Friday, September 28, 2012

The ultrasound schedule

Each practice is slightly different, so not everyone has the same ultrasound schedule, but it usually follows a similar pattern.  I'll share my schedule to give you a general idea of how it usually goes for a low risk pregnancy.
I had a total of 6 ultrasounds:
  • 7 weeks This was my first ultrasound, and is often referred to as a dating or viability ultrasound. It is mainly just to confirm the due date by measuring the size of the baby and checking the sac development. They also confirm that the baby is growing in the right place and that it is not an ectopic pregnancy. Although they attempted to do mine abdominally with a doppler, it ended up having to be a transvaginal ultrasound because they couldn't get a clear view of the baby with the doppler. I thought it would be scary and terrible but it really wasn't bad at all, and once I saw my teeny blobby baby on the screen and heard that strong heartbeat,  I couldn't have cared less about the method of ultrasound.
  • 11 weeks What a vast difference a month can make! At this appointment, the baby actually looked more like a baby! I could clearly see her legs, arms, head and body. She was kicking me very hard although I couldn't feel a thing. I was in awe of her. I just stared at the screen almost in shock. I knew there was a baby growing inside me but seeing her bouncing around in there was just such an emotional experience. This ultrasound was part of my Nuchal translucency test which is the combination of a scan and blood work to assess the possibility of Down syndrome, trisomy 18 and other major congenital heart problems. (I'll be posting more about the Nuchal scan later)
  • 19 weeks This was part one of my anatomy scan. This ultrasound is much longer than any others, they pretty much measured all the bones in her body, checked the heart, kidneys, brain, face, looking for any possible malformations or structural abnormalties such as spina bifida and cleft palate, etc..  Again a huge change from the last ultrasound in the size and proportion of the baby. She was now a fully formed little person with so much attitude! She kept moving away from the doppler ad would fold herself over in crazy contortions. We weren't able to get a look at her spine or kidneys, they tried everything and even made me lie on my belly for a brief period which was strange! But she still wouldn't cooperate so the anatomy scan was marked as incomplete and I had to come back in two weeks. She was also "breech" at this point she was lying sideways. The best part of this day was I found out my baby was a girl!! But we weren't 100% sure yet because of the position in which she was lying.
  • 21 weeks This was part two of the anatomy scan. Firstly they confirmed that she was a girl!! I would have been happy either way, I didnt really mind which gender the baby was, but it was still nice to know! It helped with narrowing down name ideas and buying clothing and baby gear.  The anatomy scan was completed and she had moved into the correct position with her head down and feet up.
  • 37-38 weeks I don't remember exactly when I had this ultrasound. I'm pretty sure it was at 38 weeks but it might have been 37. The main purpose was to check the fluid and then get an estimate of the size and weight of the baby. I was told my fluid was great and the baby was approximately 7lbs 8oz. The baby was born weighing 6lbs 9oz so their estimate was off by about 1lb.
  • 40 weeks + 4 days I had an ultrasound just to check up on things since I was past my due date. This led to the discovery that I extremely low fluid and I had to be induced.  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The due date mystery


Who would have thought that something as deceptively simple as a due date calculation would be so confusing to so many people?

I've always known that pregnancy was roughly 9 months long, but like many other people wrongly assumed that the 9 months was calculated from the date of conception. Imagine my surprise at  my first OB appointment! She asked me for the first date of my last period and once I told her, she looked at a chart and said "ok your due date is April 16th..." Just like that..., I looked at her face to see if maybe she was joking but nope she was dead serious; that was my due date and the tiny chart in her hand had  helped her figure it out just like that.  And there began my education on how pregnancy really is calculated in the medical world. The date of conception is not factored in at all. It is calucated as being 40 weeks from the first day of your last period. 

It took me a minute (or two) to adjust my mind to this mysterious method of calculating the due date, so basically by her calculation I was already 6 weeks pregnant, even though for the last 4.5 weeks I had been blissfully unaware of it. Which means it is impossible to ever be 1 week pregnant or 2 weeks pregnant or even 3 weeks pregnant because in the first 3 weeks of the "40 week pregnancy" you aren't really pregnant yet. Confused yet?

Okay it's really not that confusing once you get over the initial bewildered feeling. Basically doctors have found it more reliable and simpler to follow the 40 week rule and count from the first day of the last period rather than attempt to figure out a conception date.  Either I didnt pay much attention in biology class or my teacher didnt do a good job of explaining it but I had always assumed that conception was a straight forward thing; ie the baby is conceived on same day thae you have sex. But of course I was quite wrong, it can actually take several days for the entire process of fertilization and implantation to be complete. Which means you can have sex on monday but not have "conceived" until friday or saturday and your body still may not feel any different or show any symptoms, or give a positive result on a pregnancy test for  at least another 2 weeks.

For some reason many women assume that 40 weeks = 10 months; this is one of my pregnancy pet peeves. I just don't understand why something so simple is such a point of confusion. I guess it might be because they roughly calculate that each month has 4 weeks, but somehow forget that most months have 30 or 31 days which is actually 4 weeks plus a few days...  Everytime I hear someone talking about how they just realized that pregnancy is actually 10 months, I can't help but cringe!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The Breathable Bumper Fiasco

Like any new mom out there, I try to follow the rules, and do a lot of things by the book. When I heard about the AAP recommendation to keep the crib empty and avoid using bumpers, loose blankets, pillows.. etc I was all for it! It made perfect sense how padded bumpers and blankets could pose a risk for suffocation or increase the chances of SIDS. 

Her crib looked so bare with just the fitted sheet and I would drool longingly at all the cute bedding sets I saw on pinterest and other baby blogs, but decided to stick to my guns and resist adding any unnecessary accessories to her crib. My resolve didnt last very long... because my darling baby was such an active little creeper! She would wiggle around and always end up at the very edge of the crib with her arm or leg stuck in between the slats. I was so worried she would break an arm or leg because once she got stuck she would struggle to get free. Deep down inside I knew that a broken limb was much better than being unable to breathe but as a mom its still frightening to look over at the crib and see your helpless little baby stuck in an awkward position. I decided to give the breathable bumper a chance. I had seen it many times in the store so I knew exactly which aisle to go to. We drove over to the nearest Target and picked up a packet, threw it in the laundry and then started to install it.  Everything went down hill from there

Firstly I must tell you, it looks much more breathable from the outside of the pack than it really is. See the bumper is supposed to be a thin layer of mesh fabric that allows air to flow unrestricted,. This is what it looks like while in the pack

So I foolishly assumed it really was just a mesh fabric, but no that would be way too simple, what you can't see from the outside is that the bumper is actually made of two layers of fabric, the nice mesh that you see from the outside and a foam like padding on the back so its not really as lightweight as you think. Bear in mind that this is 100% polyester, so how breathable can the foam really be?

Anyway that was just the first of many issues we ran in to that day. The back of the pack says the bumper fits all cribs, regardless of whether is has solid sides or not. I didnt really think much about it until after I had opened the pack and put it in the laundry. 

If I wasnt a gullible new mom, I would have asked myself, "Self, how on earth can this properly fit all cribs, is this a magic stretchy bumper?" No, not all. It is basically two long strips of  fabric. One is slightly longer than the other. And for our crib which has slats all around it, the correct installation should be like the picture above with no gaps at all. Think about it logically. The only way to install two pieces of fabric on a crib and have no gaps means the fabric has to overlap at two points. The ends of the fabric have a hook & loop (velcro) feature, which has been set up in such a way that to install each end of fabric, the bumper must overlap once like in the photo below. Except that in reality there is much longer over lap than that.

Now to make sure there aren't any gaps in the bumper you have to get two overlaps at the same spot, resulting in 4 layers of fabric. The video and screen shots below will help you understand exactly what I mean. If you pay attention to the red circled areas you can see where there are 4 layers of fabric overlapping each other. You can view the full video here

Basically at two opposite sides of the crib you will have 4 layers of this so called "breathable fabric" overlapping. FOUR LAYERS! So tell me is it still breathable through 4 layers??  The video makes it seem as though the overlaps are just short pieces of fabric but no they aren't. My crib is a full size crib that converts into a toddler bed and I still have over 2 feet of fabric left over that just overlaps and doubles the thickness of the bumper on both ends.  Frustrating to say the least.

We ended up only using one of the two strips of bumper fabric, so it covers the back and sides of the crib and we only get overlaps of two layers of fabric. We decided to leave the front of the crib open so we can see her and so we wouldnt have to deal with all the excess bumper fabric overlapping.

Would I recommend this to anyone? NO!  It is really not worth the hassle and the cost in my opinion.  I would have returned it asap if I hadnt thrown all the packaging away when I bought it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Cloth diapering gear

So just like I promised I'm back with a summary of all the gear I use to make cloth diapering work in our home. I have a list of 7 main items, some of which are not really essential but quite helpful all the same. All those with the red asterisk are the ones I consider my top essentials.

1 Diaper stash  *
This is of course a no brainer! The first and most important decision to make is the type and brand of cloth diapers. There are so many different types and brands of cloth diapers, some are the very traditional types that require folding or inserts and have a separate cover. We decided to go with a one size,  all-in-one diaper so we wouldn't have to deal with stuffing inserts, prefolds etc... plus we can easily adjust it to fit our baby as she grows!

The number of diapers you need really depends on how often you want to do laundry. Most people would suggest having atleast 18 to 24 diapers on hand, although I have read that some people survive with only 12. Considering that babies go through 6- 10 diapers a day in the early months, we decided the more diapers we had the better, so we bought 24 of the Freetime Bum genius diapers. We ordered ours from cotton babies; they have the best prices out there especially if you are buying in bulk! If you stalk their website you may even be lucky to come upon a sale or promotion which saves even more money!

As you can see from the photo below, the free time diapers come with two fasten options, either the snaps on the right, or the hook and loop (velcro) on the left.  I wavered back on forth on which type to order. The velcro is much easier to deal with especially when the baby gets to the squirmy stage, but on the other hand velcro doesnt wash well and after a few runs in the washer, it will curl up and look frightful! I also decided to avoid velcro because I know that babies get to a stage where they figure out how to open velcro tabs and then they can take off their own diapers, so we went ahead and ordered the snaps.

Our cloth diaper stash

2 Diaper pail *

Ok this is where a lot of people get icky, because in the old days, dirty cloth diapers were often stored in a pail of water to make them easier to wash. But keeping them soaked in water for days really isn't ideal or the most sanitary way to go about it. If you are washing your diapers every single day then its probably fine to just keep them soaking in a "wet pail" but otherwise a dry pail  is the best way to go.  There are many expensive diaper pails out there, but honestly a regular trash can with a fitted lid will do just fine. We bought this 10 gallon hefty step trash can from walmart. A step trash can is so much more convenient because you can open and close it without using your hands, and trust me your hands will most definitely be occupied with other things. 

Inside view of our diaper pail

3 Pail liner *

This is really important when it comes to containing mess and odor. A good pail liner makes all the difference.  The pail liners we use shown in the picture above and below are by Planet Wise. They are machine washable and really strong and they never leak or let odors through.  They also come in lots of great colors and prints so there is something to match every nursery!

Pail Liner

4 Wet bag

Planet Wise wet bags are great for days out, when you have to change your babies diaper outside your home and you need a place to store the dirty diapers. You could just as easily use a plastic shopping bag, but these are much better because they look great, are 100% leak and odor proof and if you order the medium size they are big enough to store wet clothes too. They are also multi-functional and can be used on swim days too!

5 Diaper sprayer

Ok, this isn't an essential by any means, you can easily skip this, but a diaper sprayer makes life so much easier. Basically a diaper sprayer attaches to the incoming water supply for your toilet and is used to spray poop off the diapers before putting them in the diaper pail. This makes them so much easier to wash, and they come out much cleaner this way.  Although bum genius does make a diaper sprayer I would avoid theirs and get The potty pail sprayer which is the far superior in quality .  The reason why I prefer the potty pail version is because their connections are all made of brass, so you can feel confident that you have gotten a tight seal and that the connection won't leak and flood your home, unlike other sprayers that have plastic fittings. The potty pail sprayer is hand made in the USA, they also have the best customer service in the event that you have any  issues with the product.

6 Drying rack*

A drying rack is important for the type of diapers that we use, although we can put them in the dryer on low heat, we prefer to follow the manufacturers instructions and air dry them to maximise their life as machine drying can take its toll. We got these Pressa spinning racks from Ikea for $4.99 each, they have 16 cloths clips on each rach and they are really great!

Our diapers drying in the bathroom

7 Detergent *
 This one is another no brainer, because of course the main thing about cloth diapers is that they need to be washed! However it is important to use the right type and amount of detergent otherwise you will end up with detergent build up on your diapers and they wont absorb properly. There are many cloth diaper friendly detergents out there such as Bum genius, Charlies Soap... etc but we use Seventh Generation fragrance free and it has worked great for us so far.

What items are on your cloth diapering list?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The BUSINESS of being born

This documentary by Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein, is an absolute must see for all those pregnant or planning to have children within the US.  Although some might say that this documentary is one sided against hospital births, I would beg to differ since one of the moms featured, ended up with a hospital birth that saved the life of her baby. I watched this during my 1st trimester and it really helped me get a better understanding of why we have such high c-section rates in this country and how everything snowballs from the first medical intervention during labor. It is a very educational video about the whole birth system in America and the title couldn't be more accurate; giving birth in america truly is a BUSINESS. In many hospitals,  decisions regarding the birth process are made based on how cost effective they are for the doctors rather than if they are truly best for the mother and baby, which in all honesty is a mighty big shame. Considering how much money it costs to have a baby in this country, I would expect nothing less than that the long term health of myself and my baby would be the paramount factor to be considered in the decision making process.

Compared to most other countries in the world,  America has one of the worst C-section rates and infant mortality, partly due to unncessary medical interventions. Many first time moms don't educate themselves adequately on the different types of births available, the medical interventions and pain control or the side effects associated with these. Often times moms just choose to have a c-section, induction or epidural because they think it will be the easier, less painful option and often times that isn't even the case.  In such modern times with so much information available to us, we really have no excuse to be uninformed on such a crucial issue which can have long term effects on our children.  We wouldn't buy a house or even a wedding dress without extensive research, having a baby should be no different.

Don't get me wrong I'm not against hospital birth. I had my baby at a hospital with an awesome doctor and support team that were very pro natural birth, and very willing to work with my birth plan but were also quick to step in and resolve the complications that developed. What I am against is unnecssary medical interventions, drugs and surgeries that can sometimes be pushed on parents who arent well informed about them.  So go ahead and spend 87 minutes of your life to watch this documentary, as the starting point to your education on this topic. I promise you wont regret it! This documentary  is available  to stream on Netflix and several other online movie streaming sites such Amazon Instant Video.

More blog posts on birth plans and interventions coming up soon...