41 week baby bump

Whoosh! Just squeaking in with this week’s diary entry, I reckon! Week 41, the week where the bump has become so heavy I have to hold it up on the daily speed-walk because it feels as though something might fall out! (Have taken to a daily dog-walking session that involves a little hill, and I do long lunge-walks up it to try and start things off.) I can categorically say that sex, sweeps and pineapple did not trigger labour. Nor did hot curry. I have a few other tricks up my sleeve (and a second sweep) so will keep you updated. I get the feeling that things happen when they happen. Funny that.

Lots of people asked me about the relaxation and “hypnobirthing” things that I have been listening to; I have no idea whether they will actually do anything when it comes to established labour, but they have kept me very chilled out and happy for the past few weeks so if you feel you’re a panicker (I am) and you need tricks to keep your mind from going bat-shit crazy (I do) then give them a go. There were LOADS recommended to me but I found them hard to track down in the app store or on iTunes and so I ended up listening to a lot of samples and finally plumping for the “Natal Hypnotherapy” series by Maggie Howell. I like her voice, especially when she says “that’s right…..wonderful”. Ha. I have “Letting Go of Fears”, “The Labour Companion” and “Effective Birth Preparation for Hospital or Birth Centre”. They are all on iTunes or on Amazon here, if you want a hard copy CD.

Right. Off for another dog walk – the poor dog is exhausted! I would love to have a gory set of symptoms to share with you, but no: I was denied the joy of examining a mucus plug (when the hell did that sneak its way out?) and apart from needing a wee every twenty seconds, things are feeling tip-top. Oh – itchy bump. Really itchy. And if the sun even so much as winks at my tummy area it feels as though it is instantly burning, even through fabric. Also, preggers people, careful in the hot sun because I think that my chest caught it the other day, despite SPF30. I’ve also had a smattering of freckles appear on my face – again, despite SPF – so wise to try and avoid getting caught out. Big hat, shady tree, etc etc.

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ways to induce labour

Methods suggested by the midwife for “getting things started” and gently inducing my labour: sex, a sweep, fresh pineapple. Also light bouncing – a mini trampoline was suggested – and walking sideways up the stairs. All said with a slightly tongue-in-cheek expression, because obviously baby comes when baby’s ready and the midwife may as well suggest them as not. We had a few giggles at any rate! A trampoline? It’d kill me off!

I wasn’t even bothered about moving things along until my self-imposed work ban (obviously temporarily lifted so that I can write numerous blog posts and make videos, etc) which has left me more bored than I can even describe. It would be different if I could be on a beach in Greece, it’s the waiting and the uncertainty. I feel as though I’ve woken up far too early to go to the airport but there’s no point in going back to sleep – rather than sit and calmly read and pass the time, I’d like to just get to the airport. And onto an earlier flight, if at all possible. (“You have seats on the 07.20? You do? At no extra charge? I’ll take them!)

I know that this is a total turnaround to my Why the Sudden Rushpost, but I think that the whole process of writing that and getting all excited has made me impatient! Especially one lovely reader’s comment comparing the excitement of birth to being a young child on Christmas Eve. That has been the singular most excitement-inducing thought so far! And everything is all ready and set out, little vests and sleepsuits and hats and things called scratch mittens (we have no idea which of these things to use and in which order – hopefully parenting will be mostly common sense, ha!) and the crib has its little sheets tucked in and the room thermometer is on the shelf. (On room thermometers and my already obsessive checking of: how the hell do you keep a room between 16-19C in the summer? Surely that’s impossible? At the moment all windows are open and it still says 23C. Am I going to have to stand over the baby and waft it with palm fronds? Do I employ the services of a floor fan? Answers on a postcard please.)

Also, I realised that we have to move house again, to another holiday let, next FRIDAY! I thought we had weeks to go, but it seems they have been flying by whilst we’ve been sat here waiting for baby. And I know I shouldn’t try and make the birth fit my schedule, but things are going to be very awkward if I go into labour the day before we move.

Anyway: sex, sweep or pineapple.

Sex. Let’s look at the sex thing in more detail, because I can tell you this for free: sex when you are forty weeks pregnant is no laughing matter. Or rather it is a laughing matter, because it should be accompanied by some kind of Laurel & Hardy soundtrack. And yes, there are many suggestions in my various pregnancy books for “comfortable” positions, but they must surely mean this in the very loosest of terms. Sex is suggested as a natural way to start things off because semen contains prostaglandin, the same hormone that is used in a synthetic form in the gels that they apply to the cervix in a proper induction to help soften and ripen (ugh) it. Also, apparently orgasm can “start things off” as well as nipple stimulation. People seem to be obsessed with nipple stimulation! Which would surely be the easiest one to do, but – this is terrible – I simply can’t be arsed. I have absolutely no desire to do anything remotely sexy with my body. I want to eat Cornettos and hotdogs (tonight’s treat) but I don’t want to shimmy about tweaking this and that and contorting myself into various flesh-squishing positions. There doesn’t seem to be much hard evidence around concerning sex and bringing on labour, so please do share any success stories!

Sweep. I caved in and had the sweep this morning. Partly because I had just realised that I needed to move house in seven days’ time, and also partly because my Mum told me she’d had about three with each of us and they were no bother at all. (Though the fact she had three each time did make me question the effectiveness!) A sweep, or membrane sweep, for those who don’t know, is where the midwife places a finger inside the cervix and makes a kind of circular movement to try and separate the membranes from the cervix and release the right hormones for starting off labour. I was quite nervous about a sweep and nearly chickened out, but then decided to use it as an opportunity to practise my calm birthing stuff I’d read about. Now I wish I hadn’t worried so much because I didn’t think it was painful at all. It was uncomfortable, certainly, because having a hand up your do-dah is never going to be high up on your desirables list for a Friday morning (or it might be, I’m not one to judge) and the idea that the fingers are going through the cervix just makes me nauseous beyond belief! But I thought that it was fine. It felt weird, but if I had the option of a great whacking metal speculum and scraper (smear test) or blunt fingers on a ripened (ugh) cervix, I would take the sweep any day. (Obviously a smear has a different life-saving purpose and is totally necessary, so I’m being theoretical here, but you know what I mean.) Anyway, if you’ve got one scheduled in or something, it’s a few seconds of weird pressure. Interesting and gross fact for you: that mucus plug I’ve been waiting for? No sign of it! It had obviously departed already. I was quite disappointed.

Pineapple. Useless. I’ve eaten about nine thousand of them now and have no skin left along my entire digestive tract, and I have ulcers on my tongue and severe acid indigestion. But no imminent labour.

Summary? I shall keep you updated! There seems to be the most information available about a sweep, but I suppose that’s because it’s a method used by a midwife and so slightly more controlled than methods you might just do willy-nilly at home. And I’m guessing they record the sweep and then your labour is recorded, so maybe someone somewhere is correlating the information and will come up with some stats.

*UPDATE: Ooh, just found this, though by no means official government stats or anything, they make for an interesting read if you’re considering a sweep: http://www.midwifery.org.uk/?page_id=725

 *PS: I borrowed the pineapple picture from Tesco here, but considering I’ve spent about eight million pounds on them I’m hoping they won’t mind. Do buy your pineapples from Tesco, they are very juicy and ripe, etc etc..

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ruth crilly pregnancy week 40

Please see “why the rush?” for many of my feelings on Pregnancy Week 40; my time seems to be massively taken up with looking for gross signs of labour such as the loss of the mucus plug. Give me strength. I was hoping that I’d get a relaxing week in before the baby made an appearance but so far I have managed to clock up a good few working hours every day and haven’t done very much Kindle-reading whatsoever! Oh well. I suppose, in a way, why lull yourself into a false sense of relaxation and rest when a baby is about to arrive and turn your life upside down! Better to acclimatise, maybe, than spend weeks doing nothing, eating chocolate, only to be suddenly thrown into the fray.

Very little in the way of ailments to report, other than the fact that my whole upper body feels as though it’s going to fall through one of my…exits…at any moment. It makes for interesting car journeys, let me tell you – we are currently residing in a remote barn somewhere near Saffron Walden and the track to reach it is pitted with holes and weird bumps. I have to practise my pelvic floor exercises the whole way to the main road. Bump is now very heavy and by the end of the dog-walk circuit around the fields I have to kind of hold it up from below, which is weird. Otherwise, nothing new. Extreme tiredness for a couple of days, but then felt rather energetic yesterday, bit tired again today. Oooh, this waiting game!

I’ve been advised to have a “sweep” today if nothing has happened, labour-wise, but I have another week or so before they would think of properly inducing, so that makes me breathe a little easier… Though to be quite honest, I don’t know how I’ll cope with the suspense for another whole week, if things go that way! My Mum is on red alert waiting to travel up and there are only so many fish pies and lasagnes she can make for the freezer, and only so much knitting she can do before she’ll undoubtedly drive herself mad. I’m giving her regular updates on Whatsapp, but so far they all say “no signs yet!” so I can’t wait to have something to report. I have a little background fizzy excitement in my tummy, now, and can’t wait to hold the baby for the first time. It’ll be epic. And thank you so much for all of your brilliant comments, they have made sharing this pregnancy with you an absolute joy, and I can’t tell you how much strength and positivity I’ve gained from your wonderful stories and messages of support. You are absolutely top notch, the lot of you.

Right. This could be the week of multiple diary updates if things don’t move along – I’m just getting this one out there in case I get taken by surprise!

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bringing on labour

It has taken my entire pregnancy for something to happen that has me truly, 100% stumped: why is it that everyone goes bat-shit crazy as soon as you reach forty weeks? Is it coming yet? Any signs? Are you going to get induced? Oh my GOD you must be so tired of it by now… For the record, no: I am so not tired of pregnancy. I am in no discomfort whatsoever, apart from the fact that I almost wee myself every time we drive over a speed bump. Perhaps if I was in huge amounts of discomfort with backache or what have you then I would be in a rush, but at the moment I am just sitting here totally bewildered at the comments and texts that keep coming my way. It had never occurred to me that I would be in any “hurry” or have a sense of desperation to “get the baby out” – perhaps because my main agenda, for the term of the pregnancy, was to keep the baby in!

People continue to say stuff, too, that would easily grace the Things People Say When You’re Pregnant list: I actually almost snapped at a woman in the Post Office the other day. She asked when I was due and I said “tomorrow”, she said – wait for this – “you must be terrified”. I said “no” (rather bluntly) and “I’m actually really looking forward to meeting my baby”. “Oh,” she said, “brave girl. I’d be terrified.” In texts from friends – “getting nervous?” “Bet you’re sh*tting yourself now!” “No going back!” ERM. For a start, how do you think you’re helping me with this? And secondly, I genuinely am not terrified, nervous or “sh*tting myself” because I’m having a baby, not having both legs amputated without anaesthetic. I’m trusting my body to deal with the motions and my brain to deal with the pain and, if you are pregnant and nervous or worried then PLEASE read Ina May Gaskin’s Guide to Childbirth and also Nancy Bardaker Mindful Birthing. I haven’t given birth yet, and so YES it could all have been pointless reading and I might be screaming the house down begging for drugs, but reading through these books from about 20/25 weeks has kept me the most chilled I have ever been about anything.

(Note on the Ina May Gaskin – some of the birth stories are a bit dated and cringe, eg “I massaged my yoni gates open to allow life to pass through” etc, but the second half is the best thing ever. Please do read.)

Anyway, back to the whole Why the Sudden Rush thing: sweeps. I was offered a sweep at my forty week appointment and will be offered one again this afternoon. Apparently they can help to get things started if your body is already getting things started. To which my immediate response is: surely then it’s pointless? Why would I want to interfere if things are already getting started? Why would I want two chunky fingers maudling around on my cervix, separating the membrane (UGH) and generally making me feel uncomfortable? I’ve been poked around so much over the years – tubes stuck through the cervix to pump my womb full of dye, that was a joy* – that I’m just so anti-poking. Leave it alone. If there’s no medical reason to speed things along, can we not just let the poor baby rest there in the warm until its ready?

Until I was offered the sweep, I was totally relaxed about the whole thing. I wouldn’t be induced until twelve days over and that would be only if I consented and/or if there was an issue, but all of a sudden I feel under tremendous pressure to “perform”. It’s bewildering. I still have work I can be doing, and I’m actually rather enjoying sitting in the sun reading my Kindle and eating Cornettos, ta ever so – the baby is perfectly happy, I am perfectly happy, can we not just enjoy our last days of being as close as we’ll ever be? But now I feel as though there’s this huge clock ticking away in the back of my head, counting down the twelve days. Grr. It’s made me ever so irritable.

*please note, because someone has just tweeted worrying about the womb dye thing, that it was not painful. More uncomfortable. But I would add that if you are emotionally raw and just plain fed-up, as I was at this point in my fertility investigations, then your concept of pain is probably different. During the procedure when I was angry at being there I felt that it was painful, but once they said that my tubes were clear and everything was fine, it was like my brain re-evaluated the “pain” and I realised that it was a pressure and an uncomfortable pushing sensation, which is not, really, the same as pain. (Again, read the Mindful Birthing and Guide to Childbirth, see what you think of the thoughts on pain and perceived pain.)

**please note also, that in response to one comment below, I should add that many pregnancies do need to be induced for medical reasons and I am well aware of that. This blog talks about my own personal experiences and I have been told that there is no reason for me to be induced until +12 days, when doctors start to get twitchy due to complications and so on. Situations are different for every woman.

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39 week baby bump

Just drafting out a few sentences here, in case I go into labour before I write a proper diary entry! If this cuts off at a weird point, without a photo, then I’ve more than likely gone into labour without being able to amend it. I’m scheduling for this Saturday so it will publish whatever happens, like one of those failsafe plots on action films where the person arranges for information to be leaked to the world if they get kidnapped or whatever… **UPDATE: I haven’t gone into labour! I just completely forgot I’d even scheduled this post. What a div! This is why I’m not an FBI agent or something…

Phew. 39 weeks. I can’t quite believe it and actually, I think I’m rather in denial that I am going to give birth and have a baby! I’ve been terrible at planning and getting prepared – I’m still working, for crying out loud! I haven’t stocked my freezer with “handy foods”, I don’t have a birth plan (just get through it with minimal intervention and fuss would be the gist, but not sure that constitutes a plan) and I still keep forgetting that I have a big bump and doing stupid things like lifting heavy suitcases… Mind you, my Mum was the same, by the sounds of it. So I’m not going to feel too bad. Though I have started to feel a bit nauseous at times, and there have been a few little twinges in my “area”, so who knows? It has to start at some point and labour will probably take me completely by surprise, coming on early when I’m still filming a beauty video or something.

I have been overjoyed, when taking stock of my pregnancy “ailments” about just how fine I have felt in later pregnancy. Early pregnancy was a flipping nightmare, what with morning sickness that felt like the worlds’ worst constant, neverending hangover, and an almost obsessional paranoia about whether I would miscarry again. But after that rocky little trimester, I actually think that my health has been better than it was when I wasn’t pregnant! Not a single backache twinge, really, for months (even then it wasn’t terrible), no heartburn, no constipation or the other thing (parp!) and, most importantly – because I feared this more than the plague – no bladder infections. As an expert sufferer of bladder infections, I was almost certain I would get one during pregnancy and I was absolutely dreading one coming on. Not quite so easy to treat when your antibiotic choices are limited (though I hate antibiotics anyway and do try to avoid them when I can) and with a constant pressure on the bladder anyway, I can imagine that a bladder infection during pregnancy is just the most miserable and dire experience ever. So: thank you God. Or whatever/whoever is up there.

Forty weeks on Monday – this is where you start to regret having told anyone your due date, because there’s this massive sense of expectation. I’ve been reading quite a lot about due dates and how people kind of plan around them and treat them as gospel, but really they are just the roughest guide ever. Anything from 37-42 weeks is full-term and normal, which is a massive spread of weeks. I wish that I had just told people that the baby was due “sometime in June” – that would have been so much easier! But then I suppose that my week-by-week diary wouldn’t have been quite the same if it was all a bit ambiguous.

I just have a couple of bits of work to finish off now, but there’s no actual deadline so I suppose that to all intents and purposes I am “on maternity leave”. Except that I’m still sat in front of my computer, editing video and surrounded by beauty products. I don’t really know what to do if I’m not working – we go on dog walks and I do like reading, but I feel angsty and impatient if I watch television for more than an hour and my energy levels aren’t high enough to do anything strenuous like shopping trips and so on. Hence: writing up four posts for The Uphill so that you have some stuff to tide you over when I’m giving birth/nursing my private parts/having burn wees/working out how on earth to look after a tiny human being.

Right – see you for the “Pregnancy Week 40” update? We will see!

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Being quite the seasoned “tryer” when it comes to pregnancy, I have an extremely good radar for picking up useful articles concerning fertility. A recent one caught my eye for its fertility tips, and another that had an interesting statistic on fertility and age included. Both were in The Telegraph (one of the only papers that doesn’t constantly irritate me, though I do make content for them so I suppose I may be slightly biased!) and the “tips” article had such a calm, balanced outlook that I felt like kissing the computer screen. Because if there’s one thing I can’t stand when it comes to media coverage on fertility and “infertility”, it’s sensationalism and scaremongering. Women who are trying to conceive, or who feel as though they are getting older with no hope of ever starting a family, or indeed who hadn’t even thought about babies, do not need to be bombarded with “facts” about their bodies and the mysterious world of fertility, especially when those facts seem to change on a daily basis. My advice, after many years of trying to conceive, would be (in general) to kind of stick your fingers in your ears and shout “LALALALALA” thus blocking out all of the unhelpful media “noise” around the subject. This includes advice from friends and family who have loads of fertility “tips” (cycle your legs in the air afterwards, it worked for me!) but managed to pop out three babies in as many years and have had no trouble whatsoever conceiving. They mean well, absolutely, but sometimes they do not understand. 

Anyway, take your fingers out of your ears for the following articles because I found them jolly interesting. Firstly a little roundup of fertility tips that won’t cost you anything to try – and that also talks about stress and fertility. I am a great believer in the whole stress/infertility link. Consultants in the medical world laughed at me when I suggested that my stress levels could be affecting my fertility (“how do people get pregnant in wartime, then?” being a popular thing to fire back at me, which is the stupidest retort in the world, because of course some people in wartime will get pregnant, and so will drug addicts and people who are starving to death, but that doesn’t make those ideal conditions for conceiving!) but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I fell pregnant when I was the least stressed I had been for years. Here’s the piece:

How to increase your chances of getting pregnant… 

Next article: a little something on age and fertility, or age and having babies. I have more friends who had babies in their early forties than before their forties (in fact I know over ten women who were over forty, and only three who were under thirty, one who was in her late thirties and one who has recently had a baby boy at thirty-six) and so I am naturally slightly sceptical about the whole “fertility falling off a cliff” thing. I mean, that’s just my own little group of people I know, so my stats mean virtually nothing to other people, I suppose, but anyway – it was the following part of the article that jumped out at me:

“research carried out in 2004 found the difference in fertility between a 28 and a 37-year-old was only four percentage points.”

Four percentage points! Interesting. I must track down that research. I have no doubt that the earlier you start trying, the better things are (you have more time, for a start, and are less likely to fly into a panic and try all sorts of things willy-nilly in a madcap attempt to “beat the clock”) but I hate the constant snidey suggestion that women are “leaving it too long”. As though they are mostly doing it on purpose, to be selfish and follow all of their other dreams first. I don’t know a single woman who has put off children for selfish reasons – most simply hadn’t met anyone. Or had met someone and were desperately wondering why their bodies weren’t spawning in the allotted, magical time of “two years”. (That’s a whole other post – two years of unsuccessful trying and you’re branded infertile. Who decided on that figure? Just because the majority will get pregnant in that time, does it make you somehow faulty if it takes three, four, five, eight years? Obviously many people do have a medical glitch that causes a delay, or problems, but could it be possible that (like giving birth itself!) the body does some things on its own time? At its own speed? Just a thought.) Anyway, the majority of the following article is on a completely different issue (the comments section makes for eyebrow-raising reading!) but I found it interesting all the same..

Babies by 30? Women are more than just walking wombs…

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next stripe maternity dress

Before I was pregnant I seriously couldn’t understand why expectant mothers always seemed to wear stripes. And then my bump developed into something the size of a hot air balloon and I worked out why stripes were so appealing: it’s a kind of “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” attitude. You can’t hide the bump so you may as well make a feature of it by wearing horizontal stripes. Which, as we all know, are a sartorial horror if you’re trying to appear slimmer in any way, shape or form.

Also, as your bump grows, you can’t help feeling very proud of it and wanting to emphasise it. Again: horizontal stripes. Here are some stripy ideas for you – I’ve enjoyed wearing all of these, but I can imagine that post-birth I’ll want to keep them as far away from my wobbly, pock-marked belly as possible. (Optimism there, for you!)

next midi maternity dress

Stripe Dress from Next, £30 here. Very nice fit – comes down just on to the knee and is tight but in a relaxed way. Which makes no sense, so sorry.

37 week pregnancy baby bump

Striped maxi from Tiffany Rose – £119 here. Heavyweight (this one’s lined) and the kind of dress that your Mum would test with her fingertips and say “that’s excellent quality that is”. (Or just my Mum?) I like the draping on the arms and bust and the way the stripes change direction. It’s more of a “piece” – you could wear this to a posh daytime do, a wedding perhaps, and look the part.

jojo maman bebe t shirt maternity

Breton Stripe T-Shirt from Jojo Maman Bebe – £24 here. Beautiful thick cotton and a shape that looks odd when it’s on a coathanger but makes perfect sense once you’ve put it on. It looks as though it would come up short but miraculously doesn’t – behold:

34 weeks pregnancy diary

See? Quite a reasonable length!

asos striped maxi dress

ASOS Maxi Dress in Bold Stripe: £25 here. Looks good all casual with your Converse or just a pair of flip-flops. It’s pretty “up and down” without much shape (apart from your bump!) but I like it for slobbing about in. You can’t do big strides in it as there’s no slit, but if you’re lugging a great big baby about on your front the chances are you won’t be striding anyway!

pregnancy week 33

Last but not least, the striped tunic top from George at ASDA – possibly one of my most worn things in the third trimester. Covers bump, covers arse and front bits which means you can wear comfy leggings underneath… This came in a pack of two with a fetching coral version –  here for £16.

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