Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pelvic Floor Exercises and Hiccups

The Early-Bird ante-natal class on Tuesday was good and worth taking the time to do. We chatted about a lot of stuff that would have been useful to know earlier but are still quite useful now. We discussed nutrition, in which I discovered that I have been eating things I shouldn't have been, which I kind of knew but thought would be okay if I was sensible about it but the pregnant midwife who was leading the class was all like "ooohhh no, well it's up to you but personally I wouldn't".

We also talked about exercise and a physiotherapist came in and laid us all down on the floor with pillows and got us doing pelvic floor exercises. "Squeeze and lift, and hold.... and hold ..... and hold .... and hold, keep breathing, don't clench the buttocks, and hold.... don't tense your abs.... and slowly lower." Jeez, she had us doing that for ages then we had to sit on fitballs and do it all again. Then she had us all back on the mats on all fours, fully relaxing our bellies whilst she came around and made sure you were tensing your trans-abdominals and only your trans-abdominals. I'm still not convinced I'm doing either of those exercises correctly.

Then she taught us all how to poo correctly.

Her advice was actually really good and I've been trying my very best to keep up with my pelvic floor exercises since then. I can already feel that pregnancy is having a bit of an affect on them and I don't even have much baby in there yet.

Back to the pregnant midwife and we discussed cigarettes and alcohol, the first being bad and the second being either bad or not so bad, depending on who you listen to. I have chosen to listen to the authority which says that a small amount is okay, although I forget who that actually was. And yes, it is an official health or pregnancy-related organisation and not a mate trying to get me out on the lash.

They also talked a little bit about who will be present at the birth. They assign a midwife to you on arrival and that nurse works with you one-on-one, which is nice to know. Of course, when her shift ends she buggers off home and is replaced by another one-on-one midwife, which could be a little disconcerting if that occurs during what is known as the transition period and all you want is a face you can trust to walk in and say "you can do it, you're doing really well" and instead some random stranger pops in and goes "right then, where are we up to?". The transition period, by the way, doesn't sound that nice. It's the bit in between the uterine contractions which move the baby into the birth canal (vagina for the rest of us) and dilate the cervix, and the cervical contractions where you feel the need to push the thing out. It's also where the endorphins that kill pain and send you off to la-la land during the first stage of labour start to be replaced by adrenalin to give you the energy to push during the second stage. It's a very confusing time and apparently is when a lot of ladies suddenly start to go "uh-oh... I don't think I can do this" but of course by then it's too late. No going back.

Anyway, so you get this midwife but you only get your obstetrician, the dude you've paid thousands of dollars to perform an ultrasound once a month, if something goes wrong or the baby is about to slip out. And even then, you mightn't get your own obstetrician because he only works one weekend in four. And of course, like most people he's entitled to sick leave and holiday (how rude). But I kind of knew this and I'm happy with it. I figure an obstetrician is kind of like insurance: you sort of hope you don't need it but it's best to have it just in case. Plus you're bound to see your midwife again at some point over your next few days in hospital so that follow up contact would be nice but you'll probably never see your obstetrician again until you turn up at his surgery with another three thousand dollars and a big fat positive two years later.

Did you know that women used to prime their nipples for breastfeeding with steel wool? I don't know how true that is but apparently it's not advised any more. Damn right. Yowch!

Speaking of which, I have been assured that breastfeeding doesn't have to hurt, which is good and relieves my mind immensely. So it might, but it might not. Still haven't quite come to terms with the whole induction thing though, but I'm working on it.

My sister sent me through a couple of baby books. One about cool baby names, and I was delighted to learn that most of the names on my list are cool, even if Toby has crossed most of them out. Incidentally, we have nicknamed the baby AJ. It is to do with some names we are considering but that's all I'll say and I'm sure it'll cause much speculation. The other book is damn hilarious and, surprisingly has some useful and interesting information in it. I learnt this morning that AJ hiccups. I have felt these rhythmical movements that are too subtle and regular to be kicks, but too strong to be my pulse (and usually in the wrong spot and then they stop anyway, which you'd hope my pulse wouldn't do). I've often wondered what it was, kind of assuming it was my pulse but knowing that didn't quite make sense. Well, now I know it's AJ's hiccups.

I just know you're all dying to know how to poo properly. This is important for all of us, especially as we get older, and especially us ladies. The first thing to remember is to eat a high fibre diet. We don't want any pushing and straining on the old loo; that's very bad for the pelvic floor. The second thing is to spend no longer than 90 seconds in total, including wiping and flushing. If you are then there's a problem somewhere. And the main thing is to get into a good position. A good pooing position is a squat (see, I knew those Asian toilets made sense). The knees should be higher than the hips and this gives the bowel a direct downward angle. Keep the pelvis tilted forward, not back, as this produces a kink in the bowel and your poo has to go up before it can come down so to speak. I have installed a little stool in our bathroom so that I can raise my feet and knees when I sit on the loo. And there you go. I honestly never thought I would be taught to poo properly and I'm horrified to learn I've been doing it wrong for thirty-two years.

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