The Third Trimester

Welcome to T3!

The rest of the world thinks your pregnancy is flying…. whereas you have never known, days, weeks and months to drag soooo long! Am I right?

Just think of poor elephants if it helps at all – they’re pregnant for nearly TWO years!  You can do a few more months….or maybe it’s only a few more weeks you’ve got left now? How exciting!

This final chapter certainly doesn’t come without its challenges though. Here’s a few of the things you might be in the midst of…or that might be coming next! Hang in there mama-to-be, you’re doing great.

Backache – You might have already felt some discomfort in earlier months, but now all that extra weight is really adding the pressure to your back. As well as your breasts. Did you know that by the end of a pregnancy, breasts can grow by as much as 2 pounds? Discomfort in your pelvis and hips isn’t all that uncommon either – that’s just your ligaments loosening up for labor. Practice good posture, sleep on your side with a pillow tucked in your legs, get a better bra, wear low heels, try a heating pad or speak to your doctor if you really find yourself struggling.

Braxton Hicks – This is the warm up guys! Mild contractions which are preparing your uterus for the big day to come. It can be ultra-confusing trying to figure out if this is a drill or not, because they may feel a lot like labor. One real difference to keep in mind between BH and labor is that contractions gradually get closer and closer together – and more intense. Don’t feel embarrassed to call your midwife or health care provider if you need reassurance!

Breasts again – Close to your due date, you may start to see colostrum – baby GOLD- leaking from your nipples. This yellowish fluid will nourish and fuel that newborn bundle in its early days.  It’s not glamorous, and it’s not ideal in public, but get yourself some absorbent breast pads for inside your bra and you’ll be just fine.

Discharge – Again, it’s not glamorous, but pretty normal in this phase. If you are worried about the volume, don’t hesitate to call your health care provider. Close to your delivery date, you might also see a thick, clear or slightly blood tinged discharge – this is your mucus plug, a sign from your wondrous body that your cervix has begun dilating in prep for labor. Hooray!

Fatigue – You regained your energy in the second trimester….only to see it dwindle once again. You might also find yourself short of breath thanks to your uterus rising up under your rib cage. Sorry lungs! It’s frustrating as well as exhausting, but try to embrace this slowing down – eat healthy, nap often and stay calm!

Urination – It’s not just your lungs getting squashed, your bladder is getting more of a squeeze nowadays too. Laughing, coughing, sneezing, or exercising…. It’s all a bit more of a gamble in T3 as chances of leaking increase. Avoid pre-bedtime drinks to minimize night time bathroom visits, and try a panty liner to absorb any day leaks.

Veins – not just varicose veins caused by increased blood circulation and pressure on your legs from baby, but also hemorrhoids – swollen veins that form around the anus. You can make yourself more comfortable with the help of support clothing, warm baths, ointments, and even stool softeners, but don’t worry, this symptom will soon improve after delivery.

Swelling – Tight rings? Puffy ankles? Bloated face?  Again, blame the pressure.  To reduce swelling, put your feet up whenever you sit for any length of time, and elevate your feet while you sleep. If the swelling is sudden however, seek medical attention as it may be a sign of preeclampsia.

Following months of body changes and hormone surges, it’s quite the finale isn’t it? You might have rolled your eyes when people told you how much they miss being pregnant….but believe us, one day, you will look back and miss all those kicks and waddles too. While you are in the thick of it, it’s all too easy to forget the wonder of it all. WHAT A JOURNEY! And my goodness, it’s worth it!

Best of luck Mama – those first cuddles and snuggles are almost in sight!

Christmas Survival as a New Mom

Congratulations on your new winter arrival! The streets are glowing with festive lights, big baggy jumpers are in fashion for the next few months (phew!), and the radio keeps telling you ‘it’s the most wonderful time of the year!’ Looking down at that squidgy newborn face, you find it hard not to agree. It truly is wonderful.

But, if you’ve just had a new baby, you might also feel like it’s going to be the most stressful time of the year. Yeah sure, your house is loaded with adorable ‘Baby’s First Christmas’ paraphernalia, but it’s also running on very little sleep….and if it’s anything like ours was in the early weeks, it’s also quite likely a train wreck.

And maybe any other time of the year you might be ok with that….but this is Christmas y’all. The time of year where family descends from all directions. Or perhaps worse when you have a newborn, the time of year where you are expected to travel to family!

Yes, you absolutely are bursting with pride and want to show off your baby, but perhaps not just yet. I mean, how are you supposed to host or uphold family traditions if you can barely hold yourself up? There’s a good chance you might fall asleep in your dinner listening to another one of Aunt Cheryl’s stories. Or you might even miss dinner altogether if your new tiny boss is demanding a feed of his / her own.

The truth is, with Christmas comes a whole bunch of expectations……most of which are self-inflicted.  It’s easy to feel like a hot mess when you scroll through social media this time of year – it’s just perfect shot after perfect shot of family holiday pictures. Many women might feel the pressure to ‘get it all together’ and be the yummy mommy type that earns praise daily in the media, but in our experience, this whole ‘let’s go on with the show’ mentality earns no medals in the long run!

If you can get it all together for Christmas, feel good, and want to host, then by all means go for it! You’re awesome. But please don’t feel forced in to faking it if you don’t feel ready. The holidays are just as much about taking time off to recharge your batteries – and you certainly won’t do this by being a crowd pleaser with a newborn. Do what works for you!

You might feel like a Grinch saying no to family events at this time of year, but you know what, people might surprise you.  ‘No’ might not be half as scary or as guilt-inducing as you thought. Remember, many of these people will be parents too. They know.

You might feel terrible for not decorating the house the way you wanted to for ‘Baby’s First Christmas’, but hey, guess what, baby’s not judging, baby’s snoring!

And you might feel terrible for not putting on a traditional dinner spread, but that’s not what you will remember in years to come. You’ll remember how perfectly tiny they were, not how perfectly tired you were.

Our advice, for what it’s worth: Stop worrying about getting Christmas perfect this year….you’ve already done perfect. You’re cuddling perfect right now!

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

The Babysitter Checklist

Not everyone is lucky enough to have trusted close friends and willing family nearby to babysit. And for those who don’t, finding the right person to trust can be HARD.

Sure, you’ve had people generously offer. You’ve had locals moms tell you that their teenager is always available. You’ve heard from a friend about a great professional sitter that she uses. But when you don’t know someone all that well, or at ALL, the thought of leaving your little one with them can be daunting. In fact, the thought alone can put you off the idea of even having a night out in the first place…

But you need that time mama. You need some time off. And more than that, you deserve it!

At Babies in Bloom, we know exactly what you should be looking for in a babysitter – because we have a dedicated program that trains them right under our roof. The Child & Babysitting Safety Class is a hands-on community education program designed to teach youths, age 11 and older, basic care techniques and child safety – everything from home safety and diapers, to choking and CPR.

For those currently in search of Ms. (or Mr.) Right, here are some of our top tips:

  • Maturity Level: While The American Red Cross says parents shouldn’t choose someone younger than 11 to look after their baby, some say 15. Others even older. It all depends on the context, as well as your personal comfort level, the age of your child, their needs (diapers? Feeding? Lifting in to high cribs?), the length of time you will be gone, and of course, the sitter’s own maturity level. Take ALL of these factors in to consideration if you are contemplating using a local teen. Why not have them assist you at home for a few afternoons or evenings first? It’s a great chance for you to see them in action.
  • Knowledge Check: Whatever their age, you’ll want to know how a sitter would think on their feet. Ask them if they know basic First Aid? CPR? The Heimlich maneuver? If they are a local teen and it’s a no, ask them if they would be willing to learn. Also run ‘what if’ scenarios by them, e.g. ‘what would you do if the baby had a fever?’ etc. This will not only reassure you, but could also highlight significant knowledge gaps for potential eager young sitters to work on.
  • References: If you are using a professional service, check their references. At least two. Yes, they might have been pre-screened by the agency, but this doesn’t always mean satisfied families. Reassurance from other parents is gold!
  • Routines: Once you have found your sitter, make sure you go through your child’s routine together – when they go to bed, food allowances, VIP toys to aid sleep etc. And don’t forget to clarify communication routines. Leave both your numbers. Do you want a text message every hour for reassurance? Would you want the sitter to call you to let you know when they are asleep? Would you prefer the sitter to not call at all and ONLY call in an emergency? Let them know your expectations.
  • The Just In Case Details: While it’s unlikely you will need it, tell your sitter where your first aid kit is, the flash lights, the fire extinguisher etc. Also leave behind the number for your child’s doctor and a neighbor who can be contacted for help. Covering all these worst case scenario bases will leave you feeling surprisingly more confident when you walk out the door.

Finally, remember to share your good fortune! If you strike gold and uncover a dream sitter, tell your friends! Not only will the sitter appreciate the additional business, you’ll be an absolute HERO to all those other moms out there dreaming of a well-earned night off!

We See You. We Are You. #infantloss

Every year for infant loss awareness month, the world unites for a moving global ‘wave of light.’ A night where we are encouraged to light a candle to remember the little ones whose parents never had a chance to hold them, those who were born sleeping, and those who arrived but could not stay.

Remember.

At first glance, remember feels like the wrong word for parents to use, doesn’t it? To remember almost suggests you’ve forgotten. You’ve survived, but you’ve never forgot. You might put on an old top one day and remember that time where it was once a little snug as you desperately tried to keep your bump a secret.  You might see or hear your baby’s name when out in public.  You might sit there and wonder what he or she would have looked like at one year…five…ten, etc. However long your baby was with you for, he or she was part of you, and always will be. So yeah, remember doesn’t always feel like the right word for parents. But then again, what IS the right word?

People can be so afraid of using or finding the right words that they choose not to talk about loss at all.

Some parents can’t understand why or feel they failed, or did something wrong. So they stay silent.

Some simply can’t find the right words to express how they feel, so they stay silent.

Some worry months or years later that people will think they should be ‘over it by now,’ so they stay silent.

Friends are scared of ‘bringing it up’ or upsetting parents, so they stay silent.

And so all too often, it stays silent.

And that’s exactly why this awareness month, and nights like the wave of light, are so important. It’s a reminder to break the silence. A reminder of how powerful sharing stories can be. Sharing is solidarity. It’s strength.

And it’s not just about sharing. It’s also about asking. It’s about opening up a two way dialogue. It’s reminding wider family and friends to simply ASK. Reminding them to say your baby’s name. To talk about your child. Because they existed. Losing a child doesn’t ever stop you being a mother or father.

So this week, the Babies in Bloom family took time to remember all those little ones who didn’t make it. We shared. We asked. And we supported.

Parents, we see you. We are you. And we’re here for you. Always.

For those who believe in the healing power of sharing, we thought we would share this website that we stumbled across with you: Stillbirth Stories. It’s a powerful collection of honest interviews about loss from the side of parents and clinicians.