Sunday, 25 March 2012

Looking forward to another Positive Birth

In preparation for my 2nd birth, I have been looking over all my antenatal notes from my 1st pregnancy. We did a weekend antenatal course with Cuidiu (Irish Childbirth Trust). This was an amazing eye-opener for me and my hubby. I learnt that my body was designed to give birth, my body could make the natural pain reliever (endorphins) as required, assuming I control my fears and panic- these natural endorphins would be able to be released. We learnt that this was our birth- no one else’s- definitely not the hospitals. So armed with the knowledge of the natural process of birth, as well as the hospital processes, we could make educated decisions during the labour. And most importantly feel that we owned the experience.
I would highly recommend doing some antenatal study outside of the hospital offered courses. The hospitals obviously explain all about their process and approaches, which may or may not be exactly what you want.
I also did a home study course on GentleBirthing. This is a hypnobirthing program developed by an Irish woman, Tracy Donegan. The idea behind it, as with the Marie Mongan Method of HypnoBirthing, is to remove the fear many women associate with birth, and replace it with positive images. I am practicing this again, and am finding I can reach the state of deep relaxation very quickly, and also my little one loves it. I find it a great way to connect with the little one, the minute I begin the deep breathing the little one starts to move around loads. He/she obviously feels I am relaxed and can communicate with me.

I am also reading a lot. I have been reading Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Child Birthing and have found it brilliant. I recommend it for anyone interested in a natural or “normal” birth. (Just on a side note- we are very lucky to have Ina May visiting Ireland for the Homebirth Annual Conference, 29th April, see www.homebirth.ie.)
Another great resource I used near the end of my first pregnancy was Journey into Mothehood by Sheri L. Menelli, a book of birth stories. I was balling crying through most. So emotional, positive, and encouraging. I downloaded this book free of charge from their website:
from Sheri's blog (http://smenelli.wordpress.com/):
"Please feel free to download this book of Journey into Motherhood and pass it on to other birth workers and expectant women.
http://www.birthingbusiness.com/Book/giveaway.html"


A bit about Fear:

The majority of women have heard the horror stories, the scary birth stories, friends’ bad experiences, TV and Movies with women screaming their heads off, cursing their partners, swearing they will never let them touch them again. It is a touchy subject as well. If you have a lovely birth, like we had with Little Man. While it was uncomfortable, yes; long, yes; painful, no. Would I have done it again straight away?? Well, if I got a little rest first, then yes. I got up from my 1 or 2 stitches and had a lovely shower, and then I carried our baba back from the delivery suite to the maternity ward. No drugs to numb me or dose the baby, we began our breastfeeding relationship happy and alert.

But when you tell people this, they make out you have rose tinted glasses on. And I feel like I am boosting, which I hate and try hard not to do. I have heard comments that by telling your positive birth story, you are belittling the women who have a tough time, but this is not it at all.

Overcoming the Fear:

I very much believe in the philosophies of GentleBirthing, and Cuidiu (Irish Childbirth Trust) and the NCT (UK’s National Childbirth Trust). That if women remove the fear (through education), and replace it with positive affirmations, a positive outlook towards birth (through education and deep relaxation in the case of hypnobirthing) then they have a big advantage towards obtaining their natural birth. Women need to stop listening or watching the horror stories surrounding birth and immerse themselves in positive stories and images.
A great idea I used (originally I came across it in Tracey Donegan’s GentleBirthing program, but have seen various types since) is to make a birth board- mine was simply an A4 page with images I felt represented how our birth would be, how our breastfeeding will go, how we will engage with our beautiful little one.


This time round I tried to add in some positive images of siblings and new babies. This is one area I am a little apprehensive of. But I am staying positive. Little Man will adore his little brother or sister as much as he does now. He kisses my belly all the time, and chats and reassures it.

What are other people’s experiences or thoughts on birth without fear/pain?



Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Pinterest Weekly Challenge: Messy Foam Play


Little Man loves the bath, a bit too much, in that we can’t get him out of it!!
He also loves painting and anything messy really.
I have to admit I don’t do enough of it. It might be the control freak in me coming out to play; the idea of the potential mess makes me nervous.
But I am going to do more with him. That’s my plan.

So for our first messy play activity, I got out two tubes of “crazy soap” foam bought from Tesco’s after hearing they had used this in crèche and Little Man loved it. This was about a year ago. And we played with it at the time and boy was it messy. But actually clean messy, as it doesn’t spill everywhere it just sticks to everything, but it is dry, so easier to clean up. And washes off clothes, etc.

So this time I was a bit more prepared. I have a plastic box I use for Sensory Play, filled with containers, lids, brushes, sticks, etc. so I put a blanket on the floor, then a large plastic box lid on the blanket, and the plastic box on top. So lots of areas to catch spills/ mess. Little Man was very good at keeping the foam in the box. I find he is very open to instructions. Good for showing them limitations.

We then proceeded to squirt the foam. It was great fun, Little Man loved it. He found it tricky enough to squirt it himself, so I helped him, or squirted it for him.

He enjoyed squashing it between his fingers, imagining he was washing his hands with it, rubbing it up his arms, mixing it around the box, putting it into the little containers.

I made a snow man, which was then squashed. I then made a big ball of “clouds” as we called them. It took a while to convince Little Man to try holding it before squishing it, when he did and rolled it around his hands he enjoyed the feeling. It feels so light and delicate. Then he squished it!


Such fun.

Then to clean up we took the box up to the bath and Little Man used the shower head to rinse it all.

What next now??? Will have to do a search on my to-do Pinterest Weekly Challenge for mess play activities.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Take Notice of the Little things


On JDaniel4’s Mom blog Good Girl Gone Redneck wrote a lovely post on pausing from life for a moment, it made me well up.
So I thought I would take a few minutes to take note of the little things about my Little Man, the things we maybe take for granted, the things we need to treasure and bring to the fore of our brains for stressful/ tough days.


  • How soft my little man’s skin and hair is. I read somewhere that breastfeed babies have softer skin and that this continues as long as they breastfeed (found one reference there on Dr Sears website relating to initially babies skin: http://www.askdrsears.com/topics/breastfeeding/why-breast-best/3-little-known-benefits-breastfeeding  not sure where I saw longer feed baby reference). I swear LM’s skin is as soft as the day I first met him.
  • Recently if I seem a little impatient, or am trying to convince him to do something he doesn’t want to do, like get into bed, he strokes my face and hair and says: “It’s ok Mama, it’s ok”. So lovingly.
  • Breastfeeding- all the quite time spent looking into each others eyes. Gives me (and him I believe) a lovely calming moment. (see post on breastfeeding)
  • Getting so excited and happy that his Dada is home from work that he drops everything to run and give him a hug. Making my hubby’s day. So sweet.
  • Eyelashes- my Little Man has the longest eyelashes I have ever seen, they would make Rimmel mascara jealous, and he has begun to use them. Unintentionally and unknowingly to him at the moment. When he wants something, he tilts his head flutters those lashes and puts on a cute voice. It is so adorable. He is so innocently cunning. I love it.
  • Unlooked for, Unasked for, Un-pleaded for hugs and kisses, just cause he wanted to give you one. It just makes my heart swell. At 2.5 he can be so affectionate and gentle.
  • Kissing/ hugging his baby brother or sister- no I haven’t given birth yet, he does this through my belly. He may be on the way to climb up on my lap for a cuddle, story or a feed and he pauses mid climb to embrace my belly. Then kiss it and sometimes talks to it.
  • Little man has 2 beauty spots (like largish freckles) since he was born. I have noticed another tiny freckle starting on his arm. I feel privileged that I (his mama) know that he had only 2 since birth, one on his right leg and one under his hair on the back of his neck. We call them funny spots. The idea is that when pushed it makes you laugh. Strange I know.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Pour Your Heart Out- Love Thyself...

Pour Your Heart Out- a Link Up Honest Blog Post inspired by thingsicantsay.com
Reading some posts over at Good Girl Gone Redneck, got me thinking about body image, something I have struggled with for a long time, but thankfully haven't been obsessing over in recent years. So here goes.

I have a love/ hate relationship with food, and a questionable relationship with my body image.
I suppose most women do. 
When I was 12 I became quite cubby. It was awful, totally debilitating. It stopped me from being myself, it stopped me from doing things I could have, should have, and would have.

How I got there I'm not too sure. Just "puppy fat" as they call it maybe. But it was a vicious circle, as my confidence dropped, I felt less motivated and less inclined to do sports. I couldn't take those awful pushy teachers shouting and trying to be motivating while stripping your confidence down.

So I became shyer and more introverted.

Then when I was 15 I took a Home Economics class for the first time, just for a few weeks. And we learnt about calories. I probably had never heard of a calorie, this was over 15 years ago- people weren’t calorie/weight obsessed, well not in Ireland anyway. We (in an all girls school) were given the homework of analysing and taking note of what we ate and how many calories we had for a week. What were they thinking!!
Anyway, that is where my obsessive relationship with calorie counting began. I was so excited, it was so simple, I had never thought of it that way before.  It meant by simply taking account of my calorie intake and trying to keep it less than say 1500 calories a day, or 1300 on a good day I could lose or maintain my body weight.
I quickly found food items that you could eat lots of but that were low in calories- fruit, rice cakes... I also began to lie. I would tell everyone I had had dinner/ lunch at another’s house.
I got a trill from missing a meal. To say it became an obsession was an understatement.

But it worked and I lost weight. I got kissed for the first time. I could look in the mirror and like what I saw. Clothes fit me. People commented on me losing weight which I loved, I relished it, it motivated me even more. Even writing this I am getting flash backs of the feelings, they were dangerous.

I don’t think I was anorexic, in my opinion I never went that far. But I had a problem, which I only admitted to myself when the weight lose effected my life negatively resulting in infertility issues nearly 10 years on.

I now have my perfect Little Man, and am expecting number 2. I am happy in my skin. I am not thin, but I am fit and healthy. I will never win a modelling contest, but I have so much more. If I had know when I was 15 that the miss management of my weight loss may have contributed to trouble conceiving, I don’t know if I would have changed it. But all I can do now is be healthier moving forward, and take a healthier approach to diet and exercise. My mantra now (although different now I am pregnant again) is to eat yummy healthy food with some treats and run accordingly. I took up jogging, which is great, it allows me to eat lots, and then get exercise and maintain a healthy weight.

Weight and body image is such a scary topic, teenagers, especially girls (but I understand more and more boys too) are so vulnerable. And susceptible to others opinions of them, and the bombardment of magazines with so called perfect (too often size “0”) bodies. It is so sad. I hope I can instil a healthy approach to eating and exercise in my kids. How I’m not so sure yet.

Pregnancy Exercise

I am currently 29 weeks, or 7 months pregnant, and I am huge! Well much bigger than on LM at this stage anyway. I got a bump on LM at 20 wks, but before that had nothing really, it just popped out. This was much more gradual- I have had a definite bump since week 14.
I was also much sicker and tired on this pregnancy, most likely to do with the very active toddler, who understandably did not get that his mama needed to lie still with eyes closed!! So I just played along with him, and got through the first trimester eventually.

I have now passed the middle of the 2nd trimester, apparently the honeymoon trimester, where you have so much more energy. I did feel much better, all nausea gone, and had a lot more energy. But that did not stretch to a walk after LM went to bed, or a yoga session before bed. No if I was lucky I went for a 25 minute walk at lunch Mon-Wed at work, but that depends on weather. Then we often go to Zoo at weekends, which is good exercise. But can’t see me walking to end of beach and back anytime soon- just no time during the day and too tired in the evening.

And now I am in 3rd trimester, I’m getting bigger and these Braxton hicks are really being felt!! The tightness, the discomfort... and usually when I try to do some walking.

Also LM doesn’t do prams. We stopped using the pram, the little we did use it anyway, when he was about 13/14 months old. He always slept better in the sling, and interacted more. Only really used the pram for long walks.
But now it is a bit of a quandary, do we try to re-introduce the pram, as I can no longer carry him in the sling (L!!), so I can go for walks while he sleeps. But the problem with that is he naps great in his bed, 2-2.5 hrs and we usually have to wake him. So I just have been trying to organise days around naps- either go places in mornings and back for naps, or leave when he’s tired and he naps in car. Only now he really only sleeps for an hour in car seat, and wakes easily.
So I have convinced myself!!! Only one solution, no pram just continue as we have been- it just means my potential for walks is reduced. So short walks with LM in his trike. Or evening walks.
Or what other exercise might be beneficial for preparing my body for birth??
So I did a little googleing.
  1. Swimming- will get around to soon!
  2. Walking- I texted and friend and we went on first walk, which was great, alot longer than I would have gone on my own!! Good conversation too.
  3. Pelvic Floor Exercises: this is the most important exercise to do during pregnancy and after really for the rest of our lives!! This will keep us from any embarrassing incontinence issues down the line, so advice seems to be to do daily. I have an alarm set on my phone, but a good idea is to put little tiny stickers around the place, where you will see them a few times a day and every time you see them do your exercises.
  4. Yoga obviously is a good one. And I do have the yoga mat and ball. So here are some positions for easing discomforts during pregnancy and preparing for birth. Obviously I am not a yoga instructor, so best to do yoga, especially pregnancy yoga, in a class. Also consult your doctor before starting any new exercise.
    1. The figure 8 (or whaooo wiggle wiggle as I call it with LM who I try to get to join me in my yoga)- great for flexing your pelvis and loosening /easing pains in your lower back. Basically on all fours, hands under shoulders, knees under hips. Then make the figure 8 with your hips, alternate between wide and small ‘8’s. Do about 12 repetitions and do in the other direction.
    2. The cat stretch (or tiger stretch- again for LM, his favourite book at the moment is “The Jungle Book” and he likes Sher Khan the tiger)- great for back pain, again on all fours, and breath out while tucking your chin to chest and arching back up- like a chat would. Then return to original position, while breathing in. Keeping back straight in all fours position.
    3. The squat (pretend seat- again for LM, we pretend we are sitting down, and have a cuppa tea) - great for leg muscles, and those planning on squatting being potentially incorporated into birth.
    4. Tailor sitting (taken from the Mayo Clinic): Sit on the floor with your back straight in the "butterfly position" (the bottoms of your feet together and your knees dropped comfortably). As you press both knees gently toward the floor using your elbows, you should feel a stretch in your inner thighs. Don't bounce your knees up and down rapidly. If you find it difficult at first to keep your back straight, use a wall to support your back. Hold the position for 10 or 15 seconds and repeat the stretch 5 or 10 times.
    5. Shoulders/ neck exercises- I seem to be carrying all my tensions at the moment in my shoulders and neck, twice this pregnancy have been crippled with shoulder/neck muscle cramps that have tensed my whole back up, resulting in me stuck in bed for at least 2 days. So this includes shoulder roles, head turns
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