Announcing: Squidgy Is Here

If you follow on Facebook or Twitter, this is going to be old news to you now, but Squidgy is here!! And she’s a girl! What a surprise!! I was really expecting a boy, for some reason!

She was born yesterday, 13 March at 17:23 – that’s 5:23 PM for my American friends – weighing in at an astonishing 4.2 kg, or 9lb6oz. We made them weigh her again, because I didn’t believe that could be right. My bump was so small compared to with Ameli.

Full birth story to follow, but we’re very excited, happy and ecstatic to have had our home water birth, despite being at 42 weeks and 5 days according to the scan dates!

Thank you everyone for your support…

Announcing: Squidgy Is Here

Announcing: Squidgy Is Here

Announcing: Squidgy Is Here Announcing: Squidgy Is Here

13 March 2012 – A Good Day For A Birthday?

So many of my friends and family are far away and won’t be able to share in this baby’s birth with us. I’m not sure how much I’ll update here today, or how much will need to be edited or spell checked later. I know when it gets to the thick of it, I’ll be focused inwards, and not sharing what’s going on… but in the meantime, writing is my therapy. It keeps me calm, and focused. Lucky you, eh? 😉

Last night – I went to an NCT committee meeting after my acupressure, and felt strengthening random contractions, but nothing worth writing home about. Arrived home, did some work, and wondered if Tuesday might be the day.

3:45 am – I got out of bed because I was moaning through contractions and starting to disturb Ameli’s sleep.  I couldn’t sleep anymore, so went downstairs to do figure of 8’s on my birth ball. I got out the TENS machine and strapped myself up. I don’t remember the early contractions with Ameli being this intense.

13 March 2012 - A Good Day For A Birthday?

First Contractons

5:20 something am – Fall asleep, contractions die down, waking about every half hour with a strong contraction.

8:30am – Ameli comes downstairs wanting milk. Breastfeeding stimulates contractions, definitely! We go about our morning, Ameli gets ready for nursery, I wash my hair – hanging upside down mid contraction is not fun. Thank heavens for the TENS machine.

9:30 am- My mother takes Ameli to nursery. I sit on the sofa getting some work done. Every time I stand up I have contractions. Have some things to finish before having a baby. Also need to put new Moses basket together. It arrived this morning. Good timing! These contractions are more like the second day of contractions with Ameli were. It’s definitely going faster.

10:15 am – Realise neither of my midwives are on call today. Need to contact someone else, but I’ve never met her.

10:51 am – Decide to publish this live on blog because I’m having to chat in too many groups and Facebook pages and Twitter accounts and what not. Will update here till I get in the pool. Then probably Twitter if anything.

11:20 am – Birthpool is up. Martin’s gone to fetch Ameli at nursery. Hypnobirthing CD on in background. Excitement currently coursing through my bones. Feeling so peaceful and happy.

12:52 – Updating to say there are no updates. Contractions have settled in at about 10 minutes apart for now. Ameli’s home from nursery and having a nap. My unofficial Doula is on standby. Midwife I’ve never spoken to knew who I am and was elated to hear I’m contracting, which was very sweet. No news for now is… well, no news!

15:00 – Contractions intense, but still about 10 minutes apart. Waiting for Ameli to wake so we can bake the birthday cake for the baby.

15:30 – Ameli awake, heading into the kitchen to do our cake in a jar for baby’s birthday. I have a contraction pretty much every time I stand up, so this should get things going. Have asked DH to start filling the pool. They’re all saying it’s too early. I’m not so sure it is.

Pushing During Childbirth – Spontaneous Or Directed?

Despite having had an amazing home water birth with my first child, and having watched a few feature film lengths of birthing videos on youtube and around the web, whenever I think of childbirth, I still have the mental image of legs up in stirrups and nurses and doctors and pale looking fathers urging a screaming mother to ‘push, push,push!’ Such is the level of our indoctrination by TV, really!

The reality can and should be much different though. For a start, when a woman has sensation in her lower body, (i.e. hasn’t had strong pain medications) she knows all too well when to push. In fact, it’s physically impossible not to push. Your body just does it and there’s no stopping it.  The picture you see on TV is what happens when the mother-to-be has had an epidural and can’t feel the natural urges to push.  You then have a nurse, midwife or doctor looking at a screen to monitor when the contractions have started, and telling the mother to push.Read more: Pushing During Childbirth – Spontaneous Or Directed?

Batch Cooking For The Freezer: A Babymoon Menu

I’m really bad at OAMC – that’s once a month cooking for us novices – and once something’s made it into the freezer, it’ll stay there for ever and a day. We do prefer our fresh food, but obviously that’s not always convenient.  With our recent sickness the vegetables have been stacking up, and I had to do something with them all – that’s two weeks worth of veggies – so I decided to stock up the freezer with some healthy meals to give us a cooking break when we’ve had our baby and our family have been and gone.

Here are a few items off the menu I cooked in preparation for our babymoon.Read more: Batch Cooking For The Freezer: A Babymoon Menu

Letter To A 28/29 Month Old – Last Letter To An Only Child

Dear Ameli,

I’m a few weeks late with your 28 month letter – so late, in fact, that it’s nearer to a 29 month letter now, but I really wanted to write to you one more time as an only child. I suppose technically you haven’t been an only child for almost nine months now, but you’re just not aware of it yet. While Daddy and I have been making space in the home and our lives, hearts and thinking for this new baby, you’ve been blissfully unaware of how everything in your world is about to change.Read more: Letter To A 28/29 Month Old – Last Letter To An Only Child

Great YouTube Birth Videos For Children

Preparing for a homebirth is one thing, but preparing your older child for a homebirth has been a whole different adventure. I think how much you’re able to prepare them depends massively on the child’s age, and while I have no evidence of this, I suspect the younger they are, the more ‘easily’ they’ll just ‘go with it’.

We’ve been reading books and practicing mooing and making groany noises together so that Ameli knows what mama might do when the baby comes. With her birth there was no crying or screaming, it was actually very calm and gentle. I’m hoping for the same again this time.

As with any birth, our preparation will only take us so far, then it’s up to nature and a little bit of luck to take you the rest of the way. It’s no different with preparing a child for a birth, whether it’s a home birth or hospital birth. Having never been through it before, we have no idea how Ameli will react, whether she’ll be in any way interested, or will in fact even be awake!

But on the hope that she’ll be there and understand what’s going on, we’ve been watching birth videos together, for preparation.

Below are the best we’ve found. I’ve specifically chosen videos that aren’t overly graphic, and are relatively short – while the lead up and pregnancy pictures and all that make for a beautiful dedication, they don’t really captivate a two year old! I’ve also gone for gentle and calm births. There were some amazing ones with lots of screaming. She found them disconcerting, and I didn’t feel they were contributing to the positive preparation we were  hoping for.

Great YouTube Birth Videos For ChildrenRead more: Great YouTube Birth Videos For Children

Does A Newborn Need Additional Vitamin K?

(Q16 on the birthplan: Would I like my baby to be given a vitamin K injection?)

During my pregnancy with Ameli, I learned everything I could about everything pregnancy and birth related! I wrote a book full of notes, typed it all up and kept it with my birth plan so that if I had to have a justification for my decisions at any point, I’d have it on hand. I was blessed with an amazing midwife who didn’t even question my choices, so I never needed them, but here are my notes on Vitamin K… maybe you’ll find them useful. These notes formed the basis of my decision and are only intended to provide reference materials to start you off on your own research.

Vitamin K is routinely given because:

“The problem of bleeding into the brain occurs mainly from 3 to 7 weeks after birth in just over 5 out of 100,000 births (without vitamin K injections); 90% of those cases are breastfed infants because formulas are supplemented with unnaturally high levels of vitamin K. Forty percent of these infants suffer permanent brain damage or death.”Linda Folden Palmer, DC in International Chiropractic Pediatric Association Newsletter September/October 2002 Issue

Vitamin K may be needed when:

  • Premature clamping of the umbilical cord deprives babies of up to 40% of their natural blood volume, including platelets and other clotting factors
  • The use of vacuum extractor or forceps causes bruising or internal bleeding, which uses up the baby’s available clotting factors
  • Antibiotics are used in the birth, as they inhibit the baby’s generation of clotting factors.
  • C-Section

There are alternatives to a vitamin K shot:

For breastfed infants, an oral vitamin K preparation (Konakion MM) given in 3 doses of 2mg at birth, 7 days, and 30 days of life results in higher plasma vitamin K concentrations than a single injected dose at birth (although my current midwife doesn’t agree with this statement). The preparation must be Konakion MM, which contains lecithin and glycocoholic acid; vitamin K require emulsification and the presence of bile salts for its absorption.

For formula fed infants, formula contains enough vitamin K that no supplement should be necessary.

Arguments against the routine use of vitamin K – three main observations (Falcao):

Does A Newborn Need Additional Vitamin K?

Nature seems to go to a lot of trouble in regulating the baby’s vitamin K levels: the level at birth gradually rises over the eight days following birth to a higher level. It is almost as if nature very specifically wants the baby to have a specific level of clotting factors at birth, followed by a higher level of clotting factors a week after the birth.

This may be related to the fact that in a physiological birth, where the baby gets all the blood from the placenta, the baby’s blood is a little thicker; this is especially true in the 72 hours following birth, since the babies naturally become a little dehydrated until the mother’s milk changes to a higher volume flow, so the blood is thicker.

There has been some association between vitamin K injection and childhood leukaemia. (Parker) Theoretical observations are that precise levels of vitamin K are required to regulate the rate of cell division in newborns and that excessive levels of vitamin K disrupt this regulatory process, thus increasing the possibility of leukaemia and other childhood cancers. (While a few studies have refuted this suggestion, several tightly controlled studies have shown this correlation to be most likely1,2.The most current analysis of six different studies suggests it is a 10% or 20% increased risk. This is still a significant number of avoidable cancers.3)

Follow up research indicated that the leukaemia might have been related to mercury used to preserve the vitamin K solution. Further research in 2003 found that there was no definitive link between childhood leukaemia and Vitamin K, but also that ‘small effects cannot be ruled out’.

Research shows that babies who contract meningitis are more likely to die if they have higher clotting factors. It’s not clear whether this is due to genetic factors or whether it applies to all babies who receive vitamin K. ( I can’t find any actual links to this research, despite it being mentioned all over the web!)

The warning label on Vitamin K injections is pretty scary too:

Severe reactions, including fatalities, have occurred during and immediately after the parenteral administration of Phytonadione. Typically these severe reactions have resembled hypersensitivity or anaphylaxis, including shock and cardiac and/or respiratory arrest. Some patients have exhibited these severe reactions on receiving Phytonadione for the first time. The majority of these reported events occurred following intravenous administration, even when precautions have been taken to dilute the Phytonadione and to avoid rapid infusion. Therefore, the INTRAVENOUS route should be restricted to those situations where another route is not feasible and the increased risk involved is considered justified.

Dangers of excess Vitamin K:

When a baby is born gently, without any intervention, antibiotic, or trauma, and no apparent bruising, and is breastfed, there is no need for Vitamin K. Administering vitamin K to these babies – especially if they are formula fed – can lead to excess Vitamin K, which in turn may lead to newborn jaundice.

Signs Suggesting Need for Vitamin K after birth:

  • bleeding from the umbilicus, nose, mouth, ears, urinary tract or rectum
  • any bruise not related to a known trauma
  • pinpoint bruises called petechiae
  • black tarry stools after meconium has already been expelled
  • black vomit
  • bleeding longer than 6 minutes from a blood sampling site even after there has been pressure on the wound
  • symptoms of intracranial bleeding including paleness, glassy eyed look, irritability or high pitched crying, loss of appetite, vomiting, fever, prolonged jaundice.

(This list is written by Jennifer Enoch. Midwifery Today. Issue 40.)

Natural alternatives:

Does A Newborn Need Additional Vitamin K?

Keep the umbilical cord attached until it stops pulsing. Do not cut it prematurely, as average transfusion to the newborn is equivalent to 21% of the neonate’s final blood volume and three quarters of the transfusion occurs in the first minute after birth. (As Vitamin K doesn’t cross the placenta, this should make no difference to Vit K levels, but will help with iron levels etc.)

When breastfeeding (or just before starting), make sure to eat plenty of leafy greens or take a vitamin K supplement – vitamin K does not cross the planceta in pregnancy, but does enter breast milk in feeding. Anti-acids (used for heartburn) decrease the absorption of Vitamin K in the body – bare this in mind if you have lots of indigestion during pregnancy and be sure to increase with Vitamin K intake from around 38 weeks of pregnancy, as this will help prevent against haemorrhaging too.

Nettles are rich in Vitamin K – made into a tea you’ll get everything you need. Otherwise try a Nettle soup.

Conclusion:

My conclusion on this sensitive matter, based on the information available to the public and its potential impact on my own family, is thus:

Nature says a baby doesn’t need large amounts of Vitamin K, but that delayed cord clamping and the transfer of oxygenated blood gives the child enough resources to cope with the effects of a ‘normal’ birth. If the mother has been consuming Vitamin K in some form or another, it will immediately begin transferring through her colostrum, which is rich in Vitamin K and breastmilk and by eight days of age, baby will have the ‘right’ amount of Vitamin K (and since formula is fortified with vitamin K, formula fed babies shouldn’t require it at all) – since the disease it is meant to prevent doesn’t tend to occur until between 3 and 7 weeks I personally question the need for the injection.

At the same time, bleeding kills almost 2 in 10,000 babies, and this is the closest I could find to statistics as to deaths from the injections ** although we know that they have occurred. It says so on the label.  So really, the conclusion is inconclusive.

Every parent has to make their own decisions on this, but for me and mine, we’ve decided against vitamin K injections unless something in the birth necessitates it. We’ve also decided to follow natural alternatives, such as breastfeeding and a high maternal Vitamin K intake and to keep a close eye on the signs of bleeding as described above. 

** The FDA database contained a total of 2236 adverse drug reactions reported in 1019 patients receiving vitamin K by all routes of administration. Of the 192 patients with reactions reported for intravenous vitamin K, 132 patients (69%%) had a reaction defined as anaphylactoid, with 24 fatalities (18%%) attributed to the vitamin K reaction. There were 21 patients with anaphylactoid reactions and 4 fatalities reported with doses of intravenous vitamin K of less than 5[emsp4 ]mgs. For the 217 patients with reactions reported due to vitamin K via a non-intravenous route of administration, 38 patients had reactions meeting the definition of anaphylactoid (18%%), with 1 fatality (3%%) attributed to the drug.

 

References:

 

L. Parker et al., “Neonatal vitamin K administration and childhood cancer in the north of England: retrospective case-control study,” BMJ (England) 316, no. 7126 (Jan 1998): 189-93.

 

S.J. Passmore et al., “Case-control studies of relation between childhood cancer and neonatal vitamin K administration,” BMJ (England) 316, no. 7126 (Jan 1998): 178-84.

 

E. Roman et al., “Vitamin K and childhood cancer: analysis of individual patient data from six case-control studies,” Br J Cancer (England) 86, no. 1 (Jan 2002): 63-9

Further Reading: 

 

Labour Plan Or Checklist For A Homebirth

I’m not a list person. There’s something about spending time making a list that irritates me. It takes my hubby about as long to make a to-do list as it takes me to just do the stuff on the list. Yet, when it came to my last pregnancy and labour, I made a list long before the day of things to do when contractions start.

This list will differ from person to person, but I thought I’d share it with you, in case you’re not sure what to do ‘next’.

In Hollywood, your waters break in a great gush and everyone rushes off to hospital in a mad dash. In reality, very few women’s water’s break in the shopping centre, on the train or as you’re about to set off on holiday. Of course it does happen, but for the most part, in real life, you have time – if your waters even break before contractions start!

Without further ado, my list for what to do when I go into labour if you’re having a homebirth:Read more: Labour Plan Or Checklist For A Homebirth

39 Weeks Pregnant: Head Down, Bottoms Up

Dear Squidgy,

I’m writing this a few days in advance of actually posting it. It’s called ‘scheduling’ and at the moment it’s one of the few things I seem to be able to do to feel like I’m doing much to prepare for your birth. I have this persistent cold that comes and goes, but each time it returns it does so with a vengeance greater than the time before. It’s all I can do to sit up at the moment, so I’m trying to use this ‘bed rest’ time productively.

Let’s see.Read more: 39 Weeks Pregnant: Head Down, Bottoms Up