Thursday, 30 May 2013


I read about a handstand-a-day challenge a couple of weeks ago and fell in love with the idea but with labour and birth just around the corner I thought that it would probably be better to wait a while before a commit myself to that one. Earlier in my pregnancy I was doing handstands and inversions everyday but as the early morning got colder and my pregnancy progressed my practice turned more quiet and spiritual. While still making sure I included inversions in my practice I stopped doing them daily. With the handstand-a-day challenge on my mind I have decided to do as many inversions as I can until the baby is born because they make me feel great. My body will need time to rest and recover after the birth so I will be leaving them out of my practice for a short while so I have to lap up all the good feelings they bring while I can.

So here I am 39 weeks and 1 day enjoying a bit of rainy day handstand fun.


I think squats are amazing, although I must admit that I didn't always feel this way. I discovered the benefits of squats during my yoga practice in my first pregnancy and, while I didn't love them at first, after practising my squats everyday throughout my pregnancy I grew to love them. These days I practice squats daily and find it quite comfortable to be in a full squat.

Squats relieve tension in your lower back making them perfect for the pregnant woman. They also open the hips, inner thighs and groin which is exactly the area you need suppleness in when you are pregnant. Squats also develop flexibility and strength in your ankles and feet which can help with all that extra weight you are carrying around during pregnancy.

Squats can be challenging to begin with but there are modifications you can make to help make this asana accessible. If your heels do not reach the ground when you come into the squat you can place a folded blanket under them for support, or if your hips feel too tight to come into an unsupported squat you can pull up a bolster, low stool or even a stack of your favourite yoga books.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

39 Weeks

I'm really enjoying these last moments of being pregnant- the roundness of my belly, the little kicks and movements, the little hiccups.
I get a lot of Braxton Hicks contractions at night, all good signs that my body is ready whenever baby is ready to come into the world.
After a couple of really slow days full of Braxton Hicks contractions at the beginning of last week things have settled down- probably because of the stress of Dave having food poisoning- so I'm feeling like this baby will hold on for a bit longer.
I'm looking forward to being in labour. The whole process of pregnancy, labour and birth are so amazing and I feel so lucky to be experiencing it again.

Monday, 27 May 2013


Dave got food poisoning last Tuesday which meant that not only was he really sick and needed my support, I had to do all the running around and organising of the house and all the other little things. I thought about it and figured out that the reason I found it all so stressful was that at the moment my nesting instinct is on overdrive which meant that I was taking on twice the amount of work just to keep our home just the way I need it right now. The worry of going into labour and Dave not being well enough to be there also didn't help. After a few days in bed Dave recovered and we got to spend some time together over the weekend which was definitely something I needed to help me to feel calm again.
I was feeling back to normal again this morning (which is always a nice way to start the week). In retrospect, I should have turned to my yoga practice for guidance through my difficult week but with all the stress my daily yoga practice has been short and not very focused. I thought that today while enjoying a bit of alone time I should focus on a few inversions. The great thing about inversions is that they always make me feel good so it was the perfect fix I needed to start this week with positive energy.

Being pregnant I like to have a wall close by for support in case I'm feeling unsteady. It's also nice to use the wall as a tool in your practice. Backbends are quite intense for a pregnant woman and it is best not to go beyond what you are comfortable with (remember this is a time you need to care for and nurture your body). It's also a good idea to attempt inversions under the guidance of an experienced teacher, safety always comes first.

Remember that yoga and pregnancy are supposed to be fun so relax and do what makes you feel good.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Creating a Space for Birth

Labour and birth is such a special time for all those involved. Wherever you choose to birth your child, ideally you should make the space feel special, calm and beautiful. Homebirth is something that is very important to me, being surrounded by familiar people, things and smells ensures I am in a place that will help me to feel safe, and to be honest, I'd rather the baby's first sights (other than me and people I love) be the surroundings of our home- a safe and beautiful space. Of course there is always the possibility we may need a hospital transfer and I would never hesitate to do this if it was necessary, but however things turn out it will be nice to be able to labour in a space that is calm and relaxing until my baby is born or until things need to be moved to an assisted environment.

We are lucky enough to have a really big bedroom so setting up the birth pool in there was easy. To me this room is more than a bedroom, it's my sewing room, yoga space, reading room and it even comes equip with a couch and coffee table so I can knit and drink tea. I have prepared a pile of things we will need during the labour and after the birth so that everything is in reach when we need it. I have the baby's first clothes, a cord I made to tie the umbilical cord after the placenta is born, an icecream container to store the placenta in until I am ready to bury it in our backyard, fluffy towels for when we get out of the pool, waterproof liners to avoid any mess during and after labour, a stack of paper and pencils for India to record the baby's birth in pictures, candles, oil burner and lavender oil. We will also have the camera nearby to take pictures. It's such fun to prepare the space and I feel so calm and centred whenever I'm in there.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

38 Weeks

It feels like it is getting close now. Baby was in a weird position on Saturday which made the left side of my pelvis and lower back sore. I sat with my back in front on the heater for most of the day which made it better. Mary said it feels like the baby is engaged now so that was probably the reason for feeling a bit uncomfortable.

On Monday the baby felt very low and heavy in my pelvis. Dave says my the baby looks much lower in my belly now.

I weighed myself the other day, I've put on 12 kg which is pretty normal. I'm totally against needing to weigh yourself all the time (and even owning a set of scales in the first place) but it was interesting to see just how much heavier I am now- all that extra blood, fluids, placenta and baby sure do weigh a lot!

We finally set up the birth pool on Sunday. India was very insistent on pumping it up all by herself, she said "I just want you to relax and drink your tea". What a sweet little girl she is. India is getting excited and I think she can feel it's getting closer too.

All the baby clothes are washed and ready, the birth pool is set up, and I've done so much knitting. I think this means that we are ready now. I'm enjoying these last few days and weeks, my yoga practice is slow and mindful, I am making sure I get plenty of rest, and I'm looking forward to being a new mum all over again.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Baby Blanket

I think that every baby needs a special cozy blanket that they can use and treasure for many years. The blanket I made for India when I was pregnant with her still gets used for naps on the couch or to wrap up her dolls or to take on chilly trips in the car. I have a blanket that my nanny crocheted for me when I was younger and it's special because she put so much love into making it and it's something that is useful and I will never outgrow. I wanted to have something similar for this little baby, something that is harder to outgrow than some cute clothes or a little toy.

I like that both blankets reflect where I was at in my life. India's blanket is soft and fluffy and colourful, crochet from all different sized squares and stitched together. It took a lot of planning and designing but was well worth the effort. I taught myself how to knit when India was a baby so this time I wanted to make a blanket that was knitted, a little more earthy but still fun, and used natural fibres.

I knitted this blanket in a sturdy brown wool with an interesting but fairly simple cable pattern. I backed it with cotton fabric so that it would be nice and soft against a little ones sensitive skin. I think the pattern on the fabric is fun without being too 'baby' and will be nice for a little boy or girl. The blanket measures just over a metre square(ish) which I have found is a good size without being too big. The blanket took me nearly 2 months to complete so I'm happy that it's finished and ready for when baby arrives.

Postpartum Survival Kit

When India was born I had my mum with us so there was plenty of help to go round and she gave me lots of little tips (things that never occur to you until the baby comes) when I needed them so I felt pretty on top of things from the start. Life's a bit different now, we have India to take care of and we need to make sure those first days as a big sister are special for her too. This time we are planning on have just the two midwives, Dave and India (and me and bub of course!) so I wanted to prepare a special little survival kit of goodies- things that will make me feel nurtured and supported and special in those precious first days after the baby is born.

There are lots of things you could include in your postpartum survival kit, I think there needs to be a combination of essentials and things that make you feel special so here is what I came up with...

- Biodegradable nappies:  For baby these can be really helpful in the first days with all that meconium, it can help make things a little less messy; but, I actually included these as for me because that first day or two the bleeding can be a bit heavy and I found that after India was born it was much easier and more comfortable to have a nappy in my pants.

- Cloth pads: These are both an essential and something that make me feel special. I made some 2 or 3 years ago and I always feel good when I've got my period because they feel nicer than plastic and I know that they are not just going to end up in landfill. Washing them has never been a problem, I quite enjoy the ritual and it really doesn't take much time. I knew I would need more than 6 (I usually only use them as liners because I have a menstrual cup) so I made some more, plus it's always nice to have new things to use at this special time.

- Belly binding cloth: Belly binding is an ancient Ayurvedic postpartum ritual. When a baby is born the mother is left with a big space in her belly, in this space vata or air can accumulate and upset your system. Belly binding supports your organs, improves elimination and digestion, aids the body in returning to its original shape and is energetically grounding. I knew nothing of belly binding when I had India but instinct told me my belly needed support in those first few weeks after she was born. Around 4 metres of muslin, cheese cloth or other thin fabric made from a natural fibre is what you'll need to wrap around your belly from hips to ribcage.

- Breast pads: As with cloth menstrual pads I'm a firm believer in cloth breast pads to make you feel special when your boobs are literally overflowing with milk. You can make your own (which I did) or there are plenty of online stores that sell them as well as mainstream shops so you are sure to find something nice.

- Belly, boob and bottom balm: Great for pregnant bellies, sore boobies and babies bottoms I have been in the habit of making my own moisturiser for a long time now. The great thing is that you can tweak it and add things that you really like and you know exactly what is going into it. For the base I usually put half coconut oil and half cocoa butter and then add different oils depending on what I feel like or what I think I need. Lavender oil is antibacterial and is calming, and tea tree oil is antibacterial, anti fungal, anti viral and helps with fast healing so it's a good one to add for your baby's bottom and sore nipples. I like to use organic ingredients and because I make it all myself there are no preservatives or other nasties which means that I know we are getting the best.

- Raspberry leaf tea: Drinking raspberry leaf tea throughout pregnancy is great for toning your uterus in preparation for labour but it will also help in returning it to its original size after the baby is born. Raspberry leaf tea also helps with breast milk production and boosts your vitamin and mineral intake.

- Gluten free porridge mix: When the weather is cold, every morning I make buckwheat porridge for India and myself. We both love it more than any other breakfast. I grind the buckwheat groats every morning in a coffee/spice grinder to keep all the nutrients in tact but with a little baby around I thought it would be a good idea to have a jar of pre-ground mix ready so that I can make breakfast super quick and don't have to be standing up or mucking around (or confusing Dave with too many instructions) longer than I need to. I'm not the greatest with following recipes, I'm more of a guesser when it comes to making food so my porridge mix is made up of buckwheat, linseeds and pepitas (pumpkin seeds)- mostly buckwheat. India and I like it served with honey, chia seeds and some organic milk; banana and coconut are also tasty additions if we have them around.

- Soup mix: Already I have in mind what I want to have to eat after the baby is born but things might be a bit hectic so it's best to have as much prepared as possible. Soups are great in cold weather and they make me feel nourished and warm which is something I know I will appreciate after labour. I made a jar of soup mix with a list of fresh ingredients that need to be added to make (in my opinion) the best soup ever. I created this soup years ago and although I don't really follow a recipe I put the same things in every time because it really is the best combination.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Cloth Nappies

Cloth nappies are better for many reasons, better for you baby's skin- no nasty chemicals (seriously would you like to be wrapped in plastic all day?), better for the environment- less waste it go into landfill, and loads better for your pocket- I dread to think how much people spend on nappies during their baby's nappy wearing years.

I wanted to have some organic nappies for our baby, organic fabric is softer and more sustainable than other fabric. I found some bamboo french terry and regular terry fabric online, it turned out to be thinner than I was expecting so I couldn't make as many nappies as I expected because I had to make them double layered but they are beautifully soft and will be great for our little new born's bottom. I made some booster pads from the organic terry with a bit of a ripped towel we had lying around in the middle to add a bit of extra absorbency.

Nappy squares are so easy to make, even someone with the most basic sewing skills should be able to cut a few squares and overlock or zigzag stitch the edges so they don't fray. The thing I also like about nappy squares is that there are so many ways to fold a nappy, do a quick Google search and you can see that nappy folding really can be an art form!

As my handmade cloth nappy stash is pretty small I also found some organic modern cloth nappies second hand on Ebay which was a lucky find. You can never have enough nappies but this should do us to start with.

French terry nappies on top and regular terry nappies on the bottom.

37 Weeks

Our baby is now considered full term now so whenever he/she is ready over the next few weeks we will be welcoming our new little one into the world. I've had quite an intense week with Braxton Hicks contractions and I have spent the last couple of days relaxing a lot and doing the last bits of sewing and knitting I wanted to finish before the baby is born. The Braxton Hicks contractions seem to be almost constant through the day and then ease off in the evening.

I had a very emotional day yesterday, I just felt like crying all day for no reason at all. It's to be expected I guess with all the hormones running wild. The good thing is that I haven't had any acid reflux at all in the past week.

The baby has stopped his/her crazy growth spurt so I'm back to eating a normal amount of food again. It's nice not to be hungry all the time.

We still need to set up the birth pool and buy a hose that will be long enough to go from the bathroom to the bedroom so we can fill it up. I've been preparing India a bit more for what things might be like when I'm in labour and I've given her the job of drawing pictures of me giving birth so that we can make a little book together.

I measured around my belly just to see how big it really is, 108cm- that's over a metre! Baby should be around 3kg. The average birth weight is 3.5kg but all babies are different and it depends very much on genetics now. India was 3.3kg and 50cm long at birth so baby number two will probably be pretty similar.

Now that I can see a photo of my belly I can see why people keep saying "you must be ready to pop!", it is looking quite big now but I don't think it feels as big as it looks.

Sunday, 12 May 2013


It's important to nurture yourself in the last few weeks of pregnancy. When everything you do and think about is preparing for the birth of your baby, or if you are feeling heavy and exhausted, or if you are nervous, or if you are just super excited and just can't wait to hold your baby it's important to remember to do some things that make you feel special and relaxed- things that remind you to live it the moment and enjoy every second of these beautiful last few weeks.

Because I do most of the school pick ups and drop offs, and all the odd jobs my days are filled with routine and I often don't have a lot of time to enjoy quiet and calm with no agenda. Now that school has started for India and Dave studies full time (and works at home late into the night) I've found a new appreciation for weekends. I've been wanting and meaning to do some more henna on my belly for weeks but my days just run out of time too quickly. I said to myself that I would make time on Saturday to sit quietly on my own and spend some time doing something beautiful. I felt so calm and relaxed after adorning my belly with henna and it made me feel good for the rest of the day.

Henna is such a beautiful thing to do for yourself and even more relaxing if you have someone to do it for you. Gather all the special women in your life and spend the day putting henna on each other or hire a professional. Henna is a great ritual for a Blessingway. I decided against having a Blessingway (and I've never been that keen on baby showers) because most of the really special women in my life have conveniently spread themselves across the country (and the world) so it would be too difficult to organise an event where I could have all these wonderful women close to me. But having such close connections with people that live far away from me has shown me that we don't always need to be physically close to people to be able to draw strength from them.

So my Saturday self nurturing was making time to do henna and enjoy these last few weeks, days and moments of carrying new life inside me.


Friday, 10 May 2013

Cloth Pads

Finally I have finished making some reusable pads and nursing pads. Both are much nicer than using plastic single use ones- for comfort and for environmental reasons- so I wanted to make sure I had a decent supply.

I made them from some lovely fabric scraps and fat quarters (dark colours and patterns work well), bamboo terry towelling and a layer of PUL so they are waterproof. The pads have press studs which I find holds them in place really well.

There are plenty of free cloth pad patterns on the internet or you can just make it up as you go. I also like that you can adjust how thick you want the pad to be for different levels of flow. I made some thin panty liner pads a few years ago and they have served me well but I thought that I would probably need something a little thicker after the baby is born.

I made 12, I'm not sure how many I will need but I will wash them as I use them so it should get me through.

The tension on my overlocker can be really difficult so the nursing pads are a bit rough but they will do the job. I made 5 sets and I have a couple that I held onto from when I was breastfeeding India so I think I've got enough to prevent my boobs from leaking all over the place!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Baby Change Mat and Nappy Pouch

I've been busy at the sewing machine making all kinds of great things, today I managed to make a lovely waterproof change mat and nappy pouch. It was pretty simple and quick to make and I used some scrap Japanese cotton, linen and PUL that I had in my stash.

The nappy pouch fits the change mat, wipes and nappies (biodegradable ones of course!), and even some spare clothes.

All the goodies neatly tucked away together. No more bulky nappy bags!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

36 Weeks

We had our birth plan meeting today with our two midwives Mary and Joy. It's getting more and more exciting the closer it gets to the due date. We have the birth pool now and I'm looking forward to setting it up in the bedroom and making sure everything is all ready for the birth.

Here's Mary checking my blood pressure at the birth plan meeting.

And here she is feeling baby. The baby's back is on my left side and his/her head is down but not fully engaged.

I have noticed a couple of little stretch marks appear is the last week- probably because baby has been going through a major growth spurt. I suppose it's just one of those annoying little things that happen. I didn't get any stretch marks when I was pregnant with India and I guess that just shows that every pregnancy is different.
I have also just started getting a bit of acid reflux, not all the time and not too badly so it's nothing really to complain about.
I have plenty of Braxton Hicks contractions, my body sure knows what it's doing. 
I don't feel short of breath or heavy and cumbersome, and I have no other common pregnancy problems so all in all I think I'm doing pretty well.

Our little baby is only one week off being considered full term so he/she is very nearly ready for the world. His/her lungs are considered mature by 36-37 weeks so over the next month (or less!) he/she will be getting nice and chubby-ready for winter!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Home Birth vs Hospital Birth and Informed Choices

Where you choose to give birth to your baby is a huge decision and when you are pregnant you are very likely to have many people telling you what you should and shouldn't do with YOUR baby and YOUR body. I'm not sure why at this time women automatically put their choices in the hands of others so readily. Obviously I am a huge advocate of home birth and there are many reasons why I choose this path but I understand that home birth isn't for everyone and I don't believe that it is appropriate or safe for every woman to attempt to birth at home; however what I strongly believe is that you need to research everything before you come to any decisions.

How many women can say they have looked into the caesarean rates or the rates of induction or other intervention for a hospital they plan to birth at? Rates of intervention are an indicator of the likeliness that you will be lead down that path if you choose to birth in that particular place. How many women look into the short and long term effects of different interventions. Ultrasound, doppler, screening and diagnostic tests for different conditions or disabilities, induction, epidural, caesarean, etc are all examples of intervention and you really should look into the effects (positive and negative) of each intervention before going ahead with anything. By looking into I don't just mean ask your doctor and take their word for it, I mean find information on BOTH sides of the story so that you are able to make an informed choice. Other common issues to look into are things like breech, twins and multiples, and VBAC (vaginal birth after caesarean).

I think the important thing to remember is that your body knows what to do and countless women before you have successfully given birth. Pregnancy and birth really is just another body function and sure there are things that can sometimes go wrong but if you are armed with education then you will be able to make informed choices about where and how you would like to give birth to your baby.

35 Weeks

Little baby has been growing a lot and I have been eating lots. Mandarins and apples have been my favourite snack this week. I've also been quite thirsty so I've been drinking lots of raspberry leaf tea and water. Mornings have been challenging the past few days, at the moment I've been having loads of Braxton Hicks contractions while trying to make India's lunch and get her ready for school. Dave's been really helpful which makes it a whole lot easier.

I've been noticing the roundness of my belly when I see my reflection in a window or mirror, I'm beginning to wonder how my belly can be the size that it is. Surprisingly I don't feel cumbersome or big, getting up from sitting on the floor (which I do a lot of) is becoming harder and makes me feel a little awkward but other than that I still manage to get around most of the time without feeling like I'm huge (which is probably why I'm so awestruck by the size of my belly when I see my reflection!).

It's amazing how your mind and body know that the birth is nearing, not by checking the calender but by instinct. If we relied on instinct a lot more there would be so much less problems surrounding pregnancy and birth.

Mary says that the baby's head is not fully engaged yet but that's normal for a second and in reality that doesn't need to happen until labour starts.

Our little one is about 2.4kg and 45cm long- not far off normal birth weight and height now. The kidneys are fully developed and the liver can process some waste. This beautiful baby is nearly ready for the world!