28 weeks: how does my little one grow?

This week’s Baby size as fruit or vegetable: Aubergine (again, somehow, as it also was apparently at 23 weeks. I suppose it depends on the size of your aubergine)

Pregnancy symptom of the week: Disturbed sleep (due to enormo-bump, being too warm and having vivid dreams)

This week saw a big day in my antenatal schedule – the first of my additional growth scans to ensure that there are no signs of any fetal growth restriction, and a check-up with the consultant that all is well with my blood pressure. Neither of which I would have to worry about if it wasn’t for having developed pre-eclampsia in my first pregnancy, but this is the situation I find myself in and I’m grateful for the extra attention to put my mind at rest.


28 week bump sticking out nicely!

I was accompanied to the hospital by my mum, who had jumped at the chance to see the scan first-hand when my husband couldn’t get out of work for the morning, and we both marvelled at the wriggly black and white image on the screen as the sonographer got the necessary measurements. Bump’s legs were curled up awkwardly to get the femur length but with a bit of perseverance, everything was captured. And all was well. With an estimated weight of 3lb 2oz already, and sitting comfortably above the 50th centile, there are no concerns for his growth at this stage. We managed to get a couple of ‘head shots’ printed out, before he grows too big to get a good scan picture.

Then I gave the customary urine sample and had the all-important blood pressure measured – 115/73 – probably about as normal as you can get. The consultant then came in to explain the scan results. Bump was neither too small nor too big, uterine artery blood flow was good, and my BP was better than his own. Back at 32 weeks to check again – and I was done!

After a celebratory decaff vanilla latte and blueberry muffin in the hospital Costa (it’s all glamorous), we then had to head off to my GP surgery to see the community midwife for my routine 28 week appointment, which seemed largely redundant after just having had everything checked but needed to be done nonetheless. First I had to see the practice nurse for my whooping cough vaccination and then another pee pot was filled, BP was taken again (even lower this time!) and the health care assistant took the standard 28 week blood samples – unfortunately at the second attempt as the vein in one arm was not forthcoming. Ouch.


My MAMA Academy Wellbeing Wallet has been going everywhere with me

The midwife was not my usual one, highlighting the issue with continuity of care as she had to familiarise herself with my history before going ahead with her examination. In contrast with the relatively high-tech scan I had already had, the midwife palpated my abdomen to check where the baby was lying and found his heartbeat straightaway to everyone’s delight. She then got out the tape measure to estimate fetal growth the old fashioned way – I measured 29cms which when plotted on my growth chart was actually on the 95th centile! I was surprised it was such a difference to the scan measurement so it will be interesting to see how the two pan out in the coming weeks. The main thing is that Bump’s growth is certainly not restricted at the moment!

What have my #BlogBumpClub buddies been up to this week? Add your pregnancy updates to the linky here:

I’m linking up with Ghostwriter Mummy’s Maternity Matters

Maternity Matters~ Ghostwritermummy

27 weeks: best laid birth plans

This week’s Baby size as fruit or vegetable: Cauliflower

Pregnancy symptom of the week: Random nosebleeds!

Aside from my nose randomly erupting at various points over the last few days (I’ve had three unprovoked nosebleeds now), I’ve had an uneventful pregnancy week. Bump continues to grow and wriggle and I continue to heave myself around, and we’re all getting on quite nicely. Having not experienced nosebleeds in my first pregnancy, although I understand they are common, I am wondering how much effect the low-dose aspirin I’m taking for pre-eclampsia prevention might be having to cause them. Next week sees another trip to the consultant and my first additional growth scan, so I’ll mention it then and hope they don’t become more frequent!


27 week bump – goodbye toes!

Following some brilliant discussion on Twitter about birth plans – or to be more accurate, birth preferences – this week I’ve decided to start gathering some of my thoughts on what I would like for my labour and delivery in an ideal world, being only too aware that often things are far from ideal in the maternity world but I have to be positive! I’ve taken the headings from prompts in my hospital maternity notes, where there is space to write in my thoughts to discuss with the midwife. I also found some great little visual icons online, which are American so weren’t all relevant to the UK experience, but I’ve added a few which I felt applied to my preferences.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about my preferences, and birth ‘plans’ in general. I hope that in making my feelings clear, I will be able to be an active partner in my care during labour and maintain some of the control that I crave, almost regardless of how the whole thing eventually pans out. As long as I have a midwife and/or obstetrician who involves me in what’s happening and my wishes are sought and respected, that’s all I really want.

My birth preferences

My ultimate preference is for an unassisted vaginal delivery with minimal intervention, but should the circumstances dictate otherwise, I will consider other options so long as I am fully informed and any alternative course of action is explained and discussed first. I would like to be addressed directly and involved in all decision making. I have a strong wish for this birth experience to be less medicalised and frightening than my first, although the safe delivery of my baby is my main priority.

Place of birth

If my pregnancy continues to be straightforward, I would prefer to deliver in the Birthing Centre rather than on Delivery Suite [for clarification here, the Birthing Centre at my local hospital is an alongside MLU, situated in the same block as the main maternity unit]. The consultant has indicated that even with my previous history of pre-eclampsia, if it does not develop again I should have the option of using the Birthing Centre. If it proves necessary to labour on Delivery Suite, I would still like as many of my preferences to be fulfilled as possible.

Labour companions

I wish for my husband to remain with me at all times throughout labour and birth, including during any examinations or procedures. I am happy for medical students or student midwives to be present at any time.

Monitoring baby’s heartbeat

I would like fetal monitoring to be kept to a minimum using intermittent auscultation unless there is a cause for concern. In the event that continuous fetal monitoring is considered necessary, I would like to be able to stay as mobile as possible and not confined to the bed.

Options for labour and delivery

I would like the freedom to find my own comfortable positions throughout labour, using any birthing equipment available such as birthing balls or mats. I would like the option of using a birthing pool for pain relief and relaxation and would like to consider delivery in the water if all is straightforward. I would appreciate gentle support and guidance, and advice will be welcome, especially if intervention is needed. I do not wish to have an episiotomy unless it is considered vital.

Pain relief

I would like to keep pain relief to a minimum in the early stages, trying TENS, being in water and remaining active. I would like to manage on Entonox for as long as possible before considering anything stronger. I am open to considering other pain relief options if necessary but I would like to avoid an epidural if at all possible.

After birth

I would like the baby to be delivered onto my stomach for immediate skin-to-skin contact. I would like to delay cord clamping until it has stopped pulsating. If a managed third stage is necessary, I am happy for this to happen but would like to delay cord clamping for a minute or two if this is safe to do. I would like my husband to cut the cord. I would like to attempt breastfeeding as soon as it is appropriate. If stitching is necessary I would like a local anaesthetic first. I am happy for the baby to receive vitamin K.

Slow progress in labour

If labour is progressing slowly, I would like to be kept informed and able to make decisions about any change of plan or interventions required.


I would like to discuss options for induction if this becomes necessary.

Assisted delivery

In the event that an assisted delivery is necessary, I would like to have all options fully explained to me and will take the advice of my care providers in making a decision.

Caesarean section

In the event that a caesarean section is necessary, I would like my husband to stay with me unless a general anaesthetic is required. I would like to be awake and alert if possible. I would like skin-to-skin contact to be facilitated in theatre after delivery.

birth plan icons


Have you got a pregnancy post to link up to #BlogBumpClub this week? I love to read your updates and I’d especially like you to share any posts about your birth preferences too! Link up here:


I’m linking up with Ghostwriter Mummy’s Maternity Matters

Maternity Matters~ Ghostwritermummy

26 weeks: attack of the baby brain

This week’s Baby size as fruit or vegetable: Papaya (apparently)

Pregnancy symptom of the week: Baby brain

This week I’ve been enjoying some extra time with my feet up as I’ve had a week off work to coincide with hubby’s school hols. We went visiting family over Easter weekend but other than that I’ve been making the most of my time off by doing as little as possible!

wpid-img_20150329_131835.jpgMaybe it’s because I haven’t had work to keep me on my toes but I’ve had such baby brain this week, being completely absent minded and forgetful even more than I normally am. My exasperated husband is losing track of how often I’ve completely not heard something he’s just said, even if I responded to him. Then at night my subconscious wakes up, disturbing my sleep with weird vivid dreams. My own brain is betraying me!

I am finding it harder to get a full night’s sleep now so maybe I’m not as well rested as I might be, which probably doesn’t help. Even with the added comfort of my support cushions in bed, I’m having to fully wake up to turn myself over and a few times I’ve woken up with excruciating pain in my hip when I’ve been lying on one side for too long. On the plus side, not sitting at my desk for a week has improved my pelvic pain during the day, so hopefully that won’t deteriorate again when I’m back at work.

In writing my post last week about the maternity system, I didn’t give a usual update, so hadn’t mentioned my 25 week visit to the community midwife. Ordinarily, second time mums don’t have this visit, waiting until 28 weeks for a check-up, but my concerns about recurring pre-eclampsia meant I had been offered the extra appointment. Happily, both blood pressure and urine proved to be normal, putting my mind at rest for another few weeks. I was also able to hear Bump’s heartbeat, which is always special, however brief it is. My next visit will be at 28 weeks for the usual blood tests and also to get the whooping cough vaccine, an important jab for pregnant women around this time to give your baby some protection from birth.

wpid-img_20150329_131512.jpgWe’ve started to get a bit more prepared for the new arrival at home by getting down Little Man’s baby clothes from the loft to see what we can reuse for number two. Along with some teeny cuddly toys, there’s now a bagful of babygrows, sleepsuits and cute tiny outfits freshly washed and ready to go, which fortunately means we won’t have to buy too many newborn bits. As Joe was so small when he was born, a lot of the clothes are actually ‘small baby’ size, only fitting up to 7.5lbs. If this one is closer to the average than his big brother was, he will already be too big for a lot of them when he arrives, but this would be no bad thing. We don’t want another early arrival!

I am loving catching up with all your pregnancy posts – add yours now to the #BlogBumpClub linky here:


I’m linking up with Ghostwriter Mummy’s Maternity Matters

Maternity Matters~ Ghostwritermummy

25 weeks: a few words about choice, birth and ‘the system’

This week I’m making a bit of a departure from my usual pregnancy updates to make a more serious point. I have begun thinking about making a birth plan, being only too aware that it will only ever be my birth preferences – no-one can genuinely plan for childbirth with any certainty. And I’ll be honest – I’m a bit scared.

Several things have influenced my thoughts about birth recently – articles and stories I have read, the inspiring Born to Safe Hands conference I attended in Bolton last week, activity on social media – all of which have led me to question the nature of ‘the system’. Why are maternity services which should be based so much on trust currently so deeply entrenched in fear and suspicion? Mothers are afraid of giving birth, obstetricians are skeptical of ‘normal’ birth, midwives are averse to perceived harmful interventions, all clinical staff are terrified of mistakes and recriminations – all points I have come across recently that highlight a vicious cycle of mistrust, fear and defensiveness that cannot continue.

Of course the elephant in the room here is the Morecambe Bay scandal – a systemic failure of such epic proportions it can hardly be believed. The actions of some truly irresponsible individuals and a complete breakdown at every level in the appropriate way of dealing with it led to the tragically avoidable deaths of both babies and mothers. I hadn’t felt qualified to comment on the situation, not being a clinical health professional, but I certainly have an opinion as someone who works for the NHS and cares passionately about maternity care, especially as I’m currently on the receiving end of it.

The knock-on effect of Morecambe Bay is huge, and the opportunity presented by the recently announced national maternity review to learn and implement change cannot be missed. However, the Kirkup report is still fresh in people’s minds, the wounds for the families still raw, and the fingers of blame are still being pointed as nobody wants to appear in the wrong. Midwives and obstetricians should be on the same side of the fence, but they’re still too busy trading insults over it about whose garden is better. Meanwhile, pregnant women are left to one side unsure of who to trust, pulled in opposite directions by competing cultures who both claim to provide the best care for them.

A large problem with the whole issue of maternity services in general is the fact that midwives and doctors are all lumped together as entirely separate professions and tarred with the brush used to paint the worst of them. I have good professional relationships with both midwives and obstetricians and have seen the collaboration and mutual respect that characterises the best of both careers – but the average woman without the benefit of this perspective could be forgiven for being perturbed. The media stereotypes of the militant midwife obsessed with pushing ‘normal’ birth at all costs, and the condescending consultant too willing to cry high risk and slice women open as the ‘safest’ course of action without giving her a choice, are in no way helpful to resolving the issue. I would like to argue that these extremes of the spectrum are not common practice – or maybe I’m just hoping they’re not.

So, I am scared about what my labour and birth will entail. I’m unsure if my perceived level of risk of recurring pre-eclampsia will enable my wish to deliver in the alongside midwifery-led unit at my local hospital to be granted; I’m afraid of a repeat of my last labour – induced, restricted and frightening; I’m resigned to the fact that I will be attended by whichever midwife happens to be on shift when the time comes and that I’ll have to place the ultimate trust in someone I have never met before; and I can only hope that everyone caring for me, doctor or midwife, has my best interests and those of my baby at heart – and treat me as a person capable of thinking for herself as a result.

In the meantime, I’ll think of my preferences for birth, and hope that I can finally have a say in at least some of it. I think that all women, barring any terrible unavoidable circumstances, deserve two things in childbirth – to remain in control and to have a choice over what happens to them. To have those AND be supported by a close-knit multi-disciplinary team without fear, agenda or prejudice would really be something. Maybe I’ll get lucky. Maybe one day we all will.


If you’ve got a pregnancy post to share with #BlogBumpClub this week, link up here:


I’m linking up with Ghostwriter Mummy’s Maternity Matters

Maternity Matters~ Ghostwritermummy

24 weeks: pregnancy massage at ‘totally tranquil’ – review

This week’s Baby size as fruit or vegetable: Corn on the cob

Pregnancy symptom of the week: Total relaxation!

This week I was offered the fantastic chance to experience my first pregnancy massage, courtesy of the lovely peeps at Totally Tranquil in Sunderland. I obviously jumped at the opportunity for an uninterrupted hour of blissful me-time and headed down the A1 for my Saturday lunchtime appointment with physiotherapist Diane.

Pregnancy-MassageA pregnancy massage differs slightly from what you might call a traditional massage in that the techniques used are tailored for mums-to-be; the massage pressure is gentle and relaxing, and you lie on your side or propped up on your back rather than lying face down. Your shape and size is catered for depending on how far along in your pregnancy you are to ensure your complete comfort throughout the treatment. A pregnancy-safe massage oil is also used that will nourish rather than irritate sensitive skin.

I had been asked a few introductory questions about my pregnancy before the day of the treatment, as if there is any indication that it may not be advisable for you to undergo the massage, the team may contact your midwife or doctor to confirm it would be safe to go ahead. This was followed up by Diane at the start of the appointment, when she also took a more detailed medical history. This may seem excessive for a massage but the therapists have to know if you have any conditions which may pose a problem with the treatment – these may include unstable high blood pressure, diabetes, liver/kidney problems or risk of premature labour. Fortunately I was clear to go ahead.

After completing the necessary information, Diane invited me to get ready for the treatment by undressing to my smalls and getting comfy on the massage couch while she left me to clumsily disrobe in privacy and cover myself in lovely warm towels. When I was ready, she came back and helped me get into a comfortable position using extra pillows for support between my knees and under my bump. Starting on one side, she then expertly massaged up and down my back, shoulder, arm and hand, then leg, before assisting me to turn over to repeat on the other side. She particularly commented on the tension in my shoulders – no kidding!


My 24 week bump certainly appreciated the attention!

The final part of the massage involved me turning onto my back supported by a pillow while Diane finished off my legs and feet before culminating in a heavenly shoulder, neck and head massage. I think I may have melted into the couch. As she finished I was left to relax in the warm darkened room, now smelling wonderfully of fragrant oil and candles, and to get up in my own time. I was brought a glass of water and laid there sipping it in a state of absolute relaxation. Reluctantly I got up to dress. In addition to having tension-free muscles, my skin felt beautifully moisturised from the oil. I had a genuine healthy glow.

As I left, I was advised to drink plenty of water and relax as far as possible for the rest of the day. I intended to! I was given the Totally Tranquil ‘Bump, Baby and Beyond’ goody bag which contained a Nuby dummy and weaning spoon, a little bottle of the massage oil to use at home, and a whole stack of leaflets and info for local services such as aquanatal classes and baby yoga. The only downside to the whole visit was having to drive back to Newcastle afterwards – I could have stayed on that couch all afternoon!

Pregnancy massage at Totally Tranquil is available for 30 mins at £25 or 60 mins for £40. Find out more on their website.

I was offered a complimentary pregnancy massage by Totally Tranquil in return for an honest review of their service. The opinions and experiences described in this post are entirely my own.


What have you been up to this week Bump Buddies? Join in with this week’s #BlogBumpClub linky and share your pregnancy posts!

Click to add your link:

the #bibs2015: shy bairns get nowt

BiB2015x350cI may already be a little late to the party on this one, but I haven’t made any nominations yet, so I’m hoping to pick up the straggler voters like me!

I love the buzz that inevitably comes with the blog award season. It’s our chance to celebrate what we do and why we do it and it’s brilliant to see so many lovely bloggers having the confidence to shout about how great their site is, whether they have 100 or 10,000 followers. I always feel a little uncomfortable asking people to nominate me for stuff, but I’m getting better at it. If you don’t ask, you don’t get, or ‘shy bairns get nowt’, as they say round here.

These last few months have been a bit of a turning point for me in terms of my blogging and indeed my presence on social media, not least because of my current pregnancy. My absolute passion since I suffered from pre-eclampsia in 2010 has been raising awareness of maternity issues – as you will know if you are familiar with my role as trustee for pregnancy charity MAMA Academy, my day job in NHS maternity service improvement for the Clinical Networks, or just follow me on Twitter! Being pregnant again has brought a lot of these issues into sharper focus for me, bringing back memories of my experience with Little Man, and creeping into my blog posts more and more.

It has been a privilege to be involved in the #MatExp (Maternity Experience) campaign on Twitter, something I summed up recently as collaboration without hierarchy to give women a voice. There is amazing work going on around the country to improve the experiences of women and families when accessing every stage of maternity services, with some truly committed individuals pushing the agenda forward. It is social media at its absolute best.

I have thoroughly enjoyed taking the reins of the #BlogBumpClub linky, a supportive community of expectant mums, which I feel is very important to enable women to share their experiences of pregnancy.  Similarly, my friendship with Susanne of Ghostwriter Mummy has opened my eyes to the full range of maternity experience via the #MaternityMatters linky. Blogging can be a very cathartic process when trying to process what has happened to you – I have found this to be the case myself.

I don’t like to pigeonhole my blog into one category or another – part of my ‘multitasking mummy’ ethos! – but for the Britmums BiBs2015 I would truly appreciate your vote in either the Family, Social Media or Inspire category, depending on which element you most identify me with. My family is the single most important thing to me in the world, and I love documenting the little things, especially as our family is about to get one bigger! At the same time though, I use my blog to raise some serious issues that matter too, and hope that at least a handful of people find some inspiration there. Social media is the natural extension of this and I adore the interaction it provides, the connections I have made and the friendships I have forged.

If you have appreciated something I have shared, on my blog or elsewhere, I would certainly appreciate your nomination. Maybe a shy bairn will get something after all. Thank you.

You can read a little more about my experience and my journey to this point in my post ‘All of this': taking the unexpected path

Follow any one of these categories to nominate me:


23 weeks: a week of bittersweet emotions

This week’s Baby size as fruit or vegetable: Aubergine (or eggplant as the American app insists on calling it)

Pregnancy symptom of the week: Freakily vivid dreams


My beautiful Mother’s Day flowers chosen by Little Man

The last couple of weeks have been emotional as we lost my lovely Grandma, who had been cruelly suffering with dementia for several years, and we said our final goodbyes on Tuesday in a small family ceremony. While her death was expected and I found some comfort in the knowledge she was no longer suffering, it has still been a difficult time, especially when you add pregnancy hormones to the mix! I have felt mentally and physically drained at times this week, although now the funeral has passed I find I am more able to relax again.

My sleep has been plagued with vivid dreams, which cause me to wake up feeling as if I’ve been somehow busy all night. My sleep has not been restful, although I think this is getting better. My pregnancy support cushions are an absolute godsend though to actually get comfortable as my bump continues to expand at a rate of knots.

Wonderfully I can now feel lots of distinct movements from Bump, rather than the vague rippling and bubbling sensations of a few weeks ago. I can almost imagine his little limbs poking me as he wriggles around, sometimes higher up my stomach, sometimes lower down kicking me in the bladder.


23 week bump – it feels bigger than it looks in this photo!

I feel increasingly aware of the extra weight I’m carrying in front of me and have to factor in the bump when putting on socks and shoes or bending down to Joe on the floor. Little Man now realises I can’t lift him up like I used to (at four and a half years old he’s quite heavy enough as it is!) so I have to go down to him for cuddles. We love having snuggles on the sofa anyway, and he has taken to cuddling and stroking my bump which is just heart-meltingly cute. He often talks about the baby in a very accepting way – although whether this continues once the new arrival is here remains to be seen!

This weekend I am off for a pregnancy massage at Totally Tranquil in Sunderland, which has come at the perfect time for me to enjoy a bit of relaxation. Look out for my review next week!

I loved reading your #BlogBumpClub posts last week, and always find everyone’s pregnancy experiences fascinating. I can’t wait to see what you’ve all been up to this week! Link up your #BlogBumpClub posts below and say hello via @GreatNorthMum



I’m linking up with Ghostwriter Mummy’s Maternity Matters

Maternity Matters~ Ghostwritermummy