Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The glamorous side of pregnancy

Yes, that's right, I don't post for ages and then I'm going to just write a lazy, whiny post about minor inconveniences.

I really want to add though, before you read on and take it the wrong way, that I'm not really complaining. I'm venting. Sure, the distinction may not be immediately obvious, but I am very aware of how fortunate I am. I have had a ridiculously easy pregnancy. Heck, just to be pregnant is in itself enough reason to grin and bear it. I wouldn't change any of my minor gripes for the world if it meant not having this baby, I just need to say "this is mildly annoying!" somewhere.

My feet are swollen. Really, really swollen. I slept with them elevated and still woke up with puffy feet. They now resemble overfilled red water balloons in almost every way. I will be once again carrying my shoes to the car when I leave the office because they last fit me when I got to work this morning. Thank goodness for the footspa waiting at home!

Here, see for yourself:

I have even had to give up on my lovely kneeling chair for the time being because I think trying to elevate them is more important at the moment. It took me about half an hour to rearrange my desk so that I can put my feet on an old computer tower under the desk, find a chair in which I could sit comfortably with my feet that high, and still reach the keyboard and mouse and look at my screens without causing too much shoulder strain. All of this of course left me even more sweaty than I was already.

And that is my second mini-rant. I am so sweaty! It's gross. Hence the title of the post. I'm sorry if the sarcasm wasn't immediately apparent enough to warn you of the slightly TMI nature of this post. My hands leave damp marks wherever they go and my feet laugh at the feeble efforts of the foot spray AND foot powder I optimistically employ every morning. I won't even go into the situation under my shirt's arms.

Speaking of things I'll spare you, I can't resist mentioning wind but I'll refrain from going into more detail. Just... graaaah.

Ok, rant over. These are insignificant complaints, and they won't last long, but it feels good to get them off my chest somewhere. In my imagination there are actually people reading this blog, and they are sympathising with me, and that's all I wanted. Thanks, imaginary friends.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Why I'd prefer a normal birth

Let me be clear from the onset: I believe that there is nothing wrong with women choosing even elective c-sections.

I think that you are no less of a woman or less of a mother if you birth "through the sunroof" as a friend described it, whether by choice or necessity. At the end of the day, after all, what matters is that your baby is born and that you are both alive and healthy.

HOWEVER, I think there's a lot wrong with the fact that our media and, more worryingly, our medical fraternity, has under-educated us and misled us to believe that major abdominal surgery is an easy route, or that a natural process our bodies were designed to perform is somehow wrong and unmanageable and unnecessary - for reasons that include (but I'm sure are not always necessarily limited to) personal convenience for ob/gyns and less legal liability.

I'm not saying there's a big, conscious, underground plot to promote c-sections. However the small ways in which gynaes, mainstream media and popular opinion appear to be biased against natural births means that more and more women aren't making decisions with all the facts available to them. It's a fact that even those women who have a preference for natural childbirth at first, overwhelmingly change their minds on the advice of less-than-impartial medical carers whom they trust to advise them.

The World Health Organization states that "there is no justification for any region to have caesarean section rates higher than 10–15%"[1]. Rates in South African private hospitals are, depending on whom you believe, as high as 80% but no lower than 60%[2]. That is a huge disparity with the WHO recommendation.

Some of the benefits of a vaginal birth for baby

  • Baby is born when baby is ready, not a week or two before (when c-sections are scheduled) - or even more if the due date calculation is out.
  • Baby has better respiratory function, since the compression in the birth canal forces amniotic fluid from the lungs. Vaginally delivered babies have a marked reduction in risk of asthma.
  • Baby's cardiovascular system gets stimulated during natural birth, preparing it for life outside the womb. This is why vaginally born babies gain a healthy colour much quicker than c-section babies.
  • Baby's immune system benefits from friendly bacteria picked up in the birth canal, providing benefits well into adulthood.
  • Breastfeeding is easier to establish after a normal birth.
  • Baby may develop better stress coping mechanisms through normal birth than with the trauma of c-section.
  • Newborns born naturally are less likely to end up in intensive care than c-section babies.

Some of the benefits of a vaginal birth for mom

  • Recovery from even a difficult labour is far quicker and easier than from a c-section (which is, after all, major surgery).
  • Believe it or not, vaginal births have a lower maternal mortality rate than c-section. Again, keep in mind c-sections are major operations and there are many risks associated with any operation.
  • Mothers who give vaginal birth are at lower risk for postnatal depression.
  • Lower risks for future pregnancies: the risks for ectopic pregnancy, placenta previa, placenta accreta, and placental abruption are all higher for women who've had c-sections.

I'll add citations later, perhaps; right now I am more aware of how irregularly I'm posting to the blog than I am of rigorous fact-checking :) but these arguments are ones that are presented over and over again by many reputable publications, and I did research a few that I hadn't heard before.

I know there are also risks associated with vaginal birth, but they get enough publicity as it is without me making this post even longer and less interesting by listing the counter-argument as well.

Although I have been doing my best to keep an open mind so that if I need a c-section I won't be too disappointed (Ziggy's size may end up necessitating it), I hope I have broadened your outlook a little and that you might better understand why, if at all safe and possible, I'd like to bring Ziggy into the world the way nature and God intended. Even if the prospect is a hella daunting one :)

Friday, 2 September 2011


Wow, trying to decide on a pram is daunting stuff.

There are as many variations, models, brands, price ranges and options as there are baby shops in Jo'burg.

Do you go for a travel system that accommodates the car seat? Do you include a carry-cot? Do you buy one that folds down to a compact, light weight frame ideal for travel, or something more robust? Are the "must-have" brands really worth all that money? How much do you spend?

We spent a long time looking at prams and, frankly, being overwhelmed and confused. A travel system (where the car seat can be removed from the car and attached to the pram so the baby isn't disturbed if ze falls asleep in the car) seemed like a great idea, and I was especially keen on having a carry-cot as part of the system as well, but these were extremely expensive.

A carry-cot seemed to me to be the best solution for the "to buy a camping cot, or not to buy a camping cot" dilemma. I feel it's a bit ridiculous to spend a few thousand rand on a cot, and then another two thousand on a camping cot for travelling or for having baby sleep in our room for the first while. However I don't like the camping cots enough to only buy that as Ziggy's first bed. I also have no idea how long we'll keep Ziggy in our room, so it's very hard to gauge how much value you'd get for your money. A carry-cot seems to me to answer all these questions quite well, and seems great for taking Ziggy somewhere where ze's likely to fall asleep (it's not advisable to let young babies stay in a seated position for more than half an hour as this hinders spinal development) or just being able to wheel a sleeping baby all over the house with me.

Finally we found one system we quite liked, that had a car seat and carry-cot option, and that was affordable - until then it seemed only the most overpriced brands offered carry-cots that are actually part of the system. Now, I am not someone who is swayed by branded things unless it's a brand known for their superior quality. I am not a "keeping up with Jones" type of person. So for us to seriously contemplate a Ferrari pram system... well, it was unexpected :)

We did carry on looking for a while because the price was in the very top end of what we thought was reasonable to spend, but after considering a few other options we went back to the Ferrari system and realised just how much we liked it.

It has now been purchased, as a very kind and generous gift from Steve's parents, and delivered and set up and everything. I did take some photos but they are a bit rubbish, so these are from the web.

The frame is much lighter weight and folds down much smaller than almost any other system we looked at (that isn’t a dedicated travel stroller with no other accessories). It’s very sturdy and seems well made.

The car seat is suitable from birth to about 1 year so we will have to get a new car seat after that, but we weighed that up with the pros and decided we are happy to do that. The carry cot is suitable from birth until 9kg. The stroller part itself has several different seated positions and is suitable from a few months to around 4 years.

There are two frames that clip onto the wheel base. One of them is the car seat, and onto the second frame you securely strap either the carry cot or the stroller seat.

The handle height is adjustable (good for two parents of differing heights) and it can swivel over to both sides, so you can quickly and easily change from Ziggy facing you to facing the outside world, and you can in this way also choose whether to have the big wheels in front for travelling over uneven terrain, or the small wheels for 360⁰ manoeuvrability.

It’s really easy to collapse and unfold, and as I said takes up a reasonably small amount of space in the boot once folded. It’s also light enough that I feel confident I could fold it, unfold it and put it in the car even if I had a c-section, as soon as I was recovered enough to drive anyway.

We are very pleased with our first big baby purchase! Next on the list: the cot.