Category Archives: The Hard Stuff

Breast is… stress

With the exception of my Mum, absolutely everyone that I’ve talked to about breastfeeding has had issues with it. Even my sister in law who breastfed each of her three children for a year says it is one of the hardest things she’s ever done. Even my friend who fed her son until he was TWO had thrush and couldn’t use one nipple for a week. At the time I had no idea this was happening – it seems to be only when you go through something yourself that people start talking about it (labour is a prime example!)

My Mum’s theory is that in the 1970s women went braless more often, and the chafing against clothes helped to toughen up nipples. This may be all well and good, but sadly I haven’t been able to go without a bra since my university growth spurt (and for “growth spurt” read “weight gain”). This does somewhat tally up with what the health visitor told me though: back in the day, pregnant women were encouraged to pull, tweak and pinch at their nipples in an attempt to toughen them up before the onset of breastfeeding. She asked rhetorically why we were no longer given this advice. It all sounds a bit Fifty Shades to me and I’m sure my natural aversion to pain means I wouldn’t have done it anyway, but it’s definitely one to think about if you’re expecting!

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Breast is… hard work

At the NCT breastfeeding class (which we attended with Elphie in tow), the tutor asked each of us to say the first word that comes into our head when thinking about breastfeeding. Many of the other women came up with words describing the joy of breastfeeding such as “natural” and “bonding” and “protection”, myself and Fred were less full of the joys of the breast proclaiming “nipple shields” and “painful” respectively, to which I would also add “frustrating”.

I am sure most women out there take to breastfeeding like a duck to water, their baby latches on beautifully, their breasts provide just the right amount of the golden nectar, and they can whip them out in public at the drop of a hat and satisfy their infant’s hunger pangs instantly. Unfortunately I am not one of those women.

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The choice

So… The consultants have asked me to make a choice, and as the 4 weeks since my last appointment come to an end, decision day is getting closer and closer.

The choice is whether I want to stay on my current dose of medication or halve the dose.

If I leave it as it is, then my risk of thrombosis is lower but I would have to wait 24 hours from my last injection before I could have an epidural or a local anaesthetic into my spine in case of an emergency c-section. And if still within the 24 hour window when it is determined that I need the emergency c-section, then it will have to be under general anaesthetic.

And if I halve the dose? Greater risk of thrombosis, but a 12 hour window before spinal intervention would be allowed.

And the choice is mine!
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So close, but yet…

Apparently I’ve been a little reckless recently. I’ve been feeling a degree of comfort that I’ve got to the third trimester and that everything seems to be progressing fine. So last week, I went a bit crazy and had some aioli with my chips – and given this was at a gastropub, the likelihood is it was homemade with raw eggs. Bad. Then yesterday, not meaning to be reckless I ate some under-done chicken. It was my fault given I had cooked it, and in daylight it looked cooked through, but later on with the blinding electric light on it it looked distinctly pink.

Cue much research into the risks of listeria in the third trimester, when apparently the impact on mother and baby are the worst (due to the mother’s suppressed immune system) – who knew? Babyzone states “An infection occurring later in pregnancy can cause Intrauterine Growth Restriction (IUGR), and in the third trimester, listeria can be a cause for premature labor, premature delivery, and ultimately can cause neonatal sepsis, meningitis, and death”. The risk of infant mortality with listeria is huge, at 50%.

After panicking about this for a bit, I did some research into the effects of undercooked chicken specifically. Apparently, listeria isn’t known for hanging around chickens (I think it prefers cows and pigs), and the risk from undercooked chicken is salmonella which would affect me but is less likely to affect the alien.

So after that scare, I think I’ll go back to food paranoia for the next 7 weeks. But that got me thinking about how safe I really was now – what would happen if I went into labour in the next 4 weeks before the alien officially reaches full term?

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Being high risk or how I learned to stop worrying and love the needle

This is a post I wrote when we first started the blog but which I didn’t have the guts to post till now…

I always knew that pregnancy wasn’t going to be straightforward for me. In my second year of university I was diagnosed with thrombophilia (which I like to translate as “love of clots”), a condition I inherited from my Dad. I had a series of pulmonary embolisms which occur when a blood clot breaks off from a thrombosis (usually a DVT), travels through your body and gets stuck in the blood vessels that support your lungs, meaning your lungs can’t supply oxygen to the part of your blood system which is now cut off. All things considered, this isn’t good.

But in my case, or really three cases, I was fine – the clot was quite small, I experienced pain but nothing debilitating and I could continue my day to day routine (plus or minus baggage that my body was like a sleeper cell that would randomly activate and try to kill me). And for ten years I’ve been fine – no treatment, just a bit more obsessive than others about wearing attractive flight stockings and not drinking alcohol on flights (although I will admit to a small bit of quaffage the one time I was in business class).

But I do know how serious a condition it is. The days spent sleeping in the hospital while my Dad was in intensive care having experienced a massive blood clot to his colon told me how serious. And I know how serious the treatment is. When six months later he had a stroke, it was intensified by the warfarin that was treating the clotting and that ultimately made the bleed much worse.

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Facing fears

Following on from Tuesday’s post on baby safety in general, I decided it was time to confront my (and probably most parents’ to be) ultimate nightmare and investigate sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). You can take as many first aid courses as you please, but unfortunately there is very little you can do to try and reduce the likelihood of this tragedy. Or is there?

Otherwise known as cot death, SIDS is the unexpected death of an otherwise well baby. According to the NHS, male babies with a low birth weight are at the most risk. Although no-one can say for sure what the definite causes might be, it is generally agreed that you can in fact take several measures to try and reduce the chances of it happening, including:

  • Not smoking during or after pregnancy (the NHS says that babies exposed to smoke are 4-8 times more likely to die from SIDS)
  • Putting babies to sleep on their backs, and for the first six months keeping them in the room with their parent(s)
  • Monitoring babies’ temperature so they do not get too hot.

lullaby

The Lullaby Trust, formerly known as the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths, has an informative website that goes into detail about several things you can do. Some advice was new to me, such as:

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Being viable

24 weeks of pregnancy feels like a turning point. It is at this stage that abortion becomes illegal and the baby is officially “viable” with a really good chance of surviving if it were to be born prematurely.

Fortunately I haven’t had any signs that the baby might come early and there is no reason to worry about this, but at the same time, I’ve become suddenly and vividly aware that theoretically they could arrive at any time. The many reasons for a premature birth include bacterial infections and problems with the cervix – while you can combat some of these to a certain extent earlier in the pregnancy, there is often very little you can do and for a first-time mum like me there might not be any indication of an issue until it’s too late.

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A scanner darkly?

With the 20 week scan fast approaching, exam results nerves are kicking in. Will it be ok? Will it have survived the incidents of accidental unpasteurised cheese eating? Did drinking at the wedding the weekend before I found out affect the baby? (In my defence, I had had a negative pregnancy test result so thought I was safe!). This is the big reveal (at least until the actual birth and you really know what’s what). Will we pass? And if we don’t, what on earth will we do?

I have been reading up on it – re-reading the Screening Tests leaflet from the NHS, reading all the articles I could find on the internet, and sending myself into floods of tears after reading the stories of those who made the decision no one should have to make.  I need to Think Positive, the odds are in our favour, 98% of babies are born without defects and there is no reason to believe we’ll be in the 2% beyond tendencies towards being Marvin the Paranoid Android. But still, I worry… And that hasn’t changed from the first time round!
Marvin
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