We spoke to The Modern Midwife; blogger, midwife and proud new mama to talk all things pregnancy and how she found pregnancy during lockdown.
Read on to discover more about her pregnancy journey, her hospital bag essentials and what advice she would give to pregnant mamas who are experiencing pregnancy during lockdown.
Introduce yourself to our Mamahood!
Hi, I’m Marie Louise, though I’m The Modern Midwife on social media. You’ll find me on Instagram where I post about my life as a new mum, and share what worked for me during pregnancy, as well as other women’s birth stories. It’s a really lovely supportive community.
I’m an experienced Midwife who has worked for almost a decade in both the UK and Australia, and a qualified hypnobirthing teacher. I’m currently on maternity leave but I work at one of London’s busiest hospitals. My mission is to empower women and their families by sharing knowledge so they can make informed decisions about their pregnancy, have a positive birth experience and understand their postnatal recovery. All mums go through a recovery process after birth but this is rarely discussed enough. I recorded a full online antenatal and postnatal course for women to watch in the comfort of their own home, at their own pace and in their own time. The course has hours of information, meditations, downloadable PDF fact sheets, a birth plan template and much more.
How many children do you have?
I’m proud mama to daughter Georgie; she’s 5 months old and at that adorable stage where she’s now really smiling and interacting a lot more.
How did you find your pregnancy in general? Describe your journey through the trimesters.
I was really fortunate to have had a low risk and straight-forward pregnancy journey which was pretty much textbook. Less luckily, the ‘textbook’ included the typical first trimester pregnancy symptoms including morning sickness, which being a midwife I wasn’t concerned about in itself, although knowing something is normal doesn’t make it any easier to deal with when you’re at work and feeling really quite green! But, it will usually ease off by the 12-week mark, as mine did. And it was tiring of course, even though there’s not yet a bump, the early weeks of your pregnancy journey can be the most exhausting of all.
I often describe the second trimester as the honeymoon period. You finally look pregnant; you’ve shared your news with more people and you get the reward of beginning to feel the baby move. That’s when the bonding with the baby you’re carrying really becomes real. I loved my changing shape and I felt quite well in myself.
In the third trimester your ligaments begin to soften, and I did experience pelvic girdle pain (PGB) and back ache which is a common but again, a rather less fun part of pregnancy! But, alongside that there’s the excitement of starting to anticipate the birth and beginning to make a plan for it. I hoped to have Georgie at home and in the third trimester I was really trying to do everything I could to achieve the birth I wanted – from making sure I was eating well to having a doula. She was wonderful and I met with her frequently in the last few weeks. Perineal massage was also something I found really helpful and the evidence shows that it can prevent significant tears in first-time mums.
As it turned out, I was really lucky and was able to have the homebirth I’d hoped for. But, whilst you can try to do everything right you can’t change the fact that giving birth is unpredictable, so it’s important to have a ‘plan B’ or even C as well. If there had been a complication and I’d needed to get to hospital we’d already planned who was going to drive me, and my hospital bag was packed and ready by the door, just in case. As I say, I was really fortunate and the back-up plan wasn’t needed. But, it’s definitely good to think about all possible eventualities when you’re calm and not when you’re in the midst of labour!
The highs of pregnancy during lockdown?
While the pandemic has obviously been a really strange time to be pregnant or a new mum, there was the definite advantage that I had no fear of missing out because no one else was going out to restaurants or parties either! All of the pressure was off, I didn’t have to meet people if I didn’t have the energy, and there was no guilt about sitting around in pyjamas at home!
The lows of pregnancy during lockdown?
Like a lot of expectant mums at this time, I really missed my partner at my appointments and in particular at my 20-week scan. You do feel a bit robbed of that support and of course it’s shame for them too. As a midwife, I have attended 20-week scans where complications had shown up, and I did sit in the waiting room worrying about how I would manage it if they had to break any news to me without my partner. I did also think a lot about the world in which my baby was being born into and her future. I think it’s been hard for everyone.
What advice would you give to expecting Mamas about pregnancy during lockdown?
Self care is just so important. Really try to focus on your needs, tune into your body and listen to what it’s telling you. By self-care I don’t just mean baths and face masks – although I’m not discouraging them! Are you drinking enough? Are you eating well? Enjoy the enforced downtime and take that nap when you can!
As a hypnobirthing practitioner, I found it really helped me, but you might find something else works for you. Also, pregnancy can be an anxious time for the most relaxed woman even without a global pandemic. With any worries at all, it’s so important to go straight to a trusted source. A medical professional will have all the latest information, so don’t suffer in silence and definitely don’t scare yourself by scrolling through crazy misinformation or rumours in the media.
As a midwife, what would you say are the 5 essentials you should have in your hospital bag?
New babies don’t really need that much, so just some clothes, muslins, nappies and cotton wool or wipes for changes. But, for yourself my suggestions would be your own pillow case as a little piece of familiarity, disposable knickers, your most comfy dress ever for going home – so much better than your maternity jeans, whether you had a caesarean or not! A playlist, whether that’s your hypnobirthing stuff or your favourite banging house tracks to get you through labour. But, the most important thing to bring to the hospital is your own oxytocin and your own sense of calm if you can. No matter how your birth unfolds bring the knowledge that you can do this.
Tell us about your post-partum experience? Any post-birth advice for soon-to-be first time Mamas?
Once again, I was really fortunate. I was already at home and had my things around me, and that meant I was able to relax more straight away. But, one thing I would recommend is a kind of home handover before the birth, where you’ve discussed expectations with your partner. For example, I knew if nothing else I was going to need just ten minutes to myself every day to meditate, just for my own wellbeing and to know that he would have Georgie no matter what. This might not be your thing at all, but if there’s jobs you usually do which you know are going to be harder once the baby has arrived, don’t be scared to delegate!
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need. People were so generous with their gifts for Georgie and we appreciated every present so much, but if someone asked what they could bring we would always ask for food! Finally, my top tip is not to dismiss post-partum pain. Don’t put up with it and report it to your GP, your midwife or your health visitor. They can’t help if they don’t know. It’s not available on the NHS, but I treated myself to a top-to-toe session with a women’s health physiotherapist – a ‘Mummy MOT’ which I found really valuable.
Read Marie Louise’s book, The Modern Midwife’s Guide to Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, for more of her amazing guidance and support.
Your Hospital Bag Essentials
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