Spring Clock Change Top Tips

Spring Clock Change March 29th 2020

On March 29th, the clocks move forward 1 hour, are you ready?

Twice a year, parents start to panic at thought of THE CLOCK CHANGE. I can t say I blame them. Gone are the days when you would either gain an extra hour sleep, or just feel a bit off for a day or two while your body readjusts to losing an hour.

Now we have to think about little people, little people who aren’t ready for this, little people who don’t know or understand it is coming, little people who’s wake up times don’t change just because the clocks do. This means in Autumn, a 6am wake-up would become a 5am wake-up, which is not a fun place to be, no one wants that. In summer 6am becomes 7am, which sounds great, but then you may be hit with the bedtime battle when your little one isn’t ready to go to sleep after a shorter than normal day. 

Don’t worry, there is plenty you can to do to prepare for this, and in Spring, you can really use this get rid of early rising and get a more sensible wake up time.

Unless 6am or 7am was always your natural time to wake up pre-children, it never feels completely sensible, at least not for me who craves the 8am wake up from the alarm, and a lie in at weekends every now and again. I am most definitely not an early bird.

Here are my Top Tips:

Expect Lighter Mornings:

As the mornings and the evenings get lighter, you may find that you could end up with trouble at both ends of the night. At bedtime, they may not feel it is time for bed as it is still light outside, and in the early hours as the sun comes up and the birds start to sing, they may naturally wake up thinking it is morning. As they are unable to tell the time, why would they think any different? 

We already have our blackout blinds up along with duplex blinds and blackout curtains in Sofia’s bedroom. I have the FOMO (fear of missing out) child who doesn’t want to miss ANYTHING so if the sun is up, it must be time to get up and do something.

Lighter Mornings

Blackout Blinds/Curtains

I would highly recommend blackout blinds, and I find the portable ones are great as you can take them away with you if you are travelling, but also take them down when you no longer need them in winter. We have used both the Gro Blinds and the Easynight Blinds. I personally like the Easynight blinds as they have a silvered side to reflect the heat, which will help during the summer months to aid keeping the room cooler. They are also easy to attach to the frame using velcro rather than suckers on the window, so less likely to fall down and they block out all the light that creeps through the gaps in the corners.

Sleep Clocks

When children reach about 20 months old, they can understand a basic sleep clock, I like to recommend the Claessons Kids Sleep Clock, this can help them learn when it is OK for them to get up and when they are to be asleep. If you have a pre-schooler or older, you may find starting with something like the Gro Clock more suitable, however, don’t feel you need to change the clock if you already have a simpler version.

To help decide, the Kids Sleep Clock is as simple as a rabbit being awake, or being asleep, it is very easy for a toddler or young child to understand, they added some features to increase its age suitability for up to 7 year olds by introducing the moon going down and the sun coming up, and additional features to make it useful from birth in the form of a nightlight. The Gro Clock requires them to understand the concept of stars counting down until the sun wakes up. Both are great clocks and ultimately do the same thing, so pick which suits your little ones understanding the best.

My Issue With Sleep Clocks

As much as the concept of sleep clocks is fantastic, I am yet to find one that doesn’t emit blue light. Blue and white lights are the least favourable colours for supporting sleep. This is why you will see the colours of the numbers on the digital alarm clocks are red, as red is the colour they least disrupts sleep and melatonin. I find the blue light does put a lot of people off using sleep clocks, myself included.

I recently started using a red filter gel, the sort that goes on lights in theatres and in photography studios. I cut it to size and sellotaped it to the clock to help block out the blue light. The light is still blue, however, it really does take the edge off. It does mean however, that if you are using the gro clock, they won’t to be able to see the stars or the writing as it does dim it down significantly, so you may just need to say if it’s blue it’s night time, rather than counting down stars..

Red Light is best for sleep

How to get your child onto the new time:

There are a few ways you can do this, and which one works best will be down to how sensitive your child is to change and well they sleep.

Cold Turkey

If you have an older child that doesn’t nap, or is generally not overly affected by change, you may opt to go cold turkey and just put him to bed at the new time from night one. No change required, just an early night for him (and the grown up’s if you can).

If 7pm is normal bedtime, this would be a 6pm bedtime on Saturday night and 7pm on Sunday night. He might be a little crankier at going to bed before he feels he is ready on the Saturday, however, follow my tips on routine and physical activity and you will get him on track.

Alternatively, you could keep to a normal 7pm bedtime, and the hour early the following night would just be 7pm. It is personal choice as to whether you would prefer the extra hour at night, or in the morning.

If you are finding you are stuck in a rut of early to bed and early rising, the cold turkey option is great as you won’t need to do anything. If 6pm has become your normal bedtime, then keep to this on the Saturday evening and your 5am is now 6am, then you go straight to 7pm bedtime on Sunday night, so the old 6pm.

Split the difference

If you have a child who is moderately OK with change, sleep isn’t a huge issue, but you just feel the whole hour changing in one go is too much, you could opt to split the difference. If 7pm is normal bedtime, on the Saturday night, put him to bed at 6:30pm, then on Sunday night, 7pm, (so the old 6pm), so he has done it in half hour stages.

Gradual transition 

For most babies and young children, a little more planning may be needed to help them adapt with the least disturbance. You can opt to do this over a few days or a whole week.

This option works extremely well if you already have an early riser, and the cause of the early rising is overtiredness. 

Based on a 7pm bedtime, you want to gradually bring bedtime earlier. You could choose to this by 10 minutes per night, or you could do this over a few days and go with 15 – 20 minutes earlier each night. It depends how flexible you can be with your week, so make sure you plan it in advance around your capability of getting him to bed after work/nursery/school etc. If you can’t make the changes over a week as it is too much of a rush, you may opt to start the changes on Thursday night and do 6:40pm bedtime, Friday 6:20pm and Saturday at 6pm and Sunday is back to normal at normal 7pm. 

This is a great way to help a child who is rising early due to overtiredness, as bedtime is the most natural time to catch up on sleep. Don t panic, it doesn’t generally mean they will wake up earlier as they can use these early to beds as a sleep catch up. If you have a child who doesn’t have any sleep debt, you may find they do wake that bit earlier each day, but this is only going to help them be back onto their normal schedule come Monday. 

Physical Activity

This is especially helpful if you are planning on going cold turkey or splitting the difference. You want your child to be tired and ready to go to bed early. Lots of fresh air and high energy. Just over a year ago we found out about the toddler sessions at the trampoline parks. This has become a firm favourite in our house and in the days before my second pregnancy, I used to find myself getting a lot more exercise there than I thought I would, and it’s good fun aswell.

Trampolining

Day Routine

As our body clock tends to like routine, it tells us when to eat, sleep and even poo (yes really), it is a good idea to try to reset this by focusing on the day as well as the night.

For example, if every morning, breakfast is at 8am, lunch at 12 noon, dinner at 5pm and bedtime is 7pm, if you have opted to do a 20 minute early to bed transition, you would be looking to change meal times also on the following day.

If Thursday nights bedtime is 6:40pm, Friday mealtimes may look like this; 7:40am breakfast, 11:40am lunch, 4:40pm dinner and 6:20pm bedtime.

Saturday may look like 7:20am breakfast, 11:20am lunch, 4:20pm dinner and 6:00pm bedtime, and on Sunday, everything is back to normal with the 8am breakfast.

This doesn’t just go for meal times, if naps are part of the equation, you would follow the same pattern for naps and bring everything that bit earlier to help keep your child in sync. 

Bedtime Routine

If you haven’t already got a bedtime routine, this is great opportunity to introduce one. If you have one already, remain consistent.

Remember, babies and young children only learn from the messages we give to them, so routine is very important in helping them understand what is about to happen. I always suggest trying to do the same things in the same order every night. Young children are guided by events taking place in certain orders, rather than you trying to explain something to a 2 year old they just can’t understand.

Start with a bedtime routine trigger, this could be a bathroom visit, whether it be a bath or just a face wash and teeth brushed (if they have any). This is their first clue that sleep is on its way. To avoid adding additional stimulation into the routine, aim to have the rest of the routine take place in the bedroom he is sleeping in. This could consist of getting him dressed for bed, a feed if they are still having a bedtime feed, reading a story or 2 and then into bed. 

As children get a little older, you may opt to offer a pre-bedtime routine where you wind them down before taking them up to bed. Try to lower lighting or close the blinds or curtains from this point to help aid melatonin release, and make sure the television is off at least 1 hour before bed.

A pre-bedtime routine can force you to have quality family time when things seem quite stressful and rushed. I tend to suggest splitting it into 3 sections, the first could be finding time to really laugh together. It could be tickle fights, dancing, big body play etc. Anything to dust away the days cobwebs, relieve stress and anxiety and make bedtime more fun while letting children burn off some last bits of energy. Laughing is great for releasing endorphins that make you feel happy as is exercise.

You can then move this on to quieter time where you can mentally tire them. This could be jigsaws, orchard games, drawing etc.

Your final part could be stories together while cuddling on the sofa. If your child still has milk before bed but is old enough to drink from a cup rather than a bottle, this is a great place to introduce the milk. This then means that your child is going to sleep with teeth that have been cleaned after milk, rather than brushing teeth then adding the sugar from the milk to the teeth to slowly rot them throughout the night.

If you can, try to have the bedroom a little dimmer than full light, we use a colour changing light bulb so even on the white light, it is a little duller. This is to help aid melatonin release, (the sleepy hormone), and ready them for bed. I also like this bulb as you can change the colour via a remote, so if you were ever to need a light in the night, for example if your child was sick and you needed to see what you were doing, you can switch the light to red, and it shouldn’t disrupt his sleep too much when it is time to go back to sleep.

Starting the Day

Another way to help reset their body clock (and this goes for us grown ups aswell), is to introduce lots of natural light first thing in the morning. Once you have got up for the day, open the blinds and curtains to let as much light in as possible. Get up and out and start the day. I can’t wait for the warm mornings to be able to do this. 

Smoke Alarms

This is not going to change your child sleep pattern, however, the clock change is a great reminder for us to check our smoke alarms and change batteries if needed. 

Testing Domestic Smoke Alarm

If you are finding that whatever you do, you are struggling with sleep and it is affecting you, please do not feel you need to suffer alone.

Parenting is difficult, even more-so when you are sleep deprived. Please reach out for help, whether it be to your health visitor, a feeding specialist if this is the root cause, or a sleep professional. You can watch multiple videos on Facebook from my live Q&A sessions, alternatively, you may wish to look at my online sleep plan for babies between 6 and 24 months old.

Due to the extreme crisis in the world right now, you can currently buy the online sleep plan at half price, so that’s just £49.50 including FREE support in the Facebook group. This is normally 2 months for free but to help create community spirit and support I am extending the free group support until further notice. I haven’t decided when this offer will end, I just want to support as many people as possible during what are going to be very difficult times. The discount will be automatically added at the checkout so no code needed.x

Additional Support For New Mums in 2020

Due to the unfamiliar situation with Covid-19 and pregnant women going through giving birth during this period, I have set up a Facebook Group to support you.

It is designed to support you on your unique journey during very uncertain times.

There are some incredible professionals in there helping to run the group including IBCLC’s, Doula’s, Mums anxiety coach, myself and many more. We want to make this a positive experience for you.

Given I gave birth to my second daughter on March 15th 2020 during the outbreak and then going straight into lockdown, my friends and family are yet to meet Alyssia. It has been a very strange experience and it can feel quite lonely so this group was set up for others out there going through the same thing and you can join by clicking here https://www.facebook.com/groups/1452199904941525/?ref=share.

My Breastfeeding Battle

The First Home Visit

We arrived home on the Sunday evening, and we had our first visit from the Health Visitor on the Monday. This involved having her weighed, and to our surprise, she had lost nearly 10% of her birth weight and had dropped to 7lb 1oz. I was then advised to top her up with formula.

I must be honest and say that I am surprised how much of a push there is towards formula within the NHS rather than supporting breastfeeding. I have no issues either way as to what someone chooses to do, a decision on how to feed a baby should be down to the parents, however, accurate and supportive knowledge should be shared in my opinion, and should a mum choose to breastfeed, they should be given the support to help them achieve this. It really doesn’t come as naturally as we all like to think.

I had previously been told I would only be able to breastfeed for the first 2 weeks due to my medication, however, medical information had recently changed, and luckily I was well enough to not need the medication in a hurry.

Well, the type of personality I have is one that doesn’t like to be defeated, and I also don’t like been told I can’t do something. To find out that I was medically able to breastfeed gave me a determination I didn’t know I had to be able to conquer it, so to be given the advice to top up with formula just made me push back harder.

Expressing Is Hard Work

As the issue seemed to be with Sofia’s latch, the health visitor wasn’t confident that she would gain the weight she needed to, so I made the decision to express so we could see how much milk she was taking rather than guessing.

I had bought a cheap manual pump in advance of the birth as a ‘just in case’, however, this turned out to be a waste of money and I was spending all day attached to a pump with hardly any milk production. I then decided to go all out and get the Medala swing double breast pump and it made the world of difference. It arrived the next day and it really was a game changer. I was suddenly able to express 90ml’s in one go rather spending an hour trying to get 30ml. After 3 days of expressing, Sofia was weighed again and was back up to her birth weight, and I had managed to achieve this without the need to add formula.

Infection Time

Now it was time to start trying to get this latch right so we could really give breastfeeding a go. I did carry on expressing as well, as I was very aware that I didn’t want her weight to falter again and the latch was still awful. This may not have been helped due to the amount of pain I was in from the C-Section.

A few days later, the GP came to see me at home due to the excessive pain. I was completely bedridden. It turned out I had an infection, which if I’m honest didn’t come as a huge surprise. In 2012 I had an eye operation and was told that the chance of an infection was 1 in a million, well guess what, I really am 1 in a million. I ended up having the eye operated on again a year later as the infection had caused the operation to fail.

This infection needed to be treated, and the only antibiotics that would work were Metronidazole, to which I am no stranger to. Unfortunately, this is one of those medications where you really cannot breastfeed, so it was time for a week of pumping and dumping and turning to formula so I could get better. Sofia still needed to be fed.

Conscious of my milk supply still been so early on, I maintained a lot of skin to skin with Sofia to help boost the supply as I was determined that this was not the end of the journey.

First trip out of the house with Sofia

The Exorcist Formula Baby

Sofia and formula didn’t make for a good relationship in that she was constantly sick. I’m not talking about a little bit, but excessive amounts. My mum came to stay to help for a few days as things were so difficult, and I remember shouting her one night, while holding Sofia in the position Mufasa does with Simba in the Lion King, when holding him over the cliff to show him off, while sick poured out of her mouth and nose. It was everywhere. It was not a fun week.

The week passed, my infection cleared up, the antibiotics were finished, we were 2 weeks into Sofia’s life, and it was time to try and get on the breastfeeding wagon…again. This did not prove easy. I was in agonising pain with my nipples, she was permanently attached to me, she didn’t sleep, she just fed and fed and fed. A lady from a breastfeeding support group came to see me to help me with my latch, she said it was fine, and so I continued.

Our First Trip Out Of The House

4 weeks after Sofia was born, I was finally able to leave the house, so I took Sofia to be weighed. This was a big moment as I hadn’t been able to walk much, so it was just a (very) slow walk with the pram to the clinic. It was so good to get out as I had literally been stuck in the house for 4 weeks.

A few days later, I went to stay with my mum in Blackpool, and all Sofia did was feed. My mum didn’t think it was normal but how were we to know any different. I was a formula fed baby so my mum had never experienced it and I was a first time mum, I just thought this must be what babies do as I had googled all about cluster feeding.

Blackpool Prom

The Introduction Of The Dummy

 My mum went to the chemist and came back with a dummy. Until this point, I was determined that a dummy would not be going into Sofia’s mouth. How desperate times change things. She did nothing but feed. We gave her the dummy and she settled a bit, enough to give me a little respite. So, the dummy stayed.

Finally, we got the latch

Finally…Breastfeeding Success

I then contacted the breastfeeding counsellor, Rosemary, from the NCT classes I had attended, and she said to visit her when I got back to Manchester. Sofia was 5 weeks by now and things had not really improved. I went to see Rosemary who spent an hour with me making sure we had it right. The latch was completely wrong, and I couldn’t seem get it right. She taught me how to get her to latch and it changed everything. Sofia suddenly started feeding properly and the pain for me went away.

I don’t know how long I could have persevered for if I hadn’t had that help at that moment. We had already faced enough challenges in Sofia’s short existence.

Luckily, I was able to continue the breastfeeding journey until she was 2 days shy of 18 months when the journey came to a natural end. It was strange, but it was like we both knew it was over at the exact same time.

I am so glad I persevered. Knowing there is a chance that my stubbornness to never fail may prevent some of the diseases I have, and possibly more, getting to her makes it worthwhile. I know there is no guarantee, but I know I did my best for both of us.

If I am honest, if it wasn’t for me having so many health issues, I don’t think I would have minded either way as to formula or breastfeeding, I just couldn’t stand the idea that she could have some of my issues and there was a chance, no matter how small, that I could do something to protect her.

Breastfeeding is hard, there is no doubt about it. Please know there is support out there if you need it. You don’t have to breastfeed, you just have to feed your baby…but…if you want to breastfeed and are having difficulties, please seek help. Look for your local IBCLC and they should be able to help. If you have already been on your journey and feel you gave up too early, don’t worry. You will have enough mum guilt throughout the rest of your life on other matters, this is just one to move past and say you did your best. I am hopeful that through social media, more awareness of different support functions will be more accessible and to use them will seem more normal. You really don’t have to face the challenges alone.

The 3 Nights in Hospital after Sofia’s birth

Sofia at a 3 hours old

The Maternity Ward

So, by now you have probably read that my birthing plan went out of the window and was good for nothing other than fueling a bonfire.

The stay in hospital after the birth was no better. I have never experienced anything so awful. Hang on, I tell a lie, staying on a Gastro ward where patients were drunk and accusing me and others of stealing their drugs, and hearing about patients having knives under their mattress was pretty terrifying, but that’s a story for another day.

I was placed onto a ward with other mums and their babies, which would have been fine, if the other patients were in any way respectful of the other mums on the ward. At 3am there was one mum chatting loudly on the phone, and she even had it on speaker so we could all hear the conversation. It wasn’t like anyone was getting much sleep anyway, but the additional disturbance felt unjustified. 23 hours of labour, no sleep, agony after an emergency C-section, a newborn baby with an infection, a breastfeeding struggle along with naturally raging hormones didn’t put me in a great place, and the support on the ward was non-existent.

I fully understand they are strained, overworked, underpaid, understaffed and stressed and I guess they become immune to the noises working on a maternity ward, but this experience felt extreme. I begged to pay for my own room as I really was not in a good place, but communication was poor, and the messages just weren’t getting passed on.

The Pain

I was in so much pain after my section, and as with the labour, it felt as though they thought I was been overly dramatic. I lost count of the amount of times I heard the sentence, ‘oh, you are overdue your pain meds aren’t you?’ I was begging for them knowing full well when I was due, but I was made to feel I was moaning about nothing. This might not be as bad for the majority, but due to multiple inflammatory diseases I have, I can’t help but think the pain was higher than most and my CRP (inflammatory markers) passed the 600 mark. Normal CRP is 5 or less. I found out a few days after I got home that I did have an infection, I just wasn’t taken seriously on the ward.

Breastfeeding Attempts

Due the emergency section, I didn’t get the immediate skin to skin I would have liked, and it was a while before I got to hold my baby. I don’t really remember the first few hours at all. I will never know if this was partly the reason why breastfeeding was such a struggle, but I don’t think it will have helped matters. We really struggled with the latch and she was just not feeding, and the pain to keep on trying was horrific.

I ended up hand expressing and using a syringe to feed her to make sure she was getting what she needed. It was exhausting, but as I had been led to believe for so long that I wasn’t going to be able to breastfeed due my medication, and to only recently find out I could, I was determined not to fail.

While in hospital, I made my feelings on feeding very clear, so I got a shock when I saw a nurse pouring 30ml’s of formula into a cup to give to my day-old baby. She naturally thought she was helping as I was so exhausted, but it really felt like my choices were been taken away from me without my knowledge or consent.

I negotiated with her that if I couldn’t cope, she could give Sofia 10ml given the size of her tummy, as the most she had been taking that day was 3ml, so 30ml felt excessive. This just made me even more determined, and I managed to keep hand expressing and kept her on breastmilk, even though we could not establish a latch.

The feeding specialists came over to try and help me, but nothing seemed to work. I have since learnt that there is a big difference between the infant feeding team within the hospital and lactation specialists. Please don’t think this is me disrespecting the feeding teams, they do an incredible job, but it is unfortunate the funds aren’t there to give them proper training so they can support new mums better. They must find it frustrating themselves, but to do the IBCLC training would cost them a lot of money and take them a long time to complete, and to do this alongside their full time job would be so difficult.

Sofia leaving the hospital

Time To Go Home

On the Sunday night, we were able to go home. It had been an awful experience, but I had this amazing little baby girl to take home with me. Wow.

This was just the start of a very difficult breastfeeding journey which will be my next post. Luckily, I got the right help after 5 weeks and was able to breastfeed until she naturally weaned at 18 months. I know others aren’t so lucky and don’t find the right support, or their health gets in the way of been able to breastfeed. I am currently in a stalemate with my gastro consultant as to whether I can or can’t this time around, but I will update more on this as I find out more. I won’t be taken down easily though.

Planning For Next Time

I’m not going to lie, the experience has left me extremely nervous to go back to the same hospital for baby 2, unfortunately, due to my medical notes and Gastro consultant being at this hospital, I don’t really have a lot of choice. I know it’s a great hospital in general and they have got me through so much in the last 16 years, but it doesn’t get rid of the fear.

I was advised to write a letter to go in my notes detailing my last experience in the hope that I am looked after better this time. If you have had a bad experience before, I can’t recommend doing this enough. I don’t know if it will help. I don’t know how things will go this time at all. The future is unpredictable. However, I’m going on with my eyes wide open. Expecting the worst, so anything better than that can only be a bonus.

Interestingly enough, until this pregnancy, I think I had boxed the experience off in my head. I think this is totally normal as you have the thing you wanted at the end of it. Your amazing child. However, it has brought it all back to the surface. I have lost count how many times I have ended up in tears in the middle of an appointment reliving those days through fear of it been that way again.

I genuinely don’t think I realised how much it had affected me.

Fingers crossed it will be different when baby 2 arrives.

The start of my journey to become a mum.

Sofia at 12 days old
Image: Sofia at 12 days old

When I was just 22 years old, I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, and I found the burden of a life long, chronic health condition very difficult to cope with. I had a very difficult few years trying various medications, while trying to gain some control back of my body and get myself into remission.

In 2008 I started on a newly authorised treatment for UC called Infliximab, and it completely changed my life. I managed to get my symptoms under control, and as long as I had this treatment every 6 weeks, I could function like everyone else. I felt had my life back after what had been a very dark 4 years where I didn’t recognise myself.

Then came further diagnosis of Hyper-Mobility Syndrome and Fibromyalgia. Well, these explained the horrific pain my body was always in, and why my back was constantly hurting, and why I would seize up if stood in one position for too long. As with many experiences in my life, that I will share with you one day, I stood strong and got on with my life.

‘If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans’

I had always wanted a family and had my life mapped out from a young age. Meet the right man, buy a house, have my first child at the age of 30, have 4 children 2 boys and 2 girls, life was going to be perfect. I had a plan.

Well, God has belly ache from laughing so hard. I think it’s time to stop sharing my plans.

‘What if…???’

However, there were worries about my future that constantly played on my mind. The ‘what if’s’ were always there.

What if I leave it too late and I can’t have a baby?

What if I leave it too late and there is something wrong with my baby?

What if my husband is never ready to have a baby?

Will I have to make the choice between him and a baby?

What if getting pregnant makes me really ill?

What if something happens to me and my husband is left alone with a baby?

Some of these may sound extreme, but with my history, these things did pop into my head. It’s not like I have had the best luck in health.

Positive pregnancy test
Woman Holding Pregnancy Test

It was time to try for a baby

At 33, my husband was ready to try for a baby, and on July 1st 2015, I called him to tell him we were having a baby. He was working late, and I couldn’t keep it to myself. I was bouncing round the room in excitement, and his response was ‘oh’. Oh? Oh? Seriously? Luckily, I know what he is like and it would just take a bit of time to sink in.

The pregnancy itself was good, I was very lucky. I did have to see the physio every week from about 8 weeks pregnant, but I was lucky to have found a women’s health physio, Deborah Schofield at Bump to Beyond Ltd. Deborah specialises in pre and post-natal physiotherapy, and at the time, there was no other physiotherapist who would touch me until I was 20 weeks, but I couldn’t have waited that long. To this day, I swear she got me through my pregnancy without me ending up in a wheelchair.

The lead up to the birth

Due to my Colitis, I was under a Consultant for my pregnancy which meant further scans. My baby was measuring on the larger side so they decided they would try and help things along with a sweep at 38 weeks. I am only 5ft, and baby was estimated to be over 9lb at full term which they thought would be too big for me. So, at 38 weeks, I went for a sweep, I booked in for reflexology, I went for long vigorous walks, I bounced on the gym ball and I started eating pineapples. On a side note, no-one really explained why pineapples are supposed to bring on labour, and I never thought to google it. I only found out when I was in agonising pain in my mouth and my gums were bleeding. I had eaten nearly 2 pineapples to then found out they basically erode the flesh. I won’t be eating pineapples again like that, but the idea of pushing out over 9lb was horrifying.

Woman in labour
A pregnant woman in childbirth labour breathing through birth contractions

Labour

At 38 weeks and 3 days my hind waters broke at 7am. I ran a bath, called the hospital, had a chill out and after about an hour, woke my husband to tell him that baby was on her way. I was feeling really relaxed and confident. This did not last. On the drive to the hospital, my contractions were every 2 minutes, lasting a minute at a time. I was thinking this was a good sign and baby would arrive quickly. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

At 10am, the contractions were coming thick and fast, but I was just 1cm dilated. Seriously, 1cm. The reaction from the midwife at the time made me feel like I was wrong to be in this much pain and that I must be putting it on. At 2pm, I was 5cm dilated so things seemed like they were now going in the right direction. I was going to get my water birth. Woohoo.

On the way to the birthing pool, the nurse thought she spotted meconium, and at this point I’m thinking, ‘no way, my kid has not just s**t in me’. I then got told I couldn’t have my water birth and that I needed to be on the ward to be monitored. This may seem strange, but I felt genuinely embarrassed that my baby had pooed, and I am still not 100% sure if she did or didn’t. I was gutted, but, at the same time I just wanted my baby girl to arrive safely.  

It’s Epidural time

By 4pm, I had given up on gas and air and begged for the epidural that I was adamant I wasn’t going to have. 10pm, I’m still 5cm dilated. At this point, they started to get a little concerned as I had been stuck at 5cm for too long, so they started doing head pricks to check baby’s oxygen level. At midnight, they were talking about the possibilities of a C-Section but they were going to keep monitoring us first, and they set up the hormone drip to get the contractions going again. 

My brother and sister-in-law were living in Manchester at the time, so we called them to come to the hospital. I didn’t want my husband to be alone if I had to have a C-Section and I felt he could do with the extra support. At 2am, I was nearly 6cm dilated, so not much progress. I was told they needed to give me some antibiotics as my waters had broken nearly 20 hours prior, so they needed to make sure my baby didn’t have an infection on birth. Unfortunately, the midwife who was looking after me had her break and another midwife took over. After a while of her sitting at the desk watching the monitor, I asked about the antibiotics, and she looked uncomfortable. Eventually, she came over and started detaching parts of my cannula. As a hospital frequent flyer, I knew she was doing it wrong so questioned her, and she just sat down and started messing again. My brother and husband were getting extremely frustrated as they didn’t feel I was been looked after. Looking back, I do wish I had made a complaint as I believe this midwife needed further training, but at the time, the priority was my baby. At 4am, I was given the antibiotics from the original midwife who was shocked I hadn’t been given them previously. Unfortunately, my newborn baby did end up having an infection, resulting in her having antibiotics and a 48 hour stay in a hot cot which could have possibly been prevented.

It’s time for the C-Section

At 6am, they said my uterus had ballooned and they needed to get baby out straight away. At 6:17am, on Thursday February 25th 2016 my daughter Sofia was born by emergency section. I can’t say I remember much as I kept falling in and out of consciousness as my oxygen levels were dipping. Luckily everything was fine, but it has definitely left a scar for my husband. He says it was the worst 24 hours of his life and he thought he was going to lose both of us. As it turned out, Sofia was never going to come out naturally, she was back to back (which I have only recently found out), and her head was stuck on my bladder. She came out with a cone head and temporary positional talipes, but luckily this was short lived.

Life with Sofia started as it continued, unexpected and very difficult.

The journey continues …

Baby2Sleep- A Day In The Life Introduction

I’m Nicole, I’m 38 and mum to a beautiful 4 year old called Sofia.
I am due baby number 2 via a planned C-Section on March 16th 2020. (The section is not my personal choice but unfortunately the option I have for health reasons).
I am also a sleep coach and support families who struggle with sleep deprivation due to their baby or child struggling to sleep well.
I will be writing a blog about my life as a mum to a newborn while looking after a 4 year old.


Sounds so normal doesn’t it?
If you have ever followed me on Facebook, you will know that nothing about my life fits into the ‘normal’ category.
I am outspoken, non-judgmental and very real, which does get me into trouble sometimes.
I am sick of the perfectionist look that is given to mums that paves the way to mum guilt and striving to be someone they are not.

I will be telling it as it is.
The struggles I had with Sofia with feeding and sleep.
The marriage difficulties.
The health implications.
Why I changed my career to become a sleep coach.
My pregnancy journey this time around, the ups and the downs.
The good and bad advice I’ve been given.
The difficult decisions I’ve had to make.
The laughs with my daughter throughout the pregnancy.
The birth, the aftercare and the reality of what is in store.

It’s not going to be perfect
I am fully aware that Sofia will be jealous, even though she will dote on her sister, and this is normal and expected.
I am fully aware that my baby won’t sleep (not because I’m not good at what I do, but because it is biologically normal for them to not sleep as newborns) even though they are supposed to sleep for 20 hours a day.
I am fully expecting to have issues breastfeeding.
I am expecting to be told I can’t breastfeed and to make the choice between my health and feeding the new baby formula, or to hold of on my medication to breastfeed and potentially get ill myself.
I am fully expecting a flare up of my Ulcerative Colitis.
I am expecting another infection in my C-Section wound like last time.

I want you to know that what you feel is normal
You may be wondering why the hell I would want to note this journey down as it sounds like it’s going to be incredibly hard.
It’s because I want everyone to know that the daily struggle is real.
I want people to know it’s ok to not be ok.
I want people to know that whatever they decide to do for their baby, their family, their sanity, is ok.
I want people to know they are not alone on this journey.
They are not alone in their frustrations and their anger. (Hormones have a lot to answer for).
I want to record the amazing times, as there will be so many.
Noting the good stuff may help people weigh up the good and the bad and realise it isn’t as bad as they think.

Sharing tips
I want to share my sleep tips as I go on my own journey with a new baby.
I had no idea what I was doing the first time round, and I’m hoping my new knowledge will be able to get me through better to be able to share my tips and advice with others to help them on their journey.
I want people to know it is normal to struggle.
It is normal to struggle with feeding.
It is normal to struggle with sleep and for baby’s not to ‘sleep through the night’ at 4/5 months old.
It is normal to want to shout at the world.
It is normal to cry at nothing.
This journey is real, open and honest.
I can’t wait to share it with you all.
Nicole x