Going into labour? Doc says grab the champagne

Michele Odent is known as a pioneer of birthing for the twentieth century. He introduced home-birthing like surrounding & birth pools to hospitals. He is an advocate of the natural birthing process and getting back to basics.

At the ripe age of 82, he is still actively working and researching in his field. Last year, he published a controversial book, Childbirth and the Future of Homo Sapians, which calls for women to get off the drugs “no one fully understands”. He claims that doctors around the world are all guilty of scaring pregnant women with their medical speak. Odent’s main conclusion is:

millennia of evolution has caused women to lose the ability to birth as nature intended and therefore our global priority should be “to rediscover the primary needs of laboring women.”

He’s stressed this is a medical book. Not a book for pregnant women. And my knowledge of his theories comes from articles and interviews rather than reading his literature first hand. However, from what I can tell, he raises some good points.

  1. The socialisation birthing has changed the way humans birth. A mother’s protective instincts kick in the minute she gives birth (if not before). We wouldn’t tear a newborn gorilla away from it’s mother, so why do we from a human? (It’s worth noting here that Odent himself gives credit to the fact that medical professionals have accepted the importance of skin-to-skin contact directly after birth in most cultures. But there is still a lot of ‘naturalness’ lacking from the process.)
  2. Since the 70s, the birthing process has become masculine. Fathers are present at the birth & until the 80s or 90s, doctors were often male. Similarly, technology (stereotypically considered masculine) has become married with the birthing process. In recent years, midwives (stereotypically female) have started to take back the birthing process with the likes of midwife led birth units in the UK (as I myself will be attending at UCLH in London on our big day… if it ever comes). Odent was key to introducing these centres where there is an emphasis on natural birth. There’s somewhere for the birth partner to stay, should you wish, and promotes a secure, calming environment.

Odent’s theories appeal to me. The more I read about the drugs, the effects they appear to have on newborns and the unknowns about them, makes me even more adamant I’ll have a natural birth. I’ve also been studying Hypnobirthing in preparation for D-day (or B-day as it were), which sympathises with Odent’s theories in many ways.

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One thing I am definitely a fan of from Odent’s work is his appreciation for champagne. He suggests having a small glass of bubbly when you go into labour to release the mother’s inhibitions & allow her to relax for the labour ahead. (Could he be more French!?)

We’ve had a bottle chilling in the fridge since week 38 & today Dad & H brought us a much posher, mini bottle of bubby (& some chocolate macaroons for good measure) to enjoy… if Bump ever decides to arrive. Bring on the bubbles!

Unexpected 3am wake up call

Sadly, I wasn’t up for over an hour last night with contractions. Still pregnant.

Instead, I had an allergic reaction to a new moisturiser. Specially formulated for during pregnancy, extra sensitive, no added chemicals or perfumes or unnatural ingredients… yet by 3:30am my feet and ankles were swollen, angry red, pimply and on fire. I ended up having to wake up Bump’s dad as no amount of ice or cold water was helping. His face was a picture – high alert mode.

This morning, the swelling & redness has gone down but the itchiness & pimples remain.

I have sensitive skin at the best of times. But never occurred to me that these extra sensitive pregnancy creams would affect me. So, word to the wise, stick to the simple stuff. Because L’Occitane clearly isn’t as sensitive as it makes out.

On that note, I used Champneys Blissful Bump for the past few months without any problems. So would 100% recommend their moisturiser, body wash & stretch mark oil.

Today’s the day!

Not.

40 weeks pregnant. It’s our due date. And Bump is showing no signs of appearing.

I had a slight meltdown yesterday at the thought of being pregnant for another 2 weeks. My stomach is now swollen, stretched & solid beyond belief. I’m so uncomfortable. & I’m beyond fed up of being pregnant. I can’t lie on my back. I can’t lie on my front. I want a cream cheese bagel. I want a glass of red wine. I want my body back – even if it won’t quite be the same.

New plan. Go about life as normal in attempt to tempt Sod’s law for me to go into labour at the least opportune time…

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Book Reviews

In early January, I wrote about the plethora of books I had gathered on the subject of pregnancy, babies & everything in between.

Well, I’ve now got more. And thought I would share some of the cream of the crop with you. I also wanted to point you towards the new page on the blog. A joyful space devoted to books, complete with my brief reviews & recommendations. Hope you find it helpful. (Unless you’re not pregnant or have kids. In which case, probably not that relevant for you. Soz.)

What Every Parent Needs to Know by Margot Sunderland; RRP £15
This is less about theories & more about using evidence from scientific and psychological studies to advise on best practise for rearing babies & children. Sunderland draws from thousands of studies & walks you through the basics of human brain development (e.g., the ‘human brain’ in charge of cognitive thought doesn’t begin to develop until the child is x years old vs the ‘reptilian brain’ in charge of survival, which is ‘online’ from birth) & the effects the likes of stress hormones, through to why you should or shouldn’t leave your child to cry & the effects on attending nursery at a young age. I have studied psychology in the past, so this particularly appeals to me. Just remember to read it (as with all these books) with a critical eye. Sunderland doesn’t know your baby. She only knows the outcomes of these studies & one size doesn’t fit all.

Baby-proofing Your Marriage by Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O’Neill & Julia Stone; RRP £12
These three ladies have had me laughing in spite of the potentially depressing subject matter: your relationship will take the backseat over the next few years, it’s gunna be tough & unless you take responsibility for it, it’s gunna go down the drain. Welcome to parenthood. Yey. The authors have interviewed numerous couples, both men & women, to get a fair view of life with kids from both sides of the gender line, the common issues and the common misunderstandings. And if you leave it here, I think it’s great. I certainly have more of an understanding where Bump’s dad is coming from on certain issues (though one chapter talking about the woman wanting housework done & the man ‘not getting it’ definitely doesn’t apply to us!)

However, I think they could have benefitted from a male co-author. Bump’s dad has read some bits that I’ve flagged for him, but he’s said he finds that sometimes it’s a bit patronising towards men, harking on about men’s stereotypical failings.

Let’s get this show on the road

Two days til our due date. Midwife thinks I’m in it for the long haul but I’m determined to not be pregnant for another two weeks. And where there’s a will there’s a way.

We’ve eaten spicy food every night this week. Though, due to the heartburn, I haven’t eaten anything remotely spicy in over 6 months. So last weekend, diving in as my usual spice-loving self wasn’t so wise – I thought my tongue was bleeding as I sat hugging the carton of milk.

Bouncing on my birth ball for about two hours a day. We’ve been for nearly a two hour walk round our local park today. Estimated about 3 miles.

Apparently pineapple helps too. But you have to eat at least 6 fresh pineapples. Which is rather a lot. And I don’t like pineapple.

Also on the list is half a teaspoon of caster oil if you’re overdue, blowing up balloons (?!), nipple stimulation (ooh err!) & good old fashioned sex. (Midwife says girl on top is best; your man acts like a membrane sweep…)

They also say to wear your best knickers. Because Sod’s law means your waters will break.

My hands & feet are swollen & blotchy today, which is highly attractive. Hopefully this is a good sign that I’ve started retaining more water & birth is imminent…

Watch this space…

The kindness of strangers

Bump’s dad & I decided against a Moses basket for two main reasons.

  1. they’re minimum £50 a pop & only last 3-4 months. When you have thousands of pounds of other bumph to buy, one of which is a cot or sleeping device of some kind that lasts longer than 3-4 months, it doesn’t seem such a necessity.
  2. most of the baskets we saw were frilly, frothy & awful looking. Not us at all.

In fact, although we ultimately want a cot-bed, in an attempt to be sensible & frugal, we opted for a second hand travel cot whilst we’re figuring out where we’ll live more long term, whether we’ll buy somewhere in the next year. We figure we can buy the cot-bed once we know the space we’ll be in more long term. And then there was the kindness of strangers… I’m part of an online community called Baby Centre. You join groups, share experiences with other moms-to-be & after the big day, other moms. It pretty much does what it says on the tin. Earlier this week, a lady posted in the London group that she was looking for a loving home for her Moses basket – for free. Bump’s dad & I felt that the lack of frill & froth was more than acceptable & this deal seemed too good to pass up. As although our travel cot plan would work swimmingly, a Moses basket – for free – would fit much easier by the side of the bed & mean we don’t need to rearrange the entire bedroom to fit the baby in for the first few months. She refused any form of payment. & even filled the basket with newborn baby clothes she no longer needs. So I got well over £200’s worth of baby goodies for a £10 bouquet of lilies! 20140220-174053.jpgThank you kind lady from Holloway. We are very, very grateful!

Best of Worst

Keep Calm Daddy

I’ve been working on a little something for Bump’s dad these past few weeks. A Daddy-to-Be kit. Complete with box of tricks, photography book about capturing your child’s first year & personalised baby grow specially for Bump’s dad (inside joke alert).

He seemed a bit taken aback to get a present & promptly sat engrossed in his book. So think I did good.

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Keep Calm, You’re Going To Be A Daddy

Earplugs for when you’re not on the night shift
A Coke to keep you awake when you are
Candles so you don’t wake me up with the bright lights when it’s your turn
Puzzle to remind you that you won’t always have the answers & that we’ll figure it out together
Tissues to wipe away the tears (Bump’s or mine… or yours)
An Eraser don’t worry, we all make mistakes
A Crayon to help colour their future
An Extra Eye to help you keep a look out
A Peg for those nasty diaper changes
A Marble, just in case you lose one
Band-Aids to make it better
A Penny, because every little helps
Another Penny – can’t stress this point enough
A Safety Pin to keep Bump safe
A Tea Bag – take time to relax & enjoy being a Daddy
Jelly Babies because Bump will be cute enough to eat… please eat these babies instead
Superman boxers because you will be Bump’s hero
Seeds for the wisdom and knowledge you will sow
Ibuprofen – when all else fails take 2
A Heart for all the love Bump will bring & we will share together
A Toffee Crisp to remind you that even when times are tough, we’ll make it through
Extra Safe Condoms because let’s face it, the last pack we bought were crap.
A Kiss to remind you how it all began

What to Expect When you’re Expecting

All through my pregnancy, everyone has said, ‘Have you seen What to Expect When You’re Expecting?’. Well, today I watched it. I howled with laughter. Naturally, I sobbed (see The Flood for further explanation on that). And I have to admit, it far surpassed my expectations. But not sure I would have enjoyed it as much was I not, or had I not been at some point, pregnant.

But it has to be said, I couldn’t have put it better myself. Preach Banks! –

The flood

I’ve never really been a crier. I cry at movies, I cry at truly sad things – eg a break up. Or death. I’ve always had a fierce temper & a sharp tongue – something I’m not always good at keeping in check. But it takes rather a lot to get the waterworks going.

That is, until I got pregnant.

Trimester 1 got things well underway with hormones flying in all directions causing spontaneous outbursts & crying at the slightest thing. From about week 18, things started to calm down as my hormones settled, though I’d still get more irrational more quickly than usual.

But nothing & no one prepared us for Trimester 3. Grab your armbands people, the flood gates have opened & the tide is in. I cry at Downton. I well up when I’m happy. I sob when I’m angry. It’s never ending. This morning, after an especially bad night’s sleep, I cried when Bump’s dad’s alarm went off. (Smashing start to his day! Oops.)

I can see Bump’s dad looking on helplessly wondering where this wailing banshee has hidden his relatively together, strong & on the whole emotionally sound girlfriend. & also wondering where’s a handy get-away-ark when you need one?

And yet, I can’t stop it. Bump’s dad doesn’t understand & if I’m honest, until I fell pregnant I wouldn’t have either. But I genuinely feel I have no control over my emotions. No amount of relaxation exercises or breathing seems to help. I’m completely at their mercy.

As a somewhat Type A personality, you can imagine, this lack of control does not sit well with me.

Apparently my hormones continue to race during the 6 week (give or take) recovery period after the baby is born & then things begin to settle down. Just another reason to get this baby out of me so I can start the journey back to dry land. I’m sure that’s my old self on waving from the shore. Just need to find my paddle…