ed inside me, so this was not aloud. I also was aloud no pain relief as I was already passed the point which you can have it (something else I didnt know), It was an awful experience, which I am not too keen to be having to go through again next year in May. But the one thing I will say is that it is all so very worth it in the end!!!!! I hope that I have not scared any mothers to be, but I wish that I had known, so I'm being honest for you guys.

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                          16.10.2008 22:56
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                          Overall I think when you're preparing for birth try to relax and not worry to much.

                          I think that there is lots of ways that you can prepare for birth. Firstly speak to your doctor or midwife they will give you information on birthing methods that can be used i.e. birthing pool, home births, hospital births and pain relief. Then if you have any queries or need advice they will help you. I also highly recommend that you go to antenatal classes these can be very scary at first but in most cases you are all in the same boat and haven't got a clue what to expect. When I went to mine I learnt so much like what pain relief was out there, how to control your labour by breathing exercises. Most of the time you make friends there so you can offer each other advice, and it is nice to have someone who is at the same stages of pregnancy as you.

                          One thing that you should definitely do is take it easy the last few days before giving birth, as when you're in labour it is so tiring and rest beforehand will definitely help .When I was pregnant I read a lot of books about giving birth so I had an idea what it would be like and I tried to not worry myself to much. I think this helps otherwise you will work yourself up to much and it will be worse for you. Also make sure a few weeks before birth you have your hospital bag packed as if you go into labour you don't want to be worrying about telling your partner what to pack.

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                          13.10.2008 15:52
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                          hypnobirthing, relaxation, nhs antenatal classes, hospital tour

                          I was very keen to have a relaxed pool homebirth. I didn't get in the pool but did manage to have a relaxed homebirth and I feel that the preparation I did was a larger factor in contributing towards this.

                          Firstly, I purchased and read the hypnobirthing book (Mongan method). I think it's important to read and understand the philosophy behind the concept, and not just listen to some cds. I practised the relaxation methods in the book, listened to the relaxation methods on the cds daily. I found that I often fell asleep doing this, and that is what happened during labour as well. I often slept through contractions and for a long time slept between them. I visualised my labour and myself being in control and practised positions in the pool (unfilled). This gave me confidence and self belief in the birth I would have.

                          I also did optimal fetal positioning. This is to help the baby get into a back to front position which is to known to provide a more comfortable labour. The principle is that you should remain upright, forward and with open legs as much as possible. I was borderline obsessive with this and from my 20 week scan I don't think I reclined once, was only not upright for sleep and only ever was on my back when it wasn't in my control. My baby was in the right position from 28 weeks and I feel that this contributed to it.

                          However, I also didn't want to be in an ignorant position. I knew that there are factors which are outside anyone's control in labour and birth so I wanted to be prepared for the worst outcome as well. I went on a tour of my local hospital suite and asked questions about induction, assisted delivery and c-section. I wanted to feel informed and in control if the worst did happen. It didn't so I don't know how well my preparation would work.

                          I furthermore went to my local NHS Antenatal classes. A lot of what they said was common sense and it was taught in a very simplistic manner. However, it was very useful for knowing how things happen in my area - when do they expect you to call them, what you can request at different times etc. They also answered many of my questions about if things didn't go to plan.

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                          01.10.2008 18:43
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                          Compromise saved my baby's life.

                          Well I gave birth to my beautiful son just 3 days ago so it is all fresh in my mind! I don't think you can really prepare for your birth, especially your first.

                          I wanted a water birth and I prepared myself for exactly what would happen and who would play each role. I spent ages beforehand researching it all and when I settled on a water birth in hospital, I felt empowered and in control and ready for our imminent arrival.

                          However, my waters broke a week before my due date on the Thursday evening. I was having contractions all day Friday, becoming progressively worse but the midwife said I was only 2cm dilated and might want to consider being induced the following morning. She said it was not recommended because it can be extremely painful and would rule out a water birth. I was in so much pain, my hopes for a water birth came way down my list of priorities. Also, the risk of an infection getting to the baby doubled from 0.5% to 1%, which although still low, was in my opinion, still a risk not worth taking.

                          I went in on the Saturday morning after a night of more contractions. I was only 3cm dilated so they put me on a drip. This meant I couldn't move around much. I had been labouring over a gym ball to ease the contractions but even this became difficult.

                          Then after nearly a day of contractions and pushing my husband was distraught at the amount of pain I was in and begged them to do something. They suggested an epidural but there was nobody available to administer it so I settled on pethidine in the mean time. This was a fabulous pain reliever and worked instantly. I then had the epidural. Although a great pain reliever, it meant I could not move a took a long time to work out how to push.

                          By the early hours of Sunday I had been labouring intensively for 10 hours. The baby was in distress, as was my husband - I was far too out of it on drugs to notice the pain! The midwife suggested an assisted delivery, to which I agreed because by this stage I was really worried about the baby.

                          The registrar arrived and took total control of the situation. She said I had one go at pushing with the ventouse suction fitted and then she would cut me. I was terrified and had my eyes closed crying but she shouted at me to open them and focus on her. This was exactly what I needed - someone to take charge and tell me what to do. I tried really hard but I could feel that every time the baby's head crowned, it then slipped back in again. She said she was going to cut me. I just didn't care at this point. Previously, tearing or being cut were my worst nightmares for child birth. When it came to it though, all I cared about was my precious baby. She gave me a local anesthetic and then cut me. She applied the suction again and as I pushed I felt first his head and then his body. She also had her hand around him and I could feel what I thought was him wriggling but later realised that it was her hand working him out.

                          They placed him on my tummy for a few seconds only and then whisked him away. I was really disappointed at the lack of skin contact time. I had wanted a water birth where the baby would drop into my hands and I would lift it onto my chest to stay there until the cord stopped pulsating and the baby was ready to breathe. There I was lying on my back in a room with about 15 people with blood pouring all over me and i didn't even get to hold my baby.

                          I later found out that they whisked him off to be resuscitated. He had the umbilical cord wrapped around his neck twice and his chest once. He was slowly strangling with each contraction. As I pushed him out, it pulled the cord tighter. Thank God I was in hospital with constant monitoring and a team of people who each knew their role inside out. And thank God I had the sense to not stick to my principles of a water birth. If I had done, my son would not be here now.

                          If I ever have another one, I will want a water birth. But after my experience, I would never choose to have my baby anywhere but a hospital. Why risk it? My pregnancy was plain-sailing. At no point was there any suggestion that the baby might be unwell and yet look what happened to me.

                          The moral of the story: Read as much as you can to educate yourself about what could happen and what your choices are but be prepared to compromise and to listen to the professionals. They have your safety at heart and all they want is for your baby to be born healthy. You may known your own body and your own mind but they will know far more about the potential risks and complications that are specific to your situation. Let them help you. Without the wonderful team of people at Torbay, my little baby might not have made it.

                          My main lessons:
                          1. Drugs in labour make your baby sleepy and slow your milk coming in. I could not have coped without the drugs that were given to me. However, I was not prepared for how sleepy my baby would be and how much I would worry about him.

                          2. Induced labours are more painful. The contractions are stronger and quicker and your body does not have a chance to build up a pain barrier. Therefore, they are likely to result in an epidural. It is still worth being induced though, if you feel it necessary. If I had let nature take its course after my waters broke, my baby may or may not have contracted an infection. He certainly wouldn't be here now, because the umbilical cord would have strangled him before anyone realised.

                          3. You haven't failed if you don't labour naturally or in the way you want. It is easy to say. I feel like a wimp for having an epidural and a bad mum for taking the drugs that passed over to my baby. But that is the way things were. Being a mum is about what you do for your baby, not how you popped him out!

                          I am writing this in agony, with three inches worth of stitches between my legs and a bum that is black and blue from the suction that was used. I cry when I feed my baby because it hurts so much to sit down, to lift him and his sucking causes my muscles to contract and I get agonising shooting pains between my legs and down my legs.

                          Would I change any of it? No.
                          Was he worth it? Most definitely!
                          Would I have another one? Give me a break! It was 3 days ago!

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                            17.07.2008 14:55
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                            The baby won't mind if the preparations aren't complete, they just want lots of cuddles!

                            I now have 2 little boys so feel I must have done something right in my preparation for them arriving.

                            Arrival
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                            Probably the most important thing to prepare is the nursery, I know that the baby seemed really 'real' once the nursery was painted and decorated. Some old wives tales will insist that you actually have nothing for the baby in the house until the baby arrives, this is great if you have a family member living next door who can store all your stuff, however it's not very practical so we bought and stored everything except the pushchair, which my mother insisted she would deliver to the hospital when needed!

                            It might help to make a list of what you want i.e. cot, steriliser, bottles, baby bedding, bouncy chair etc. although I never organised myself enough for that. We went on a huge shop and picked up most things from Woolworths who had some good vouchers for money off baby things at the time.

                            Hospital bag
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                            Another part of the planning is what to put into the bag to take into hospital. For me the important thing to take was loads of snacks as that way it didn't matter how disgusting the hospital food was, I wasn't going to go hungry. Other important things to pack are nappies and cotton wool (not all hospitals will supply this), clothes for baby, clothes for mummy, tissues, maternity pads, breast pads and I would suggest a couple of spare plastic or reusable bags to take home all the stuff you will be given whilst in hospital. (If you are going for an elective C Section the best advice I was given was take a sports bottle with you for water, that way even if you can't move that well and are maybe led down you can have a drink without spilling it everywhere!)

                            Birth plan
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                            Make sure to keep your birth plan handy. Although sometimes you are not able to keep to your birth plan it is nice to have had a little time to plan what you would like to happen, i.e if you want to labour in the bath for a while, if you want no pain relief, if you want dad to be the first to hold baby etc.

                            Other things
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                            Be aware that everyone will want to visit when you get home so have plenty of tea bags and coffee ready.

                            Names - some people wait and see what the baby looks like before thinking of names, I wanted a name for as soon as baby was born, again a list could be handy if you have lots of names you can't decide about.

                            I am sure there are 101 other things that would help prepare for pregnancy but it's a learning curve that everyone has to find out for themselves. My hospital bags for my 2 boys were so different as by the time the 2nd was ready to come out I knew a bit more of how I would feel and what I would want after the birth.

                            Just remember that at the end of it all whether you planned everything to the last detail, or whether you just went with the flow the baby will come when it's good and ready and won't care if you have done all or none of the above preparations!

                            Hope this is of some help for mum's to be!

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