We’re Still Here…

Well hello there!

I’ve been MIA for a while now and feel for the very few of you who read this, I should give you a little update on where we are at.

My health has been a little shady of late; Feeling over worked with a constantly crowded brain, I have recently found myself exhausted and letting rather a lot slide in all aspects of life. Turns out trying to run numerous social pages, a blog, raise a child, have a healthy, loving relationship, look for a house, handle the nagging desire for another baby, plan a wedding and have a ‘normal’ life is too much for one person to do at once – who knew, right!?

I’ve been unbelievably overwhelmed since joining my new job last June. As my first career-changing role since graduating a few years back and becoming a mother, I ploughed head first into what would become an all-consuming job. As workloads grew, I stopped doing the things I loved at home. Never, ever wanting this blog to slip, One Curious Mother has taken a very reluctant and unwanted back seat lately. With evenings spent barely awake and creative juices in serious short supply, I was brought back to examining why it was that I created One Curious Mother in the first place: to share the hidden wonders (and ailments) of first time parenthood, to document my journey through it and to, hopefully, help others too. I can honestly say, I feel I am meeting absolutely none of these objectives anymore. 

Needless to say, it was a welcomed moment when I realised that I didn’t need to wait for the ‘perfect moment’ and didn’t need to create just ‘pretty’ or, let’s face it, fake content. Thanks to this, I am now able to realign my focus to be on honest stories, asking & answering those curious questions we all have and helping build a community of ladies (or gentlemen) and babies who are looking for someone to say ‘hey, that happened to me’ or ‘WOAH I’m not alone in this anymore’. 

So what now? A solid promise for more communication and definitely more questions, to get back on track and look forwards, vowing to keep one foot firmly on the ground whilst doing so.

I hope you’ll stick around and join us on this journey and if there’s one thing I want you to remember is that you never have to feel alone!

Love to all,

OCM 💜

Mother for a Year: An Open Letter

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As we approach our little Rory’s first birthday I’ve decided to write myself an open letter, a letter to year-ago-me in the first days after giving birth. Things I wished I’d known, the advice I’d give myself and the hope that past-me really would have needed to hear.

I’m not going to waffle on before this, I’m going to let it speak for itself, so here goes nothing…

_________________________

Dear New Mama,

How you holding up?

I know you’ve had a difficult few days and you’re exhausted and emotional but your body has been through a lot in such a small amount of time. Bruised and drugged up to the eyeballs, I know you’re not feeling the full effects of your surgery yet but be nice to yourself, you undeniably deserve it.

I know you’re disappointed and upset. Surgery was the last thing you wanted but just remember, you were a fighter right to the bitter end. You were determined to birth your baby unaided and you did everything you could for this during those thirty-six hours. You produced a determination and strength within your body and within your mind that you never knew. You’re feeling damaged and defeated and it’s ok to feel that way – things didn’t go the way you wanted but you must never think of this as a failure. You absolutely did not fail. NEVER, ever, ever stop and think for one minute that you failed in this. You’ll read many articles, comments and blog posts this year about c-sections. You won’t believe how many people have opinions (and some don’t even have a uterus!) but please, don’t listen to all of them. People are always trying to convince women that a c-section was the ‘easy way out’ or that by having one you ‘didn’t really give birth’ but girl, you grew that baby with your body like a mighty warrior! The surgery was imperative to saving both your lives.

It’s ok to feel angry. Angry that you don’t recognise yourself, that your body is scarred and in so much pain. You’re angry that your body is still healing three, six, nine, eleven months later and it’s normal to feel this way. Start by stepping away from triggering social media. It’ll really hurt you. Stop looking at other mothers on Instagram that had a baby last week and lost 3lbs off their pre-baby weight already. Stop obsessing about those with post-baby abs – it’s not going to happen for you sweetie. Don’t beat yourself up about doing exercise. Take it at your own pace and stop looking at those ‘fit-moms’. Despite this, you should have done more of those exercises the physiotherapist gave you to do. Even though they were uncomfortable and make you ache, they were designed to help you even if it doesn’t feel that way but don’t be hard on yourself, it’s justifiable. Don’t worry about running or pushing yourself too hard. You’ll end up finding badminton is your sport and you’ll take up Waterbabies both you’ll really enjoy. It’s all about finding the new normal for you as a mama, not you as the size 10 young twenty-something year old – she has left the building and isn’t coming back. Always remember your body was pushed to the furthest limit; it’s still recovering and it might be for some time yet. You’re still recovering now, a whole year later and you still have appointments and consultations to come. I know this is crushing you and you’re going to take this really hard for a long long time but please be kind to yourself. You’ll try and take care of your body but trust me, those little extra TLC moments will help with your recovery in the long run.

Our little moments…

Really focus on those real mothers out there sharing every drama and every mini-triumph. There are moments when you’ll feel so lonely and isolated; it’s in the many dark moments to come, that these mothers will make you feel grounded and the ones who make you feel like you’re never truly alone. Never feel embarrassed to talk about your mental health. It’s always as important as your physical health. There are loads of resources out there to help you and your health visitor is number one. Don’t shy away like you used to. Remember in the past that this has caused more harm than good. If you want to cry then cry and if you want to be angry then you be angry. It’s ok to feel helpless and on some days for your anxiety to consume you – you’re only human and having a baby has challenged every ounce of you. Don’t hide away, confide more in those you love and they’ll help you step-by-step. Take longer walks; ‘Have baby, will travel’ – bundle little one up and try your best to walk as far as you comfortably can. The fresh air will help clear your mind and you’ll feel so much better for it. I know it’s hard to envisage but in just six months from now, you’ll go on your first family holiday as a three to Holland. It’ll be a fantastic first holiday and you’ll think back on it almost every day. It will bring you the happiest of memories and make you excited for future holidays.

Our first holiday: Holland

Don’t feel like you have to answer everyone’s questions and there will be millions. ‘How was it?’, ‘Are you having visitors?’, ‘Why are you home so soon?’ etc, etc. Don’t hide, if people ask about your birthing experience, own it. Tell them straight up how hard and traumatic it was, that surgery was gruelling and recovery is unimaginably hard. Equally, you don’t owe anyone an answer. ‘Are you thinking about more kids?’ Sure, you’ve always wanted a minivan full but right now: HELL NO! You’re not even going to want to entertain the thought and getting pregnant will truly terrify you from this moment on. You will spend hours thinking about this. It will enter your thoughts and creep into your mind when you least expect it: you’ll be at work, out for a walk or trying to eat. It will keep you up at night, make you feel instant dread and even make you panic. Don’t over think it – you’ll have plenty of time in the future to tackle those fears and right now, in recovery doesn’t have to be that time. Try your best to keep those precious night-time hours aside for sleep because god only knows you need it. You’ll learn to cope better with this as the months go by so if you don’t think you’ll get through it, my dear you will. You’re stronger than you realise.

Breastfeeding will come in time. Persevere and don’t fear the formula, it’ll become a saving grace when you’re feeling like you’ve tried everything. Once it all starts to run smoothly, you’ll feel such a sense of triumph as all your hard work does pay off.  Breastfeed wherever the hell you want! You’ll shy away and feel nervous, you’ll worry about other people looking or telling you not to in public but babe, if a baby has to eat a baby has to eat. You’ll avoid doing things at the fear of these very thoughts but looking back now, you didn’t need to be. This isn’t always how you’ll think, you do eventually get past this fear and realise you literally don’t care. ‘Insta-moms’ will help empower you with this one – #normalisebreastfeeding (normalize if you’re from across the pond!)

Leaving your baby after spending every waking minute together will be hard. Separation anxiety is totally normal, hell it’s part of the postpartum package alongside buckets of tears, body hatred and sleep deprivation. It’s the real frickin’ deal but don’t feel like everyone is trying to take the little man away. It’s ok to hate being away from him and you will feel like no one knows him like you do. You’ll feel like you’re the only one who can comfort him and you’re the one who went through so much to bring his little precious life earth-side that you don’t ever want to be away from him and quite frankly don’t want to share him with a soul. Really though, don’t feel rushed into being without him. Do every step in your own time and at your own pace, after all, no one can tell you exactly what to do and when to do it when it comes to you and your son. You do you and let everyone else fall in line. (By the way, this totally works and you didn’t have to feel bad because you did what was right for you!) You’ll learn how to let other people, family and loved ones, take the reins every once in a while. You’ll find a balance where you’ll go to those mother-baby classes and have some time for yourself too. It’s all about finding the new normal.

Too many shades of beige! 

Now lastly before I say goodbye, my last piece of advice: SOAK. IT. ALL. UP. Every little hour, minute and second because it will fly by. Rory is amazing. He’s smart and happy and the just the bee’s knees. He’s got a smile that’ll make you weak and a laugh that makes your heart burst; he’ll develop this amazing personality and you’ll love his sense of humour Look how perfect your little boy is! You’ll spend hours looking at him, working out who he looks like most, what colour his eyes really are and how on earth his skin is so soft. You’ll cry many, many times just watching him sleep wondering how you made something so perfect and so beautiful. Don’t worry – all mama’s do this, I’m sure of it.

Enjoy every high and low; every long night and rainy day, every cuddle and snuggle, every laugh and cry. Someone once told me ‘The days will feel long but the years will fly by’ and by god weren’t they right!?

Lots of love,
Future Mama xxxx

_________________________

 

I don’t feel like I need to say much more: my life has changed so much in just a mere twelve months. I’ve learned a lot along the way even though there is so much I wish I’d known before. I’ve dealt with things I never thought I would and although it’s been unimaginably tough at times, it’s those moments that have shown me just how rewarding motherhood can be.

Love to all,
One Curious Mother x

PS. No sources for today’s post but here is a list of helpful links!
Postnatal Depression – https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/post-natal-depression/symptoms/
Postpartum Anxiety – https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/anxiety-type/postnatal-anxiety/
Parental Separation Anxiety – https://www.babble.com/parenting/parental-separation-anxiety/
Babies with Separation Anxiety – https://www.nct.org.uk/parenting/separation-anxiety-0
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/postnatal-depression-and-perinatal-mental-health/ptsd-and-birth-trauma/#.WpwE7SOcZ-U
Birth Trauma – http://www.birthtraumaassociation.org.uk/help-support/what-is-birth-trauma
Loneliness – https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-squeaky-wheel/201703/the-unexpected-loneliness-new-mothers
Peanut App – https://www.peanut-app.io

The Last Leg!

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Please accept my biggest apologies for the lack of posts over the last week or so – Just 3 words cover my back here: Pregnancy is exhausting! We have finally reached the last leg at almost 38 weeks with numerous appointments, the end of the big nursery build and finally that ‘nesting’ feeling in full swing.

After finishing work almost 4 weeks ago and having little over 2 weeks until the D-DAY, I can only describe my new found restlessness as unbelievably severe impatience. With sleepless nights, a nasty case of PUPPP (Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy – basically a hormone fuelled horrible itchy rash) along with the waddle of an oversized goose, having this little man surprise me before the 40th week is starting to sound like an OK idea but there is no doubt this last leg is proving to be difficult. Between daily hospital visits, building project nearing it’s final days and feeling ever more uncomfortable trying to get my head around everything so lets get talking about these highs and lows and how I’m getting myself together for the big day.

Now this is a very important part of this post: my recognition for the fantastic National Health Service of the Great Western Hospital in Swindon whom without I wouldn’t know what the hell I was doing and would more than likely be a messy puddle of worry. Between having low movement last week, camping out in the canteen waiting to see dermatology along with having a number of appointments back and fore to keep an eye on my rash and itching, I have to praise the Women’s Day Assessment Unit for their outstanding care and support. I could not fault them at all. With 110% committed to helping you every time, always monitoring your baby and providing first class care whilst smiling the whole time – Happiness makes such a difference when you’re knees deep in worry. This not only goes for the unit but also for our local community midwives too. Having now completed our 3 week antenatal class course at the hospital run by community midwives, we are definitely feeling a little more aware of what to expect and feel we’ve been given a lot of information on how to prepare. This advice has been above and beyond valuable and I think has geared us up for a small taster of what to expect as first time parents.

We have brought just about everything this baby will need until he’s at least 6 months old (you can never been too prepared!), the nursery is built, plastered, painted and waiting for carpet – which is going to be fitted tomorrow (expect photo update!) and all the furniture is waiting in boxes next to my packed hospital bag. I am secretly hoping he’ll make a spur of the moment arrival any day now as I finally feel like I am almost ready to be a mother. Unfortunately  it’s out of my control and is up to him when he would like to make that entrance! I have been basking in the well known old wives tales plastered over the internet. From eating pineapple, bouncing on an exercise ball, eating spicier foods and even taking longer walks (even if that’s mainly around supermarkets as my appetite is huge right now) I am keen to try it all. As you can tell, nothing is working so far but wish me luck and if you have any suggestions please do contact us! We’d love to hear your advice!

Anyway, Let’s look at our beautiful build then! 

SO MANY PHOTOS. It’s definitely been a well documented build thats for sure! It’s been one of the most exciting thing to see happen to our little annex and we are truly lucky to have my parent’s just next door – they’ve been so much more than your average parents… they’ve been more like part-time project managers, builders, decorators, electricians and everything in between! Now we’ve finally reached the last stages of the nursery build, with just the carpet to be fitted tomorrow and furniture to build after, it’s been good to reflect on the whole project. Take a little look at our progress below:

The Demolition Beginning
The Start of Building
Up Go The Walls & On Goes The Roof
Windows In & Walls Plastered
Whitewashed Walls & Cement
‘Custard’ or ‘Cheesecake’?

This build has come on leaps and bounds in just over 4 weeks with amazing man power and help from the all the local builders, plasterers, carpet fitters and everyone else we’ve employed along with all the family too. It’s crazy how quickly the last 37 weeks have gone and I still can’t believe how far we’ve come, how much we’ve done in that time and how far we still have to go. Despite feeling this impatient, I know these last weeks will fly by and he’ll be here before we know it –  just hoping all this excitement brings him into our lives sooner rather than later!

Happy Humpday & Happy St David’s Day! 

Keep an eye out for updates for our finished room or even an update on his grand entrance – who knows which will come first! 

One Curious Mother x

 

Sources:
ALL images are copyright to One Curious Mother ©
If you have any queries about the images used please visit our contact page and drop us an email! 

Every Little Kick!

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Please excuse my silence for the past week or so – maternity leave has consumed me and is passing me by at quite some pace. Let’s get this little but very important post started!

This week we have finally started attending our antenatal classes! The youngest, furthest along and one of only a handful who aren’t married; our class is made up of around 18 couples held at our hospital by NHS – these are wonderful as they are absolutely free! The course is split into 3 with the first session being on preparing for labour and a baby. Along with all the usual well known things discussed like getting a hospital bag sorted, relaxation techniques and how to prepare your mind and body for labour, the midwives who led the class touched upon a very vital piece of information for discussion: those baby kicks.

From about 18 to 20 weeks onwards you should begin to feel your baby move. As the weeks go on your baby should be settle into a pattern of movement and counting kicks is all about learning what’s normal for your baby. Long gone are the days where you sit and just count 10, you really need to connect with your babies movements and hone into the pattern your baby moves in. Is it every time you eat or is he/she specific and move at the same time everyday. It used to be advised that if you should have 10 kicks a day but after years of research this is no longer the case any more! With new research and development of science, we now know that each and every baby develops a pattern of kicks and sleep that becomes their little routine. This is why taking time to relax and get to know your unborn baby is so important. The NHS talk about the importance of kick counting being linked to prevention of still birth and can be a useful tool when predicting if your baby is unwell.

What should you do when you think baby has reduced movement or you notice you haven’t felt them move in a while? Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • How many weeks along am I in my pregnancy?
  • Have I been rushing around?
  • Have I had anything to eat or drink yet today?
  • When is the last time I remember feeling any movement?

Let’s take a deep breath and a bit of a rain check! Start by sitting down. Get a glass of cold water and get something to eat. Relax and put your feet up or if you’ve been sitting down for a long time, maybe take a walk to the kitchen, make a drink and sit down and concentrate on those movements. It’s recommended you do this for an hour or two and make a note of the outcome. There are a few old wives tales that do the round but please please remember that it is NOT TRUE that a baby slows down as you get closer to your due date! Brush up on busting those myths as these will help you learn exactly what to look for. There are a few websites that I have come across with great guidelines for how to kick count and what to do if you’re concerned. These can be found at the bottom of my post under ‘Sources’. In addition to this, luckily in this day and age with a multitude of electronic devices, there are a few apps you can download for this. Please see some examples below:


So when should you call the midwife or the Women’s Day Assessment Unit?
If you have done these things suggested and you haven’t counted 10 kicks over a 2 hour period then it is advised that you call your midwife or local Women’s Day Assessment Unit. DO NOT wait until the next day and NEVER EVER think you’re wasting their time or that it’s not worth it – you are not and it 100% is! It is exactly what they’re there for; Their job is to help you through your pregnancy, monitor your baby progress and make sure everything is all well and healthy.

Now speaking from experience, this has happened to me a handful of times. Where little man hasn’t been very active for a while, I have followed the suggested guidelines and ended up calling my local Women’s Day Unit at Great Western Hospital which luckily for me is only about 15/20 minute away. The midwives that I have met each time have been absolutely fantastic! Straight away I’ve been allocated a bed, asked a few questions about my pregnancy so far and then hooked up to a monitor. I’m very fortunate that every thing has been perfectly fine each time but despite having been more than once, I would not hesitate to go again if I ever felt anything different or abnormal. The key really is knowing what is normal for you. For us, 10 kicks over a day would definitely have not be enough. Our little man’s patterns are very scheduled; he moves after I get up for a wee in the morning, he always moves after drink or food and is his busiest (or most noticeable) whilst watching television or relaxing in the evening. Counting Kicks has definitely helped me bond with my unborn baby and I am 100% in tune with him now I’ve reached 35 weeks!

Please if you find you’re having a quiet day, don’t wait! Do use the links at the bottom of this post to help you as I have found they’ve really helped me. If you do have a moment please watch this video made by Tommys and supported by NHS & Kicks Count

One Curious Mother x

Sources:
Top Image: All copyright to One Curious Mother
App Images: Screenshots courtesy of Apple App Store / 1: Kicks Count – Free // 2: Baby Kicks Tracker – Free/Full Version £0.99
http://www.whh.nhs.uk/_store/documents/yourbabysmovementsinpregnancyleaflet.pdf

http://www.nhs.uk/video/Pages/how-often-should-my-unborn-baby-move.aspx

http://www.kickscount.org.uk/mums/your-babys-movements/
https://www.fitpregnancy.com/pregnancy/pregnancy-health/importance-counting-kicks-during-pregnancy

The Bare Necessities

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‘The simple bare necessities, forget about your worries and your strife’

As a Disney fan, it seems only appropriate that we delve into this Jungle Book style! What better way to sum up the bare necessities you will suddenly need now your bundle of joy is on the way than with a childhood classic!

This post is a much lighter hearted and fun one. If you LOVE to burn a hole in your pocket (like I do) and don’t know how to do this without totally breaking the bank, then look no further as I am about to share the tips and tricks I’ve learnt so far. When I discovered I was pregnant, it didn’t dawn on me for a few months how much stuff I could possibly need. With so much advertising and lists everywhere telling you ‘YOU WILL NEED THIS‘ and ‘YOU SHOULD BUY THAT‘ it can all be a little overwhelming to say the least. I was always aware of the ‘bare necessities’ I would need such as a pram, a cot and changing table but not all the little extras that have now been designed to make your life easier (and apparently a little more cluttered!)

You’re always told you need a multitude of things but what you need vs what you’re told you need, I have found, are very different. Take it from me, this is far from straight forwards for a first-time-mother with no experience of preparing for a baby. So, where do you start once you’ve listed what counts as the bare necessities? For me, I started by making a list of things categorising what I have brought/have left to buy to help me see what I need. Below are mini lists under the categories I have narrowed it down to: Medical, To Sleep, To Wear, To Feed and To Entertain/Go Out. Let’s see what I’ve got for each:

  1. Medical: For cleaning, bathing & caring
    Shampoo
    Baby lotion
    Body wash
    Cotton wool
    Towels
    Changing table & mat
    NAPPIES
    Wipes
    Nappy rash cream
    Diaper genie & refills
    Bath seat
  2. To Sleep: For comfort & wearing 
    Cot & Moses Basket (and sheets)
    Pillow/’Sleepy head’ pod
    Swaddles
    Pyjamas/sleepsuits – Mixture of different thicknesses
    Baby monitor
  3. To Wear: Remember babies can be sick… a lot!
    Wardrobe (to store it all) – always think of maximising space!
    Baby grows – mixture of long, short, no sleeve/feet, no feet
    Socks
    Hats – mixture of thin & thick
    Cardigans
    Jumpers
    Scratch mittens
  4. To Feed:
    Breast pump
    Bottles
    Feeding pillow
    Sterilisers
    Bottle brush
    Dummies & on-the-go steriliser
    Muslin cloths
    Bibs 
  5. To Entertain/Go Out:
    Cuddly toy
    Bouncy chair/rocker
    Mobile
    Night light
    Playmat – For tummy time!
    Carrier – For taking them for a walk whilst basically weight training – win win!

There are plenty of things you could add or take away from this list as I’m sure I’ve missed out things that others would deem essential and things that I’ve added that others wouldn’t need but as a list of things to help me feel prepared, I feel it covers all basics with a little luxury.

With all those items in mind I am pleased to say I have always been a thrifty shopper. There are a handful of items on that list that I paid full price for. One of my biggest tips & tricks is an absolute must: YOU MUST SCOUR THE INTERNET – get on Google and research that product you want, look for when shops have mother & baby events, sign up for sale email notifications and never ever just settle for what you find first! There will always be an alternative that might help you save your pennies for a rainy day. Here are my top 6 best buys to date: (Please note that these deals may have expired and may not be available anymore!)

Tommee Tippee Dummies at Asda – As mentioned in my previous post ‘A Dummies Guide…’ these sets were on offer for 2 for £6! 

tommee-tippee-dummies-asda

https://groceries.asda.com/product/teethers-soothers/tommee-tippee-closer-to-nature-fun-style-2-orthodontic-soothers-0-to-6m/910001268315 

Tommee Tippee Bottle at Tesco – Originally around £25, these were down to just £10!

 tommee-tippee-bottle-tesco

 http://www.tesco.com/direct/tommee-tippee-closer-to-nature-260ml-bottles-6-pack/215-1344.prd?source=others 

Tommee Tippee Manual Breast Pump at Boots – Originally £21.99, on sale for £10.99!

tommee-tippee-manual-breast-pump-boots

http://www.boots.com/tommee-tippee-closer-to-nature-manual-breast-pump-10205689 

Bambino Mio Miosolo All-In-One Reusable Nappy at Boots – Originally £15.99 each, on sale for £10.99

bm-miosolo-reusable-nappy-boots

 http://www.boots.com/bambino-mio-miosolo-all-in-one-reusable-nappy-hop-10216576 

Bambino Mio Miosolo All-In-One Nappy at Aldi – Down to £8.99 as part of their Baby Event

miosolo-reusable-nappy-aldi

https://www.aldi.co.uk/bambino-mio-miosolo-nappy-bicycle/p/068689020575101 

Mama’s & Papa’s Wave Rocker – On sale for £59 from £79, in wrong box when went to purchase so honoured at the marked down £34.99! 

mamas-papas-bouncer

 https://www.mamasandpapas.com/en-gb/wave-rocker-catch-a-star/p/4591t0300/ 

So, let’s tally it all up. These six items should have come to approximately £167.55 but came to just £81.96 saving me a whopping £85.59! That’s more than 50% off – which you can see but still – it just goes to show that shopping around can help you save those pennies after all your baby is going to need many new things as they begin to grow.

I hope this has inspired you that when you go to shop to look for those bargains and SAVE!

Happy Hump day!

One Curious Mother x

 

Sources:
Cover Image:
https://d23.com/this-day/the-jungle-book-premieres/

Item Images:
https://groceries.asda.com/product/teethers-soothers/tommee-tippee-closer-to-nature-fun-style-2-orthodontic-soothers-0-to-6m/910001268315
http://www.tesco.com/direct/tommee-tippee-closer-to-nature-260ml-bottles-6-pack/215-1344.prd?source=others
http://www.boots.com/tommee-tippee-closer-to-nature-manual-breast-pump-10205689
http://www.boots.com/bambino-mio-miosolo-all-in-one-reusable-nappy-hop-10216576
https://www.aldi.co.uk/bambino-mio-miosolo-nappy-bicycle/p/068689020575101
https://www.mamasandpapas.com/en-gb/wave-rocker-catch-a-star/p/4591t0300/

 

Strep In The Wrong Direction!

I have just spent weeks drafting the perfect (and longest) post for you all. Full of information and all the decisions to make when it comes to deciding what to include in your birth plan, I was desperate to share my most in depth post yet. However, in an unexpected change in situation within my pregnancy, I have been stifled by the uncommonly discussed topic of Group B Strep – a bacteria that 25% of people have in their bodies – that has pretty much made some of my major decisions for me. Thinking out loud, some would think that it’s helped me tackle those hard decisions like where to give birth but I beg to differ. Feeling kind of stripped of my breadth of choice, I decided to do some good old research into what Group B Strep is and exactly how it’s going to affect my birth plan now.

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As you’ve probably guessed from my previous posts, it’s very hard to avoid talking about medical topics when it comes to pregnancy. As a natural phenomenon that requires medical care and attention there are always thousands of issues swarming the topic. Having recently discussed vaccinations and the use of dummies, I still feel it’s important to share every high and low step of this wonderful journey I am hazily bumbling along. Throughout my pregnancy, I have chosen to take pretty much all the necessary precautions advised to me by my midwife. I have agreed to have all the offered tests through scans or bloods being taken without question. I chose to have all my available jabs. I chose these to protect not only myself but my unborn baby too. After all of that, at 31 weeks pregnant, I wasn’t expecting to be told I have Group B Strep.

GBS is something I had never heard of. It wasn’t something that was addressed in my appointments, nor was it brought up during discussions for any of my tests. After foolishly turning to ‘Doctor Google’ to do my research, there’s no surprise I was left feeling nervous and worried for my unborn child. Now, at the fear of sounding too dramatic and a little over the top, although harmless for me, GBS can, in extremely rare cases be very serious for your baby. This is because GBS can be passed on to your baby during labour which has the potential to present itself in two ways: Early Onset GBS or Late Onset GBS. In some of the most serious cases, GBS has led to meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis. CUE THE PANIC… but not for me. I made a mature decision and decided to take a deep breath and look for factual information and advice around the subject; I left Doctor Google behind and found a few websites with clear information that made me feel somewhat sane again.

I hope this helps you if you’re in need of some clarity in between all this fog!

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The first website was Group B Strep Support who came to the rescue to calm my nerves and educate my worried little brain. Both helpful and informative, the website clearly outlines what GBS is, how common it is, it’s dangers as well as their support in further research. Once I had read through all the information necessary, I felt so much calmer. Although some of the information on the website can seem scary, especially when talking about the more serious effects, I felt much more informed and educated on the matter.

The most important piece of information I found was that the top medical recommendation made by doctors and midwives to help prevent GBS passing on to the baby during labour is to have antibiotics as soon as labour begins. This is either by intravenously through a cannula (so a drip for about 20 minutes) or through slow injection (estimated to take about 5-10 minutes).  This is recommended to be administered to you at four hour intervals for Penicillin or eight hour intervals for Clindamycin. From a conversation with a midwife last week, it was suggested that Penicillin is more commonly offered whereas Clindamycin is then offered if you’re knowingly allergic. It was at this moment I realised that my expanse of choices had become quite restricted. To have the antibiotics, I need to be on a hospital ward – that means I have crossed off the idea of a home birth (which I didn’t want anyway) and a no for most midwife led units. There are midwife led units that do offer medicine for care but the one at my chosen hospital is not one of them. I had tossed and turned over the idea of a water birth but the idea of all that fluid put me off. I like the ideas of a bath and using water don’t get me wrong but using it as pain relief just doesn’t seem like enough for me. GBS stifles this idea as needing to be hooked up every 4 hours to a drip is going to be a little difficult and unsanitary as you can imagine as the cannula could get wet. However, I believe I am still allowed to use a regular bath and is still encouraged as it can help speed labour along but you must keep you hand out and dry! On the other hand of all this, there is the option not to have any antibiotics. If you should choose not this option, this is where GBS can become serious. As mentioned earlier there are two different types of GBS: early onset and late onset. The information available from the NHS website talks more in depth about both, what each means and the symptoms to look out for.

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Early Onset, which develops within 24 hours, carries symptoms such as ‘being floppy and unresponsive, not feeding well, grunting, high or low temperature, fast or slow heart rates, fast or slow breathing rates and/or irritability’. IF your baby is to become infected there is a chance that ‘even with the best medical care the infection can sometimes cause life-threatening complications’. The information leaflet goes on to discuss the chances of it becoming serious. One in ten babies born with GBS will die and one in five babies born with GBS will develop issues such as ‘cerebral palsy, deafness, blindness, and serious learning difficulties‘ but there are still chances that a baby born with GBS can make a full recovery and survive with no complications. Late Onset is a little different from Early Onset. It’s only classed as ‘Late’ if it develops in the baby after seven days or more. This then suggests that it is not linked to pregnancy and an infection could have been picked up from someone or something else. This will be handled with care and your baby will be tested and monitored to determine whether GBS is or isn’t present.

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There’s a lot of reading here and it renders a very uneasy feeling with me. As commonly untested and therefore untreated, this can leave a lot of your baby’s health to chance but spreading the word is easy and could be the difference between making that doctors appointment for a swab or not bothering. The topic was this week discussed on popular morning TV show This Morning – in my eyes a very good step in the right directed to see GBS starting to emerge into the mainstream media. The six-and-a-half-minute clip shows an interview with a bereaved mother, Fiona Paddon, and medical professional, Dr Chris. They began the discussion with the heartbreaking story of how Fiona lost her son at just 9 days old. Like myself and I’m sure many others, Fiona had no idea that GBS even existed or that she was a carrier of the bacteria. There was no mention of it during appointments, tests or NCT classes. This is where Dr Chris steps in to talk about the many petitions over the years that have been signed and repeatedly ignored. For the sake of a small swab test carried out between 35 and 37 weeks, so many babies could be saved from contracting life changing illnesses or meeting death just by mothers, midwives & doctors knowing that GBS is present. It’s that simple.

Since mentioning it to a midwife when I was recently in hospital for monitoring, I now have a big square sticker on the front of my maternity notes to help whichever midwife I have when I go into labour – the sticker is a bit like the one at the top of this post. With this in mind, I think my personal decisions will all become a bit more final after my next midwife appointment when I will be able to talk and come away with as much information as possible to go away and write my birth plan. I already have an idea of how I will plan this already. It’s been decided for me that I will be heading to the delivery suite, accepting the antibiotics provided, having any pain relief I can have whilst on the antibiotics, using the bath (if not too traumatised by the thought of a water birth) and eventually when little one makes his grand entrance, I will be staying in hospital for 24-48 hours for observation… or something along those lines!

GBS has definitely been one of the more difficult subjects to tackle and I want to thank you (again and again) for having a read. Now let’s do our bit spread the word and make more and more women aware of GBS and how it can be handled!

One Curious Mother x

Sources:
http://www.gbss.org.uk
http://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/2037.aspx?categoryid=54
http://www.itv.com/thismorning/health/group-b-strep-why-dont-we-test-for-it
(header image) https://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&ved=0ahUKEwjbz9z9j-LRAhWE6xQKHWH_BRMQjRwIBw&url=https%3A%2F%2Fuk.pinterest.com%2Fpin%2F236157574190265969%2F&bvm=bv.145393125,bs.2,d.ZGg&psig=AFQjCNG92g6XdbZaos7F7tsfisv2fXlfNQ&ust=1485599612550243

 

The Hospital Bag

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As much as I would always like to think I am organised within an inch of my life, I am probably nowhere near. My apartment is a constant cleaning-in-progress mess, we still don’t have a nursery built and I not even begun to think about buying the big important stuff a baby requires. However, despite this the one thing I have decided I will be organised about is my hospital bag. The thought of being unprepared for his grand arrival is starting to terrify me and I feel I must nail this bag on the head even with no nursery or furniture! To start my preparations, as always, I’ve turned to our good old friend Google and done a bit of reading. Hello NetMums! We all know it’s not hard to end up reading an unbelievable and overwhelming number of forums, blogs and comments but I did come to one big conclusion: Everyone is different.

I am currently at 30 weeks and 3 days and have been made abundantly aware that I look positively enormous for someone who has just less than 10 weeks to go. (I’ll give you some context – I am only 5ft3, before pregnancy was a size 8/10 and from behind you can’t even tell I’m pregnant). I have begun to panic a bit at the thought of our little one arriving before his due date so decided to begin organising things to put this hospital bag together now I’ve brought a sturdy duffle bag.

To begin with my starting lists seemed to consist of a mixture of things for myself and the baby that I may or may not use. The more I thought about it, the more I realised I might work on a process of elimination basis and add or take things away as it gets closer and closer to ‘the big day’. Below are the things I’ve put in the bag for baby so far:

  • 2 ‘going home’ sleep suit – both with build in feet and scratch mittens
  • 1 full length baby grow – no feet or mittens
  • 2 newborn long sleeve bodysuits – just in case he’s tiny
  • 2 0-3-month-old short sleeve bodysuits
  • 1 0-3-month-old no sleeve bodysuit – in case he’s warm
  • 1 soft toy –  to stop him crying of course (this is being made so isn’t in the bag yet)
  • 4 muslin cloths – may need more, 4 seemed like a good starting point
  • 2-3 dribble bibs – please see above comment ^
  • 2-3 pairs of socks – different colours & thickness
  • 2 pairs of scratch mittens – baby’s nails can be sharp

I have only put a lot thought into items for the baby and I’m already being much slower picking the things I want to put in the bag for me. I’ve put this down to still being quite unsure about what kind of birth I am going to aim for – yes aim being the most important word here as I don’t believe anyone knows how a birth will unfold. Again, I have started looking at my birth plan but I will talk more about that in depth in be a future post no doubt. The starts of my ‘me list’ looks a little like this:

  • Nightwear (1 PJ set, 2 nighties) – preferably with buttons for breast feeding and a wide/elastic waistband for comfort
  • 5 pairs of ‘Bridget Jones pants’ – yes those big comfy ones that come up to your armpits
  • A million maxi pads – because we all know that these will be an absolutely necessity
  • Pack of face wipes & some moisturiser – just to try and feel a tad normal
  • 3 – 4 Nursing bras – for maximum ease when feeding the little one
  • ‘Mothers Balm’ by Neal’s Yard – I was brought this as a gift and absolutely swear by it 
  • Camera – As a photographer, this an absolute must no matter how awful I may look/feel

The quantities of the above are based on not knowing how long I’ll be in hospital so covers a maximum stay of 3-4 days. I still need to do things like toothbrush, paste, shampoo, conditioner, shower gel, etc. but my SO is going to take care of chargers, phones and a call list because there’s less things for me to think (and forget) about.
I do still have a little way to go yet with just under 10 weeks left so I feel I’m running out of time to somehow find the strength and organise the rest of my life properly especially with my maternity leave creeping up on me at just 25 days to go! For now, I think I’ll stick to being content my bag is pretty much almost packed and pray that if I have forgotten something, that eventually I will somehow remember – even with my gooey baby-controlled mind!

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(Could not resist this bear hat – Hoping this will be his first outfit post-birth!)

Hope you’re all enjoying being back at work and having a Christmas-decoration-free home. (Mine looks so bare now, almost as if it were a little tidier!)

One Curious Mother x

Stock List: 
Striped Sleepsuit – Mothercare
Spaceship Sleepsuit – Cath Kidston
Red Dribble Bib – Zippy
White Sleeveless Baby Grow – Asda
Grey Bear Hat – H&M
Grey Star Swaddle – Swaddle Me