I had a visit from one of the midwives yesterday for my fortnightly check. I’m fine, the baby’s fine and, most importantly, she’s lying with her head down and her spine to the front. Hallelujah. Here’s hoping that she doesn’t do something crazy like wriggle herself into a breech position in the next couple of weeks.

This is going to sound bonkers but, prior to the pregnancy, I had no idea about the importance of midwifery care. I think I assumed that I would be looked after (as such) by my GP. In fact, I don’t really know what I assumed. I knew that I would have a couple of scans, and that someone would probably want to prod me around a bit to make sure that everything was normal. I think I thought that a midwife would show up at some point during labour and that would be about it. There’s something slightly alarming about the fact that I could reach my grand old age and be so thoroughly ignorant about the actual ins and outs of pregnancy. They certainly didn’t teach it to me at school, that’s for sure.

What I’ve discovered is that they’re actually right at the heart of your care and, I’m guessing, the quality of that care will be largely dependent on your relationship with them. We are in something of a fortunate position. The midwives from our local maternity hospital (St Thomas’s) are affiliated with my GP’s practice. This means that, over the course of the last few months, I have met all of the women on that team and, therefore, the woman who will actually deliver my baby. The advantages to this are huge. Not only have we been able to get to know them, but they’ve shared a real breadth of knowledge and advice with us: their personal opinion, ‘standard’ practice, hospital protocol etc. That’s been invaluable because, as any pregnant woman soon discovers, opinions and procedures can differ wildly.

I always find that I come away from a meeting with them feeling enormously calm and reassured. Confident, even. Given that pregnancy and birth is such an overwhelming prospect, that reassurance is worth its weight in gold. I never thought that anyone could actually make me look forward to labour, but they’ve managed to achieve that. They really have demystified the whole thing. And that’s not to say that I necessarily agree with everything that they say. Because of the nature of their job they are very supportive of active labour, so-called ‘natural’ childbirth, breastfeeding and all of those things. Some of the issues that are raised during discussions with them can be quite polarising and even contentious (just raise the question of administering a drug like pethidine, for example).

There’s a real risk that you can end up being steamrollered into a type of labour and birth that you don’t necessarily want simply because the preferences of the hospital or obstetrician are presented to you as necessities or ‘just the way it’s done’ … and probably at a time when you are least prepared to have an intellectual debate about the whys and wherefores! I’ve come to the conclusion that the midwives really are the people that will help to ensure that this doesn’t happen. They are your front line allies and they are there to support and encourage you. However your midwifery care is set up, I would definitely recommend that you have as open and questioning a relationship with them as you can. It can only be to your benefit.

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‘I’m pregnant’.

I have to be honest, those are words that I never thought I would hear myself saying.  I was well into my mid-thirties before it even occurred to me that having a child might be something I’d like to do.  My husband (then boyfriend) was equally non-committal about the whole idea.  But, slowly and surely, the topic of kids started to creep into our conversations on a reasonably regular basis.  Then we got engaged, got married, and by the time we got back from honeymoon the deed was done!  It all happened very quickly and, I’m delighted to say, very easily.

I knew I wanted to blog about the experience of becoming a Mum for the first time, but choosing the right time was really tricky.  Start at the beginning and hope nothing goes wrong?  Start in the middle when, frankly, there’s not much going on?  Wait until it’s all over and you’re overwhelmed by the new arrival?  In the end, I settled on waiting until fairly close to the birth, at almost 37 weeks.  My due date is 3rd August.

So, how has it been?  Strange, is the short answer!  I know I’m not alone in this, but the mental transition from career to motherhood has been interesting.  I’m amazed by how quickly my priorities shifted from the demands of my 9-5 and my clients, to the impending arrival of our daughter (yes, we found out).  I was surprised by how much of an (increasingly irrelevant) annoyance my job became, and I’ve always loved my job.  Slowly and surely, I found that my mind was telling me ‘there’s a baby on the way, ignore all this crap!’ and it was quite difficult to stay focused on work.  I’ve been on leave for two weeks now and, frankly, work feels like a different world.

Having started this blog towards the end of the pregnancy, I’ll give you a brief overview.  I’ve been very lucky, in my opinion.  I was nauseous for a few weeks, but never actually sick.  I couldn’t go near anything that was strongly flavoured or scented (garlic, onions, spices, fried food, even my beloved red wine!) and retreated into this weird world of bland children’s food.  I lived on cheese and pickle sandwiches, fishfingers, sweetcorn, bread.  Anything yellow, it seems!  Then, suddenly, I hit a turning point about four months in and my appetite came back with a vengeance.  I was mightily relieved.

I did have one setback in the early days.  At around twelve weeks I had flu, which became a chest infection that totally poleaxed me for three weeks.  I struggled to get up my own stairs without having to rest halfway up, developed asthma into the bargain, and spent weeks on antibiotics that didn’t even make a dent in it.  It was horrible.  I couldn’t lie down and had to sleep propped up on the sofa.  It’s odd … you always hear about early pregnancy symptoms of tiredness and sickness, but nobody tells you that you can have respiratory problems too.  So be warned.

After that cleared up, along came the heartburn (thank goodness for Gaviscon, I was drinking it by the pint) and comedy hiccups that were pretty much constant for about a month.  More amusing than troublesome, frankly, although it made holding a conversation very interesting.

Since then, it’s been pretty much plain sailing.  Almost textbook.  We’ve done our homework, been to ante-natal classes, set up the nursery (more on all of those things to follow) and are eagerly awaiting the day when two becomes three.  I can’t wait.