Updated: Mar 18
Our Pregnancy Announcement. Photo Credit – Ashleigh Nicole
I always thought I would be the type of person who would regularly blog about her pregnancy, but for a number of reasons, I haven’t. It’s been such a personal journey, and there are some things I just don’t want to share, so it has taken me some time to decide which of those things I’m happy to put out there.
Another reason is that unfortunately my writing in general has suffered. My energy levels have been so low, that I just haven’t had it in me to write anything at all. My blog and script writing has pretty much fallen off the face of the earth. I’ve also had a great lack of inspiration – and whilst I still don’t feel particularly inspired, and do indeed feel low on energy, I also am in the joyous stage of pregnancy known as maternity leave! So I don’t have much of an excuse not to write something!
This blog is about my pregnancy journey so far. I will try to keep some of the more unpleasant details out, but just a pre-warning that I might touch upon something from time to time that might be bit TMI.
I will also just say that this blog, as stated,is about my journey. The rules and regulations revolving around pregnancy change all the time, sometimes even yearly. Whilst I would love for people to read this and find the info useful, I would also say – and I say this about everything – to discuss things with your midwife or a medical professional, to cross reference all info you read anywhere with useful sites such as the NHS website and to just remember that every pregnancy is different.
Not everyone is aware of their pregnancy straight away. I hoped that I was and started to suspect very early on but I was so worried about being disappointed, that I was also very cautious. I had previously suffered from an undiagnosed problem that caused horrendous pains after my period – and when I say horrendous, I mean hitting the floor, crying and on occasions screaming, sleepless nights and even trips to A & E – and I struggled to ease it because due to other problems – GERD – I can’t take a lot of pain relief. However, I did find ways to sort of manage it – a combination of heat, regularly timed pain relief coupled with strong antacid medication, and movement – but because of where the issue appeared to be, I had worried that it would interfere with my fertility.
Because of this, I waited a whole week after my first missed period. Over the course of the following week, I took three pregnancy tests! All tests were positive, meaning we found we knew for certain on the 6/05/2017! I made a doctors appointment the following week. My doctor is really nice, and did a quick external exam, and asked me to pop in with a urine sample, but otherwise felt that I was a healthy, expectant Mother! At the point of finding out, we were roughly five weeks. He booked me in for an early Midwife appointment due to my concerns previously mentioned, and said they may send us for an early scan depending on what she thought.
We were so excited, and I called my GP surgery later in the week just to confirm that the pregnancy test was positive. Everything was very easy and straight forward.
The First Scan
At my first Midwife (MW) appointment, on 24/05/2017, she called the hospital to check if an early scan was needed, but they decided it wasn’t.
Both the Midwife and Doctor had dated me at around 4/01/2018 for the expected due date which by our scan (21/06/2017) would have made us 11 weeks and 6 days, so just under 12 weeks. The main purposes of the first scan are to date and confirm your pregnancy, and make sure baby is healthy. You’re also given the option for a screening for several chromosomal conditions.
I was very nervous going in, but seeing our baby on the monitor was amazing. I got quite emotional, and it was amazing to see that the baby was wriggling around so much. It was hard for them to get the measurements they needed, as baby kept rolling around!
When they did eventually get the measurements of the baby, they dated my pregnancy at 11+1, and our due date 9/01/2017, so we were a little too early to take the measurements needed for the screening.
Just to touch upon the screening, they are basically determining if there is a likely hood that baby will have any of these conditions but no matter the results of this screening, and even in some cases the later, more invasive tests you can have done, they sometimes go the opposite to what they can tell you. We had the initial screening, but never made a decision as to what we would do if it the chances were high. I think for the most part, it was so we could be prepared for the potential extra care baby may need, but thankfully we never needed to discuss it further than that. As I said though, sometimes the screenings can be incorrect, and whilst they are quite accurate, we won’t still won’t know 100% till baby gets here.
So they booked us in for another scan a few weeks later, on the 5/07/2017. Here the baby was still moving loads, but they got better measurements. They actually dated us wrong on the first scan, and so by this point was 13+5, and our due date changed to 5/01/2018(my sisters birthday!) and managed to take the correct screening measurements!
Despite having to wait a couple of weeks for another scan, we decided to start telling our nearest and dearest after the initial scan. We waited a day, then after work started making our way around their houses. First stop, my parents house. My Dad wasn’t there – which was unusual for the time of day – so my Mam was the first to find out, and also had the joy of telling my Dad when he came home later. I would have loved to have told them together but also didn’t want to wait any longer! I sneakily put one of the scan photos – which you do pay for by the way – into a list of books I wanted for Christmas (she starts very early) and she of course dropped the picture, and the dog then walked over it. We then visited my sister – also husband-less, turns out my Dad and brother-in-law were playing cricket! – and I just casually dropped into conversation that we were going to be a little busy come the new year! She actually squealed.
After that we went to my in-laws, and it was actually the day after their wedding anniversary so it was lovely to share the news at such a special time! We gave them their anniversary gift, and then a scan photo. Finally, one more stop to my brother-in-laws (my husbands brother) and they actually went and got our little 6 (at the time) year old niece out of bed so we could tell her that she would be getting a little cousin! Her hilarious response was that she already had one (on Mammy’s side) but she has gotten more and more excited every time we have seen her!
From there on, it as just a case of telling our friends as and when we saw them. Telling the people that we love was such a wonderful experience. Seeing each persons reaction – the tears, the squeals, the laughs, the shocks, you name it – was fantastic! I wish I had each one on camera!
I work in an office environment so the job itself isn’t too strenuous. However, sitting at a desk whilst pregnant, and coping with morning sickness and the general exhaustion that comes with it, whilst trying to keep it a secret is hard! I waited as long as I could – I started to feel like I was showing quite early on, my clothes definitely started to get tight. Legally, you do have to tell them by a certain point, but you can leave till around 15 weeks before your baby is due (source: Gov Website) I chose to wait till after our screening results had come in, and picked 17/07/2017 to tell them. This made us 15+3. I was so nervous going in to tell them. On my team I have a team-leader and a supervisor. My intention had been to tell my team leader, but she was actually on holiday, so I went to my supervisor. I asked if I could have a quick chat with her before my shift started, and we went off into a little side room, where she asked if everything was okay. I was shaking! I told her, and she wanted to know why I was so nervous, but of course it was because I’ve never had to tell an employer that I was pregnant before, and I had no idea what sort of reaction it would get, or what the next steps were.
Things were handled very well though, and I had a meeting with HR to discuss my plans for maternity and get all the forms I needed, and I also had a health and safety review to make sure my working environment was safe. It also meant that I no longer lost time for any pregnancy related appointments, because by law you are entitled to take those within your working hours.
The Second Scan
Technically this was our third scan, but assuming everything is smooth with your pregnancy and your dated correctly, you will usually only have your dating scan at around 12 weeks and your anomaly scan at around 20 weeks and that should be it. I think most people end up having more than this though, which isn’t always something to worry about as it is a long time between 20 weeks and 40 weeks to wait to see your baby and have the reassurance that everything is okay.
We had this scan on 10/08/2017 which meant we were technically 18+6 weeks. Our little baby was doing just fine, everything was in tact and growing as it should be. They look for things that you never even think about – making sure the spine is all connected correctly, are there any signs of a cleft lip – as well things like brain and heart function. Then finally, at the end of the scan they check for the sex of the baby, if you want to know. Some people don’t but we did. Part of it was because we just didn’t want to wait and part of it was because my sister has two boys and had said that we could have whatever we needed from her collection of clothes, toys, equipment, basically anything she didn’t need anymore, we were welcome to. Whilst I’m not bothered about making sure boys clothes are on boys, and girls clothes are on girls, and all of that, I was keen to be organised, and knew that there would be some clothes that I would pick for a girl and some for a boy that would be different, and even though I had already had an idea for a nursery that was quite neutral, it just made sense to know exactly what we needed to buy from an organisational, and economical point of view.
The majority of our friends and family had predicted we were having a girl, and we had no preference really, as long they were happy and healthy! Saying that, we were absolutely delighted when our baby’s gender was revealed – a boy! Even now – at 39+1 – it seems strange referring to our baby as our son, but it is also wonderful. We are very excited to meet him, and from what I’ve seen of my nephews, boys can be so loving and affectionate, especially towards their mothers!
Once we knew this, we decided to make an “official announcement”, and by “official” I mean put it on Facebook. More than anything, this was just to let the last few people we hadn’t told face to face, know. I didn’t really want to make a big deal out of it, and had considered not posting anything at all, but at the same time, it was fun to do so!
As previously stated, I had my first MW appointment quite early on. My MW is lovely, I’ve been really lucky in that other than 2 occasions (and one of those was just to get a duplicate blood test done), I’ve seen the same MW. She is very much on the same wave length as me, in that we have a lot of quite similar opinions. This has been nice, as I have never once felt undermined, patronized and like I was doing something wrong.
At your first appointment, you’re given your maternity notes – at the moment, they come in a lovely big plastic wallet, with lots of leaflets and information in, and I’ve found this great to keep everything together – which start out quite empty but fill up with notes, information about scans and other appointments and all sorts of interesting tidbits.
My MW appointments have been as follows,which I think is standard at the moment, but as I said, things do change quite regularly –
Booking in appointment, 24/05/2017 at around 7+5
26/07/2017, 16+5, which was just a check up appointment
20/09/2017, 24+4, just a general check up
18/10/2017, 28+4, where I had blood tests done, which are testing for a number of things including hemoglobin levels. Find out more here. They also started measuring my bump and listening to the baby’s heartbeat this week, and then every appointment after that. Just a note on measuring, apparently some midwives do it differently, but they should go from the top of your uterus, to your pubic bone. They plot it on a growth chart, which is based on averages that change every year, and let’s them know roughly how big your baby is. Its just a rough idea, as there may be other factors. Our baby always measured perfectly but then dropped ever so slightly and now measures a little below average but is on a continuous growth curve, so it’s not something to be worried about.
8/11/2017, 31+6, just a check up appointment.
29/11/2017 34+5, this was my home visit. Basically your MW comes out, does all the normal checks – urine (which you will have to take to each appointment), BP, measurements – and just to have a check of the house – although mine didn’t actually look around but some do, just to make sure it’s safe for baby, and look out for any concerns about the parents that she might not be aware of already.
13/12/2017, 36+5. This was meant to be an extended appointment with my MW, about my birth plan but she was actually on holiday so it ended up being just a general check up.
27/12/2017, 38+5, just another check up but also potentially my last appointment. She has booked in another appointment in case I go over which would be at around 40+5 but hopefully this won’t be needed!
As you can see the MW appointments start out quite infrequent and then become more and more frequent as time goes by. It does seem strange that I potentially won’t have another one now till after the baby is born. At my last one, she confirmed that baby is head down, and engaged, which basically means he is in my cervix. She also told me that he is in a good birthing position – his back is towards my left hand side – and so now I’m paranoid about knocking him out of this position! These have been very standard appointments, people with different pregnancies – i.e having various health problems, or being under a specialist may have different appointments to what I have had.
Along side the normal MW appointments and scan there are a few others needed. Again, this is for a standard pregnancy, and may be different from someone else’s. They may also change within the next year.
GTT- Glucose Tolorence Testing. From my understanding, this is isn’t offered to everyone, just to those who are potentially at a risk of developing gestational diabetes. I seemed to remember my sister having it, but she was actually just tested for it, possibly because it is in our family (it’s actually on both mine and my husbands sides as well). It’s a long appointment that involves fasting leading up to it. They take blood tests, give you a sugary drink, then send you away. You then go back, they take more blood and send them off for testing. Mine were negative. It wasn’t too bad, although I did feel very unwell later on, probably a combination of lack of food and having blood taken.
Vaccinations – You will be offered some vaccinations in pregnancy. You don’t have to take them, and some people are dead set against them for various reasons, and even when the baby is born, they are inclined to avoid giving their baby any vaccinations. As I’m all for vaccinations, I’d rather not risk myself or my baby getting ill with the number of things they are vaccinating you against. I’ve had the whooping cough vaccine and the flu vaccine. They were both relatively painless and haven’t caused me any problems that I’m aware of going into the arguments for and against them, but you can get some basic info here.
Growth Scan – I’ve had one growth scan, which was on 1/12/2017, when we around 35 weeks. When I was measured at home, my MW had noticed a drop in growth, however part of this may have been due to me lying on my couch which has a slight dip in it. When went for the scan, he was indeed measuring a little smaller than average and his approximate weight was 5lbs2 which is only a little under average. He hasn’t gone back to average but has stayed on the same curve which is totally fine. They measured his head, tummy and femur, as well as the fluid around him, and the chord, and his fat. Its very similar to other scans though, in that you need to have a fullish bladder.
Health Visitor Home Visit – The health visitor also comes out for a visit. They don’t give you specific time, just a slot of a couple of hours. They can also change the appointment – I got a letter in the post telling me of the change. Our appointment was 17/11/2017, 33 weeks. Basically they are doing a very similar thing to the MW home visit – checking for any possible concerns, making sure the home is a safe place for baby. I’ve heard that some people can get very offended by some of the questions asked (which I won’t list as they probably change all the time) but what you need to remember is that whilst it might seem very personal, everyone gets asked the same questions, and its for your benefit as well the baby, so just be honest with them. Whilst they are there, they will also discuss antenatal classes and post natal mam and baby groups, plus what will happen with the HV comes to visit after the baby is born.
We did also attend one antenatal class but as these differ from area to area, I’m not going to discuss this. Your MW will be able to give lots of info on this!
Feeling my baby move has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I love it when he gives me little nudges, or when I feel a foot stick out to the side. I’m not such a fan of attempting to break my ribs – honest, whatever he is doing in there can be really painful! – or make an escape through my bladder! But each movement, no matter how uncomfortable is a reminder that, at the moment at least, I always have a precious little life with me, I am never alone.
Everyone will start to feel movements at different times. I have a front lying placenta – baby basically looks like it’s squashing his face in most of our scan photos – and this can make it harder to feel them movements, especially early on. I think I started to feel early movements in weeks 16-18 but it’s really hard to tell. There were times when I thought it could just be gas moving around my tummy! What I think were the first movements felt like little bubbles popping against my side. Slowly, it become stronger kicks, which I then began to see. My husband couldn’t see or feel anything for a while, it wasn’t till around 23 weeks, and it was total accident as well!
Good advice to follow about baby’s movements is that it is an indication that baby is feeling okay. A good site to look at is Kicks Count. As a general rule, they should form a pattern from around 32 weeks but remember EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT. I felt that I noticed a pattern from early on, around 22 to 23 weeks, which is considered very early. His movements have always been around the same though. Very active when I’m still, so lying in bed or sitting on the couch. But if I’m very busy – shopping, or dining out, or talking to lots of people – he is very quiet and moves quite a bit less. I’ve heard this can be common as a lot of activity can lull them into quietness, much like rocking a baby. I also found that if I was unwell – sickness and diarrhea being the main culprits – he would be quiet. I assume this is because I’m so low on energy that he doesn’t have much in the way of energy either. Try your best to learn your baby’s pattern so you know if you need to be worried.
If you notice a change, whether it be a reduction, or just change to their normal pattern, it always worth calling PAU for advice, and not to delay. Some women – me included – can feel a bit silly calling and try to convince themselves that everything will be fine. You can’t do this though, because the longer you leave it, the higher risk there is of something being wrong and there being no solution to it. Yes, there are ways to liven your baby up, but ring PAU as soon as you are worried. They will be able to advise you. They don’t care what time of day or night it is, and will ask you a few quick questions – how far along are you, have your waters broken, are you bleeding, etc – and more than likely ask you to come in. I did this twice –
It was around week 23, and I was feeling particularly hormonal. I woke up and automatically felt that his movements were different. Well, I had actually noticed a decrease in the strength and frequency of the movements the night before. I had been a little poorly, and wasn’t feeling myself at all. I went to work and tried to get on as normal, telling myself that everything would be fine. But with each hour that ticked by and the movement didn’t pick up, i got more and more worked up till I eventually came out of the toilet in tears. I went to my supervisor, who took me into a side room so i could call my Midwife, who told me to call PAU straight away. They told me to come in right away and when I got there, they did point out that it was still quite early for there to be a pattern but that I had done the right thing. They listened for his heartbeat and told me everything was fine. I did get a little told off though, because I hadn’t come in sooner. They said never wait no matter how silly I feel. It was that night that my husband felt him move for the first time!
The next time was very similar – hadn’t been feeling well, went to work all worked up and then called the PAU who, based on what I had told them, asked me to come in later that afternoon. This was around week 28. This time, I had to be hooked up to a monitor that recorded his heart beat and movements. Every time I felt a movement, I had to press a button. Again, everything was absolutely fine, and I felt daft but relieved.
So again, if you are worried about ANYTHING at all, call your MW or PAU. Don’t wait. Just do it.
I feel like I have moaned a lot, but that actually I haven’t had that many symptoms. What I will say is that pregnancy does a lot to your body, but everyone is different. There is such a wide range of symptoms and not everyone feels every single one. Remember that most of them are normal – suddenly needing to pee all the time? Seem to have an excess of discharge? Feel dizzy when you look up? Most likely normal, but remember if you are concerned about everything, don’t rely on the internet. Call your midwife, make a Doctors appointment or if you have a MW appointment coming up, make a list of your symptoms to discuss with her. Don’t let yourself worry! Here is a list of my main symptoms and how I dealt with them. Remember though not everything works for everyone!
Morning Sickness – I don’t know why it’s called morning sickness. It can happen Morning, afternoon, night. And it’s not always a case of once the 2nd trimester hits, it will be gone straight away. Mine started quite early, and lasted till around about 19-20 weeks, but sickness in general does come back from time to time. It was bad for me around meal times, smelling foods – chicken and bread in particular – and the texture of certain fruits and veg had me running to the loo. I hated the thought of drinking hot drinks in general, and felt that water had a funny taste! I tried ginger tea and biscuits for a little while but I quickly went off this. I’m afraid I just had to learn to live with it for the most part. I found a specific type of bread that didn’t make me feel sick (I had been making my own up until a certain point but got too tired to keep doing this) and we started drinking homemade smoothies so I wasn’t missing out on fruit and veg.
Heartburn and Indigestion – As previously mentioned, I already suffer from GERD. It doesn’t really cause me many problems in my day to day life, I manage it quite well without medication, but I was told that being pregnant would most likely cause a flair up, or it wouldn’t bother me at all. Of course, its really bothered me. I’m talking indigestion and heartburn morning, noon and night, no matter what I eat or drink, and then there is the actual burning pain and sickness that comes with GERD which is hard to describe to anyone who hasn’t felt it. For a few weeks, that came at around 10.30 every morning and stuck till about 1ish. I found that going for walks, drinking milk and eating rennies like they were sweets really helped! I now always have rennies and bottle of gaviscon within reach. The MW did offer me omeprazol but I didn’t want to get reliant on it, as I’ve taken in before and found it over-neutralized my stomach acid, so I felt sick all the time.
Backache – From my understanding, a lot of women get back ache as the pregnancy progresses but mine has been from the start. It was so bad that sometimes I would be in tears because I just couldn’t get comfy. A number of things have helped with this – deep freeze has done wonders! This is cooling gel that you apply to the area that hurts, sort of like deep heat, but this one is pregnancy friendly! Trying to improve my posture so I’m not slouching all the time. Sitting with extra cushions, and a pregnancy pillow has helped a bit, and yoga (see below) has also helped! I was offered physio but didn’t end up going as I felt the yoga was amazing. It started to ease off but has come back gradually as I’ve gotten bigger and now my hips will be preparing for birth which is causing pain in my lower back.
Insomnia – That’s right, the sleepless nights don’t just begin after baby! For some of us you can lie awake night after night, for no reason at all. And I mean no reason – I’m not worrying, I’m not anxious and I’m not particularly uncomfortable, I’m just awake. Some nights there are other factors of course. For example, this week I have a cold. It’s not a particularly bad one, but its making my nose very stuffy, so I can’t breath through my nose and causing my lips and mouth to dry out and become quite painful. That coupled with an excess of phlegm, and I’m awake. My poor husband doesn’t know how many times hes come close to being suffocated! Now I’ve tried various things for these sleepless nights, and sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. Firstly, getting a pregnancy cushion that supports my bump and my back. I got a v shaped one, that I can lie in, and will be able to use for support after the baby is born. My friends bought me some Lush Sleepy Lotion which smells gorgeous and can be used on babies as well, and if applied correctly, this seems to help. I got a lavender pouch for under my pillow but I don’t feel like that’s doing much good. I also try doing an alphabet game in my head. I go through the alphabet and have to name something for each letter from a certain TV show or film or book. I mostly use Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as it’s so vast!
Constipation – I did warn you at the start of the blog that there might be some things that seem a little TMI. Without going into too much detail of my own experience, I will say this – make sure you eat plenty of fiber, and drink lots of water. I mean it, don’t just think some beans on toast will get it done. Your body changes so much in pregnancy and the last thing you want, is to go days without pooping (which might seem great at the time, especially if you don’t feel like you need to go) to suddenly feel like you’re giving birth out of your bum! Get your fruit and veg – skin on if you can – and porridge, or wheat based ceriels, trust me! Your backside will thank you for it. Also keeps a supply of dried fruits – especially prunes, they don’t taste great but just shut up and eat them – and juices in the house as if you get this problem regularly, they will help! It’s a painful problem that can cause piles or hemorrhoids, so really take care and notice of your bowels!
Baby Brain – Prior to being pregnant, I thought that this was just a lazy way of saying you’re forgetful. I didn’t realize that things would just fall out of your brain! I have forgotten so many things – I didn’t turn up to my sisters one afternoon, I didn’t go to my friends graduation party, I gave my husband malt loaf (which he hates) and I regularly can’t remember why I opened a cupboard in the kitchen, when I’m clearly making a sandwich. There isn’t much you can do about this, so maybe write things down!
Really there is such an array of possibilities, each one more gross than the last! Acting psychotic towards your lovely husband? Just take a deep breath, apologize and explain that it is just unacceptable that he can’t remember what you told him was for tea next Monday, or that he doesn’t know what mean when you say “You know that thing?”. Blow it totally out of proportion, then feel guilty about it! Hopefully your other half is like mine, who will smile, give you a hug and ask if you would like some chocolate! Dropping things all the time? If you don’t need them, leave them! You go off balance when you’re pregnant due to the extra weight! And don’t worry when sneezing makes you worry that you might have just wet your pants – after all, a whole baby is weighing down against your bladder! Just maybe be cautious when you do sneeze. And try not to feel like you’re being judged when you can’t get off the couch, and your 3 year old nephew stands up with sigh and holds out his hand for you. He isn’t judging you with that sigh, really… and you’ve probably seen him do worse!
I always thought I would try yoga during pregnancy. I’ve done it at home for some time but never gone to any classes. I did have one particular problem though – I get a bit of social anxiety, and struggle with going to exercise classes. You can get videos online telling you how to do it, but I didn’t want to put myself and baby at any risk. My husband found what sounded like a pretty good class online that you don’t need to sign up or book for, you just turn up and pay, and can drop in and out whenever you want to. The class is Pregnancy Yoga, and found under Yoga Northeast.
There are many many benefits to doing yoga, regardless of if you are pregnant or not, but I found this more beneficial than I ever thought I would. Here is the review I left on their Facebook page –
“Started going to the pregnancy yoga in Lanchester at around 16 weeks, and have loved each session! It’s a great way to relax, get some gentle exercise and to meet other expectant Mams! I’ve learned so much about what happens to the body during pregnancy and child birth, and I’ve gone from being terrified of giving birth, to having a really calm attitude towards it, all from what I have learned here. Laura is a really lovely person and a great teacher, I can’t wait to bring my baby to the Mam and Baby classes! Thank you”
I know that not everyone will be able to go to this particular class as it is location dependent, but if you can, please do as it really has enlightened me, it’s helped me relax and it’s helped my back pain! I’m not longer going due to the Christmas break and should have had my baby by the time the classes start up again, and I miss it! I’m so pleased I plucked up the courage to do – not that anyone needs courage to go, just me with my fears of doing things that I don’t normally do!
For some, baby showers are a bit of strange concept. They’re still pretty new to the UK, and are seen as a very American thi