Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Mama Tens Maternity Kit: A Review

A few weeks before my due date the opportunity came up to review the rental of a Maternity Tens machine from Mamatens. Having not used one before and hoping to have a more straightforward birth this time round I was really excited to see how me and the Tens would get along.


I received the tens kit in plenty of time for the birth and was able to read through the instruction booklet and prepare myself so I wouldn't have problems using it when the time comes. The instruction booklet is very clear and straightforward with diagrams where required to ensure any questions about using the tens are answered. 


So when the day finally arrived I had been getting some contractions which weren't painful as such but uncomfortable I had been advised by lots of people to use the tens from early on to get the best results so thought this was a good time to get started. 

I wasn't sure at first whether I would get on with the tens, the sensation wasn't uncomfortable but it was hard to imagine how it would help with more severe pain. I wanted to keep an open mind though and used the tens for a couple of hours that night and then took it off to go to bed, however sleep wasn't on the agenda as the contractions continued I put it back on about 3pm and it stated on then for the remainder of my labour. 

By the time the contractions had got stronger the tens had become a bit of a companion. The action of switching the boost during the contraction was a routine which I felt kept me in some kind of control, the pulses acted as much as a distraction as anything else and a much needed one at that! 

As labour progressed I changed programmes as advised in the instructions and I kept it on throughout - admittedly by the time I actually gave birth the tens was something of a distant memory but in hindsight I was really pleased with how far it got me. I was able to avoid an epidural and managed in Gas and Air and a little Pethadine which after my first daughters birth was my ultimate goal

Despite my initial doubts I can honestly say the tens was a huge help especially in the early stages of labour and I would certainly recommend them to other pregnant ladies. If you are thinking about renting a tens machine or just want to find out more about how they work I'd recommend having a look at the Mamatens website as it's full of really useful info. 



I was offered the opportunity to use a Maternity tens machine from mama tens for the purposes of this review, however all words and opinions are my own. 


Saturday, 11 October 2014

Breastfeeding and Tongue Tie woes

From the start something didn't feel right with Freya's latch, I remember the first few days when I fed D being painful but this was another level, red hot pokers in my nipples would have been more pleasant. 

I spoke to my midwife who checked for a tongue tie but couldn't see one so we continued to work on the latch but Freya just couldn't stay on. She latched with a big wide mouth but always slipped down and I just couldn't work out what we were doing wrong. I started to dread each feed knowing how painful it would be and even started thinking about giving up breast feeding which was something I really didn't want but I couldn't imagine another 6 days feeding let alone 6 months and beyond. 


It all came to a bit of a head at Freya's five day check, the inevitable 'how's feeding going' question came up and the tears flowed! The midwife checked Freya's latch again but couldn't work out why she wasn't staying on and feeding properly so she suggested we see a colleague of hers who specialised in tongue ties and arranged an appointment a few days later. 

After weighing Freya she told us she had only lost 70grams from her birth weight so through sheer determination on both our parts she thankfully wasn't losing lots of weight which was a relief but I knew I couldn't keep feeding through the pain and Freya was starting to show signs of reflux which we later discovered were linked to tongue ties and bad latching. 

We visited the specialist a few days later and she found a posteria tie straight away. She said Freya must have been literally sucking so hard with her lips she was getting enough food but agreed this wouldn't be sustainable in the long term so she talked about our options if we decided we wanted to do anything about the tie. At home we did some research and decided to get the procedure done as we really wanted to continue breast feeding and hoped it would also relieve some of Freya's reflux symptoms. We chose to go private for the procedure as we would have to wait 3 months on the NHS and even then there's no guarantee they'll do it if the baby isn't losing weight despite any discomfort mum or baby might be in. 

The procedure itself was very quick but quite distressing to see. Freya cried for a few seconds but stopped as soon as she fed and we had a few whimpers after that but otherwise she was fine. We were told the tie had been very tight so would probably have also caused issued with speech etc as Freya grew up so despite the obvious guilt at putting her through the pain we felt we had done the right thing.  


Afterwards I guess I had hoped for a miracle perfect latch but this didn't happen. Freya needs to strengthen her tongue and is so used to nipple feeding we need to get into practice getting a good latch. We have been getting help from a local lactation specialist who has suggested different positions and topping up but we're still struggling. I don't really feel expressing and topping up is a viable option for us as we're already feeding about 10-12 times a day and adding expressing, bottle feeding and sterilising to the mix seems impossible with an almost 3 year old to look after as well.

I am well aware that the mere suggestion of moving to bottles and formula is likely to bring with it a barrage of 'breast is best' comments but there are very real moments when I feel I've fallen out of love with breast feeding and dread each feed as I know it'll hurt so much. Plus I feel mine and Freya's relationship is dominated by these latch issues and the worries that bad latching is causing wind and possible reflux. I never imagined I would be considering giving up feeding as it's always been so important to me and the fear of regretting a decision somewhere down the line is overwhelming but I'd be lying if said it hadn't crossed my mind more than once. 

At the moment I'm holding off any decisions and will continue to work on Freya's latch and I do truly hope things improve but I have definitely realised the importance of that old saying - "happy mummy happy baby" and won't struggle at the expense of my health or my bond with Freya.

If I do decide to stop I am dreading people's opinions as some always feel it necessary to judge a bottle feeding mum. Perhaps most of all I'm dreading the breast feeding nazis Health Visitors who I suspect will feed me all the standard 'breast is best' lines - like I don't already know this and feel bad enough as it is.

For now though I'm persevering with the help of copious amounts of Lanisoh and paracetamol and we'll take each day as it comes.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Freya Pearl - Our birth story

I was due on the 25th September but didn't have any indications that anything would happen so went about my day as usual. D and I went food shopping and had spent the afternoon splashing in a local stream in our wellies! It was at around 5pm while in a certain fast food establishment that I felt my first contractions. 

These continued into the evening so I got out the Tens about 8pm and used it for 2 hours until I went to bed. I slept for a couple of hours but the contractions started up again about 1/2am so I put the Tens back on and tried to relax as much as possible. 

As things looked like they were moving on we called Mr Rs mum who travelled down to look after D and started to get things together for the hospital as well as food and stuff for D while we were gone. 
We left for hospital about 1pm but didn't at the time tell D we were having the baby as we thought it might be too much for her to take in. We just told her baby was wriggling which is how we explained morning sickness etc.

When we arrived at hospital and shown to our room it finally sunk in when we left we would be doing so with our baby, suddenly it was all very real! I was given some Gas and Air and with the Tens was managing the pain. 

After a few hours things stepped up so I had a shot of pethadine, I know some people really don't like it but I have to shamefully admit I loved the spaced out feeling it gave me and it really took the edge off the contractions. 

About 7pm I started to struggle with the pain and kept asking for an epidural, hubby and midwife knew I didn't really want one so when I was examined and found to be 8cm we agreed to try the pool instead. (Im so glad they managed to sway me from the epidural as I would have regretted it afterwards) Baby however had different ideas and around 20 mins later I felt the urge to push and missy was born at 8.18pm on the 26th September 2014.

There are simply no words for that moment you first hold your own baby, it's just love in the simplest, purest form - she was beautiful and I was in love immediately. 


Labour wise I felt so much more in control this time round, the midwife was keen not to check how dilated I was until it was clear delivery was close as she felt it could be disheartening if I wasn't as far as hoped - this was a huge difference with my first labour at St Thomas's where I felt they put a lot of emphasis on how far dilated I was.

I also managed to stay active and mobile all the way through (although admittedly after the Pethadine I spent a lot of time on the floor!) I did however somehow make it into the bed to deliver but remained on my knees, i was determined not to be stuck on my back delivering this time round. 

After she was settled with us Freya fed for over an hour (sign of things to come!) and then Ad left us so we could try and sleep 


I stayed overnight in the birthing centre but having a room to myself it was actually nice to have some time just Freya and me. Daisy and Mr R came to collect us in the morning and it was clear immediately that Daisy was smitten by her little sister. 


The experience in general was much calmer than with D and I can't rate the staff at Watford ABC enough. My recovery has been so much more straight forward and the after care with the midwives has been great. Freya has had a few hiccups with Jaundice and a tongue tie but we've had great support so far.

We've been home 10 days now and I can definitely say the settling in is so much easier with number 2, they just kind of have to fit in with your current life. D has continued to be an amazing big sister and I'm pretty sure they're going to be best of friends as they grow up






Thursday, 25 September 2014

40 Week Bump Update

So after hoping that my last update would be the final one here I am on the day my baby is due with my 40 week bump update.........

I visited the midwife yesterday and despite still having the odd 'small bump' comment recently I was slightly shocked to find out bump is bang on at 39.5 and I've managed to pile on 4kgs! Looks like I might need to lay off the biscuits now I'm on maternity leave and not rushing around as much! Whether I look small or not it's very clear that this definitely isn't a small baby and the longer she's cooking the bigger she'll get - lord help me! 


Despite running out of space and regularly subjecting me to some pretty impressive rib kicks, it also seems Pip is positioned really well so looks like I might be able to avoid another back to back delivery after all. 

I'm also hoping to use a tens machine as much as possible for the pain this time round and have been fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to try one out from Mama Tens. I'm really hoping to feel more in control this time round after a bit of a whirlwind with Daisy. 

Bump aside life is still pretty busy with Daisy starting pre school (sadly causing quite a few tears from both of us) and us both getting used to being at home all day together. It's been harder and harder lately as I just can't do the things she wants to anymore - Horsey rides and soft play are tricky when you are the size of a small hippo. 

So the next couple of weeks are project avoid induction, I intend to walk as much as possible and bounce on the birthing ball whenever I can. I'm not really a massive believer in the usual old wives tales for bringing on labour but I'm sure it was a long walk that got things moving with Daisy. Fingers crossed it'll do the trick this time round. 

Friday, 19 September 2014

39 week bump update

It's quite a strange bump update this time round as I'm aware it could well be my last , forever *sob* and it brings such mixed feelings. On one hand I'm getting a tad fed up with being pregnant and just not being able to do the things I want to with D but then again I feel like I should be cherishing these last few days / weeks knowing I may never have another little bump again. 

I had my 38 week appointment last week and all seems well I'm measuring at 36 weeks so a tad small but the midwife didn't seem concerned. That said it doesn't stop everyone I speak to telling me how tiny my bump is and inducing a bout of that familiar pregnancy paranoia that something is wrong. 


Yes I'll admit my bump is smaller than last time but I think generally I'm smaller than last time. First time round Maternity leave was three weeks of iced buns, lazing in bed till noon and as Mr R loves to remind me often 2 dinners when the mood took me. I wasn't huge but I definitely had that rounded pregnancy face. This time round I barely have a moment to sit down, I'm eating with D so trying to keep things healthy and as for a lie in till noon - I wish! So I just seem to be a bump and little else, that said I really don't feel like it's a small bump either! 

The one thing I am struggling with is sleep, it's been hard all the way through but now it's virtually impossible, I'm also getting sciatica if I do too much in the day (how much is too much when you've got a toddler?) which is a serious pain in the arse (literally!)

Am I ready for the baby? well yes I guess I am, I've not really had the time to get ready but I have a cot, clothes, nappies and boobs - what else does she need in those first few days!?

So Pip, as much as I've loved our 9 months together let's meet, there's someone very special out here who can't wait to see you.......