Friday, 29 July 2011

Week 37 - 38: Almost cooked now

We have made it to the 38 week mark and that means we are at 'term' and Beanie could Pop at any moment now - unlikely as he is only 2/5 engaged, but technically if he is born now he is not early. I am still feeling remarkably well - although I have taken off my amazing Hug-a-Bump band as I want to give Beanie a chance to engage. The most unexpected thing happened, I have been so worried about a repeat of high blood pressure and pre-eclampsia and yet after the Pickle's 5th Birthday party and the carnage that goes with entertaining 12 mini people for an afternoon my blood pressure actually went down!

For loads of us soon to be Mums we start to get loads of pointed questions and advice on breastfeeding at this stage, my NCT classes focused loads of time on how to make feeding easier, even though as a group we had only positive experiences of feeding. Some friends of mine have been traumatised by the subject before they even started - convinced that it will be an ordeal only mastered by the few. We have enough to think about at this stage without adding breastfeeding to our list of worries - thinking of adjusting to limited sleep and a new family dynamic - so I have linked an article I wrote on my other blog with further links to other bloggers experiences.  Other Mums to be in my antenatal classes talked about the varying breastfeeding support that they got with their first babies - support may not be necessary, but if it is, I hope that it is there for you so that you can make informed decisions.

Everybody seems to be giving up work at different times. Professional advice seems to be make sure that you give up work early enough so that you have time to really relax and build up your sleep reserves before baby arrives. Most friends seem to want to spend maternity leave with their babies rather than playing the waiting game. None of this quite works for me as my boss is terrible - err, it is me. I can't foresee a moment when I can walk past me desk and not consider what I should be doing and feel guilty if I don't finish off a few loose ends.

How about baby showers? None of my antenatal class were having one - but then we are second time Mums, and British at that. Baby Showers do seem to be coming across the Atlantic in the same way that Trick or Treating suddenly appeared then became ubiquitous, so I am sure in a few years time no birth will not be heralded by a Baby Shower. Last time around I just arranged a couple of weekends away, one to Copenhagen with the Hubster to have a final honeymoon (future holidays would be family events) and a weekend for intensive gossip, debate and mischief with my best mate. After the Pickle was born we then had some great large lunch parties to celebrate and to meet the new arrival - which seemed to delight friends and family who were too superstitious to celebrate a baby before its arrival.

I am hoping that the next post will be all about a successful labour - but I am thinking most about not being late. The consultant is adamant that that I can't be late as I want to have a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarean) but as an aged Mum (over 40) the statistics for still birth start to look concerning if Beanie is left cooking after 40 weeks and having had a c-section I can not be induced. Ho, hum! Had my acupuncture session and know the points to go for, but there is little evidence that home spun methods influence the outcome (except that taking Castor oil does NOT work).

What Beanie is up to
Only 5% of babies arrive on their due date, so Beanie can be born any time now. He is fully developed at around 50cm so he is now just putting on weight getting ready for birth. His head is down and every visit to the health professionals they are noting down in fifths (or fingers) to what extent he is engaged - he was 2/5 on Monday.

Oh the glamour of being pregnant - I can expect diarrhoea as my body gets ready for labour and I may pass the 'show' an icky plug that has been sealing the cervix that is made from mucus and blood (the show normally indicated that labour is only a few days off). Meanwhile the Braxton Hicks keep on rolling on, they are mainly on the lower part of the bump so despite them being really quite painful I know that it is not the on set of labour as contractions start at the top of the bump spreading down and are more intense.

I am having the most vivid dreams, which is not uncommon when we get close to delivery. There is no theme to my dreams - but I seem to wake up exhausted, but then that could be because I am not sleeping so well.

What I cooked
Time to start thinking about maintaining some form of a balanced diet after babe is born - without having the local take aways on speed dial. This is not so much of a recipe but a really handy hint that was SO useful last time around.

Roast Vegetables - For now and for the freezer
Courgettes - diced to roughly a 1cm cube
Red and yellow peppers - sliced as above
Aubergine - diced as above
Butternut squash, peeled and cubed as above
Chopped herbs to taste - I like finely chopped oregano and a little finely chopped rosemary on the aubergine and freshly ground pepper - you can also add garlic.
Other possible veg to include: onions, carrots, beetroot, mushrooms.

Lay veg out on a baking tray - pour over a tablespoon or so of olive or cold pressed rape seed oil and use your hands to mix it all up so that the veg are evenly coated, then smooth out to a single layer. I like to keep each of the veg separate. Roast at about 200' C for about 45 mins.

Eat what you want to today and leave the rest to cool. Once cool freeze (I freeze the veg separately) being careful to lay the freezer bags out flat so that the veg is in a single layer so that they don't freeze in one big lump. Once they are frozen you can rearrange the bags as they are now less likely to freeze back into a lump.

If you want to roast tomatoes I prefer to half or quarter, drizzle with oil and herbs then then slow roast them at 100'c for a couple of hours. Not so eco friendly but they do taste better that way - so I tend to do a big batch when tomatoes are in season and plentiful.

This is quite a bit of chopping - but they are so versatile later, great with starchy basics such as cous cous, rice, potatoes or bulgar and either a little crumbled feta, grilled halloumi or Parmesan or some simply griddled meat.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Week 34 - 36 - Relief I've passed the 34 week stage

Well Beanie can come at almost any moment now. I am going into the preparation zone. A little distraction with my teeth first. Good news, bad news there. The hygienist was hugely impressed - my flossing efforts have paid off, and I have no sign of pregnancy gingivitis (or bleeding gums) so no problems there. Then disaster struck, my Mum's teeth turned to mush when she had us and mine seem similarly inconsiderate and hence a painful session of root canal work.

I recovered quickly from the tooth pain but my hormones were raging and so I had to find something to worry about. It could have been the recent statistics correlating age and incidence of Downs Syndrome in babies, but no, I have been pointlessly focusing on pre-eclampsia. At this stage last time around I skipped along my 34 week midwife's appointment feeling fine and ended up in hospital hooked up to all kinds of machines, my blood pressure shooting through the roof and my feet looking like Shrek's (while all the time I still felt curiously well). This time in the days leading up to my 34 week appointment I did not know whether to sob or decapitate everyone I came into contact with; so while I needed to keep my blood pressure down my paranoia was more likely to be forcing it up. Help I'm a liability to myself!

Woohoo - blood pressure and urine is fine! Sure, anything could happen now it is still great to have overcome that hurdle. The rest of the midwife's appointment seemed to go really well - but it was not exactly pleasant having to take the swabs for the Strep B testing (fortunately from the throat and nose not the more intimate areas) and there were yet more blood tests as apparently they forgot some at the last blood letting.

The baby preparation list that I wrote is proving really useful. I heard from a friend, who is only 34 weeks pregnant, and her waters have broken and so is just hoping that they can hold on for as long as possible -  perhaps I should make sure that we have a few more things ready! Poor M, in hospital and has not even got a cot, but she is in great hands and we look forward to hearing great news from her in about a month's time. In the meantime I have packed a hospital bag even if I don't have a cot ready and have not washed Pickle's newborn clothes ready for Beanie.

I am also thinking about the birth. I am actually feeling really excited about it (have I mentioned that I am the eternal optimist?). The consultant has told me that I am not allowed to go over term - and last time I found that being induced is not the way to usher in the ideal birth. I seem to spend a whole heap of time finding out about old wives tales and wishful thinking that 'could' help Beanie arrive on time, but there is very little science* about how to ensure that your baby does not arrive late except the via the direct medical route of sweeps and induction.

As I was researching my birth plan I came across the section about whether or not to give Beanie the Vitamin K jab on birth to help his blood to clot. This same vitamin is still really useful if are planning to breastfeed - so maybe it is the right time to start eating my 'Special' Vitamin K. I have been eating loads of green leafy vegetables, cantaloupe melon, cauliflower, green beans, wholemeal bread and pasta - and other key ingredients are fresh parsley and even chickpeas.

What Beanie is up to?
He is a big boy now, over 45cm long and my bump was bang on the expected 34 inches when measured by the midwife. He is so big that he is finding it hard to move so the kicking seems less exaggerated now. Thinking of kicks there is a relatively new charity called Count the Kicks that you may like to read about- I will let them introduce themselves in their own words "COUNT THE KICKS™ wants to empower Mums with knowledge and confidence during their pregnancy. We want to raise awareness of the risks surrounding later stages of pregnancy and also to teach Mums to take responsibility of their own health and care and that of their unborn babies."

From now on his head may start to engage - and to be sure am starting to remember to keep my knees below my hips and I'm sleeping on my left to try to ensure that he gets in the best possible position for labour. This is called Optimum Foetal Positioning - that link that seems to go into all kinds of detail or here are loads of other OFP links. There is no medical evidence* that it works, but it does not present a hardship so I may as well take heed, besides it sounds better then an External Cephalic Version procedure that doctors perform if they think that Beanie is breech. The other preparatory exercise that has no basis in science* is perineal massage in an attempt to avoid tearing - our NCT trainer seems very keen and gave us a hand out to encourage us to give it a go - and the inevitable reminder to keep up the pelvic floors.

Beanie's digestive and intestinal systems are now ready and working - I am strangely freaked out to read that he can wee up to a pint into the amniotic fluid. The better news is that even if he is born now he should be absolutely fine,

Have I mentioned heartburn recently? WOW - pill popping the antacids.There seems to be no space left for me anymore, as I am constantly dashing to the loo, get full after half portions and struggle to find my breath. I'm not complaining as Beanie may over hear so it is more fun just to go with the process and enjoy chattering to the Bump happily.

*I have made a few comments about actions and beliefs that are not substantiated by science.  I am not blinkered by science, there is a place for faith and trust. I just like to have a read and look at evidence, balance of probability, potential side effects and benefits. I seriously do not share the consultant's opinion that an elective caesarian would be the only effective way to ensure that there are no complications!

What I have been eating?
Well, we have all been snacking on fruit salads of strawberries and cantaloupe melon - fortunately the Pickle shares my  yearning for melon and it is both seasonal and is great to eat now it is so hot. I have also been having avocado salad sandwiches in wholemeal pitta - but that is now what I have been craving - I want my chickpea pancakes!

Chickpea Pancakes
This is quick and easy and totally yummy! Just remember to cook the beetroot in advance.

Wash but don't peel three beetroots then wrap in foil and bake at 180' for about an hour or until they feel soft. Once cooled to a reasonable temperature rub off the skins, ideally with clean latex or rubber gloves (otherwise you can do a mean Lady Macbeth impersonation).

Take a tin of cooked chickpeas and blitz in a food processor, add one egg, two dessert spoons of plain floor and a teaspoon of baking powder and season with pepper and  a small handful of chopped parsley and a teaspoon of cumin. Add a splash of milk so that all binds down into a thick, spoonable mixture. Heat a frying pan and add a little oil and spoon in tablespoons of the mixture - after a a few mins carefully turn the pancakes. Cook until they are firm in the middle, this is about 5 mins on each side - if the oven is still hot you can finish them off in the oven to make sure the egg in the centre is cooked.

If you want to add extra vitamin K cook up some spinach.

Layer up a chickpea pancake, a slice of beetroot, crumble on some feta cheese (and mix in the chopped, cooked spinach if using) and if you can find it sprinkle on some dukkah (a Moroccan spice mix with dried chickpeas). Add a lovely green salad.