2. Veins, veins go away
I’ve heard that with each subsequent pregnancy you increase your chances of things like varicose veins. I still didn’t think I would get noticeable, purple markings on my body. I’ve developed a nasty little cluster on my left thigh which look like spider veins met a rogue blue paintball splat. In the morning it’s quite light in colour, and by the end of the day it looks angry and pretty PO’ed. I find it annoying and distracting, but by no means is it important in the scheme of things. Will it go away? No idea. Our blood volume doubles in pregnancy, and the added pressure of being pregnant can make out bodies do some weird things. On the annoyance scale, I’d give it a 1.5/5 stars.
3. Early onset abdominal separation
I was diagnosed with diastasis recti at 21 weeks. My midwife said I already had a three finger separation, which was a shock because after giving birth to my second baby I had a four finger separation. This legit freaked me out because I, very rationally, did the math and calculated the I’d for sure develop a three fist separation by the time I was 40 weeks. Funny thing is, I'm on tracking with my growth. I'm not overly big, and my belly is measuring 25 cm at 25 weeks, which is exactly what it’s supposed to be. I believe it to be a combination of factors, such as: a third pregnancy and having to carry my one year old since she still isn’t walking.
I went to the physio and was given some exercises to help support my TA, low back and glutes. Strengthening these intrinsic muscles will help to feign off horrific back pain later in the pregnancy. I will be sure to share some of these exercises on my insta stories.
For now I’m doing the exercises twice a day, doing my pelvic floor work at red lights and being mindful not to over stretch when practicing yoga. The relaxin hormone is great for helping our bodies give birth, but it is important not to overstretch your ligaments just because the added laxity is there.
I love my GP. She is so lovely and knows me and my family well. I marched into her office with my 3 year old, wishing to make the appointment speedy (because they were already an hour behind schedule).
“Hey Dr G, I think I have a poo obstruction.”
This probably wasn’t the right tactic, but I told her I was bloated and she did an abdominal exam. She asked me a few standard questions and then asked me if I could be pregnant. I laughed out loud and smiled,
“No. That’s impossible.”
She finally convinced me to take a pregnancy test, but as I sauntered off to the bathroom I couldn't help myself, “This really is a waste of time you know. I've only missed 2 periods in my life and they were both when I moved house. So that’s all this is.”
I peed on the stick and then the nurse asked me to wait in the waiting room for the result. At this point we were now an hour and half past our original appointment and my patience was waning with my bored toddler. She called me back into the room and at this point I was peeved and just wanting to go home. The tiredness was coming on strong, as was dinner, bath and bedtime for the kiddos. She walked up to me with her hands closed around something and moved in a delicate manner, as if she were cradling an injured baby bird. My interest peaked. She made her way over to my chair and opened her hands to reveal the pregnancy stick with two distinct pink lines.
I find it difficult to put into words what the next few moments exactly felt like, but my entire body went numb and I felt like I was being swallowed whole. I burst into tears, crying while my toddler looked on, perplexed. I couldn’t speak. All I could do was muster a broken stutter of something like, “I just….. I dunno. How is this possible? Are you sure?”
I imagine that the first minute of knowing is similar to what someone experiences before they die- a slideshow of thoughts, memories and feelings experienced in a single millisecond.
Mine went a little something like this:
We were done.
I don’t want any more babies.
Life is finally getting easier. Finally.
I am so tired.
Three would be nice, but I’m spread too thin as it is.
I sold our baby stuff.
Emerson is too young.
How could YOU be so ungrateful?
You don’t deserve this.
The baby won’t survive in your broken body anyway.
Don’t get attached.
My doctor had trouble reading my reaction, and I assured her that we were 100% keeping the baby. I explained to her that my shock was simply attributed to the fact that we had such a struggle to conceive years before, for both of our kids. Even though she was my GP she didn’t know the extent of our infertility issues. When I explained the backstory, a huge smile crept over her face and then she said, “Well I guess this was just meant to be then.”
We decided not to jump on my traditional pregnancy protocol of severely lowering my immune system. It seemed my body had finally reset and knew what it was "supposed" to do. I decided to trust my body for the first time then and there.
My GP left the room and I just hugged Ry and I cried and cried and told her how much I loved her. In that moment I felt so much guilt because I knew yet another baby meant that I had to give her even less of myself.
I zombie walked to the car and called my parents first. I was on the phone with them when I arrived at the appointment and assured them that I would call them on my way home. It’s all a bit blurry, but I think the conversation went something like,
“Soooooo.... it’s not a poop obstruction. I’m actually pregnant!”
Squeals. Excitement. More tears. I expressed my joy and my subsequent fear. The fear of losing the baby and the fear of what we were going to do, falling pregnant at such a precarious time and still without a lick of local family help or support. I drove home the rest of the way on autopilot and decided that I wanted Ry to hand deliver her daddy the stick and film his reaction. After all, I’ve never peed on a stick before.
It was never that easy for us.
This was a first.
How are you guys doing? Are you hanging in there? I have friends and family all over who are still in Stage 4 restrictions, or some form of quarantine, and my heart is breaking for them. Here in NSW we are still on restrictions, but they are limited compared to the restrictions we carried out from March - May earlier this year.
We are voluntarily wearing masks in public; avoiding crowded places and restaurants. Libraries are still closed and we have not been to playgroup or swimming lessons since February. It has been an incredibly isolating experience, and as a result, we have spent a fair amount of time and money on creative activities for the kiddos. #ThankyouAmazon
A lot of my friends are home and trying to navigate full-time work and raising their littles. Some are even having to homeschool as well, and this has mostly been a recipe for disaster. Chatting to a few of my Mum friends is actually what gave me the idea to write this blog post.
Essentially I wanted to write something that would appeal to all my food loving, book reading, Netflix bingers out there. I have put together a few lists to help you navigate what remains of your quarantine, and I hope it helps, even just a little bit....
The List For the Book-o-holics
Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
Girl, Stop Apologising by Rachel Hollis
Minimalism, Live a Meaningful Life by The Minimalists
Daring Greatly, Brene Brown
Rising Strong, Brene Brown
Non-Fiction Must Reads
Non- fiction is my favourite genre, without a doubt. These are 10 must read, real life memoirs that will rock your world:
1. The Tattoosit of Auschwitz
2. Half-Broke Horses
3. The Glass Castle
4. Calypso, David Sedaris
5. Naked, David Sedaris
6. Running with Scissors, Augusten Burroughs
7. Let's Pretend This Never Happened, Jenny Lawson
8. I Just Want To Pee Alone, Mom Blogger Collab
9. I Was Told There'd Be Cake, Sloane Crosley
10. People I want to Punch In The Throat, Jen Mann
The List For The Netflix Junkies
Line of Duty
The Office, UK and US
Parks and Rec
The Good Place
The Last Dance
Making A Murderer
The Accountant of Auschwitz
Inside Bill's Brain
Tell Me Who I am
The List For The Food Lovers
Slow Cooker Wonders
Detox Lentil Soup
Chicken Gnocchi Soup
Korean BBQ Burritos
Slow Cooked Beef Brisket
Beef and Caramelised Onion Sausage Rolls
Chocolate peanut butter smoothie
Healthy Carrot Muffins
Spicy Soba Noodle Salad
Moroccan Carrot Salad
The LA Chop Salad
Vegan Chocolate Pie
Blueberry and white chocolate scones
Cookie Dough Energy Bites
Healthy Apple Tea Cake
Hope you love some of these recommendations.
Hang in there, stay safe and be well.
Emerson Rose came into this world hard and fast on July 30th at 2:30am
Monday, July 29th
I headed to see my OB for my standard weigh in, blood pressure and quick ultrasound. She wanted to do an internal to see how things were progressing, if at all. The week before, bub was high, nowhere near my cervix. Thankfully I had dropped a bit, so things were moving along, albeit slowly. I didn't want any intervention, and as she was all up in there, she said, "now I will just do a little stretch." I was annoyed because she did it without asking, but I couldn't really feel anything and decided not to let this grind my gears in the big scheme of things since I was not able to go over term anyway due to other factors.
I dropped my hubby off at work and then went to physio at 11am to get more work done for my SIJ pain. I ended up losing my mucus plug at 2:30pm. It came flying out like a bat out of hell. I remembered that my daughter was born the following day after losing my mucus plug, so I knew things were about to get real. I made sure I had everything ready to go in my hospital bag and then I tried to go about my day like nothing was out of the ordinary.
I didn't have regular contractions until 8:30pm about 2.5 minutes apart. We were watching The Block and I was pacing the house like those tigers you see behind the glass at the zoo. Oh yes, I remember this feeling...
If you've never had a baby before, you might not know this part, but they'll usually tell you in your antenatal class to call the hospital before coming in. They tell you to do this so that the midwife can ask you some questions and listen to you over the phone. She could tell when I was having a contraction and listened closely to how I spoke, and more importantly, my breath. She said that I should come in because of how close my contractions were, so we loaded up the car and rushed off in the pitch black night.
It was a really quiet night and there was a weird weather change, even a little bit of rain. The midwife said this either made for a particularly quiet night, or a busy evening with as many as 8 babies born to three midwives the weekend before. There were only two midwives on shift (normal) and there was only one other gal in labour.
I felt like I was in good hands.
I hopped on the table and had my internal exam. Given my level of discomfort, I was hoping to be a minimum of 3+ centimeters, at least. I remembered being told by a midwife at my first birth that getting from 1 to 3 centimeters was the hardest part. I was secretly praying to have passed that initial milestone given the strength and frequency of my contractions, so you can imagine my dismay when she said I was 1cm.
Yes, you read that right.
One. measly. centimeter.
(And in case you didn't know, you don't get to push until you reach 10 centimeters!)
"You're the same dilation as you were this morning at your appointment with the OB. One centimeter, maybeee 2," she smiled jovially.
I did not smile jovially. I sat stone faced and quietly panicked on the inside, joker face in play. I knew that second labours were quicker and I've heard they can be more painful, but this - THIS was a hiccup I was not anticipating. I expected to be 3-5 centimetres and hoping to push within the hour, maybe two. She interrupted my daydreaming.
"So, since you don't want medical intervention, you can leave to go home and labor there. Or, if you'd like to stay here, you're more than welcome because it's such a quiet night, and you can go for a walk to get things going. Either way I'm going to go call your OB now and let her know what's happening."
* What I didn't know until a few days later was the midwife did in fact call my OB, and told her what was happening. My OB said, "Do not let her leave the hospital! That woman has made up her mind to have a baby!" Damn. She knows me well.
I decided to walk the hallway with my hubs, taking breaks and holding onto the railing when I had a contraction. This is where my ballsy husband captured the moment he hummed the Rocky anthem to me on Instagram. The comment section is pretty hilarious if you need a good laugh. It was really difficult to mentally push past the fact that I was so little dilated. Doubt kept creeping in, much like anxiety does, and tried to make me lose focus and waiver in my birth plan.
I decided that I didn't want to be on my feet. Another labour done and dusted where I've had every intention of moving around heaps, but it just didn't resonate with my body. They wanted to hook me up to the monitors, and once I was in bed, that was it for me until she came.
Each subsequent check, I progressed another centimeter. I didn't want to move from the bed, which was a surprise because I spent a lot of time in the shower for my first labour, and I assumed I would do the same. I tossed from side to. Left, right. Left, right. Left, right.
I started to not feel too great, surprised at how strong the contracts were so early on. I tried to keep my head in the game, and ride each contraction, one at a time. If I focused on the only contraction I was experiencing, it made me feel better and less overwhelmed. You know that the contraction will peak, and relief is justtttttt on the other side. It's so easy to panic and think, but how much longer will this go on?? I'm just so tired. I cannot do this.
PAIN WITH PURPOSE I told myself, which was my birthing mantra. If you're thinking, wait, I need to write that quote down because it's AMAZING... please do. It was brought to my attention by my BFF and professional baby birthing guru, Rachel. She has had three water births, all drug free, and she is pretty much my birthing idol (and an incredible mum to boot). Since completing this post, she has had yet another baby. She's a freaking superhero.
It was around this time that the anesthesiologist came in to see me because the nurse messed up my cannula for my drip.
"So, how are you?" she asked while prepping my cannula.
I so wanted to roll my eyes, but I plastered on a smile and said, "Good, thanks."
"And what are we thinking in terms of pain relief tonight?"
My breath caught in my chest for a moment. I knew that this woman could take away all my pain. I knew it could slow my labour, and I also knew that getting an epidural freaked me out because my spine is precious. I really didn't want my baby to be exposed to any of those drugs. I was so, so tempted, so naturally I blurted out,
"I'll be fine thank you. I don't want one. Bye."
"Ok, that's great. I'd rather not give you one. I was only asking because I'm leaving for the night. So if you change your mind, I'll be over 30 minutes away."
I was quietly relieved because the farther away she was, the better in my eyes. If it isn't on the table as an option, then I knew it was all up to me, my cervix and a bit of grunt.
I continued labouring, left side, right side, on repeat. They wanted to leave the monitor on me because after each contraction, there would be a weird pause on the monitor readings. So I stayed on the bed and just tried to find distractions and munched on ice chips like my life depended on it. Hubs put on Spotify and then I suddenly felt the strangest sensation, and a *pop* inside my body, followed by a huge gush of liquid pouring from between my legs. I had hubs get the midwife, who said I might have peed (um, no) and she would check it out. Her face was surprised when she pulled the sheet back, which I found strange, because what's the big deal... my waters finally broke. What she eventually explained was that there was a lot of blood as well. I didn't stress about it, and I went out of my way not to assess how much was actually lost. We changed my bed pad underneath me, and business as usual continued.
By the time I was 5 centimeters I was really uncomfortable. My midwife came in and said, "you sound different. You're transitioning."
"What do you mean I sound different?" I was perplexed.
She said, "Your sounds are getting more intense. It's so nice to hear the moans from your room. We don't hear them that much these days." (Oh God, don't flatter me now babes, I'm in struggle town).
"I can tell they are getting harder and faster by listening to you outside."
For the record, moaning sounds funny, but that's exactly how I have to get through labour. I need to breathe deeply in my nose and let a gentle sigh, moan, hum leave my body. This is like a primordial necessity for me. It's fascinating, and not too loud or obtrusive.
Soon after, my husband was trying to convince me to hold off on applying the TENS machine. I agreed that was a good idea and held off as long as I could. When I felt like I was wavering, he kept reassuring me,
"You're doing great, you got this, this is so much better than last time."
I only had fond memories of last time, and seeing as I was up shit creek smack bang in the middle of this second labour, all I could focus on was the hurdle ahead of me.
Tuesday, July 30th
I dilated from 5cm to 10 cm in 40 minutes. Yep.
That is why I lost a lot of blood, because my cervix effaced so quickly. I felt so much pressure in my bum and the midwife asked if I wanted to push. I didn't want to, but the pressure was mounting.
Now this is going to be a hell of a visual, but those that know, KNOW. Have you ever seen a cow give birth at the fair? I used to watch them give birth every year at the state fair, and it was one of my favourite things. I distinctly remember the mother's distressed demeanor, her wide eyes, and the chains firmly wrapped around the baby calve's ankles. The mummy cow's body would heave and heave, and you could see it all happening before your eyes and under her tail. I felt like that bloody cow. Suddenly, it was all happening and my body had legitimately taken over, like, babe- I got this.
I felt my body push without my willing it. It was such a bizarre sensation, and I called out to my husband frantically. "Tell her, I'm pushing, but I'm not pushing!!"
Last we chatted, I wasn't far along enough in my dilation to start pushing. This was unsettling.
The midwife rushed into the room and said that my obstetrician was on her way (really?!) and would be here any minute. I knew we didn't have that long. I was on my left side, ( I birthed both my babies on my left side) and suddenly my OB breezed into the room and into an open gown that was being held by the midwife. In less than one minute she had slipped on her gloves and did an internal. "Erica. It's time!! PUSH!"
I took a deep yogic breath to the pit of my belly and gave an almighty push. The first push literally took my breath away as I immediately felt the ring of fire, hot and tight. My body immediately reeled back, I felt the head move back up inside me slightly. The ring of fire is when the labia and the perineum reach their maximum stretch around the baby's head. Instinctively, I didn't want to push a second time because I knew what was coming. I figured, the harder I push, the quicker this burn will go away. I'm SO close now, I know this birth should be done in less than 1 hour. I can do this!
After my second push, Dan and my doctor said they could see hair. HAIR! Already, I thought..?? No frigging way. I knew the ring of fire would subside once the head was out, so I gave another almighty push, to which she met me with a "STOP!" The cord was wrapped around bub's neck, so she quickly tried to free it which was difficult to do since only the head was out and the cord was so tight. This explained why the baby wasn't coping well after each contraction because breathing was a bit more difficult. Once she slipped the cord off, we worked together, "small push, small push, small push, BIG push!"
After my fifth push, she was caught by OB and I felt the most immense relief.
We became a family of four at 2:29am on July 30th.
I was still losing a lot of blood, even after Em came into the world, so I was put on a drip to contract my uterus and stop the blood loss. The medicine, combined with my body's natural uterine contractions were incredibly painful. The afterbirth pains worsen with each delivery, a fact that I did not know.
My placenta wasn't coming, even after the needle in my thigh, so my OB quickly gave me a catheter and manually drained my bladder. This helps the placenta to be delivered, which I found super fascinating. I actually got to see the placenta this birth, which was remarkable, and then it was swiftly taken away and properly stored for my placenta encapsulation lady.
I got the shakes hard core after this birth. The adrenaline kicked in something fierce and I was shaking uncontrollably. Not a nice feeling, but at least I didn't vomit after the birth like I did my first time around. We were escorted to our room on another floor and my husband and I were able to share a queen bed while little Em slept soundly beside us. I didn't go to sleep until after 5am and was woken at 6am to the sound of the breakfast trays being delivered.
Then, that was that... life goes on, much to our dismay.
We were forever a family of four from that day on.
Not leaving the house due to the hazardous air quality of the NSW bush fires has been detrimental for my mental health.
My toddler and I do 67.5 crafts per day, on average. We bake, we pretend to bake in her kitchen, we paint, draw, trace our bodies on craft paper, build forts, make book labyrinths, have a bath in the middle of the day, do play dough. The list is endless, my patience is not.
By the time my husband gets home, around 3pm, I’ve already asked him 21 questions before his bag hits the floor.
“What’s it like out there?
How was your day?
What did you eat?
Did you have the recycled air on in the car?
Who did you talk to, and did they tell you any jokes?
What was the podcast about that you listened to your quiet drive home?
Do you think that a zombie apocalypse is imminent?
Should we start building a bunker with food and water since 2019 was the hottest year on record in Australia?
Will Matrix 4 be a total bust, or the best Matrix yet?
Have you seen how clean the house is?
Do these yoga pants give me the illusion of having cakes, or more of a ..... cupcake?”
I’ve witness my slippery slope and came to a resolution this week, quick smart. I went to my local library and got a bunch of snarky, sarcastic non-fiction books.... my favourite genre, don't mind if I do.
I love reading and it's been a while since I've had the luxury of getting lost in a good book! Are there other things I could be doing with my kid-free nap time? 100% !!! But meal prepping or folding laundry doesn't remotely give me the amount of satisfaction as a good book and a little bit of quiet time.
HOT TIP: I'm most excited about Calypso from one of my favourite authors, David Sedaris. If you like memoirs and non-fiction essays, he is your man.
The last two days my kids have actually napped at the same time, which has allowed me to crawl into bed with my book and read while listening to the hum of the air purifier. It's the best use of my time, far better than mindlessly scrolling Instagram or googling if dogs can communicate telepathically.
It's so good to be back with my nose in a book. Comment bellow with your favourite books of all time, pluuuueasseeee!!!
1. Money is simply a tool; it has no value until it’s spent
2. Chop your own wood and it will warm you twice
3. Life isn’t fair
4. No good deed goes unpunished
5. There ain’t no hood like Motherhood!!
6. Getting pregnant isn’t easy for everyone
7. People will betray you
8. You can have many soul mates, but hopefully you find one to love and love you in return
9. “Do no harm, take no shit” is my life + our family motto
10. The older you get, the less friends you’ll have, but the relationships are more meaningful
11. Rudyard Kipling’s “If” is one of the greatest poems of all time. Ever.
12. That getting paid to do something you’re passionate about will change how you feel about it
13. Read. Read. Read all the things.
14. Uteruses (and vaginas) can bounce back to normal size
15. Infertility. F*kn. Sucks.
16. Growing a human is harder than it looks
17. Childbirth is an incredible marathon and not something to be feared
18. Yoga is outstanding for mental health
19. Pinterest is addicting AF
20. People will use you for their own benefit. Don’t be anyone’s doormat
21. That looking after the planet isn’t that hard. Love her
22. Watching your partner evolve from spouse to dad is a remarkable experience
23. An attitude of gratitude is one of the best things you can ever possess
24. That all I want is a simple life, a bit of land, chooks and a flourishing veggie patch
25. When you say, “don’t tell anyone,” they will most likely tell someone
26. You don’t need alcohol in order to party, unwind and have fun
27. My daughters are my greatest life achievement
28. Owning your truth might be one of the hardest things to do, but it’s bloody rewarding
29. Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels is a flat out lie
30. Drugs are bad, mkay
31. Spending time in nature is therapeutic and a necessity
32. Having, loving and losing a dog is a rite of passage
33. People who chase money are not my people
34. Take time to look up and admire the stars. It’s important to feel insignificant in the vast scheme of things
35. Be best friends with those who brought you into the world
Packing your hospital bag for the first time can be so exciting, and tainted with a bit of anxiety. I postponed packing mine for ages because I was unsure of what to bring and overwhelmed by all the lists I saw online.
Here are a few tips on the packing process
1. Don't wait too long to pack your bag!
Last thing you want is to be throwing a bunch of odds and ends into a bag after your waters have broken. Aim to have your bag packed and set aside at least a few weeks before your due date.
2. Don't stress or overthink about the bag you bring.
If you want to special order something from Etsy with your initials monogramed on it, be my guest. My husband and I used our carry on luggage which was easy and practical.
3. Pack light.
I didn't use half of the things I packed to my first birth! I felt like it was such a waste of space and time coming home and unpacking the bag.
4. Only take things you need or would really like to have.
5. Wash all your new and gifted baby clothes before you pack them.
1. Nipple cream.
This is a must! So many people carry on and on about the birth and recovery, but rarely talk about the struggles (and pains) of breastfeeding. My milk came in on day 2/3 (crazy fast!) and nipple cream was a savior for me. Remember to only use a little bit, as you don't want to unnecessarily clog the pores and cause mastitis.
2. TOM Organic Maternity pads.
These are made of ACO organic cotton, extra long, hypoallergenic and cruelty free.
3. Black underwear, sized up!
I bought a three pack of black BONDS undies, 2 sizes bigger than I normally wear. Black because it's forgiving with stains, and sizing up for obvious comfort and to have room for your maternity pads or ice packs to help the labia recover. I plan on putting my TOM organic maternity pads in the freezer to make my own recovery inserts.
4. My Eco Store chapsick.
Labour can really dry out your lips because of all the mouth breathing/panting.
Shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, hair brush, hair ties, natural deodorant, dry shampoo, bamboo face cloth, oil cleanser and moisturising facial serum. The basics... duh!
5. No fuss make up routine.
For me this means my organic BB cream, and my natural mascara and my highlighter to help make me look a little less tired.
6. Cosy, breastfeeding friendly loungewear.
Highly recommend packing some cosy, baggy, nursing friendly loungewear. And don't forget your thick socks and/or slippers for hygiene reasons!
7. Nursing tanks.
I'm no fashionista, and no surprise here, that didn't change after giving birth. I lived in these cute and easy nursing tanks, paired with my recovery shorts, maternity jeans and a simple something over the top like a cardigan or duster kimono.
8. Reusable water bottle.
I've heard so many nurses say the plastic hospital water jugs are a big no-no and not to use them. All the more reason to bring your own.
9. Your phone charger.
10. TENS machine for natural pain relief.
11. Bamboobies: these are reusable, washable nursing pads made of bamboo rayon velour with an absorbent inner cotton layer. After my first childbirth, I purchased the single use Advent nursing pads, but there weren't very breathable and not great for the environment either. I got two packs of the heavy, overnight Bamboobies and I'm so excited to give them a go!
1. Newborn nappies and baby wipes.
2. Baby Swaddle x 2.
I really like the Love to Dream ones! They are so easy to use (all the praise hands for having a zipper), and they are comforting for bub too.
3. Burp clothes
Just use cloth nappies! Cheap and easy.
4. First outfit! This is such a fun thing to decide on and pack. Be sure to give this to your midwife before you are in active labour so that it can be placed in the clothes "oven" making it nice and warm for bubba once they are earth-side.
5. Soothies x two
These dummies are the BEST! They are made of flexible medical grade silicone, are BPA free and easy to clean. We didn't use them in the hospital the first time around because we wanted to establish heathy attachment or "latching" for breastfeeding, but they are nice to have on hand.
6. Mittens for their hands, socks and a cosy beanie for their little head.
7. Anything you might want for that first photo, whether it's a Hello My Name Is sign, or a small letterboard, pink/blue blanket etc.
8. Car seat, or capsule, safely installed along with certificate (some hospitals will ask to see the certificate)!
9. Enough clothes for your time/stay in hospital because you won't be doing laundry.
1. Food/snacks/reusable water bottle to keep them going (and hopefully at your side) so that they don't need to run to the local cafe.
2. Their own phone charger and video camera or computer.
3. Swimsuit for when/if they get in the shower or birth tub with you.
4. Flip flops (at the bare minimum), preferably thick socks like Explorerers.
5. Pajamas for your first sleep over if your lucky enough to stay in hospital.
We are going private again because we had such a good experience, and that means that we are allowed 5 days in hospital. If it's your second baby, hospitals will often times send you to a hotel to recover instead because it's actually cheaper (believe it or not) to care for you that way with a midwife onsite. It goes without saying, but if you are going to be away from home for an extended period of time, pack enough clothes for those days).
1. Essential oil diffuser and oils (if you're into that).
2. Journal/ diary.
My husband and I both wrote handwritten love letters to our daughter on the night she was born a few hours after she came into the world. I also wrote in my journal about my birth experience and jotted down things I really wanted to remember while it was fresh in the forefront of my mind.
3. Baby journal and a pen or pencil.
This is great idea because sleep deprivation is a thing! It's important to document the baby's pee and poo movements as well as feeding, and from which breast. The last thing you need to be doing in your postnatal fog is trying to remember all that information! Having a journal on your nightstand is a great way to document everything in a stress free way, and anyone can do it for you. Your partner, a visitor or even the midwife can jot it down if your hands are full or you are having a much needed nap.
4. Snacks for post-recovery.
You might give birth when the hospital kitchen is closed! Good things to bring are nuts, trail mix, apples, bananas, homemade banana bread (if you're organised), kombucha, sparkling water, etc.
5. Vitamins and supplements.
NOT in my bag, but honorary mentions
Massage Oil: (not actually in my bag like I said, but recommend having one if you like to be touched while in labour or want a back rub).
Annndddd, that's a wrap!
What did I forget?
Tell me what you MUST have in your hospital bag below in the comments!
Before your imagination starts to run wild and you envision me tucking into my placenta on a dinner plate with a steak knife and glass of red while recovering in my birthing suite, think again.
What is the Placenta & What Does it Do?
The word placenta come from the Greek, meaning "plate" or "discoid." This is because the placenta resembles the shape of a dinner plate attached to the side of the uterus, with the umbilical cord connecting the baby's belly. Without a placenta, no fetus could ever survive.
The placenta has many unique and important roles. It can assist in the sharing of information from the mother to the baby and then back to the mother. Crazy, right?
1. Acts as a filter: with the help of the umbilical cord that is, allowing the goodness from mum to reach the fetus, all while keeping the toxins at bay.
2. Functions as a sensor: the placenta helps decipher what the fetus needs also helps to regulate the absorption of amino acids, fat, oxygen and vitamins.
3. Operates as a hormone factory: it produces high levels of oestrogen, progesterone and cortisol for mum and fetus.
The first time I’d ever heard of eating one’s placenta was many years ago when I was trying to fall pregnant myself. I stumbled across Jennifer Stano who had quite a social media following and was expecting her first child. From memory, I loved her pregnancy style, and followed her in the hopes of getting some helpful dress-the-bump tips.
A video popped up on my Instagram one morning, and the still was of Jennifer and her husband. She had delivered her baby, and she’d had a little boy. The video caught my attention because she was in a hospital but had a kitchen blender in front of her. Perplexed and curious, I proceeded to watch her make a placenta smoothie and with a chunk of her raw placenta, fresh berries and some other ingredients. The video was about the smoothie and getting her husband to drink it, which he did. When I saw this video I was absolutely appalled! Why on earth would you make your husband do that? Shock value? How ridiculous. And what was the point of a placenta smoothie in the first place? I couldn’t help but think it was a grab for attention at the time, and I shook my head, chalking it up to wanting likes and dropped jaws.
Fast forward a few years to when I finally had a bun in the oven and my world shifts. It’s funny how pregnancy makes you pull out all the stops and really look after yourself for the sake of your baby. I was at the end of my third trimester living in Melbourne and a girlfriend of mine had mentioned that she had her placenta encapsulated. I was thrilled to have someone close to me that I could actually talk to about the experience. After all, when it comes to matters such as these, we need to peel back all the layers of assumptions, fear, and disgust that stem from ignorance.
She told me about her great experience with Anna Papadakis from Opening To Life and I called her immediately. Anna is a birth attendant, birth educator, body centered therapist and trainer. She started placenta encapsulation in 2012, and now it's a core part of her practice.
I confessed to Anna that I didn’t know much about the process, how it worked, or anything for that matter. I hadn't even read the website yet, but I was close to giving birth and keen as mustard to learn more. I also alluded to the fact that I’d heard consuming the placenta was good for a mother’s recovery, and that was something I desperately wanted to know more about.
Anna and I spoke on the phone at length about the process, the placenta itself and how sacred it is. I don’t mean that in a spiritual way (although it is pretty magical), but I personally feel that it's such a misunderstood organ. So if you're at all like me, and curious about this process, I find it easiest to break it down into two categories, the WHY and the HOW of consuming your placenta.
"We need to peel back all the layers of assumptions, fear, and disgust that stem from ignorance."
- Erica Kickert
As a soon to be new mum, I was quite worried about postnatal depression, commonly referred to as PND. The idea of PND being a dark horse that doesn't discriminate really spooked me. I'd spoken to a midwife who mentioned that I might be at risk for a few reasons, in particular due to our lack of support and absence of family from either side due to our move up to Queensland when our baby would be a mere 7 weeks old. My husband's family live in Melbourne and my family live in California, and I knew I'd particularly struggle when my parents had to say goodbye to their only child and their first grandchild.
In the same way that you commit to eating well and getting rest for the sake of your unborn baby, I committed to making my recovery the smoothest it could be, and that started by working from the inside out.
Anna went over a few key benefits, which were:
- Increasing our iron levels, which will help to combat fatigue, give you more energy, and therefore less depression. It's often difficult to absorb iron from supplements. You ingest crazy high does and the excess is expelled via black poop (if you've ever been on these supplements, you'd know exactly what I'm talking about)! However, when it's your own iron, it's much easier to absorb.
- Some research shows that increasing Vitamin B6 combats post natal depression and helps to regulate mental process and mood.
- The placenta contains high levels of Oxytocin, which is commonly referred to as the "love drug." Increasing the levels of this hormone increases your sense of wellbeing and happiness.
- The placenta also contains Lactogen which has been shown to help increase breast milk supply.
Click here to read about more benefits and how/why they work.
In Anna’s case, she only handles one placenta at a time in her work space. I really loved that she had this policy, for obvious reasons! Once the baby and the placenta have been born, it's set aside in a plastic tub by the hospital staff and awaits pick up. I didn't even know Anna had been to collect the placenta, and then I received a sweet text message that she would be dropping by with my capsules all ready to go and was excited to meet me.
It's your decision how you would like it to be prepared.
Anna offers two methods:
I wanted the placenta to retain as much goodness as possible, and opted not to cook it. This form of encapsulation involves less processing and will yield more capsules for you too. Once the placenta is cleaned, accessed, measured and cooked/dehydrated, it's then ground up and placed into clear organic capsules. Anna then bottles it up and it's delivered to you within 48-72 hours with specific instructions about how many to take a day.
My experience was outstanding. I ask most pregnant women if they are going to eat their placenta, and I get a lot of sideways glances, but I also meet a few women who say "YES" or who ask me for more information. My milk came in on day 2/3, I bounced back so quickly, got my period a few weeks later and didn't have any baby blues. I genuinely believe the encapsulation was responsible for my speedy recovery.
One of my favourite yoga students from Melbourne, Anna D, had asked me about the process and decided to have her placenta encapsulated after her second birth. This is what she had to say:
"I thought about having my placenta encapsulated during my first pregnancy but I let myself be talked out of it. After the birth of my first daughter the baby blues hit me hard. I was so scared that I was developing postnatal depression. (I was lucky that my baby blues only lasted a couple of weeks).
Second pregnancy I went with my gut and organised to have my placenta encapsulated, and I’m so glad that I did! No baby blues at all after the birth of my second daughter, plus my recovery was so much faster which was great as I had an active toddler to keep up with this time. I also found I had a lot more energy in the morning despite having to wake several times for night feeds.
My husband was also really sick at the time and I don’t know if they helped, but I didn’t catch whatever bug he had. I’d happily encouraged placenta encapsulation to any Mumma’s to be."
- Anna D, Melbourne
I highly recommend that you read some testimonials to get a feel for what people are saying about the process.
It's a great place to begin if this is something you're weighting up.
Have you ever had your placenta encapsulated?
Would you consider having it done? Tell me in the comments below.
1. Ina Mae's Guide to Childbirth by Ina Mae
2. Active Birth by Janet Balaskasrth
3. Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering by Sarah Buckley
(Appropriate pre and post natal, as the title implies).
4. The Mindful Mother by Naomi Chunilal
5. Being There by Erica Komisar
6. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth M.D.
7. Up The Duff by Kaz Cooke
8. Brain Rules for Baby, John Medina
9. Baby Love by Robin Barker
After Baby Arrives:
1. The Mother's Mind Cleanse by Jacqui Lewis
2. The Wonder Weeks by Hetty van de Rijt and Frans Plooij
3. Being There by Erica Komisar
(Can read this before or after, but I recommend reading it before your birth so that you can make appropriate plans for your maternity leave).
4. The Postnatal Depletion Cure by Dr Oscar Serrallach
(Currently reading this now!)
Do you like to read and prepare, or wing it?
Tell me in the comments below!
I decided to make a little list of things that I do, or have tried, (or think are worth trying), in the event that there are other Mamas out there feeling the same way.
Don't be too hard on yourself
Mum guilt is a thing. Don't berate yourself too much. Each pregnancy is unique in the same way that each and every child is unique. Whether this is your first pregnancy, or your fifth, we can't expect to feel the same way, have our bodies morph into the same shape, crave the same foods, etc. Sometimes these things take time, other times you might feel an inexplicable bond the moment you see the little blue lines on the pregnancy stick.
For me personally, getting pregnant with my daughter was a HUGE milestone; watching our 7 week video of our ultrasound and getting confirmation that the baby was alive makes me cry to this day. THIS pregnancy was less stressful in some ways and more stressful in others. I felt the same overwhelming excitement at the 7 and 12 week scans, but as I talked about in this post, I was in a rough headspace the first few months.
I was also relieved when I had my morphology scan and found out about about my very low placenta. Because my placenta was so low, the baby was punching and kicking my placenta instead of my belly wall. When the baby got bigger and stronger I'd be able to feel it move, and boy oh boy this kid is ACTIVE!
I used to teach meditation when I lived in Melbourne, and I found that I preferred to teach it rather than practice it! Meditation is something that I struggle with, and that's not easy to confess as a yoga instructor!
I think the best type of meditation practice is on your own, in silence. But if you need, or prefer, guidance I've tried Headspace and YogaGlo. According to Women's Health Magazine, these were the six best mediation apps of 2018.
Do prenatal yoga
This is a great way to slow down, connect to your breath and be present. Good prenatal teachers will not just take you through asanas, they will, (and should), bring it back to your pregnancy, your experience, your bub.
Talk to your baby
Might seem weird, but have you ever talked out-loud to yourself?
I do all the time because I've spent a lot of time on my own over the years! In the same way that we mumble and chat away to ourselves in our apartment or wandering through the grocery aisle, you can chat to your bub too. Maybe ask them how they are in the morning, what they feel like eating before lunch or say goodnight to them after your evening wind down.
Find out the Gender
If you're feeling a bit disconnected from the baby, consider finding out the gender with the Harmony test (week 10-12) or at the 20 week morphology scan. This might help you to visualise your life together after the birth, make picking a name more personal and could possibly expedite the bonding process.
Start Nesting Early
Start to prepare for bub's arrival by doing all the fun things:
Ask your friends for positive stories
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Listening to positive experiences and practicing visualisation is a great way to set yourself up for success. I've been asking my friends with two kids what I need to know and how I can prepare for success. We both laugh and they say the first three months are all about survival, which I get 100%. Everyone tells me it's the hardest thing ever, but that the time goes more quickly and the tender moments are even sweeter. I got a glimpse as to what this might be like when I watched my daughter hold a seven week old baby the other day. My daughter thought she was holding her new sibling, and was besotted. She demanded more cuddles and stroked the baby's face and didn't want to share the cuddle time. I had to explain that this wasn't our baby, but seeing her hold the wee one nearly brought me to joyful tears. I will no doubt reflect on that memory when I am in struggle-town during labour.
Wishing you all the best and a healthy, happy pregnancy.
If you (or someone you know) is struggling with anxiety and depression while pregnant, or after the birth, don't hesitate to reach out to people like PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia) and speak to a professional.
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