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Category: Pregnancy & Labour

Experience: Labor through the Public Healthcare System at Women’s and Children’s Hospital

Experience: Labor through the Public Healthcare System at Women’s and Children’s Hospital

When we first found out that we were pregnant, the next few questions that came to mind were:

“What is the next step?” (this is a good site to have a look for those in SA!)

“Where should we deliver our firstborn child?”

“Public or private?”

“What is the system like?”

“How does it all work?”

“AHHHHH!!!!”

While I was being precious about my first baby and all, hubby (a physician in one of the Adelaide hospitals) was believer that if you are young, healthy and have a normal pregnancy, one does not necessarily need to fork out additional cash to pay for private hospitals for delivery.

I also have had friends who had their babies through the public system at Flinders Medical Centre, Women’s and Children’s Hospital and Lyell McEwin Hospital. They were all happy and satisfied with their experiences so that gave me some confidence as well.

I went through the shared care system where I would see my chosen GP monthly and only went to the hospital for my 12-week scan and 37-week scan. Personally, this was a great arrangement as my GP was only less than 500m from where I lived and I could easily walk there. Having been to the hospital on certain occasion I also think that seeing your GP might be faster than seeing a midwife in the hospital.

My Labor Experience

So, it was winter when my little one decided that it was all too cosy in the womb and refused to come out. At 39 weeks, I set up a labor induction appointment at 40+5 weeks with a heavy heart as I was all for natural birth at the time.

My due date came and went without any signs of labor, so I had to be induced through a balloon catheter (my cervix was not ready) at about 2pm on that fateful day. We were meant to let the balloon do it’s magic for the next 12 hours or so, but when I got checked next at 4pm the doctor said that she would be able to artificially break my water and so she did.

They then proceeded to inject some oxytocin as my contractions have not started despite all the help.

But finally the contractions came! I still remember it being 8pm and I was supposedly having a contraction every few minutes but not feeling much. At first it was so light I could barely feel it.

So I thought smugly, “Hah! I can do this!” I’ll just remain calm and listen my Hypnobirthing tracks.

BOY WAS I WRONG!

My contractions started getting really intense towards 10pm and by 12am I was all out of it. Hubby and the midwives thought that I was doing really well and was amazed by how calm I was, but man inside I was just screaming.

Whoever who said that labor is just like period pain must be out of their minds. I was calm and in the right frame of mind thanks to my Hynobirthing practice but sad to say it did not reduce the pain one bit at all!

So there I was suffering with about 4 contractions in 10 minutes to then find out then I was only 5cm dilated. No way I was going through many more hours of this unbearable pain and so requested for an epidural at midnight.

Thank goodness for modern medicine. I was so so grateful that the horrible pain was over, but we were only halfway there.

For the next 6 hours, hubby and I managed to catch some sleep before I was fully dilated and bub’s head was engaged. Yes, 6 hours! So glad I proceeded with epidural.

I started pushing for the next hour but nothing changed. We also had a little scare when my bub’s heartbeat was really low for 2 minutes and a group of 6-8 paediatricians, obstetricians, anesthetist and more midwives rushed into the room.

It was really odd as by the time everyone came into the room his heartbeat went back to normal. Such a drama queen even before he was born lol!

My obstetrician then gave me a choice, “Your baby’s head is still not out. We can either bring him out through assisted delivery OR you can continue pushing (!!!).”

At the time I was just wanting the baby out of me and said, “Whichever is the fastest option.”

Believe it or not, it took another hour to get bub out through episiotomy and forceps and he was finally born at 9am!!! Hurrah!!!

I think I cried tears of relief more than tears of happiness lol!

So what did I like about my experience at Women’s and Children’s Hospital?

  • I received great support from the medical staff during labor

My labor lasted more than 12 hours from when I was first induced, and yet I was never alone the whole time. Due to my long labor, I had about 4 midwives look after me and I thought that they were all experienced and competent. They did not force any unwanted advice/ideas on me and were generally supportive. I had less interaction with the obstetrician and anesthetist but felt as comfortable as I can be during labor.

  • I was able to request for an epidural even at the very last minute

It was my wish to have an all natural birth at first. When I showed the midwives my birth plan, they were all supportive of it. But when it all became too much and I opted for pain relief at the 11th hour, it was granted in less than 30 minutes. I understand that if I had gone private, this would not have been possible unless arranged beforehand.

IN SUMMARY

We saved about $3000-5000 by choosing the public route, and used that money for some portpartum recovery and help instead. Best decision ever!

Of course, everyone’s labor, needs and expectations are different. It also depends on what happens and the midwives/doctors on call on the day of your labor. But if you are healthy and young expecting mother and wondering whether the public system is good enough in Adelaide or South Australia, I would like to reassure you that it definitely is!

Till next time! xx

 

 

Things to Consider When Buying Maternity Bras

Things to Consider When Buying Maternity Bras

Your breasts will get bigger during pregnancy, and even bigger post delivery when you start breastfeeding.

As though it isn’t already difficult to get a good fit for normal day-to-day bras, pregnant women have to buy bras for breasts which are constantly changing in sizes for the next one year.

For many first time mothers, this can be a baffling situation.

You don’t know the speed of this change, or how much it is going to change.

There were so many questions I had around buying a maternity bra.

Now that I have gone through the complex journey myself, I hope that the below helps you spend less time figuring out the best solution for you.

Please note that every woman are individuals and likely to have different experiences on this front. I am sharing based on my personal experience.

When should I transition to maternity bras?

I had to replace all my fancy wired La Senza bras (sadly) when I was 3-4 months pregnant.

They just felt so tight and I was suffocating in them.

This is a sure sign to change from a normal bra to maternity bra.

Do I need a maternity bra?

Unless your breasts or under bust did not change in size during pregnancy, I  guess there is no reason to buy one.

However, the majority of women do experience increase in breasts and/or under bust size and have the following option:

1) Buy a bigger normal bra

2) Buy a maternity bra (the one with nursing clips for breastfeeding)

I would suggest going with #2 if you are going to breastfeed. This would be the cheaper option as you don’t have to buy both a bigger bra and a maternity bra.

Ideally, you should not wear wired bra during pregnancy as the wires might impact blood flow and the milk duct, which could affect breastfeeding at a later date.

What size of maternity bras should I get?

Do I need to go 1, 2 or even 3 cups up? What about under bust sizes?

I was so confused initially and decided to stagger my maternity bra purchase instead of buying them all at once.

I bought two pieces when I was 4 months pregnant, another two at 6 months and another two at 8 months.

This probably works if you are in your first pregnancy and have no clue on sizes as every woman’s breasts change at different volumes and speeds.

I was a 32C/70C pre-pregnancy and bought all my maternity bras in 34C/75C despite the different brands. They still fit me now 2 months into breastfeeding.

How many pieces of maternity bra would I need?

I found that 6 pieces is sufficient for me.

I change to a fresh piece every day and 6 pieces gives plenty of time for me to wash every 2-3 days.

Sometimes milk might drip during feeds and I will change it more than once a day.

Pre baby, I only do my laundry once a week. Post baby, I do a quick wash almost everyday.

So the quantity needed really depends on how often you change your bra and how often you do your laundry.

Which brands should I get?

There are so many maternity brands out there.

As I was so confused with my first purchase, I bought the super cheap Kmart ones at $10 each. They were alright but I probably wouldn’t buy it again if given a choice.

Then a friend recommended Bonds maternity bra, which I decided to try at $39 each. These were very comfortable but they were soft cups.

I then found out that there were t-shirt style maternity bras which is important if you are wearing a tighter shirt or dress. I bought my Autumnz maternity bra in Malaysia for only RM39.90 ($12).

These were my favourite as not only are they comfortable, they look good under any clothes, the cups don’t wrinkle after feeding and my breasts feel very supported with the thick 3-clips elastic strap. AND they are cheap.

I did browse through the more expensive Mothercare/Truimph maternity bras but did not see the point in spending a fortune in these.

IN SUMMARY

Buying a maternity bra may be daunting at the beginning but I guess just go with the flow.

Needing one means that you are one step closer towards having your baby yay!

There are more exciting things to mull over such as your baby’s cot, pram, clothes etc so don’t waste too much time over this like I have.

Till next time! xoxo

3 Oils for Pregnancy Stretch Marks That Work

3 Oils for Pregnancy Stretch Marks That Work

 

One of the top concerns in a pregnant woman’s mind, besides having a healthy baby (which should be the most important thing), is whether they would get stretch marks during pregnancy, and how to avoid it.

There are some moms who think that stretch marks are proof of motherhood and would be proud to show it off. Of course, I agree that this is something totally natural and not something to be ashamed of.

That said, I would prefer not to have them. This was definitely one of my worries and I am just being honest here.

I think it is a legitimate concern.

Hence, the next few days were spent researching on the best anti stretch mark oils/creams on the market.

My findings are:

  1. Sometimes stretch mark is hereditary. If your mom has it, then you are likely to get it too. Unfortunately, no amount of oil/cream is going to help you.
  2. Different oils/cream work for different people. Some people swear by brand A, some others prefer brand B.

What is a paranoid pregnant woman to do then??

I bought three of the more popular brands and applied them (one at a time) religiously since the second week of my pregnancy. Though some of the instructions encourage application three times a day or as often as required, I applied liberally only once a day after showering.

I don’t know about you but I can’t put oil on myself if I don’t feel super clean, and I only feel super clean after a shower. And the heat from the shower causes your pores to open so that might be the best time for your skin to absorb all the oily goodness anyway.

Below is my experience, sorted from the most expensive to the least expensive:

Clarins Tonic Body Treatment Oil – $68 for 100ml

Clarins’ #1 selling body oil — with 100% pure plant extracts including Rosemary, Geranium and Mint — helps firm, tone and improve elasticity, smoothing the appearance of stretch marks. Hazelnut Oil locks in moisture to leave body skin soft and satiny-smooth. Aromatic natural botanical promote an overall feeling of well-being. Preservative-free.

Clarins Body Treatment Oil
Clarins Body Treatment Oil

Verdict:

+ I love the smell of this treatment oil as it contains one of my favorite scent, Geranium.

+ This oil is thicker and is packaged in a glass bottle which gives off that luxury vibe, like “yes now I know why I am paying top dollars for this”.

– The oil is so thick that sometimes I have to either use a lot of it (not ideal given the price) or wet my hands/body slightly so that it is easier to apply. The instructions say to apply on a damp body so I have to only semi-dry post shower to keep my body damp or wet my hands but it is a bit tedious after a while.

– It is pricey. I finished 1 bottle of 100ml in 1-1.5 months so that works out to be approximately $600 if I used it for my entire pregnancy.

Bio-Oil – $20 for 200ml

The Bio-Oil formulation is a combination of plant extracts and vitamins suspended in an oil base. It contains the breakthrough ingredient PurCellin Oil™, which changes the formulation’s overall consistency, making it light and non-greasy. This ensures that the goodness contained in the vitamins and plant extracts is easily absorbed.

Bio-Oil
Bio-Oil

Verdict:

+ This oil is cheap and can be found in most supermarkets or pharmacies.

+ It feels lightweight and not too greasy. Also, it’s suitable to be applied on the face, which is perfect for lazy days when I am not bothered to put on moisturizer.

– I am not a big fan of the scent. Perhaps this coincided with my morning sickness but I could not to finish the bottle at one go and had to force myself to use it towards the end of my pregnancy.

Palmer’s Intensive Relief Treatment Oil – $9.99 for 150ml

Palmer’s signature Intensive Relief Treatment Oil is a deep moisturising treatment designed to give your skin that velvety smooth texture you’ve been craving. With an exclusive blend of unique ingredients designed to reduce the visibility of stretch marks, correct skin tones and repair damaged skin all at once!

Palmer's Intensive Treatment Oil
Palmer’s Intensive Treatment Oil

Verdict:

+ This oil is light and I did get that smooth velvety texture post application.

+ It does not smell. There is no fragrance so you can’t get sick of the smell and it’s perfect for people who are sensitive to scents. I find this surprising given that most Palmer’s product I’ve used smells of coconut.

Note: I love this oil so much that I brought it back with me to Malaysia. I was 7 months pregnant then and my body was starting to feel extremely hot all the time. Coupled with the humid and hot weather, I was sweating so much that it was impossible to apply any oil or cream on my body.

IN SUMMARY

Having tried all three popular brands for stretch mark, I am glad to say that they worked for me.

I had no stretch marks, even after carrying a 4kg baby which is huge for my frame. My tummy went back to its normal state about ten days after delivery.

3 Weeks Postpartum
3 Weeks Postpartum

Was it just the oils that did their magic?

No. I strongly think that this is due to a healthy diet, proper hydration and frequent but light exercise throughout my pregnancy. Of course, daily oil application helped maintain my skin’s tone and elasticity.

Till next time! xoxo

To Get a Confinement Lady While You are Overseas… Or Not?

To Get a Confinement Lady While You are Overseas… Or Not?

Having a baby is arguably one of the biggest life changing event in someone’s life. From pre-pregnancy to post-pregnancy, there are so many things to prepare for, advice to follow and precautions to take.

One of the most important advice was given to me by my mother.

It was to get a confinement lady to help me through this challenging period post pregnancy, when one was supposed to recover and at the same time learn the ropes of taking care of a new baby.

Like an actual human being who is new to the world. Probably a fussy one at that.

“You must get a confinement lady to help you,” she said.

I have my reservations.

Do I really now?

I would like to think myself young, independent and not exactly super traditional.

Confinement literally means being confined to one’s house (or even room) post pregnancy. It is part of the Chinese culture to ensure that the new mom gets enough rest required for a speedy recovery and not expose themselves to “wind” which could lead to muscle and bone aches when they are older.

One can get “wind” from leaving her hair wet, eating a particular type of food or exposing her body to windy/cold atmosphere. These are just a few general examples.

Must I really not wash my hair for 30 days? Stay in the house for a month without going out? Eat the same wine-chicken dish everyday?

How is it possible to follow these restrictions and take care of my newborn at the same time?

That is when the confinement lady comes in.

There is no set job description for a confinement lady, but the general expectation is for them to look after the new mom and baby. This includes washing, cooking, bathing etc and will vary depending on the mother’s preferences and what the confinement lady is willing to do.

That sounds helpful, yes.

But, as all Asian families do, both my parents are flying over from Malaysia to Australia to help me post delivery.

Aren’t my parents enough then? Why must I hire someone else to look after me? What if the confinement lady and I don’t get along? Worst still, what if she is a Nazi and forces me to practice all her confinement beliefs?

I was hesitant. And still stubborn about maintaining my independence post delivery.

I started speaking friends who have had kids. They agreed that I should accept all the help that I can get.

In the end, towards the 5th-6th month of my pregnancy (which is very late – the good confinement ladies are highly demanded and would not be available at such late notice), I booked in for a confinement lady to help me for 6 weeks.

I still wasn’t 100% sure then.

But now, 6.5 weeks after my delivery, I can see the wisdom behind my mom’s advice.

Having a confinement lady’s help was invaluable not only to me, but to my hubby and sister in law too (SIL is living with us currently) as they get to enjoy the delicious meals that she cooked for us.

All my initial worries were unwarranted.

I washed my hair after Day 4 and had normal yummy meals as confinement food. My favorite confinement dish was homemade chicken essence with steamed D.O.M, yums!

My parents came over to help me, but are they going to be “on call” past midnight for my feedings and resettle my baby? Similarly, do I want my parents to cook and clean for baby and I when they don’t do that in their own home (they have help)?

The answer is no. I would probably feel bad and not let them do so.

And no, my confinement lady was not a Nazi and we got along well.

IN SUMMARY

It is expensive flying a confinement lady overseas as usually we have to cover for their flight, accommodation and food.

But having that extra help does make a whole lot of a difference when it came to my baby’s and my well-being. I was able to focus on healing and breastfeeding. I had time for myself.

Most importantly, I did not feel depressed, tired nor cranky. A girlfriend commented that I was looking good and relaxed for someone who just had their baby. And this is mostly thanks to my confinement lady.

So would I get a confinement lady for my second baby? Yes, definitely.

Till next time! xoxo

Two Important Pregnancy Exercises I Wish I Knew Earlier

Two Important Pregnancy Exercises I Wish I Knew Earlier

We all know that staying active and having some form of exercise routine provides many benefits during pregnancy. It helps with backaches and bloating, improves blood circulation and reduces excessive weight gain etc.

What sort of exercises would you do? One would naturally think that this involves the usual such as going to the gym, doing yoga, swimming and walking, right?

Those were my thoughts too and what I was doing throughout my pregnancy until I learned about the below two exercises.

They are extremely simple and basic but oh-so-very important! Better yet, you can do it anywhere and anytime!

Pelvic Floor Muscles Exercise (aka Kegal) For Pregnancy

I have always associated Kegal as a vagina tightening exercise practiced by women to have better sex!

Boy was I wrong. I have since learned that it also helps combat bladder incontinence during old age and is important for both men and women.

  • Why is it important?

The pelvic floor muscles help support the bladder, squeeze around the vagina and the rectum and hold the bladder, the uterus (womb) and bowel in their proper place.

Pelvic floor muscle training will help the body support the growing baby and reduce the probability of having a bladder or bowel problem post delivery.

These muscles also help provide support and stability around your pelvic joints, so keeping them firm and strong reduces pelvic pain during pregnancy.

  • How do you do it?

When you are urinating, try to stop the flow. By doing this you are using the pelvic floor muscles. Note that this is different to your butt and thigh muscles. Once you have identified these muscles, don’t stop your urine for fun as it can damage your bladder.

Tighten your pelvic floor muscles by squeezing around the birth canal, front and back passages all at once, lifting up and inwards. Squeeze and lift.

Try to hold for about 2-3 seconds and then release and relax for about 5 seconds. Repeat this 10 times. As your muscles grow stronger, try to hold the squeeze for longer up to 15-3o seconds.

It is more important to do it correctly rather than doing it too many times but wrongly. Quantity over quality!

Abdominal Bracing Exercise For Pregnancy

I didn’t realise this before, but I have always braced my abdomen (aka suck my tummy in) pre-pregnancy as it helps keep your core strong and tight. I think it does have some truth in it as my tummy has been kinda flat (or maybe it is due to my ‘young’ age).

Then I got pregnant, and I let everything go, thinking to myself, “This is nice! I can eat all I want and not suck my tummy in because people will just think that it’s the baby!” Obviously I was mistaken!

  • Why is it important?

The deep abdominus muscle acts like a corset around your lower spine to assist with good posture, maintain abdominal tone and provide support to your back and pelvis.

  • How do you do it?

Gently draw your lower tummy (below the belly button) in towards your spine. An easier way to say it is, suck in your tummy!

You can do this as often and as long as you like. You might be able to hold it in for 10 seconds at first, then try to increase the length.

The more you do it, the stronger your abdominal muscles get. You know you are a pro when you can keep it in constantly without even realising it.

IN SUMMARY

I hope that this post has helped raised some awareness that these exercises are super important during pregnancy.

Post delivery, I have not had an issue with my bladder and keeping my pee in, and my abdominal muscles recovered nicely so I am a 100% believer in these two simple and basic exercises for pregnant women.

I only found out halfway into my pregnancy but every little bit helps! It’s never too late to start!

Till next time! xoxo

My Birth Plan

My Birth Plan

Towards the 30th week of my pregnancy, I started researching about Hypnobirthing and was immediately drawn by the philosophy and reasoning of having a drug-free, natural birth. You can read more about my thoughts and experience here.

Given that there there are various standard practices in different hospitals and countries, Hypnobirthing mothers are encouraged to have a birth plan. In fact, most Hypnobirthing moms would definitely want to have a birth plan to ensure that they achieve their ideal birth.

A birth plan is a document where the parent-to-be communicate to their midwife or obstetrician their preferences during labor and delivery. It includes information such as comfort measures during labor and pain relief preferences.

Questions that I had myself was “What to include in a birth plan?”, “How long or short should it be?” and more importantly, “What are my birth preferences”?

These were a few things I was conscious of when drafting mine:

  • It has to be short and sweet, 1 page at best (like an investment banking CV).

I find the Hypnobirthing sample birth plans a bit too wordy and long winded. If I don’t want to finish reading them, what more busy nurses, midwifes and doctors? Hence the document was written in point forms rather than in sentences.

  • Information is divided into sections.

To make things even easier to read, I compartmentalize my preferences into birthing environment, birthing preferences, pain relief methods during labor, preferences after birth etc. Then I outlined them in boxes. I’m anal like that.

  • I wanted mine to be unique.

Probably just like all moms-to-be out there, I didn’t want my birth plan to be boring. So I created a flowery border to spice things up. Does it matter? To be honest, it probably doesn’t matter to anyone else but myself.

And lastly,

  • I called mine Birth Preference instead of Birth Plan.

Every delivery and labor is different, and sometimes things just don’t go according to plan no matter how badly you want it. I was aware of that and knew the importance of being flexible. Ultimately, the most important outcome is for both mom and baby to be safe and healthy. The difference is very subtle but ‘preference’ just seems more appropriate in my circumstance.

So here you go, my birth plan example is per below. I am very happy with the end result as it had all my preferences yet is concise. Oh and it is also pretty and did not take up too much of my time 🙂

Birth Plan Sample
Birth Plan Sample

Let me know if you want a copy of the Word document – am more than happy to share! But remember, birth plans are very personal and there is no right or wrong way of writing one.

Till next time! xoxo