Pregnancy diary: week 39 – bump still here

I was thinking about starting to write this post yesterday, with the thought that it might help to start labour, as then I would have wasted my time in writing something that I wouldn’t have got round to publishing. But in the end I had other things to do and Andrew’s nap was shorter than usual due to the fact that I stupidly let him take a talking toy car with him for nap time – he must have moved and inadvertently pressed the button, which started the car talking again and woke him up! Lesson learned!

This week has in many respects been much the same as any other recent week. We’ve been to the same groups as usual, and at every single one I’ve had the usual comments – ‘so you’re still here then’ or ‘so you’re still pregnant then’ or ‘no sign of baby then’ or ‘when are you due?….[me: next week] Really?! You look very neat/small!’ In fact if I had a pound for every time someone commented on how small or ‘neat’ bump is for this stage in pregnancy, I’d have enough money to splash out on some more cloth nappies (you can tell what’s on my mind). But according to the chart, bump was bang on the right size for 38 weeks, the last time it was measured. Maybe it’s because I’m ‘all bump’ and from the back I don’t look pregnant (so I’m told…)

I wish I had a pound for every time someone said how small/neat bump is considering there's less than a week to go til due date!

I can’t deny it though, I have been waking up each day wondering if today will be the day. This thought doesn’t usually have chance to stay around in my head for very long, because it’s soon overshadowed by thoughts of looking after Andrew and keeping on top of things around the house, which tend to keep my brain occupied until nap time, when I relax and have me-time – still on all fours and kneeling! This week I’ve had a real sense of enjoying my time with Andrew, just the two of us; not that I don’t enjoy it anyway, but this week all the more so because I’m aware that we don’t have long left now until there will be three of us when Tom’s at work. Exactly how long, I don’t know, but not long compared to Andrew’s life-time so far. It’s quite hard to imagine being able to love and care for two little ones, to spread between two what I currently have for one, but I’ve been told that this is a perfectly normal feeling when you’re pregnant with your second child, and you soon learn once the baby is here that it is completely possible to spread the love between two and not feel like you’re doing either of them any harm.

I’ve also reached the stage of trying out the old wives’ tales of natural labour induction methods; I have no idea whether any of these really work, but it can’t harm in trying!

  1. Large pineapples currently cost only £1 in our local supermarket, so I’ve been munching on these, though I have to say I haven’t consumed my own body weight in pineapple, which I think is the scale of consumption that’s necessary to actually induce labour. Still, I love pineapple, and it’s a good excuse to eat it anyway.
  2. I’ve dug out the raspberry leaf tea that I bought in the final week of pregnancy with Andrew – it’s slightly out of date, but how can tea go off?! Again, I like the taste of it anyway, so even if it makes no difference, I’m enjoying the odd cup here and there when I’m in the mood.
  3. I still can’t stand the smell of food cooking if it involves frying or roasting, but I have experimented and figured out that I can cope with a curry made like this: chuck in a pan a tin of chopped tomatoes, a tin of lentils, a chopped up leek and whatever other veg you like (e.g. chopped cauliflower, chopped aubergine, chopped sweet potato), mix it all with a couple of tablespoons of curry paste, and heat it up with the lid on the pan for about 20 minutes until the veg is softened to the consistency you like it (we like ours with a bite still), then wilt in some spinach and serve with rice and/or naan bread. So we’ve been eating quite a few curries and I’ve been adding more and more chilli powder to mine as the week has gone on. It was immediately after a hot curry on Tom’s birthday in 2011 that suddenly my waters broke and 3 hours later Andrew arrived!
  4. I’m doing lots of walking, as this is part of our normal daily life anyway – we walk most places (shops, town, groups, park etc.) in Cambridge, and this usually adds up to at least 1-2 hours a day.

As for an update on baby’s positioning – I have no idea! I’ve tried to feel bump myself, but unlike the midwife who seems to just do a few prods and tells me confidently exactly how baby is lying, I find it hard to know which way round baby is. So I’m just hoping that all my efforts of kneeling, sitting forward on hard chairs, swaying my hips side to side whilst on all fours, swimming on my front, doing handstands in the pool (a tip from a friend’s mum who’s a midwife!) etc. will all pay off in the long run. I can’t say that I haven’t tried.

I’m hoping that the next post I write involving baby will be to announce our good news. My due date is Tuesday (30th), so only 4 days time. Not that I have any say in when baby decides to arrive, but I think by next Friday I’ll be getting a little impatient if there are no signs. Plus we now have all-day and all-night cover for Andrew looking after purposes until the end of next weekend, thanks to my parents and Tom’s mum. Let’s hope that my body and baby agree that this would be a splendid time to kick off the action! 🙂

Pregnancy diary: week 38 – midwife appointment and antenatal class 3

And I’m still sitting here with a bump! I usually at least start writing this weekly post quite early in the week, as I can’t always guarantee how long I’ll get to write during Andrew’s nap later in the week, especially when I was at work and only had 3 afternoon naptimes a week. But this week I was less motivated to do that, just in case baby did decide to arrive early and it would have been a waste of time. But as there are no signs yet, I’ll give you a round-up of this week.

The worst part has been having a nasty cough, which Tom kindly passed to me after he caught it most probably at work (where the students all traipse into his office bringing in their start of term germs). It’s very frustrating not being able to take any medicine for it, particularly at night when I’d love to take something that would knock me out and make me sleep through the constant coughing. Overall in this pregnancy I’ve only had 2 cold-/cough-type ailments, which actually isn’t that bad – I remember getting about 5 when I was pregnant with Andrew, probably because my job involved being out in schools every day back then, wheres this year it’s been mainly office-based. I’ve been hoping that baby wouldn’t arrive until I’m over the cough, and I’ve been wondering whether there is some kind of internal mechanism in a pregnant body that prevents labour from starting if there’s any kind of illness present?! It would be nice to think so, but I have no idea whether this is the case.

The best part has been spending time (hours of it, mainly during nap times and some in evenings) finally making decisions on which cloth nappies to buy and where to buy them from. I’ve written about this in a separate post, to spare you all the info if you’re not into cloth nappies (unlike me – I’m hooked!), which I’ll publish when the ordered nappies arrive and I can take pictures of my lovely new acquisitions.

Apparently this bump still looks quite small for 38 weeks according to lots of people I meet who can't believe there's only just over a week until due date!

The more practical parts of this week have been my midwife appointment and third (final) antenatal class. The midwife appointment went well and overall things are fine with baby and me. My blood pressure was fine, my wee had no signs of protein, and I have no swelling of hands and feed (unlike when I was pregnant with Andrew and my wedding ring was getting tighter by now). Bump is still measuring bang on the average line of growth, and baby’s heartbeat is clear and a good fast speed. The only thing that wasn’t so good to hear was the dreaded phrase ‘back-to-back’! At my last appointment 2 weeks ago, the midwife said that baby was half-way between being front-to-back and back-to-back. She suggested some positions and movements that I could do to try and get baby in a front-to-back position, and I have been trying to do these when I can.

What’s the problem with back-to-back anyway? The so-called ‘occipital posterior’ position (or OP that’s now been recorded in my maternity notes) means baby’s back is facing my back, and this can lead to longer and more painful labour than if baby’s back is facing forwards to mum’s tummy. Having said that, it’s a generalisation, and I don’t think Andrew was in a completely ‘front-to-back’ position (the ideal) when the midwife came round for my 40 week appointment and said I was already about 3cm dilated, and he still managed to turn and be born after only 3 hours of real labour. It’s interesting when I look back and think that my instinctual desire during labour was to be on all fours – I’d heard about this position at yoga classes, but when it came to labour my body just automatically stayed in that position the whole time, I didn’t even need to think about it, it just happened! I wonder now whether that was my body’s natural way of encouraging baby to turn into a favourable position for birth. I’ll never know, but I find it fascinating how ‘animal’ labour was for me.

For now, my task is to try and get this baby to turn before I actually go into labour, to hopefully reduce the time it takes for baby to get into position during labour. This means crawling around on all fours, which can easily be incorporated into play time with Andrew who finds it hilarious, sitting backwards on hard dining chairs (leaning onto the back) instead of slumping on the sofa, kneeling on the bean bag, rolling my hips around whilst on all fours, and swimming on my front. Given how much this baby moves, it’s perfectly possible that he/she will move into front-to-back, side-to-back and back-to-back positions quite regularly on a daily basis over however long he/she has left in there. Various people who I have heard from since my appointment have told of different experiences with a back-to-back baby, some slow, some fast, some complicated, some uncomplicated, and some have even said that there baby turned into the back-to-back position during labour, despite being well positioned prior to labour, so there really is no telling what could happen. If I did have a slower labour, it might mean we actually make it to hospital rather than it happening extremely quickly at home. I do also feel as though my general level of fitness from all the walking and swimming I do will stand me in good stead for a straightforward labour, as the midwives commented on how fit I seemed, in looks and behaviour, when I gave birth to Andrew. So my overall feeling at the moment is that I would like to try my best to encourage baby to be in a good position for the start of labour, but at the end of the day, labour can be unpredictable and there’s nothing I can do about that.

Talking of labour, I’m glad that I managed to get along to the third and final antenatal class before going into labour. This class was also for the dads, so it was nice for Tom to come too and refresh his mind on supporting me during labour, birth and the early days with a baby, as well as meet some other dads who will be going through a similar experience. First we split into a mums group and a dads group; we talked about how we would like to be supported in labour, and the dads discussed how they thought they could best support us in labour – we then compared lists of points we came up with and the two groups’ lists matched pretty well.

Next, the dads had a run through what happens in labour with the teacher, to revise this like we did last week, and they also got a demonstration of various ways to wear the baby in a sling (as the teacher is a babywearing consultant). I thought it was a good idea to try and get dads interested in this, and Tom has said that I must show him how to use our new sling. Meanwhile, us mums were discussing strategies for looking after a toddler and a newborn once paternity leave is over and we ‘go solo’ with two little ones (eek!) This was a really useful exercise to share ideas, learning from others in the group as well as inputting our own ideas. Various things were suggested, but one of the main things we all thought of was that we are going to go out to groups and activities a lot earlier than we did with our first, so that the toddler is entertained whilst we can sit and feed the baby and rest a little. We also agreed that we would meet up as a group as much as possible, alternating which house we go to, so that our toddlers can play together and we can share with each other how hard things are. I feel very blessed compared to most others in the group that we’ll have quite a bit of help from family who aren’t too far away.

Then we split into small groups and discussed ways of helping to introduce smoothly a new baby to our toddlers, as well as thinking about potential issues of sibling rivalry and ways to deal with that. I found this very useful, and I feel more prepared for if and when problems arise that I need to deal with coherently. We’re still hoping that with a small age gap and that fact that Andrew is generally a very easy-going child, we won’t have too many issues, but it’s always hard to predict something like this and he may well surprise us.

Finally we came back together as a big group and went through some breathing exercises. These were one of the things that I specifically asked to cover in the class, because I’m sure my breathing in labour with Andrew was one of the reasons, along with being in the pool, that I didn’t need any pain relief drugs at all, not even gas and air. I found the handout from the birth preparation workshop we went to just before Andrew was born, and I’ve been practising the breathing techniques described on there, but it’s always good to go through these with an expert in person (the teacher is also a yoga teacher). I particularly liked the visualisation whilst breathing technique – when a contraction comes, imagine you’re on a walk up a hill, which starts off quite easy, then gets harder and harder as it gets steeper and rockier and you have to scramble up on all fours, but you finally get to the top and the view is worth the effort. I may well use this if I find it helps in labour.

As we were getting ready to leave, we talked about meeting up and one of the mums volunteered to send an email suggesting a date soon, as I’m due any day and there’s another mum who has a planned c-section date not long after my due date. It would be great to meet up and get to know each other even more than the time in the classes allowed. I’m so glad that this aspect of the classes has worked out, as that was my main reason for doing them. Who knows, maybe the dads will also have a get together or two – I’m sure they’ll be looking for ways to entertain the toddlers at weekends when they are in charge to give mummy some time with just the baby.

Having typed this kneeling upright on the beanbag, I’d better get back to some crawling and hip circling. Maybe I’ll be back next week with news of week 39 of pregnancy…. or maybe I won’t. Watch this space 🙂