Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Forward planning: overnight bag

As a second-time expectant mum, I have far fewer antenatal appointments to attend than I did first time around. I last saw a midwife at 15 weeks (to get blood test results) and I will next see one at 28 weeks.

So, I've been thinking about what questions I'll need to ask and what level of preparedness for my new arrival I'll need to be in by my next appointment (mid-September). I've started to think in very general terms about a birth plan - something of an oxymoron, perhaps?! - and how long I might spend in the birth centre after my baby is born.

Last time, I expected to spend one night in hospital and I packed my overnight bag accordingly. I ended up spending three nights there - one in labour and then two more after my daughter was born. Some of the things in my bag were untouched (my labour snacks/drinks were forgotten in the car until after the birth!) and others had to be replaced (my daughter puked into my bra and down my nightie and pooed through two vests and babygros in the first day!) - it was a good job my husband didn't mind shuttling between the hospital, Tesco and our house to get stuff that I'd forgotten or hadn't bought or just needed washing!

I think I'm going to pack along the same principles this time, as I've heard that if things go smoothly you can be discharged as little as 6 hours after delivery, but it's more likely that I'll have to stay a bit longer. I just wish I'd made a note of the items that I used last time because now I'm struggling to remember.

I've looked at a couple of websites to get a feel for the 'essential items' but the list seems really long - I'm sure I can whittle it down.

  • Things for me during labour - a very important set of things, including TENS, socks and an old nightie but I'll make sure the clothing can be disposed of almost immediately (I won't want to see or wear it again!)
  • Things for me after the birth - I'll try to pack light, for example, I won't need an eye mask or ear plugs because I either won't sleep or I'll sleep like a log and I didn't read any of the magazines or books I packed last time! 
  • Things for my birth partner - well, he can sort himself out, quite frankly! I'll be busy! 
  • Things for baby - another very important set of items but I'll leave the going home bits in the car in the car seat until we are being discharged, to save room in the bag.
  • Medical notes - vital!
One thing I remember that was very useful last time was a plastic jug. On advice from a friend, I thought I would use it to pour water over my stitches when I went to the loo but I actually used it to measure my wee volume to prove I was passing enough fluid before I could be discharged!

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Day out review: Old Down Country Park

Yesterday, I took my mother and daughter to Old Down Country Park

The park is easy to find, although there is a distinct lack of brown signage to help you get there, and there is plenty of car parking space. We opted for a shady spot because it was shaping up to be another hot day.

We arrived at 10am just as the park was opening and were the first in. Admission prices are not too steep (compared with other local attractions) but you do have to go through the gift shop to enter the main part of the park, which meant that my daughter was distracted by lots of toys and wanted me to buy them for her! I promised that we'd come back to the shop later.

The first play zone had a bouncy castle, sand pit, half a dozen little tikes push-along cars and some plastic rocking horses in a large, grassy area with deck chairs for the grown-ups to sit on and supervise the children. If we had done nothing more than play here, my daughter would have had an amazing time! She started on the bouncy castle (no extra charge) and then rode a car. The plastic horse was a bit hot (it had been in the sunshine) so she went in the sand pit instead. After about 20 minutes, we decided to move on and see some more of the park.

The next section had two large trampolines, a climbing frame with slide and more deck chairs. Trampolining is one of my daughter's favourite things, so she couldn't wait to have a go. She had to share the trampoline with another child and they managed very well at not bouncing each other over! She then had a go on the climbing frame while we sat on the deck chairs.

Next, we went to 'animal encounters' to see the goats, chickens, llamas, alpacas, pigs, horses, guinea pigs and rabbits. You can buy animal feed at the entry hut but we hadn't bothered and I was glad about that because my daughter didn't want to get too close to the larger animals! She was much more interested in the yellow double-decker bus filled with 'educational' activities. In reality, there were lots of toys on board and some toddler-sized tables and chairs for colouring-in and craft purposes. She enjoyed the bus, especially climbing up to the top deck!

By this time, we needed some refreshment, so we went to the cafe for a snack. Snack prices weren't too high and the lunch menu looked good. We opted for tea and cake (grown-ups) and water and kit-kat (toddler). We also did some colouring in.

After our snack, we went on the nature trail walk to see some cows and more horses. There were lovely views out over the Severn and, because it was a clear day, we could see both bridges. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see the wallabies but by the time we completed the trail, we were ready to head home for lunch.

As promised, we went back to the shop and bought a fridge magnet to add to our collection and I also allowed my daughter to choose a toy. She opted for a yellow VW camper van, which she thought was the big yellow bus!

We had a fantastic day out and my daughter certainly enjoyed it because she fell asleep in the car on the way home and stayed asleep for nearly 3 hours!

If there is a down-side to Old Down Country Park as a destination it's that it's definitely a good-weahter attraction - there's not much to do inside if it's raining. Having said that, I'm considering buying annual membership for next year whilst I'm on maternity leave because I think it will be a great place to entertain a toddler and there's plenty of space for pushing a pram.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Whooah, we're halfway there...

20 weeks - an exciting milestone!

The time seems to have passed quickly since I announced this pregnancy - I guess this is because I didn't tell anyone until about 14 weeks - but all of a sudden my EDD (December) doesn't seem that far away! I'm planning to take my full 52 weeks' maternity leave entitlement and plus some accrued annual leave, which will give me 13 months at home. I'll be taking 5 weeks before the birth and I think I'm going to need it because I'm finding it harder to rest and restore my energy with a toddler running around! I've been saving up since my last pregnancy so that we won't struggle financially for the unpaid and SMP-only parts of my leave.

My second scan is only a few days away and I'm looking forward to getting another glimpse of the little person growing inside! "What's Inside Your Tummy, Mummy?" has become one of my daughter's favourite books and she has started to show interest in my growing bump - she was trying to feed pizza to the baby through my tummy button the other evening! Although she won't be able to come with us to the scan, I'll show her the photo and talk about how the baby is developing. I've decided not to ask about the sex of the baby, so we won't find out if it's boy or girl until he/she is born, but my daughter has said she would like a brother!

I've been feeling small, flutterings for a couple of weeks now and am starting to notice a pattern. Most of the movements are shortly after I've eaten a meal or when I go to bed. All of my nausea has gone and I'm feeling much more like my old self but with a bump on the front. The bump has 'shaped up' and is quite round and 'out front' instead of being wobbly and flabby (like it was a few weeks ago). I've started swimming once a week but can only manage 15 lengths of the 20m pool before I (a) get bored and (b) feel hungry.

With only 15 weeks to go until I finish work, I think the second half of my pregnancy may seem to pass just as quickly as the first. I'm starting to think about some practicalities, such as who will look after my daughter when I go to hospital to have the baby, what I should pack in my overnight bag (I should have made a note last time of what was useful!) and what I might write on my birth plan. But then, I still have plenty of time before that all needs to be sorted out!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Shopping trip

I have quite a lot of maternity clothes that are still in good condition from my first pregnancy, so I haven't needed to buy many items this time around. The one or two things I have bought are season-specific because I had a summer baby first time and my second is due just before Christmas. I got a fab winter coat in the online sale from JoJoMamanBebe - less than half price!

I live near Bristol and visited The Mall at Cribbs Causeway today to buy a pair of casual maternity trousers. I had two pairs of jeans last time but the zip broke on one pair, so I've been looking for a replacement. Having tried a small local town with no luck, I expected to have lots of choice at The Mall but to my surprise, two of the largest retailers have removed maternity lines from their stores and are referring customers to their catalogue or website instead. Now, I don't mind shopping online but there are some items that I'd really like to try before I buy. I don't want to order things, try them on at home and then have to return them if they're not right. Especially, as many retailers charge P&P.

So, how did I get on this morning? Well, I wanted a little 'me time' for my shopping trip because I don't often have the chance for a leisurely trawl of the shops. I sent my husband and daughter to the outside play area and they had a fab time for half an hour on the slides and climbing frames before they got hungry for snacks. I got to look round the shops in my own time and on my own terms.

Next had a huge sale on but no maternity clothes. "We don't stock any maternity clothes - they're in the  Directory." Well, that's no good to me because I don't buy the Directory and if you buy from Next online, you are obliged to sign up for the catalogue.

H&M had a good selection and quite a lot of maternity clothes in the sale but they were all far too fashionable (if only I were 10 years younger...)!

TopShop had a small range and nothing that suited my tastes (again, too fashionable...)

M&S is one of the flagship stores at the Mall. It covers two floors and has enormous floor space. However, when I asked to be pointed in the direction of the maternity section, I was told that it's all online now. I have ordered from M&S online but I really want to try trousers before I buy.

Finally, I went into Dorothy Perkins. They had a good range of maternity clothes and quite a lot in the sale too. Most of the jeans were skinny fit (and I'm completely the wrong shape for that, even without the bump!) but they had two styles that were boot cut - my favourite! So, I tried both on and chose the darker pair because they fitted better. On my way out of the changing room, there was a sale rail of flat summer shoes and I managed to find a bargain.

I found my hungry family and we had lunch next to the indoor fountain. So, all in all it was a successful trip!

Friday, 6 July 2012

School dinners

I discovered the Neverseconds blog a few weeks ago and now look forward to reading it each evening. Every day, the author photographs her school lunch and writes about what she had to eat. In addition to diarising contemporary school dinners, she is raising awareness of the charity Mary's Meals and has raised a huge amount of money to provide kitchen facilities for children at school in Malawi.

As well as giving me an insight into the quality and diversity of meals available to children in education across the world (because followers send in photos of their own lunches!), it has evoked some nostalgia for my own childhood. I ate school dinners for 14 years - how different they are now!

At primary school, you could have a cooked school dinner or bring a packed lunch. My mother paid for me to have school dinners. There was no choice of what to eat (not even a vegetarian option) and it was always main course and pudding. I particularly enjoyed the pasty pie but hated luncheon meat. I liked the rice pudding or sponge with custard but sometimes the custard would be coloured or flavoured (was the green, mint custard actually nice to eat?)! The dinner ladies made sure you ate everything on your tray before allowing you outside to play.

At high school, school dinners were compulsory - even the teachers ate them! The cost was included in the termly school fees but there was greater choice and the quality was high. Each day, there were two hot meat options, one hot vegetarian option and a range of salads. There was a good selection of hot and cold desserts. Every Tuesday, there was a roast dinner and it was always fish on a Friday. Occasionally, they ran theme days (eg. Hallowe'en and French Day) and at the end of Winter term, they would do a Christmas lunch with all the trimmings. There were no dinner ladies to monitor your consumption but you were supposed to tell a teacher if you knew someone had skipped lunch.

So, having eaten school dinners for most of my childhood and reading about them now, how do I feel about the prospect of signing my daughter up to eat them when she starts school in two years' time? Well, there has been a lot of interest and thought around diet and health for children in recent years, including the healthy eating campaign. So, I've started her off by choosing a nursery with a kitchen on-site.

My daughter goes to nursery two days a week and has all her meals provided by the nursery kitchen. The 4-week menu is changed every six months and has been devised with the input of a celebrity chef (but I'm not sure which one). She gets cereal and toast for breakfast, a mid-morning snack (usually fruit and/or crackers), hot lunch with pudding, afternoon tea (often a sandwich or crudités) with dessert. She has milk, water or fruit juice to drink. When I collect her in the evening, I'm given a rundown of what she ate during the day and, usually, she has eaten everything on her plate. All the children sit together and I'm sure this social side of nursery lunches helps them all to eat better and try new things.

Long may school dinners continue! Let's hope that continued blogging, celebrity endorsement and awareness raising ensures that children across the world get a good meal to help them grow, learn and develop.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Aches and pains

I went to an antenatal physio seminar yesterday, organised by the community midwives. It was aimed at women between 15 and 20 weeks pregnant, although there were some ladies there who were further along because the last session had been cancelled.

I didn't go to this session when I was pregnant with my daughter but I decided to go this time because I've been experiencing quite a lot of shoulder and back pain (probably because I have a toddler to lug around!).

I wasn't really sure what to expect but it was brilliant! The nurse talked for about an hour and we had the chance to ask lots of questions. She explained the cause of aches and pains (weight gain and hormonal changes) and that we could only improve it by altering our behaviour. She then went on to show us how to sit, stand and sleep properly. Two key words: support and symmetry!

Well, I tried it and it seems to have had almost immediate effects!

It's hard to get proper support on my sofa - the seat is too long (so I can't get my feet on the ground and lean onto the back support at the same time) - so I tried sitting in a more upright chair with a bolster cushion in the arch of my back. Although it didn't feel great at the time, my back definitely hurts less today. I also asked for an ergonomic assessment of my office chair at work, as I'm sure that it's not set up properly for me.

When I went to bed, I padded up with lots of pillows. I forgot to put a rolled up towel under my bump but I did put a thick pillow between my knees and ankles in order to relieve strain on my hips. I also put something behind my back to help keep me on my side. Although I did wake up four or five times (for a wee, a drink, because I was too hot/cold) I did feel less tension when I got up this morning.

In respect of my daughter, I have to try to get her to do more for herself and I definitely shouldn't carry her on one hip (my current favoured position). She's not enjoying the change but I'm certainly noticing a difference!