Wait, what was I saying again?!

So this morning I poured my apple juice over my cereal…Just one of many things which I now do daily which frankly are a little bit weird. It inspired me to write this blog as I am constantly doing something insane, and I can only attribute this to the famous “Baby Brain” or “Preg Head”, and I know I am not the only one!

Apparently, there is no scientific proof surrounding this phenomenon, with the evidence showing that the capacity of the brain is not altered; in fact an Australian study gets pretty hot under the collar about women blaming pregnancy for any memory loss. However I can vouch; as I am sure certainly most pregnant women can, that there definitely something afoot that happens to all expectant Mums.

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It is said that pregnancy doesn’t alter your IQ, but it can affect the way your brain prioritises activity. You will also have a lot of extra knowledge and information in your brain, which takes up more of what you think about – meaning your short term memory may suffer. For me it wasn’t just my memory which was affected, I would even have trouble getting my words out sometimes.

I remember in the early stages I would be in a meeting at work and would literally stop mid-sentence and have to get my colleague to finish it for me as I’d completely forgotten what it was I was talking about! Or walking over to talk to one of our sales guys about something important and in the 7 seconds it took me to get to them I would have entirely forgotten what it was I was going there to say. Often I would ask Stuart what my plans were for that night or what we had that very afternoon for lunch.

Nowadays I am more likely to be found refusing point blank that I was told about that important event Stu had booked in for us, or losing my keys in the fridge or some such place. Owning a diary has never been more important!

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So is there anything we can do to help ease the symptoms?

Well, lack of sleep certainly doesn’t help, so make sure you are getting enough Z’s at night (easier said than done, I know!)

Eat right & keep hydrated – lack of essential minerals and vitamins can lead to poor brain function.

Make a list – not only did it help me remember essential things, but also made me feel organised.

Don’t take too much on – you’re adding to your day to day activities such as going to work, looking after children, doing the shopping etc with a whole load of baby related jobs and info, so make sure you get support from your partner or friend to run those few errands you need not do yourself or take a back seat with the paperwork at home.

Exercise – this will increase oxygen in the blood helping your brain work better, and is a great stress buster. (Or so I’m told…that pregnancy yoga DVD I bought 4 months ago is still in the wrapper)

And if all else fails, cover everything with post it notes!

Post it notes

So, although scientifically we can’t blame pregnancy to account for all the missed appointments or messages you never managed to get around to replying to, I think there’s enough of us out there to at the very least not make us feel like we’re losing the plot entirely. I am reliably informed that it gets no better once the baby arrives either! So if you see me at the school gates with my child on the lead, whilst waving off the dog with his packed lunch, then you’ll know why!!

I’d love to hear your anecdotes of how the dreaded “mumnesia” has affected you!

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Back to School.

With so much to learn about our upcoming adventure in parenthood, we decided to book on to do an antenatal class. Following on from many recommendations we opted to go for the NCT (National Childbirth Trust) option which was split over 6 sessions and cost around £250, rather than one 8 hour NHS class.  Knowing there was so much to take in we decided it was the right decision for us to split it into bite sized chunks so we didn’t leave the course feeling more bamboozled than when we began!

We were really impressed! Our course had a really informal feel to it and we were able to cater it to what we wanted to learn as a group (of 10) at the speed that worked for all of us. We also got to meet some really nice people who we are still in touch with now. I think that’s half the charm of the NCT option; that you get to spend a lot of time with the other people on the course. You get to know them and they go from being complete strangers, to possibly the ones you call in the middle of the night when your baby just wont go to sleep, or when you can’t get them to latch on. You know they will be going through the exact same things at the same time.

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NCT have about 50 years of experience, and we found out so much extra info to help us feel prepared for the big day, and of course beyond – when the real work begins! Our teacher was fantastic and made everything very simple to understand whilst including answers to every question or extra piece of info we asked for. We covered numerous subjects, such as;

Complications of pregnancy – Back ache (don’t I know about that one!) breathlessness, heartburn, constipation, headaches, swollen hands/feet, cramps, CONSTANT weeing, sleeplessness (again, one of my specialist subjects) as well as more serious complications such as pre-eclampsia, Group B strep and Obstetric Colestatis.

Birth options – Active, water, positions, Caesarean, assisted delivery, induction, breathing techniques.

Pain “management” (because as it happens not even an epidural is guaranteed to block out all of the pain!) – TENS, water, Pethidine, Meptid, Epidural, gas and air, massage  techniques (i.e. not a rough rub leading to pretty much just a friction burn!!)

Feeding – breast/bottle, (with a dedicated girls only breast feeding class) and lots of information about support groups and drop in centres for anyone struggling to breast feed.

Signs of labour – period pains, pressure in bottom, constant backache, waters leaking, a show, bleeding, nesting, diarrhoea etc.

Care for the baby – changing, winding, holding, sleeping, feeding, etc.

Preparation for the birth – what to take with you to the hospital (maybe that suitcase full of clothes isn’t necessary after all?) Getting the essentials bought and set up at home, what to include on your birth plan.

The list goes on and on, we certainly felt that we came away equipped to deal with what was thrown our way on the big day…Well, in theory at least!

It was great for Stu to learn so much as it means he feels in a better position to support me on the day and he knows what to expect. He also knows that when I get to the stage just before I’m ready to push (transition) and I begin to regress into a primitive cavewoman and tell him I’ve had enough and I am going home out via the window, that we’ll possibly have a baby within the hour.

What ever option you go for, I hope you find it informative and helpful. If nothing else, do it for the biscuits 😉

Annnnnnd Stretch!!

Way before my first scan, I was showing…It seemed to pop out of nowhere and just kept getting bigger each day! (Making it particularly difficult around the office, let me tell you!) My thoughts turned immediately to preventing the dreaded stretch marks. They say these are hereditary so unfortunately destiny may have already decided whether or not you or I will get them, but I thought I would give as much chance to my poor skin as possible as I knew it was about to get a lot more stretched as the weeks went on.

Baby J at 25 weeks.

So what are stretch marks and why do we get them?? They are caused by the dramatic changes your body goes through when the the skin is stretched suddenly and the middle layer of your skin (the dermis) breaks in places;  making room for the the new life growing inside of you. They start red, pink, dark brown & can even be purple, and as time goes on after pregnancy they will fade to lighter red or silvery, but unfortunately they won’t ever go away without laser surgery (and that isn’t always guaranteed to work). At least half of pregnant women will get them and they won’t just be on your tummy, they can be on your thighs, bum, boobs & hips too – lucky us!

I know I always go on about it, but water really is such a super help to so many functions of our bodies – Make sure you keep hydrated and try to drink 2 or more litres of water a day as this will really help your skin. (I know those loo trips every 20 minutes are annoying but it’s a small price to pay when it can help with water retention, swelling, stretch marks, nausea, constipation, bladder infections and even to help prevent preterm labour caused by dehydration) I already feel my bump is massive at 33 weeks, and I have no idea how it is going to keep growing – especially as the baby will put on half its birth weight from now until it is born!

Here are a selection of some of the best oils and creams I have come across over my time being pregnant, are there any you have tried which you can recommend to me?

  •          Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Massage Cream for Stretch Marks 125g

A moisturising cream which I found helped with general dryness. It helped make my skin feel more supple although I felt I needed something a bit more heavy duty to feel like I was combatting the threat of stretch marks. It is only around £3 which made it a great budget buy.

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  •          Mama Mio Tummy Rub Stretch Mark Butter 125ml.

A pricier option at around £23, which I found was incredibly thick and nourishing. It has a great fresh citrus scent to it and doesn’t leave a greasy residue like some creams.

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  •          Clarins Stretch Mark Control 200ml

This lighter consistency cream rubs into the skin really easily. It is around £30, but you get a lot more for your money and it seems to go quite far. I would say this cream is more useful for the fading of stretch marks, rather than the prevention so I will definitely be stocking up on some more for after if I get any!

Clarins Stretch Mark Control

On to some oils…

  •          Cowshed Udderly Gorgeous Stretch Mark Oil. One of my faves!

Before I write anything, it’s important to mention this should only be used after the first trimester due to some of the botanical formulations which are in it. I found the oil felt really lovely and moisturising, all the while feeling like I was having a pamper morning and night. Cowshed also do a fab Balm which is gorgeous and smells divine!

Cowshed Udderly Gorgeous Stretch Mark Oil

  •          Bio-Oil 200ml.

I have added this in because it was the first thing I used, and I know it is very popular – However…I didn’t find it suited me at all. The greasy formula sat on my skin and sank into my clothes once I got dressed, making it difficult to apply in the mornings. I also found I was always really itchy after a couple of hours where it felt like it hadn’t moisturised; it just felt like it was coating my skin rather than sinking in. That said, many find they get on really well with it & it’s also on the low end of the budget scale at £8-£9. Maybe one for after to help heal stretch marks.

Bio Oil

  •          Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Nourishing Body Oil – My every day potion!

I had this recommended to me by a friend who has 2 children and I have to say I have not looked back. It is around £10 and admittedly I do go through a bottle every 6 weeks, but it is so lovely to use. It has a lemony scent which doesn’t disturb even the most sensitive nauseous noses! It soaks in quickly and leaves my skin so soft and supple. They also do a lovely Belly Butter which feels lovely all over my body.

Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Nourishing Body Oil

  • Neals Yard ‘Mothers Balm’

I am yet to try this one, but I wanted to add it to the list as I love the brand and know that this will be as luxurious and gorgeous as their other products. Definitely one to try next!

Neals Yard 'Mothers Balm'

Whatever you do, try not to get down about them, there are lots of websites out there where people share stories and photos of themselves which can help if you are feeling down about them – you’re not alone, it is normal after all! And remember, they are testament to that miracle your body went through to give you that beautiful baby at the end of it.

 

 

The day the diet went out the window!

I wanted to write a little on this subject as I especially felt I wasn’t giving my baby anything good or healthy for a long time. In fact it wasn’t until about 17 weeks that I felt able to let any fresh produce pass my lips!

I went from having salads for lunch and fresh veggies with fish for dinner, to living off of jacket potatoes and anything suitably stodgy and carb related.

My main piece of advice at this stage would be that pregnancy is not a time for dieting! As time goes on, you’ll realise that there is absolutely no way you’re fitting into your best skinnies, even if you don’t succumb to your cravings or must have sickness saviours!

Having said all of this, I always vowed never to utter those famous words “I’m eating for 2” and even before I was pregnant I made Stuart promise that if ever he heard me say it, he would rip that cookie or tub of ice cream out of my hand there and then!

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The truth is, you really only need an extra 300 calories and that is only in the last trimester. Here’s a few reasonably healthy food ideas for anyone feeling like I did;

  •        Wholegrain Cereals – My extra large bowl of Weetabix started my day off every morning and ensured my blood sugar levels were maintained to help ease my nausea.
  •          Smoothies – If like me, you can’t face the idea of fruit, but you know you want to give your body and your baby the vitamin boost it provides, then smoothies are the perfect resolution. Depending on the season, try whizzing up some blueberries with a banana and milk, or try some red berries with kiwi and ice.
  •          Cheese – A great source of calcium if you can’t bear the idea of milk and want to steer clear of the caffeine in chocolate. Cheese on wholemeal toast makes for a good lunch.
  •          Fish and Chips – It is recommended to eat no more than 12 oz. of fish per week, and limit oily fish such as tuna to 4 portions per week, however it contains essential Omega 3 which is great for healthy baby brain and eye development so for me I found Friday night fish and chips were carby enough not to induce me into nausea but helped me provide these great nutrients to my little one.
  •          Eggs – With only 90 calories per egg and packed full of protein eggs can be your supper saviour if you’re too exhausted to cook. A couple scrambled up on wholemeal toast is perfect.
  •          Greek Yoghurt – It contains twice the protein of normal yoghurt and full of calcium. It’s really important to have enough calcium to give to your growing baby’s skeleton but not sacrificing the amount you need to keep your bones healthy and strong. Pop some honey and blueberries on top for a healthy sweet fix.

On top of any food I managed to stomach, I also decided to take a supplement to top up the many vitamins and minerals I felt I was missing out on. I went with Vitabiotics Pregnacare Max, which included Omega 3, Folic Acid and around 20 other vitamins and nutrients.

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Where are the trumpets??

For me it felt a little surreal. I had wanted to be pregnant for so long; not that we had been trying, but we wanted to get married and travel the world together before we started a family. So when we realised that the 4th positive pregnancy test couldn’t be wrong it all felt a bit strange, this was actually happening to us?! In fact even now, 7 months on I still find it hard to believe we are having a baby. I think that no matter how long you have been waiting, planning or trying, when you first see that 2nd little blue line you realise life will never be the same again! (And take it from me, even the faintest line is a positive!!) 

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We had booked to go on holiday and it fell just 4 days after we found out we were pregnant. I spent pretty much 70% of the time we were away sleeping…and the rest eating! I was so exhausted I couldn’t stay awake for more than a couple of hours, my poor hubby! It was great to be able to just relax and let my body do what it needed to do! I had a couple of middle of the night scares where I would rush to the bathroom in agony and just sit praying that everything would be ok whilst in the most awful pain. This was to be the beginning of months of worry, naturally.

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When we arrived home the nausea set in. 

As I am sure any ladies who have been pregnant (and long suffering partners in some cases!) would agree, the term “morning sickness” was probably coined by somebody who was either very lucky, or whom had never actually experienced it! More accurately, certainly for me anyway, it would be called “The Worst Hangover I’ve Ever Had That Makes Me Want To Crawl Under A Rock For 3 Months, Sickness” 

I tried a few remedies to help ease the discomfort. If anyone reading this is in the same boat, I hope they help you in some way!

  • Travel Sickness bands – recommended by a friend who used them when pregnant with her twins. They helped sometimes, but I looked more like I self harmed more than anything else! 
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  • Nairn’s Stem Ginger Oatcakes – Sometimes a little too dry for someone with the world’s driest mouth in the first place though.

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  • Biscuits, and lots of them. I should have bought shared in McVities for the first few months!

 

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  • Polos, Extra Strong Mints, Fisherman’s friends, Softmints…You get the idea.

 

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  • Water – lots of it. Most of the time it would be the last thing I would want to ingest, but your worse enemy is dehydration. If you can’t bear the thought of plain water go for a squash, but steer clear of fresh orange juice as the acidity will do you no favours – especially on the way back up! (Sorry!) 

Unfortunately, for my ever expanding waistline, the most effective (if not short lived) relief, was eating little and often. And in my case it was usually crisps or something equally unhealthy! 

I hope you find your own relief…If it helps you get through it, for every race to the work toilet or queezy moment just think it’s that new little life inside of you making you feel so rotten and who could be mad with that darling baby you have created?!