The Happy Baby Project

A happy baby needs a happy mum


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Remedies for a Bad Back

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I’m 32 weeks with a huge bumperoo, and had some good news lately. After lots of R&R and a lovely relaxing babymoon in Kent (thanks to The Chef!), I’m feeling healthy, happy and rested. And a 32 week scan revealed an incredibly fat baby (top 97 percentile tummy size!), and no longer a vertically-challenged placenta, but one that has moved up and beyond my cervix. Hurrah.

But the latest problem I’ve had to deal with – which seems fairly common for this stage of pregnancy – is a bad back. I’ve had lower back and pelvic girdle pain, shooting pains in my pelvis from my sacroiliac joint popping out, and incredibly tight, stiff, tense back muscles from carrying the weight of El Bumpo.

While I’ve accepted that this is likely to happen on and off until baby arrives, I thank my lucky stars I’ve avoided SPD, and I’ve found several things that have helped me that I wanted to share:

  • I’ve found reflexology absolutely amazing. It gives a holistic solution to problems, dealing with both emotional and physical issues. For example, my wonderful reflexologist suggested some of my back problems stemmed from weeks of stress over Christmas, and worries about money and nesting, which caused my upper and lower back to tense up. That something which at its most basic was a very relaxing “foot rub” also diagnosed anxiety and digestion issues, shows what a powerful thing it is. I have no idea how it works, but for me it really has. I see Shirley-Ann Foster in Kingston.
  • I also do a monthly preggie massage with Shirley-Ann which relaxes me and allows me to get a good night’s sleep.
  • I’ve seen an osteopath for my back which was good, but I’ve found preggie physio really beneficial as all our body’s muscles are linked and a problem in one place often stems from issues in another. I had lower back and pelvis pain which turned out to be due to tight thigh muscles which needed to be stretched out. Agonising shooting pains in my pelvis were due to my sacroiliac joint popping out which needed to be slotted back in place. And now my lower back and pelvis pain is caused by several things, including the baby putting pressure on my thorax capacity and upper back (which has also made my breathing similar to Darth Vader), and the bump pulling my weight forwards, making my back strain to keep me upright. Physio massages are painful but brilliant for loosening up and getting a comfortable night’s sleep. I see Helen Keeble at the White Hart Lane Clinic, Barnes.
  • My physio also tried some acupuncture on me which was amazing. Based on traditional Chinese medicine, but adapted for the Western world, it works by pushing a needle into your muscle, causing the muscle to contract around it and then to relax. It also causes a small wound which sends healing waves to the area. Finally, the points can respond to different body issues – the points in my back where I was most tight responded to my bladder median. Surely not surprising that having to wee 100 times a day might have caused problems….
  • Stretching exercises have been amazing in trying to keep flexible. Try a few of these at the bus stop / train platform / at your desk:
    • Pelvic tilts
    • Cat stretches
    • Front thigh and calf stretches
    • Bum squeezes
    • Upper body and shoulder twists
    • Pelvic floor squeezes
  • Preggie yoga (and pilates I’d imagine, although I found it too difficult to do with a big bump) has really helped in stretching me out and limbering me up, the breathing and repetition making me more flexible. I see Natalie Meddings at the Garage Studio, Barnes.
  • Really practical comforts are:
    • Hot-water battles
    • Ice packs
    • Dream Genii pillow to sleep with
    • Deep heat creams (I also used Marmot Fat cream  – apparently an Austrian muscle and joint healer!)
    • I’d imagine any chemist-bought muscle relaxing creams and heated pads would help massively both for bad backs and for labour
    • Hypno-birthing relaxing CDs to breathe the pain away.

Finally, and I’m having to remind myself this all the time – TAKE IT EASY. After frantic nesting for weeks, I spent pretty much the whole of last weekend in bed, watching Modern Family on the iPad, and it did me the world of good. As a couple of lovely blog comments have already taught me, this really is the only time I can ever put my feet up, treat myself and relax, as the next time I go through this, I’ll have a mental toddler with a giant belly running round. I’m trying not to feel guilty about cancelling social arrangements, delegating housework, or asking friends to give me a pillow to sit on.

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On Nesting

11 weeks to go before baby no 1 makes an appearance and I’m feeling pretty good. My skin is still dreadful but I’ve shaken off the vanity that has pervaded me for much of my 20s and 30s and accepted that I am likely to look a little rough until several months after the birth. The huge bump intrigues me and makes me happy. I’m excited and energetic.

But, let’s face it, I’m MANIC.

I realise all-knowing mothers will be shaking their heads thinking don’t sweat the small stuff, or wait til you get to number 2 and you’ll be dressing them in a second –hand bin bag, but this nesting instinct is pretty powerful.

Since New Year, I’ve felt I’m on the home stretch, and The Nesting is all-consuming. It’s a sickness that invades my sleep and manifests itself in lengthy to-do-lists, stressed out moans to the other ‘arf who is trying desperately to understand Mental Wife, and all sorts of phone and diary reminders. I feel like I still need so much Stuff, have so many books to read to work out what to do with all the Stuff, and there’s so little time left!

Since New Year:

  1. A new package from frantic online shopping has arrived almost every day, much to the bemusement of The Chef.
  2. I have bought eclectic objects for the house that seemed Very Important at the time. Like a tie rack and a spice rack. The Chef has since pointed out he never wears a tie and we never use spices. And it continues. I want new cushion covers! I want to move furniture around! I need new house plants!
  3. I keep booking up time to meet up with friends, as if post-March I am disappearing off the face of the planet.
  4. I am obsessed with doing all the odd jobs in the house that need doing before baby arrives. Damp-proofing, carpet-mending, dusting, gardening. Sitting down and relaxing (which I am advised to do more of) is a becoming a rare event.
  5. I am training myself to become a domestic maternal goddess. I bought cake tins! I cooked my first pie! And sticky toffee pudding!
  6. I am noting down every mummy recommendation and acting on it. My baby will be swaddled, carried in 2 types of baby sling, with white noise and coloured lights. At this rate, I will be fanning the little tyke with peacock feathers while recreating the birthing noises of a giant whale.
  7. I am finishing off the dream nursery that I have decided we must have. We have cot and chest of drawers and shelf, and now I want a glider chair and some stickers and the moon on a stick. For a baby who will be unable to focus on much for the first few weeks. But STILL.
  8. To add to our growing nursery, I am buying “essential” baby gear. Like a sheep that plays wave music, toy boxes for an unborn child who will be unable to pick up toys for several weeks, and a cow-patterned baby towel.
  9. I have a spreadsheet, a SPREADSHEET, of all the baby stuff we still need and booking up every remaining weekend from now until D Day with shopping trips for me and The Poor Chef.
  10. I am obsessively budgeting, saving, then spending my savings on Stuff. Then crying over lack of savings. Then buying more Stuff.

HELP!


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A preggie girl’s guide to being “a bit hormonal”

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As I approach 27 weeks and the third trimester with a certain joy at knowing me and my baby will meet each other before I know it, a raft of new symptoms appear.

My body is swelling all over. The bump feels enormous, and with its new curves and weight comes surprising, uncontrollable physical symptoms. The sore back, the swollen ankles that threaten to make knee high boots a thing of the past, the new-found clumsiness, bringing an impromptu “oof” when doing up shoes or having to pick something up off the carpet. The heat and hot flushes that make me thank my lucky stars this isn’t the height of summer. There’s bleeding gums and spots, hiccups and heartburn and constipation. There’s the fact that, like many of the women in my pregnancy yoga class, I have been known to let out an unexpected burp after eating. I don’t feel beautiful or voluptuous now, I feel creaky and ancient, like an old dusty bookcase.

And then there’s the emotional stuff. I’ve been told – oh don’t worry, you’re probably “a bit hormonal” – which suggests a bad case of PMT or teenage heartbreak. But I’ve been reading up on what these hormones are doing, what they will do in future, and am frankly amazed we pregnant ladies manage to get our shoes on the right feet in the morning, let alone do a full day’s work*:

  • There’s progesterone that basically stops the baby falling out. And if you imagine it sending waves of stupor to do so, you can also envisage it being responsible for that sluggish feeling, that slow heaviness, and with it constipation, heartburn (and also spots, aching bones and bleeding gums).
  • And we have oestrogen which stimulates blood flow, giant boobs, and is responsible for that attractive “glow” (bright red sweaty puffy look).
  • There’s relaxin that makes your hips expand, your pelvis grow, and I am personally blaming for my giant bottom.
  • As well as oxytocin to trigger contractions and prolactin to make milk and unwanted hair, and which is also bizarrely linked to sexual satisfaction – seriously, look it up.
  • And finally there’s adrenalin to help you push and endorphins that will be secreted during labour – your own natural pain-relieving happy pills – that some say, perhaps optimistically, can make the process enjoyable…

So, hang on a second.

If I’ve got this right then, left to go about its work unhindered, and without help from man or science, my body can hold in a baby for 9 months then push it out by summoning up super-human strength, while pumping me full of pain-relieving chemicals, and others which put me in such an animal-like trance that I will barely know my own name, and might even make the whole thing pleasurable?

A little idealistic perhaps. But while I still don’t understand why I find myself flying uncontrollably from clingy affection, to red-mist rage, to pathetic sobs, and back to boundless joy within a manner of minutes, I expect its something to do with these powerful chemicals inside me. And though I can’t use them as an excuse for bad behaviour generally, it does allow me to give myself a bit of a break, to respect what my body is doing and allow myself a bit of rest and relaxation.

For me right now, this involves massages, chocolate, sofa time, comfy PJs, cuddles, yoga and reflexology. And a very understanding Chef.

* please note this is based on no medical or scientific knowledge whatsoever