I've learnt and heard some very scary things this week. I've been for lunch with my NCT group and there's no holding back when we start discussing the ups and downs of pregnancy and preparations for imminent birth. The first thing we talk about is water retention. Some of the girls have really swollen feet and hands and one of them joked that she can actually move the water up and down her leg and create a poodle leg. Imagine!
I'm proud that I still have my ankles and my wrists, but I've finally had to give up wearing any of my rings. My wedding ring bit the dust at about 32 weeks, but my engagement ring has lasted until this week. I'm sad not to wear it as I love it so much, but I can't bear the claustrophobia of not being able to get it off and I'm worried about it getting mislaid at the hospital too. Even though my hands aren't very swollen, they're still quite sore. My husband and I tried to get out the buggy to practice on this week. I know what I need to do, but my sore hands and the stiffness of the buttons means I just can't do it. Of course, pumped full of hormones, I got angry, cried, sulked and despaired. I finally walked away for 10 minutes, returned, grit my teeth and managed to do it. Phew. How women manage to do all these things plus deal with kids while heavily pregnant I'll never know.
So anyway, back to NCT. The next topic we move onto is, deep breath, perineal massage. This is where you massage your downstairs with oil to stretch it in preparation for birth. I can't think of anything less appealing. There's much discussion about the types of oil you should use, for example whether virgin olive is better than your bog standard olive, or if you should invest in special oil, like Zeta West's Conditioning Down Under oil and jokes about being caught by partners disappearing into the bathroom with a bottle of Filippo Berio. It may well be a sensible thing to do, but it's just not for me. I'm struggling enough with the idea of the aftermath of the birth. I've been out and bought some gel pads that you can put in the fridge and then put in your underwear to soothe the pain from swelling or stitches. Whether I use these things or not, it helps to know that they're there ready instead of being in lots of pain and desperately waiting for next day delivery. I'd rather be prepared for the worst.
Friends who are mums have also told me to the make the most of the sleep and rest I'm getting. How? How? I can't store it up and save it to use when I'm desperate for it when the baby comes... I wish I could!
Another thing I've also started to do in preparation is taking raspberry leaf tablets. They're supposed to tone the muscles in the uterus to make contractions more efficient and shorten the second stage of labour. I think the tea would be disgusting (I don't drink many hot drinks anyway) and I know that capsules will be the only way to get enough down me to make any difference. And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't pretty terrified about the birth. It feels like such a leap into the unknown and as every birth and every baby is different I still feel very unprepared no matter how many stories I've read. But my bag's packed, I've read my TENS instructions, read up on birth positions and written my birth plan and I reckon that's all I can do for now!
But if anyone has any tips for me I'd really appreciate it! Just leave your advice in the comments box below.
- Coming up: Only one week until the baby's due
- Previously: Anna starts to get uncomfortable
- Read Anna's pregnancy diary from the beginning
- More about week 38 of pregnancy