Hints and Tips Pregnancy

These hints and tips are just things that worked for me, so I thought I would share them just incase they work for someone else, please share them with anyone you know who is pregnant.  Now obviously it is always wise to check with your health professional about any of the supplements and vitamins that I talk about below, as I am not a specialist, just a Mum.

Because I had turned 40 while I was pregnant I was a great deal more focussed on my health.  I was much more vigilant on taking Pregnacare (vitamins specially formulated for pregnant or nursing mothers) extra, which includes Omega3 tablets as well.  I also took a liquid Iron supplement called Spatone for a while (liquid iron doesn’t tend to constipate you like the pills do).  Then when I got more tired I replaced Spatone with Floradix, which is a liquid iron and mineral supplement; much more effective, but also more expensive.  Ironically, I had to be much more healthy this time because unlike the chocolate & crisps I existed on in my first pregnancy (the only thing I fancied when feeling sick every day for 9 months), I only felt well when eating very small portions of healthy food.  The outcome was that within 2 weeks of ‘little pink’ being born, I had lost all my pregnancy weight; but don’t start getting jealous, because I do have the weight from pregnancy no1 still ;o)  ‘Little pink’ also came out nearly 3lbs heavier than ‘monster/angel boy’ and appeared a great deal stronger.  Of course, these outcomes could be nothing to do with my strategies, but hey, it’s possible and I do think that it’s worth remembering that diets are a no-no when pregnant, but you aren’t actually eating for two full sized people when pregnant either!

One thing I didn’t get to do as much of as in pregnancy No1 was exercise, because there just isn’t the time for it.  I was worried, but afterwards realised that just being a Mum of a 4yr old was enough, even with the onset of SPD (hip and pelvis pain due to the body releasing too much relaxin) which meant I wasn’t very active.  But that didn’t seem to cause problems with the birth.

I was really focussed on tieing up lose strings with my two businesses when I was pregnant, so I didn’t do a great deal of preparation.  Then I suddenly realised that if I had wanted to do ‘Hypnobirthing’ that I hadn’t left myself with enough time to do it.  When I looked into it more deeply, I realised it probably wasn’t for me anyway, as due to my training I have heard too many hypno/meditation audios with ping pong music and sickly sweet voices (no disrespect to them, just not my cup of tea).  But I did need something, and having found a scottish guy called ** Andrew Johnson who creates hypnotherapy iphone apps and downloadable audios.  One of my mummy blogger mates introduced me to him on Twitter and I was lucky enough to get to beta test his pregnancy app.  I can therefore definitely recommend his Relax, Sleep and Pregnancy Apps/Audios as I slept brilliantly in the last 2 months of pregnancy (normally very difficult) and was very relaxed in the build up towards the birth.  Of course he has an unfair advantage with the scottish accent, which is naturally relaxing, and I can’t really give an in depth analysis of his hypnosis techniques as I’m pretty much asleep nowadays on his first couple of words.  This is pretty amazing, as I’ve never been the best sleeper, had loads of pain from SPD in my pregancy, and used to find it really difficult to sleep when I’d been woken frequently by a baby.

I was also really lucky to find a Doula a couple of months before the end of my pregnancy, which was cutting it a bit fine if baby had come early!  She also had a pool, which was great as I found them difficult to find.  I thoroughly recommend a Doula if you can afford one, or look for a Doula in training if you are short on cash.  This would be a great use of the cash that you (currently) get from the government near the end of your pregnancy.  If you live near me, then check out Herts Doulas.

Apart from that I didn’t do much preparation, not just because it was my second, but also because you can order pretty much anything online nowadays.  Some big shops have slow delivery times, but ebay and amazon are really quick.  You don’t even have to panic about buying nursery furniture to be honest, because you might end up with kids like mine who never use it (p.s. Ikea nursery furniture tends to be the most reasonably priced, everything else seems to be at a premium).  It really doesn’t need to cost loads to have a baby, you don’t even need to buy an expensive pram as slings are often preferred by little ones.

Here is my Hospital Bag list, which was also for use after the birth if at home:

  • Birthplan, Antibacterial wipes, Energy drink and snack, iphone speakers
  • For baby: 2 vests, 2 allinones, cardigan, hat, gloves, blanket, newborn nappies, cotton wool & wipes
  • For me: Face cleaner wipes, moisturiser, tinted moisturiser, shampoo, shower gel, toothbrush & paste, maternity pads & throw away knickers, 2 nightshirts, 1 long sleeve shirt, 1 pair of trousers, 1 pair flat shoes, 1 bra and knickers, cardigan.

Here is the list of what I was told I needed in addition for a home birth:

  • Waterproof covers (from DIY store), torch, small table, kitchen roll, pampers changing mat (put under seat in loo to deliver placenta into), lots of old towels, bucket.  My Doula provided the pool and homeopathy kit.

This was my list of what to do when things kicked off and I either had regular contractions or my waters broke (I didn’t have to find babysitters for Monster/Angel boy as I was going to have a Doula with me and hubby was looking after the dogs and my son:

  1. Phone Husband if he is at work, plus Mums available to pick up Max from nursery (not necessary thankfully!)
  2. Phone Doula
  3. Start Filling Pool and put on immersion heater just in case.
  4. Phone Delivery Suite
  5. Cancel cleaner
  6. Make sure room warm and baby towel & clothes are on radiator to warm up.
  7. Put on music/tv

The biggest tip I can give you is to take care of yourself.  I know that you will feel guilty if there are things that you are not able to do, but it’s only a while, and it’s worth knowing that you did everything possible to keep yourself and your baby healthy.  Here is a link to my other blog on the birth, incase you fancy knowing how it turned out in comparison to birth no1, which was incredibly different.  Hope these tips are useful, good luck with everything!

** I have just become an affiliate for Andrew Johnson, mainly because I’m likely to recommend him lots and it seems daft not to!  However, I don’t expect it to be massively lucrative, as most of you will be buying iphone apps, rather than downloading the audios, and I’m pretty sure there is no way of tracking those ;o)

The Ideal Mummy Age – 16, 26, or 36?

I was reading a blog by a fellow Mummy Blogger the other day about age and mummyhood; you know, the eternal question about which age is most ideal.  Suddenly it hit me about the weird synchronicities in my life and how there were 3 potential ages and outcomes for my life.

16 – So Nearly A Teenage Mum

It might surprise people to know that I was very nearly a teenage Mum, and therefore can totally understand why young girls make the choice to get pregnant.  Not because of council houses etc, etc, but because of an urge for someone who would love me, for me, and need me for me, not use me. It wasn’t a rational thought, it was a pretty lonely desperate thought.

I was a very bright, slightly serious, very responsible girl, who had been what is now termed a ‘young carer’ from an extremely young age (called an ambulance at 5 for my Mum) and I’d pretty much enjoyed the job, just like all young kids who are so resilient and adaptable to situations.  But when I hit my teens it got much harder to deal with.  During my ‘O’ level revision my Dad had a heart attack, was overdosed by the hospital and ended up in a diabetic coma. Although he recovered, he was pretty sick throughout my exams, plus the family company was being sold.  The day that school finished, my Mum fell over the dog and broke her pelvis.  So I spent the majority of my summer holidays nursing the two of them, as they refused proper help or to go somewhere more suitable.

It was that time of your life where you start to meet loads of new friends and your social life begins to take precedence.  I was lucky, my new friends were willing to come to the house to see me, when I got a break.  But after the stress of exams and a tough summer, I was becoming very resentful.  I remember distinctly the thought running through my head, that if I had a baby, they would want me for just me, not as a potential carer for the rest of their lives.  Now to all the shattered Mums out there, that might sound rather ironic!  But it is different.  I look in my daughter’s eyes tonight and in a way that young version of me was right and I do feel different about nursing her, than I did my parents.

So for the first time I rebelled when we went on holiday, which happened to co-incide with falling head over heels for a summer romance.  The only reason that I did not come back pregnant, was that I happened to fall for someone younger than me (which I didn’t realise), who therefore didn’t take advantage of the potential on offer.  Instead I came back a smoker; hell I needed something!

Wow, life would have been different if I’d tried harder to get pregnant.  I reckon I would have enjoyed being a Mum, despite my age, and as caring came naturally, I would have taken to the role easily.  But so many other things would have changed.  Would my parents have helped, so that I could continue to study my ‘A’ Levels?  I’m not sure, and even if they did, I suspect it would have been delayed.  I doubt the rather disastrous 5yr intense relationship would have happened, as I wouldn’t have been so attractive with a baby.  That would have saved some heartache, but also lost useful lessons.  I might still have met my husband, if I’d managed to continue and do a degree, even if I’d gone for a local one instead, but again I wonder how attractive I would have been with a 4yr old child.

So here I would be, 40yrs old, with a 24yr old child.  They would definitely have left college by now, so I would be free to enjoy my 40’s and make the most of them.  They would have known my Dad for 4yrs and might remember him, and would have had 20yrs with my Mum.  Plus, I would have had a Mum to talk to when I was tired, and upset, and a Mum to babysit or help out when I just felt like I couldn’t cope.  However, my escape from home was combined with going away to do my degree (that was kind of what I’d been working towards since very young), so I might never have got away and stayed as her carer until she died 4yrs ago.  But maybe as I learnt more about her from becoming a Mum myself, we might have found a more balanced way?  Nahhh, I was too young, and I’ve needed to learn a hell of a lot in order to understand human behaviour, especially when it gets all twisted and knarly.  But I reckon I would still have loved being a Mum.

26 – Why Not At The ‘Ideal Age’?

Ironically 3 yrs later I was told by a doctor that I was ‘barren’ and had to take pills for the rest of my life otherwise I would get ‘brittle bone disease or cancer and die’.  So at 26 when I was ‘meant to’ be having kids, (we’d been together 6 yrs, married for 1yr) I wasn’t.  My husband knew from the beginning that there were problems, but I did double check just before we got married.  The specialist said that IVF wouldn’t work, but I could try fertility treatments.  However, ironically if I did fall pregnant there was a high probability of multiple pregnancies, but he thought it unlikely I would be successful.

Now, by this stage I was a stress junkie.  I did not deal well with my Dad’s death, and had a huge discovery about my Mum which turned my life upside down and back again.  I was doing really well in a mega stressful job, and working long days and hours.  I organised my wedding in conjunction with my in-laws, which is just not ideal, however nice your in-laws are.  There was NO WAY I could have handled twins or worse, it just wasn’t worth the risk.  The problem was that everyone said it had to be in my 20’s, and that the slimmest of chances was slipping away.  But we weren’t ready, I was too stressed and it wasn’t a priority for my husband.  I insisted it would be ‘wrong’ to try for a baby just because of age (please do not think that I am criticising anyone who makes that choice – just wrong for us, that’s all).

I am SO glad that we didn’t try at that point, because one thing I am sure of is that I would not have handled it.  I would have been filled with brain noise, and been a prime candidate for Post-natal depression, with no idea on how to tackle it.  I wouldn’t have had time to heal the rift between myself and my Mum, which would have just added to the whole messy emotional state.  Plus, my husband and I went through a key, although uncomfortable, shift in our relationship 10yrs later, and without it, I don’t think we could have had the family that we have today, or the future possibilities.

36 – Miraculous (and again at 40!)

So then we come to the 36 year old, walking up and down a corridor saying ‘Oh shit’ and starring in disbelief at a pregnancy test that is definitely positive.  By now, I’d got so used to the idea of being ‘barren’ that I had totally accepted it, and was sure it was because I’d be a rubbish Mum anyway.  Our marriage had been through some tough times, but my husband had also got his head around the lack of children, and we were just planning our very hedonistic mid-life together when I discovered that I was 2 months pregnant!

I didn’t get much chance to think it through, because during the next 7 months my Mum died (she did see me pregnant) and we moved house.  So there suddenly in my arms, was this little boy.  There was no family to rely on, not many local friends, but most crucially no one to interfere. Everyone said I was lucky to have a boy, because they are so affectionate, and they were right.  I spent 3 months holding him, because he screamed if I put him down, and this little creature taught me how to just ‘Be’ in a moment.  It was certainly hard, but I immediately found out this amazing thing; I LOVED being a Mum, and I reckon I’m pretty good at it what a surprise!

So It’s Extremes That Win For Me

Ironically that means that at 26 I’m sure, I would have been miserable, and perpetuated all the problems I’d seen in my childhood.  Whereas the extremes of 16 or 36, were either before there was too much emotional baggage, or after it was ‘fixed’, giving me the chance to really enjoy being a Mum.  So they are the ages that work best for me.  Makes sense, as I’m not that traditional anyway!

If I’d been 16, I would have no worries about seeing my grandchildren grow up, and would have had more energy, which would be a big advantage.  I had older parents (Mum was 43 when she had me), and there were definitely hardships that I felt due to their lack of health.  But this is where I have some power over the situation at 36, because I have the gift of hindsight.  So, I’m hoping that in the next couple of years (giving me some time to recover from the arrival of another surprise baby 7 weeks ago at 40!) I can shift my pretty good health up several notches, thereby ensuring I still get relationships with my grandchildren.  It’s going to be hard work, but I’m sure it’s possible, wish me luck (ooh, and this time, I might be a bit more careful with that thing called contraception for a while!)

So, is there an ‘ideal’ age?  The obvious answer is no.  But it’s not that easy.  The ideal age for me, was when I was going to enjoy it the most, but I was lucky to get a second chance.  Now that I know what having kids is like, I would probably still go for 26 if it was my only chance, and hope that given time I would be able to fix the problems caused by my stress junkie status.  Maybe that is one of the reasons why I’m so driven to help other Mums who are stuck in that place of discomfort at whatever age; I suspect it has a lot to do with it.

Here’s the link to the blog that got all this going in my head: A Modern Mother ‘Becoming a Mum in Your 40s’)

Arrival Of Baby No2 – A Very Different Experience

Willow Phoebe Rose Pearson arrived on Saturday 13th February at 13.25, at a chubby 9lbs 3oz, at home in our lounge after a very relaxed 7hr labour, lots of chatting and a short dip in the birthing pool.  Hubby and 4yr old son were downstairs during the process, watching films or playing computer games, and popping up to see how I was doing every now and again with more tea for us.  So it all worked out to be a very calm and un-stressful experience.

Now, if you fancy more detailed info, here you go, but feel free to stop here; I know that some friends will be wanting the full monte, and others will be interested in the home birth side, but some of you won’t want to know ;o)

So Much More Relaxed

It was so different this time around, with her picking a daytime arrival (6.30am-1.25pm) versus Max’s evening one (6.30-10pm).  Max was really full on, with me going straight into ‘transition’ 24hrs after my waters broke, no pre-warning contractions, just straight into 1 min contractions every minute.  The rather scary (and noisy, because I’m not good with physical pain!) roller coaster 4hrs included a mad dash for hospital, finishing off in a birthing unit.

Instead, this was a relaxed affair, with the Doula (Nicola Wilson – like an old fashioned midwife who gives additional support during the birth and post-natally) arriving an hour in, and the community midwife (Sarah Loveday – very lovely and relaxed) an hour or two after that.  There was lots of chatting, which I found helped with the pain as it relaxes the jaw (which relaxes the pelvis), along with remembering to eat, drink water and breathe (which I forgot to do first time).  I can see now why those women on YouTube were singing during labour, which might not be my cup of tea, but I definitely recommend humming to music or chatting!

I mainly stood up and leaned on a leather chair, for 6.5hrs, by the french windows (curtains shut obviously!).  It was a beautiful day, and when I got a bit hot and flustered I could open the doors.  It wasn’t where I planned to be, as I thought I would use the big fit balls or a bean bag, but they were useful for the midwife and doula instead!

I also thought I’d go straight in the pool, but things were going so well, that we decided to keep it for when I really needed it, which was only the final 30 mins.  The pool was a blow up ECO small one, which was perfect.  I wouldn’t want bigger, it kept it’s heat all the way through from the beginning, was quick to fill, and very comfortable to be in (both leaning on the sides and kneeling).  Things really ramped up when I got in, which although painful, was NOTHING like the traumatic pain I remembered from before and totally bearable for that short time, especially as I had help from the Doula and Midwife.

Pain Levels

I suspect this is the difference in pain levels is down to some prior preparation about fear of pain, plus being in a much more relaxed environment, with no mad dash for Watford.  I didn’t do ‘hypnobirthing’, but did use some relaxation techniques in the 6 weeks prior (I’ll do another post with information about that), which meant I was well rested. I also did some practical looking at the value of the pain with some of my associates beforehand, which meant that I wasn’t worried about making noise or it hurting again.  Plus with a more gentle build up there was less shock, and I wasn’t lieing on a hospital bed or ‘sitting on her head’ as the midwife called it.  I couldn’t have done anything other than lie down first time round, but now I know a little more about these things, I could have been lieing on my side, rather than on my back.

First time round it felt like someone had a couple of hot pokers and were mixing my stomach with them (sorry for the gruesome details!), whereas this time the contractions were in my back (like period pains are).  It was fascinating as they moved down my back as she moved, which is quite an encouraging feeling.  Plus, we tried an old fashioned tip, which was to check my legs to see how dilated I was.  Apparently, your legs starting getting cold at the ankle, and the higher up towards your knees it goes, the more dilated you are.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not like that model recently who didn’t feel a thing.  That last 20 mins was very intense, but this time I managed to not scream (waste of energy) and keep the noises lower in the back of my throat (which is where you want them).  I didn’t even get heard by the neighbours, unlike last time when I couldn’t speak for a week and could have been heard miles away ;o)

I owe huge gratitude to the fact that I live in St Albans, where home births are pretty much matter of fact, and the midwives get plenty of leeway to make it the best possible experience for mums, that it can possibly be.  Plus in hertfordshire we have loads of Doula’s including really experienced ones like Nicola, which is definitely the answer to the problem of no local family, siblings that need taking care of, potential help after the birth, and additional support during the birth hence taking some pressure off hubby.

Her Arrival

I was leaning forwards at the end, so the funniest thing was as they popped her on my back, and I suddenly realised how come she had taken longer, because blimey she was heavy.  Max had been a little 6lb 10oz baby, and she is nearly 3lb’s heavier at 9lb’s 3oz!  She was also very cute looking as she was delivered in her waters bag, so her head was all cushioned throughout, with no funny squashed look.

As expected she has dark hair, dark eyes (slate grey at the moment, but likely to go brown), and dark skin.  In fact her skin is really dark at the moment, which is because of giving birth at home and having no rush to remove the cord, so she got a lot extra blood etc, than a baby whose cord is cut quickly in hospital.  Whereas Max was obviously red haired, pale skinned and blue eyed, right from the start.  He was whipped off quickly to be measured etc, given a quick feed, and then passed to Daddy while I had a couple of hours of stitching (don’t worry, gas and air is fabulous, it didn’t hurt a bit!).  This time, despite her being a ton bigger, there are no stitches, which is really good news.

The only similarity between the two was the lack of drugs.  Not my plan!  But first time round there wasn’t enough time for them to have taken effect, and this time, I didn’t really need anything until then end, and there wasn’t much point by then.  I was given some homeopathic remedies by the Doula in the pushing stage, which I did think helped me through the last bit.

It was weird to be so much more conscious and able to follow instructions at the end.  I’d seen women give birth on YouTube, and they had seemed so much more involved and able to understand the midwives, but I just couldn’t understand how that could be, as first time around, I was so incapable of understanding anything.  This time I could understand instructions, and move when told to (with a little bit of complaining!).

The Rest Of The Family

Max and David had fun playing computer games and watching films.  David did a fab job of keeping everyone fed and watered, meanwhile Max would pop up to check on us, announce something funny and then disappear back downstairs.  I did suggest that they go out near the end, but unbeknown to me the Doula counteracted that, which I am really grateful for.  I was worried I might make noise and scare Max, but in fact they hardly heard anything, and it meant that they arrived in the lounge, almost immediately after her entrance into the world.  Willow and I cuddled for a quite some time in the pool, with Max leaning over.  He was really chuffed, not bothered by the pool being a slightly bloody colour at all.  In fact it was only later on that he got slightly upset, but we discovered it was just because he insists that she should wear pink or cute stuff, and he didn’t like the outfit that we had picked!

The dogs got treated to a lovely long walk by our dog walker, so they were pretty exhausted that night.  However, the Labradoodle noticed her immediately, and is already watching over her with great concern if she issues the smallest of squeaks.  The Spaniel took 2 days to notice her, and is just a little annoyed that she tends to take up space on the sofa, but thinks that she smells nice.

Afterwards

Once the cord had stopped pulsing, we decided to get out, and were put in a lovely cocoon of towels, while I fed her.  An hour later, I popped off to the bathroom and the placenta arrived very quickly, so there was no need for an injection.  Then I had a lovely shower, and got all cleaned up.  Meanwhile the Doula and two midwives (the second midwife didn’t arrive until just after she was born, because once she decided it was time to push, she only took 20mins, so there wasn’t a lot of notice) had tidied everything, fed me, and the pool had already been emptied and disassembled by David and Max.

It’s a lovely feeling to be at home, in the peace and quiet and not have to go anywhere.  Despite it being pretty easy, I did feel a little shaky afterwards for a couple of days, so it’s lovely to be all snuggled on your own sofa, with your baby and family.

The Next Week

Willow ‘mewed’ her way through her first 24hrs, with lots of little squeaky noises whether she was asleep or awake.  She has a set of lungs on her, but her wail is gentle in comparison to Max’s, which would go from 0 to 100 decibels in a matter of 5 seconds.  She wasn’t impressed by bodily functions like puking (delicately of course!), or pooing, but has found that if she sucks my finger it is a much more lady like way of winding herself than burping.

Max is a little sensitive, but has been wonderful with her.  Having no younger siblings myself, I’m amazed at how genuinely he loved her immediately, and how gentle he is when he holds or touches her.  Although it is half-term, he has been attending drama camp this week (same days as nursery), which has given him some normalcy, plus he got invited out for a ‘play-date’ on his own, which he adored (thanks Clare!).  We are co-sleeping just as he planned, and at the moment he would prefer Willow and I to stay in the room, even if she is being a little fractious; we’ll see how that goes.

David has had a tough time, as the day after Willow was born, it was announced that his company were shutting down the division that he had moved to 14 days previously.  Despite him supposedly being on paternity leave, he has repeatedly had to work late into the night, and attend teleconferences during the day in order to help out the different factions.  It would definitely be kind of fun to get a chance to be locked in a room with his main boss at the moment, what with the hormonal soup that week1 after a baby is born can be.  But don’t worry about us, David was made redundant 6 weeks after Max was born, so if the worst possible scenario happens, it just means that he gets the same opportunity to spend time with Willow.  Meanwhile, the Mums at Max’s nursery have all kindly offered to help with the nursery runs next week, so I don’t have to handle the a total return to normalcy when David goes ‘back’ to work, or in his case, actually has to go into London to work.

David’s parents turned up excitedly the night that Willow was born, and the next day were joined briefly by his sister and her 2 teenage kids.  But since monday afternoon we have had a quieter time of it, and are gradually getting our heads around how a family works with an additional pink bundle (she is definitely a rather cute bundle, whereas Max was nick named ‘alien bug’ for the first few weeks of his life!).  Hopefully, one of my brothers will be able to make it to meet her next week.

With Max I remember the first two weeks being totally cocooned with him for the most blissful weeks of my life.  That’s not a possibility with paternity leaves being cancelled, and reappearing, and then cancelled again, along with the reality of already having a 4yr old.  But generally, just as with her birth, it’s a slower, more relaxed if less intense experience (so far, that is!).

Note: Every couple of months I’ll post another blog on our progress and the differences/similarities second time around (mainly as a diary for me, but it might be interesting for people thinking of having a second), so if you fancy keeping up to date with our journey you might want to subscribe.

Why Do Affairs Happen If You Aren't Bitchy or Frigid?

I was infuriated this morning by listening to some chappie on the TV saying, ‘well you never know what was going on at home, maybe it was a sexless marriage!’; PLLLLEASE!  That is such an urban myth, that affairs happen because the partner did something ‘wrong’.  I’m not saying that something was not going on in the relationship.  But because no one is taught what I’m about to explain to you, often the partner has no hope in hell of staving off the unfaithfulness of their partner.

Why do affairs happen if there is no bitchy wife or lack of sex?

Affairs are fascinating, as there really are reasons for them to occur, which explain what often appears to be totally illogical.  Take the recent captain of the english football team, with a beautiful wife and family; is he really so vacuous that he is incapable of refusing a woman who throws himself at him?  What about the famous golfer who appears to have slept with anything that walked, despite childhood distress when his Dad was unfaithful; why did he get himself into that situation?

The answer is a mixture of the points below, most of which you will never have heard of before (and I’ll keep blogging as well, to fill in the gaps and add extra information in the future, like why the ‘other woman’ gets involved, and can a relationship survive unfaithfulness).  p.s. I’ve used the words ‘victim’ and ‘culprit’ and ‘other woman’ just as convenient titles, but that is just for ease of identity, I don’t believe that it helps if you consider yourself to be the ‘wronged’ person, and I will continue to blog on ideas on how to pick yourself up afterwards, whichever role you played.

1) There is ‘baggage’ in both the ‘victim’s and ‘culprit’s emotional lives about unfaithfulness.

Either they have been unfaithful and it’s time for them to experience the opposite, or they are still upset about someone being unfaithful to them.  Often, I have found that the ‘baggage’ goes all the way back to the parents too and something that happened with them.  This is one of the key problems for the golfer, because he probably vowed he would never be like his Dad, but there is tremendous wisdom in the saying ‘Never say never’.  If we are unaware of the potential for being unfaithful, then we can easily get caught unawares.  Often, when we then discover with horror that we have done exactly that, the guilt paralyzes us, and we ironically keep doing it, because we just don’t understand how on earth we got there.

2) There is a change in the ‘victims’ empowerment levels.

It can either happen because they suddenly become disempowered or ironically because they become more empowered.  I bet this is particularly true of WAGS, because as they get more and more worried about their partner’s being unfaithful, they will become less and less sure of themselves.  If they are not sure of themselves, then they are not sure of their value, and their partner will subconsciously pick up on that.  When their partner picks up on the change they will either match it (by becoming more or less empowered) or look for someone else who matches what they used to be like.  Because of this affairs often happen at what appears to be the most ‘socially unacceptable’ point in time, because that is when the ‘victim’ is most disempowered, e.g. when they are pregnant (very prevalent).

3) ‘The victim’ is not selling themselves to their partner in terms of their partner’s values.

Values are what we think are important in life.  They give us purpose, and determine what we love to do and have.  In fact they are basically what makes us tick.  (If you would like a free ebook on values and how to start identifying yours and your loved ones, sign up for my free email newsletter).  The ‘victim’ may not be being horrid, but it could be as little as just taking their partner for granted a little or assuming that they will always be faithful.  It’s not very romantic to say this, but all relationships are a deal, where you show that your particular brand is better than all the other brands out there.  I know what you are going to say ‘but what about love’ or ‘but what about vows and promises’?  I totally know what you mean, but as a major people watcher and studier, I can ensure you that there’s no point in saying ‘but we SHOULD be faithful’, because that just isn’t the way life is, apart from a very small group of people who have an incredibly high value on faithfulness or loyalty.

Often, the person having the affair will have blamed all that is wrong in their life on their partner and assume all that is good is down to the new relationship or the high they get from the one night stands.  So they definitely have a tendency to not taking responsibility for their lives and what they are dissatisfied with.  Sometimes, they have terribly low self-esteem, and it would literally be impossible to pamper their ego’s as much as is required to keep them faithful.  Or sometimes, they have been spoilt so badly, that they literally have no impulse control or are easily swayed by people who are more important in their values (e.g. team/work mates).

Now this is obviously a complicated subject, so I’ve just started by giving you a taster in order to help you understand the rubbish behind the urban myths around affairs.  When I get a chance I will write some more, for example:

  • Why it is totally possible to survive an affair and come out of it with a better relationship (if you would like to)
  • Why it’s also OK to not stay in the relationship, but how to make sure you don’t end up repeating old mistakes
  • How come you ended up being the ‘other person’ in an affair
  • And loads more!

Breast Feeding, Why Doesn't it Work Out?

You might have read my other blog about choosing what would suit you between breast feeding and formula feeding, (or remember, there is always the choice of both as well!).

I thought I would write about how come it doesn’t always work out for a Mum to breast feed.  Now it might seem a bit weird for me to do that, as it did work out for me (first time – who knows if it will work second time), but I do have friends, and many didn’t manage it, or only did so for a while.  There are many reasons, so I’m going to chat about a few, but would love your views and experiences as well.

1) Lack of Understanding – I’m going to start with this group, but I do think that it is a SMALL number of Mums.  There is no doubt that there are some Mum’s who don’t read books about pregnancy, don’t search the internet and have no interest in the fact that breast feeding is good for the baby.  Everyone else around them formula feeds, and so they are going to as well.  They may be affected by a couple of the other reasons as well.  I also, don’t think that this group is always socio-economic, as I have met the most well-read Mums in the worst areas around me, and the most ignorant in the best.

2) Traumatic Birth – I’m not considering a painful birth traumatic, thats parr for the course really (unless you are a fab meditator!), but it can be traumatic for a Mum when it is longer/shorter than expected, or if medical/surgical interventions happen when not expected.  I kind of get what that very controversial male midwife was saying when he said that pain can help the Mum to adjust to becoming a Mum.  But I don’t think it is just the pain.  I think that it is more wether whatever happens gives the Mum the feeling that they have been through a rite of passage, and if it doesn’t then it does seem to affect their ability to breast feed.  A friend of mine had a very long birth, which ended up with an emergency caesarian.  She bravely attempted to express her milk for 6 weeks, as she hadn’t been able to BF – I’m a rubbish expresser, so I was amazed at how she did.  But at the end of 6 weeks, it was too much and we (her friends) where relieved when she stopped.

3) Lack of Teaching on how to do it – I often wonder what happened in ‘ye olden days’!  There was no option then, so I’m assuming that Mums always found a way to BF.  The fact that I got 2 lots of tuition on how to BF is definitely one of the reasons that I succeeded.  So I’m pretty sure that if a Mum doesn’t get help, and then ends up with INCREDIBLY painful bleeding nipples, then it’s a brave woman that keeps going.  I suspect that in ‘ye olden days’ there was a community of Mums who would help out, but that there were also babies that died from ‘lacking to thrive’.

4) Lack of Milk – Now I’ve got plenty of ‘spare me’, eat plenty and drink plenty of water, but even I have noticed how what I eat disrupts the supply.  (I never had a plentiful supply, like some Mums who can literally hit the opposite wall with the jet stream!).  There are definitely some Mums who don’t realise how much they have to eat and drink to keep it going, or they don’t have anyone around to help them (I was planning at one point to pay the teenager next door to come in & make me a cup of tea every day after school, it’s not easy to feed yourself with a new baby!).

5) Stress – This is probably the biggest culprit of them all.  A Mum who desperately wants to BF her baby, because she thinks that she ‘Should’ and that otherwise she is a ‘bad mother’, can get really stressed in those first few days.  As you know, my whole premise is that when the Mum is balanced and content, the family tends to just settle around them, and this is particularly true in this instance.  If you happen to be reading this and feeling soooooo guilty, then do me a favour.  Sit down and think about the advantages that your baby will have if you end up formula feeding (there are as many benefits to BF’ing as there are to FF’ing).  For example, ease of going out into public, involvement of other members of the family in the feeding process, comfort in being taken care of by other people, a more energetic mum (there is no doubt about it BF’ing is tiring).  Keep going until the stress reduces and then make the decision that works best for you and suits your family (see my other blog).

6) Exhaustion & Pain – It is a painful experience in the beginning and it takes a certain degree of determination to continue.  Someone promised me it would stop after 6 weeks, and I just held out until then.  But I can understand if a Mum didn’t.  I certainly wouldn’t have continued if the pain hadn’t reduced!!!  The stomach cramps are lovely, because you know it’s making you slimmer, but I used to get really painful ‘let down’ pains too – ooouch!  I went to the doctor in exhaustion and he didn’t give me any assistance at all.  As I left, I was in tears, and a neighbour of mine, who I hardly knew at all, saw me, took one look at said a magic word ‘Floradix’.  It’s a liquid iron supplement for pregnant and nursing mothers, and for me, it has been incredible.  There are several on the market and you can get them from chemists and supermarkets.  Then at 6 months, away for a family funeral, I again hit a wall, because I was attempting to do the ‘right thing’ and keep my baby in a cot.  But he didn’t want to be in it!  My husband turned round to me and said ‘why don’t you just sleep with him’, and after reading some fab books about it, I realised why it would suit me, hubby and the little one.

7) Medical reasons – Then of course there are some Mums who can’t feed their babies because of the medication that they are on.  There is an amazing Mum that I know, who has managed to BF her baby for over a year, despite having narcolepsy (sudden falling to sleep) and therefore not being able to take her pills.  Some Mums might not want to mix anti-depressants and BF’ing.  There are tonnes of reasons.  The most important thing for a Mum to think of here, is that baby would prefer Mum to be healthy and around, they don’t care that they are being fed formula.

8) ‘Sexual Issues’ – I forgot about this one when I first wrote this blog, so I’m cheekily adding it in!  This is a very ‘british’ issue.  Complaints about ‘boobs being for my partner’, or discomfort about a baby so close to something that has in the past been sexual.  I even knew someone who was totally freaked out by the baby looking at her – which is what so many Mums quote as being the ‘best’ bit.  Now this might be a bit trickier, but if you are struggling with this let me know and I’ll give you some ideas to overcome it (if you want to – no worries if you don’t).

So you can see, there are tonnes of reasons why it might not or doesn’t work out.  So please, don’t feel guilty if it didn’t work for you, and don’t get on too a high horse about the fact that it did work, sometimes it is just the luck of the draw.  Please do let me know if there are other reasons that I haven’t included, or if some of these ring true with you.

Update Jan 2010

A fascinating article has just been printed in the mail and BBC websites suggesting that breast feeding isn’t better for babies than formula, but that breast feeding is just a sign of a healthier time in the womb, which tends to create the ability to BF.  The research is based upon Professor Sven Carlsen from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim who has found a link with higher levels of the male hormone testosterone during pregnancy, which makes it more difficult to produce milk, and tends to appear more in.  So Mums with PCOS, carrying a boy, smokers, small/premature babies, are more likely to have problems.  There is potentially still a slightly higher IQ average in BF babies, but they haven’t had a chance to review those studies yet.  So, although I loved BF’ing, and would thoroughly recommend it, I also recommend being grateful that we have an option.  Check out my other blog about how to make the choice: <click here>

Pregnant and Feeling Disempowered?

Mums often feel disempowered, especially when pregnant.  I’m amazed how quickly it has hit me again, being only a couple of month’s pregnant.

The key to empowerment/disempowerment, is to understand that it is all in the mind!  But how ever imaginary, it can have a drastic effect on your life.  I’m going to concentrate on being pregnant in particular for this post, however the same holds true for any situation, and I’ll write again about it in more depth.

I was shocked first time round by how disempowered I suddenly felt when I became pregnant.  Of course one of the problems can be that our hormones go a bit haywire, so any ‘normal’ worries are also accentuated.  Let’s look at the 7 areas of life and why it happens …

Spiritual – this is all about knowing where you are going and what your greater purpose is in life.  Now if you are worried at all about your options being limited, then you are bound to worry about this.

Mental – well, the brain just goes to jelly doesn’t it!  I’ve just got back from attempting to pick up pills at my homeopath, to find they were shut – I thought I heard open from 10am-1pm, infact they aren’t open until 1pm!

Financial – it is true that it is very likely that our financial health will be affected by becoming pregnant.  It is bound to affect our earning capability, at a minimum for 2 months, but for most of us it could be years.  Plus there is the expense of having a baby/toddler/child/teenager!

Vocational – the ideal appears to be able to work part-time.  But there are many Mums who find their type of job incompatible with becoming a Mum, so have to take a career break, or alternatively are not able to take time off, so they have to work full-time.  It’s true that many workplaces view Mums as unreliable, because we have to look after our kids when they are sick, and we can’t do the long hours we might have done before.

Social – this was the biggest shocker to me when I first became pregnant!  I found myself treated almost as if I didn’t exist, and often totally ignored.  In particular, there was the male nurse telling me that I wasn’t experiencing contractions, but braxton hicks – I was 3 cms dilated!!!

Physical – it’s the whale comparison that is the problem!  First we just feel fat, then there is the pregnant like on the TV shows stage, and then there is the ‘my god I didn’t know it was possible to get so huge’ stage!  There’s the additional exhaustion and so called morning sickness, and the fact that there is a baby in our tummies sucking everything good out of our food for themselves!  So it’s not difficult to see why we take it badly!

Family/Relationships – Our relationship may suffer a bit if we are worried about Sex.  But apart from that, here is the one good piece of news, as family becomes much more important, so we do tend to gain in our perceived power here.  Although, it is obviously more difficult for single Mums etc.

Put all that together, and we can feel quite rubbish about being pregnant!  If you let it get you down too much, then other people will pick up on it as well.  They feel it subconsciously, but it then affects the way that they treat us.  For example, if your boss doesn’t feel that you value yourself, they may then think that they shouldn’t either.  Plus if you feel unimportant, then people are more likely to ignore you.  In the worst cases, this is one of the reasons for father’s having affairs whilst their wife is pregnant, because their power structure has changed so dramatically.  I’m not blaming either the wife or husband for this, it kind of creeps up on the father without them expecting it, or understanding how come they are less attracted to their wives.  Meanwhile the fact that it is so taboo to be unfaithful to a pregnant woman, makes them ignore the potential for it, and get caught unawares.  So, don’t let yourself feel disempowered, because you don’t need to!

Here’s a beginning view of why you are a powerful, fantastic woman!

Spiritual – the great thing about kids, is that they give you certainty of what you will be doing.  Maybe it’s unclear as to how soon you will be back on track for something else.  But you can be sure that each morning, you will know what you have to do – mainly attempt to get dressed, feed the baby, sort out the rest of the family if there is more, change nappies, feed the baby, and then go back to bed.  You will have an incredibly clear purpose for a period of time.

Mental – whilst forgetting the simple things that we always remembered before, like petrol, keys, coats etc, our bodies are building a new brain.  That brain is learning to beat a heart, move fingers & toes and do all sorts of things.  Plus our brains are focussed on new things – scans, weeks, folic acid.

Financial – instead of thinking of money as an exact amount, think of it as the amount of value in your life.  If you can sit down and look sensibly at your budget & needs, then you can actually increase the amount of value in your life.  You wont need the same amount of money, because things change.  (Check out my free podcast on money and values on my website http://www.MummyWhisperer.com).  You can feel rich without money, or without the same amount of money.  Also, remember, even if you decide to be a stay at home mum, you are actually saving money.  I saw an article recently that put the price of a SAHM at £35k, and to be honest I think that is low!  Try listing what you are worth!

Vocational – think of the project management & multi-tasking skills that you have gained as a Mum!  Plus a company could view Mums as their most loyal and steady employees, because they do tend to be more grateful for the opportunity to work, especially part-time.  For many mums, it actually creates a new career, which is a scary, but exciting option.  Realistically, all sorts of things can go wrong in a Man’s career as well, so they may have to take a step back at some point.  Perhaps, it isn’t the drawback that we think it is.

Social – ok, so this might seem a bit cheeky, but you need to learn the power of the ‘pregnant card’.  This requires not holding back & going for full on pregnant tantrums – they won’t ignore a CRYING pregnant woman!  It got members of my family into action following the death of my Mum, and got me seen by a midwife when I knew I was in labour ;o)  It’ll get you a seat, which you need on a train/bus – it’s not a weakness, it’s a sensible thing to do, to take care of yourself & the family.  Remember, you are creating the new society, we have the power in the end!

Physical – there are women who love being pregnant, so it is totally possible!  The pregnant form was the earliest goddess symbol, and is inherent as a picture of growth and potential.  If you encounter people who find it unattractive, remember, it is not because of you, but something to do with their upbringing, because it is not ‘normal’ to dislike it (i.e. they have some ‘issues’!).  Check out the books that show you what you are growing each week.  Enjoying aqua-natal classes, or yoga for mums and learn about this new body (with great boobs!), that you have got.  It will connect you to something primeval that you didn’t have before, and not everyone is able to do it, so that makes you special.  Plus, your baby will think that you are beautiful.  Max is 3.5yrs old and tells me every morning that I’m beautiful, despite the muffin top & cellulite ;o)

Family/Relationships – they do take time to adjust and grow, but be patient and your family will blossom over the coming year.  This is a time for you to create your own family, and you are the heart of it.  Don’t worry if you don’t have a partner, or grand-parents.  People will arrive to fill those boots, and you will still create the family that works for you.

So now you have got some ideas, think about each area of life and look at what you have got, gained, and the value that you bring because you are pregnant.  Keep listing things until you realise that you are truly powerful in all areas.  Because you are. Rose Kennedy’s mission was to create a family of world leaders, and she did that with the kennedy boys.  You are about to create the future.  I may have learnt loads about personal development, but Max was my greatest teacher in my life, and if you go into it feeling empowered, rather than worrisome, you will be able to make the most of the opportunities your child is offering you.

Be you, the beautiful you xxxx

Worrying About Losing Your Identity?

I spent the afternoon with one of my favourite people, who is also very heavily pregnant.  From being a pragmatic, grounded, sensible girl the ‘Mummy Worries’ are beginning to creep in (it happens to the best of us!).  This one was all around ‘being out of the loop’ and ‘not getting back to life’ or basically losing your sense of identity. 

Now it is easy for an existing Mum, who is a little bit further on to say ‘Don’t worry, you’ll make it through, and out the other side, and do you know it isn’t that bad!’, however, logically she’s not daft, so she knows that.  But it isn’t going to make her FEEL any better.

Do you worry about never getting your ‘old life back’ etc?  If so, here are some quick ideas to help you really feel that you will be OK.  You might need a mate to give you some objective ideas to work through it, or you can always ask me for some assistance.

First some bits of information for you to think about:

Info 1 – Break the Myth – Life is not ‘better’ or ‘worse’ after a baby or any life-changing event.  It’s just different.  Just as good.  Just as bad.  So don’t fall for the myth that life is ‘better’ or ‘worse’ afterwards, because that will cause you pain and discomfort.

Info 2 – Identity can’t disappear – Nothing disappears – try making water disappear, you are only going to get steam or ice, but not nothingness.  It can change.  It just can’t disappear.  So you will still have a network, just made up of different people (and not everyone talks about puree and nappies all the time!).  You will still be sexy, but for some it will change from a Kate Moss kind of sexy to a Nigella Lawson kind.  You’ll still be able to work/party, but it is likely to be slightly different.  But then think about it this way – wouldn’t life be boring if everything stayed the same for the rest of your life?

Info 3 – Don’t get scared about stereotypes about Mums.  Yes, even the most ‘sensible’ can get excited about poo, but that doesn’t mean it is the only thing they think about.  It’s just like normal life, there is a broad spectrum of mums, and you are bound to meet someone you click with.  

Here are the steps to work through in order to calm those worries, they may take a couple of hours, but you don’t have to do them in 1 fail swoop.

Step 1 – List where your network/role/identity/loop is now – whatever you are scared about losing.  E.g. work mates, partying mates, body shape etc

Step 2 – List where it could go e.g. baby classes, Mums groups, gym, coffee shops, church, online (e.g. netmums, mumsnet, twittermums – loads!), seeing more of your family, maybe neighbours.  Keep going until you can see there is ‘as much’ of the new identity/loop etc as there was before.

Step 3 – What are the downsides to the way that life is now, or just before you were pregnant?  Did you get hung over lots?!  Is there a lot of pressure to deliver at work?  Were you at times feeling dissatisfied?  Were you broody?  Do you not actually know many people near by?  Were you always to-ing and fro-ing?  Are you beginning to feel it might not be such a bad idea for a change?  If so, go on to the next step.

Step 4 – What would the benefits of the new network/identity/loop/way of life be?  You’ll know what you are doing every day.  Just having a shower can be a major achievement!  You appreciate the small things in life, like having 30 mins to yourself.  It’s a brilliant way to learn about life, you and people in general.  It can mean a change of work.  And of course there is the baby!

Tip – Join LOTS of Mums groups e.g. anti-natal swimming, yoga, NCT, local Mums & Babies, music classes, baby swimming, everything you can.  Plus, my most successful place to meet mums was Starbucks!  As the time goes by, people go back to work, people move, some Mums become unpleasant (hey, they are just human), and some you just won’t click with.  So start with a big network, to give yourself plenty of space for pruning over the first 18 months!!

I hope this helps for any mums worried or worrying about life having changed or being about to change.  Let me know if you have any feedback.