Every Dad Should Have Skin-to-Skin Time When Baby Is Born

Much of preparing for birth and the postnatal period revolves around mother and baby. Certainly, for good reason: both work incredibly hard and both deserve those amazing moments in the first hour after birth. However, more research continues to surface about the importance of dad’s role during birth and the postnatal period. In fact, even beyond the immediate postnatal period, we’ve recently learned that dad’s interactions can impact a child’s social and emotional health for the first 10 years, but likely much longer.

Dr Nils Bergman recently presented at the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine and shared current research about the importance of skin to skin. What he shared which isn’t as commonly discussed is how important skin to skin time is for dad because it actually rewires dad’s brain.
So why is skin-to-skin so important? Skin to skin time is often suggested as an optimal activity to give your baby a better start. However, research now shows that we shouldn’t look at skin to skin as something to do to boost our baby’s start but rather look at it as the biological norm that it is.

Because skin to skin between mother and baby immediately after birth is the biological norm, we now know that interrupting immediate skin to skin actually has risks but how does this relate to dad? So, according to Dr Nils Bergman just 30 minutes of skin to skin with dad actually rewires dad’s brain. Mothers have the advantage of the natural hormonal changes during and immediately following birth, especially the hormone oxytocin, to help their maternal instincts kick in. For dad, time spent with and caring for baby helps the bonding process but skin to skin actually rewires his brain.

How does skin-to-skin rewire dad’s brain? Many of our bodily processes are run by and impacted by our hormones. Our hormones are influenced by many things including our environment and actions. When dad spends time skin to skin with his newborn, hormonal changes occur including a rise in dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for many things including pleasure. A rise in dopamine plus the release of oxytocin means dad’s brain creates a positive association with close interaction with baby. It seems that skin to skin with dad can help dad’s natural parenting instincts to kick in.

Why is this important? Certainly, many dads have gone without skin to skin contact and been excellent, hands on parents. It isn’t something that if skipped will mean a poor parental bond. However, it does seem that research shows this natural rewiring can be an important part in early parenting. Perhaps it’s something to do with a biological positive association with baby. When it’s 2 am and baby is crying…again…that positive association could mean coping just a bit better.

When baby is fussing with her mummy, it could mean stepping in without request to offer a hand. It might mean being just a bit more confident in being more hands on. Or opting to wear or hold baby rather than swaddling and putting in the swing for extended periods of time (baby gear isn’t inherently bad, but they can be overused).

“Every Infant Should Have 30 Minutes of Skin to Skin with Father on The First Day”

While what happens on the first day or so of life isn’t the end all be all of parental success, it can and does play a role in baby’s development as well as parental child bonds. We often hear about the importance of skin to skin between mother and baby as it helps prevent postnatal haemorrhage, aides in beginning lactation, and helps stabilise baby’s breathing and temperature. We don’t always hear about the importance of skin to skin with dad. Baby benefits from any close contact, but it seems in this situation, dad also has a lot to gain biologically from skin to skin. By encouraging this contact on the first day of life, we can help dads begin parenthood in a positive way. Rewiring the brain to seek close contact with baby can mean an easier transition not only for dad but also for baby and mother.

By Maria Pyanov CPD, CCE in Men.

Much More Than Just Baby Massage

The lovely Emma is a member of the International Association of Infant Massage and facilitates local five-week programmes.

She recently wrote a blog covering the five-step dialogue of positive nurturing touch and this is well worth a read! A main aim for Emma is creating a quiet space away from the our busy 21st Century living for parents to simply focus on and interact with their babies in a welcoming, warm and peaceful space.

How to enhance bonding and increase attunement through touch with our babies born early, with illness or health problems.

Positive nurturing touch

Touch is the first sense your baby develops in the womb, and touch is how your baby primarily experiences and communicates with their world. Your positive nurturing touch has an important role for easing your baby’s “transition from womb to world”.

Getting to know your baby and enhance bonding through positive nurturing touch

Having a baby who is born early, who has experienced a difficult birth leading to illness, or born with health problems can be a very stressful experience for you, and your baby. Getting to know your baby through a cue-based dialogue of positive nurturing touch can help to encourage your special connection together, enhance the bonding process and can give you a greater sense of confidence as a parent.

Time spent watching and caring for your baby will help you learn about their unique ways of responding to the world. Through their cues, your baby will let you know what kind of touch they are able to receive and what works for them as individuals at that particular time. Your baby can sense and feel your touch and recognise your special voice and scent. This creates an opportunity for bonding and attachment, that lasts a lifetime.

A cue-based dialogue 

In our Association positive nurturing touch (and Baby Massage when you’re at home) is not considered a treatment or therapy, it is a two-way communication; a dialogue between you and your baby. The most important element to this dialogue of nurturing touch in any circumstance is that it is carried out in synchrony with your baby, at all times.

Your baby’s first contact with human touch may have been a world away from the warmth, security and comfort of the womb. The dialogue you develop with your baby communicates the love and the respect that you have for your baby, as a person in their own right. This communication of love and respect will help your baby to build trust and get used to the feelings of your loving touch. Through this dialogue with your baby, you will also gain a deeper understanding of your baby’s cues and therefore their needs, which will in-turn give you a greater sense of confidence as a parent.

Your five-step dialogue with your baby

Observation

  • Your dialogue with your baby starts with observation, as highlighted above, time spent observing your baby before giving any touch is very important because so much can change from day-to-day, even minute-to-minute.  The simple act of observing your baby creates an opportunity for you to discover more about them, in what ever situation you may be experiencing. Ensure the room is warm with a relaxing atmosphere, where there is little other stimulation and only natural or dimmed light.

Permission

  • Touch permission should always be the centre of this dialogue with your baby.  Every touch given should begin with a thought or word of intention to prepare your baby for being touched, Touch permission communicates respect and love, and helps you to read, understand and respond to your baby’s cues. This process also gives your baby that important cue for positive touch.  A good way to do this is by rubbing your hands together so your baby can hear, and this will increase warmth in your hands too.

Recognising and responding to cues

  • Reading and being receptive to your baby’s cues and reactions is your best guide towards safe touch that is paced to suit your baby at any given time. As you get more experienced with this dialogue and more familiar with reading your baby, you will become amazed by their unique capabilities, their development possibilities, strengths and vulnerabilities.

Touch communication

  • If your baby is still very poorly, you may want to initiate your approach by simply letting your baby feel your presence, for example by holding your hands very close to your baby body, but not making contact. Although there is no direct contact, you can still experience a connection with your baby and a sense of involvement, during those more stressful and uncertain times.
  • Resting hands and cradle holds are a way of providing stability and predictability for your baby and enables you to slowly gain your own confidence, especially in times where there may have been separation, or if your baby has been very poorly or in recovery for a length of time.  Once moving through the previous steps of your dialogue, the connection with your baby begins with approaching their body very slowly, always being aware of their cues.  When you have made contact with your baby, consciously relax your body, slow your breathing and feel your healing relaxation flow through your hands to your baby.  Your resting hands can help to settle your baby, while a cradle hold gives your baby a sense of a secure boundary.

Completion

  • Through cues, your baby will let you know when they have had enough stimulation, or for other reasons (as mentioned below) that it is time to complete this dialogue.
  • This process begins with the pressure of your resting hands being removed slowly and sensitively by keeping your hands close to your baby, without touch and then slowly removing your hands. This can be completed with verbal or silent intent, whilst reading your baby’s cues to ensure your continued and a relaxing departure.
  • After you have removed your hands away from your baby, again watch and wait. Sometimes the reaction to any touch appears many minutes afterwards. The benefits of your touch can last for hours.

Avoidance or disengagement cues

Your baby’s avoidance, or disengagement cues may appear in clusters. These clusters can be very subtle at first, for example a change in breathing, hiccuping, yawning or sneezing, however every baby is an individual.  You are the expert of your baby and your baby is your teacher. Your baby will let you know what their own unique engagement and disengagement cues are.

If you have a baby who is born early, has experienced illness or has health problems they may be more sensitive to their surroundings. If your baby starts to give you their avoidance or disengagement cues during your touch communication together, slow your breathing and consciously relax your hands. Take a moment to wait and watch; are there any outside disturbances that could have unsettled your baby? Has someone come into the room? Are the lights too bright? Have you moved your hands even very slightly? By taking this time to wait and watch you are continuing your cue-based dialogue.  This time may also help your baby to resettle, with the reassurance and consistency of your positive nurturing touch.

When at home

If your baby is receiving therapies, such as physiotherapy, consider if this time of nurturing touch could be in a different room to minimise the association between receiving a therapy or completing exercises (which can be uncomfortable) and your dialogue of positive nurturing touch.

It is important that when working through your dialogue together that your baby is positioned nice and close to you, so that you can clearly see their face; on your lap with knees bent works well (as with IAIM and Sunflower Baby Massage logo).  To encourage feelings of support and security, you can place a blanket underneath your baby and cocoon this around them, which will also help to keep them warm.

Your role, your baby’s role and our roles as CIMIs

As the parent of your baby you are the expert of your baby, and your baby is your teacher.  As IAIM Certified Infant Massage Instructors (CIMIs) it is our role to simply facilitate, guide and support you through this process as you learn the holds and massage strokes that are associated with yours and your baby’s unique dialogue.

No matter what the circumstance, you are a fundamental part of your baby’s development and growth. Your baby will quickly recognise the incredible love that flows through your hands, as you discover your wonderful dialogue together; a dialogue that will continue to grow as your baby does, encouraging a lifetime of love, trust and intimacy between you both.

A final note from Vimala McClure, Founder of the International Association of Infant Massage

“Breath deeply, relax and move through these movements with your baby. Assure your newborn that he or she is OK, that you are here for him or her no matter what happens. The baby needs to feel your strength and confidence”

By Emma Lindell

Certified Infant Massage Instructor with the International Association of Infant Massage.

 

The Naked Midwives fully support Emma’s work and to find out more information please visit her website at www.sunflowerbabymassage.co.uk and keep an eye on her FB page: https://www.facebook.com/sunflowerbabymassage/ for lots more interesting articles.

Taking the fear out of childbirth…

I don’t know if you saw the recent feature in Saturday Times where Natasha Pearlman, editor of Grazia Magazine wrote a searingly honest account of her labour and birth 3 years ago.  As a practicing midwife it both saddened me and made me despair in equal measure.  It is apparent that what should have been a wonderful and memorable time for Natasha and her partner has affected her emotionally and left deep scars.    Now, obviously I cannot comment for her and on Natasha’s particular delivery but I am fortunate enough to work in a busy maternity hospital whereby I do not believe this would have happened.  However, having said that, antenatal classes and labour, birth and postnatal education is the Cinderella of maternity services – with many new parents choosing between classes provided by the hospital, which due to time constraints and staff availability are at best, a brief overview of what may happen, or choosing to join a local smaller group.

Antenatal education is not for everyone.   Some people are happy to choose to just go along with events as they happen.   Yet, when you are having a baby for the first time, there is no blue print and however much you may want a low risk, low intervention birth, sometimes circumstances can dictate that you end up in an obstetric unit with doctors making decisions – hopefully with you, as to the labour and birth of your baby.

However, with comprehensive and complete education,  education that allows you to get involved and ask questions, shows you the equipment used if you veer off the midwifery led pathway, tells you about all the types of pain relief available – (I mean, you’re not getting a medal at the end of this, take the pain relief if you need to), and the who, why and when it may be essential to go to theatre, you will feel more empowered and in control.  And not that you have failed.  Having any kind of an instrumental delivery or caesarean section is not a failure, it can happen for any number of reasons and by having this information beforehand will allow you to make informed decisions and feel more in control.   Using hypnobirthing or having a doula with you is no guarantee of an intervention free labour and birth – but what you learn from those classes will serve you well in every situation.  But, by gaining knowledge of all types of birth and possible intervention that may occur gives you the power  to make informed choices.

For example, if the classes mentioned in the Saturday Times article discussed how the latent phase of labour works – when contractions stop and start and there’s little or no rhythm or consistency to them, and explained that this very early stage of labour that is bringing your cervix forward and shortening it in length, should you find yourself in the maternity unit and they suggest you return home,  you will feel strong enough to do so, confident that things were happening and the fear and lack of confidence would will not be an issue.

I know  from experience that hospital antenatal classes spend little or no time focusing on the early days at home – when you go home with a new baby and feeling emotional, tired and perhaps a little out of your depth.   We feel it is important that once you have your baby, you know that Day 3 is going to be a weepy day, that your milk may come in and you’ll apparently cry at the smallest thing.  Gathering as much information as possible before you have your baby can make such a difference to how you feel and can help you make informed decisions about your body, your labour and your birth.  Ladies, you deliver the babies, as midwives we just facilitate this and act as your advocate.

Many hospital units offer a ‘birth afterthoughts’ service whereby, after having your baby,  you can have an appointment with a midwife who will go through all the notes and documentation from your birth.  This is often done when a woman falls pregnant again and lots of memories – sometimes not always positive ones, rise to the surface.  I hope Natasha Pearlman has access to such a facility.

Folic Acid in Pregnancy

So, you’ve decided to have a baby! Congratulations.

I know you will be getting advice from everyone but here is just a short piece that will hopefully help you make some very good decisions for you and your baby.

In the first trimester of pregnancy your baby’s nervous  system is developing fast. It is known that folic acid (aka vitamin B9) is a vitamin that is crucial in the healthy development of the nervous system and good levels of folic acid greatly reduce the risk of birth defects such as spina bifida. It is one of a few vitamins that are best taken as a supplement even if you are being extra, extra good and going for a super healthy diet.  Here is this extract from the NHS referring to folic acid in pregnancy. The link for the full article is below.

    “Dietary sources of folic acid include green, leafy vegetables, brown rice, granary bread, and breakfast cereals fortified with folic acid. Always check the food labels. However, it would be almost impossible to get enough folic acid just from food – the only way to be sure you are getting the right amount is by taking a supplement.”

http://www.nhs.uk/chq/pages/913.aspx?categoryid=54

At our health store, we offer folic acid as a separate supplement or as part of a pregnancy multi-nutrient supplement. However, we now promote methylfolate instead for folic acid. Methylfolate is what our bodies turn folic acid into in order for this vitamin to be absorbed.  About a third of us have a genetic impairment that means that this conversion is not so efficient. For these pregnant women methyfolate is the best option.  For the rest of us methylfolate still means better, easier absorption which is always a plus!

Many women don’t particularly like to take supplements and I can understand this.  However just a few supplements are too important to dismiss. Folic acid is one of them.

I will be talking about the rest in my next blog.

Anna Hanson

 

www.myhealth365.co.uk

The Bay Tree

Saxon Square, Christchurch

15 Penny’s Walk, Ferndown Shopping Centre

 

6 Things women should definitely know before going into labour or hospital.

 

The poo conversation…

The poo conversation… and we’re not talking about the rotund fury friend of piglet. There’s no sugar coating this, it’s common for women to open their bowels during labour. However, during the latent phase of labour (the early stages) it is often the case that your body will naturally empty the bowel, as most women will experience an upset stomach and this is indeed a positive sign that you may be going into labour.

If this is not the case then please don’t let this worry you or cause anxiety. For the normal physiological mechanics of labour to take place, it’s helpful to have any possible obstructions out of the way. In our experience midwives are very discrete, we don’t jump up and down waving a red flag we are just reassured that the baby now has more room to make their entrance.

It’s also a good idea to pre-warn birth partners and maybe ask them to kindly remain at the talking end as we can’t predict some people’s reactions if they are ill prepared!

 

Men and massage…

In recent years’ massage has proven to be effective in reducing pain in labouring women. This is common knowledge to most expectant parents and will be discussed within their birth plan wishes. This is something we cover and practice within our classes, practice being the operative word! This is the key factor when considering massage as method of pain relief. Techniques can easily be taught to birth partners however, men have to feel comfortable with this practice especially if it’s not something a couple are used to doing. You ladies will be pleased to hear that we suggest men practice massage techniques at home within the last few weeks of pregnancy so it doesn’t feel alien to all involved at the time it’s needed! Men can also feel a little embarrassed when massaging their partners in front of the midwife but believe me we are grateful for the help.

 

Everything but the kitchen sink…

There are 101 different lists on the internet that make suggestions on what to pack in your hospital bag! This is very simple…midwives need room to provide a safe environment to facilitate the birth of your pride and joy. We aren’t saying you can’t pack your matching nightie, dressing gown and bath mat, by all means you can, but this can remain in the car. In our experience the main items you will need during and immediately after birth are as follows – 1. Face cloth to cool your forehead during labour (this is often forgotten and you end up with mushed up, wet, NHS paper towel that absorbs the heat and become just damp and warm within seconds, slapped across your forehead) 2. Big, thick, heavy duty sanitary towels (labour can be a messy business as I’m sure you can imagine! So, don’t go for the ultra slim kind, they just don’t cut it and make you sweat!) 3. Pack of XL cheap pants (please no paper pants, no explanation needed!) 4. Laundry bag (for your soiled labour wear/underwear and not forgetting babies maybe tiny but they sure make a lot of mess) 5. Small toiletry bag containing basics plus lip balm and hairband. 6. Nappies and a hat for baby – as midwives we are advocates of skin to skin following birth and would encourage this where possible. Although it’s tempting, there is no rush to put baby into the fabulous outfit you’ve had hanging in the wardrobe for the past 3 months! Enjoy the time…enjoy the bonding, the hat is just to keep the head warm.

 

Shake that bump….

We are all aware the wonderful effects of gravity assist greatly in the journey that is childbirth. This is something that is easily recognised however, movement goes hand in hand with this but is not as frequently discussed. Think of gravity helping baby descend but negotiating the pelvis and birth canal can be described as round hole…square peg! Movement helps us remember our natural instinctive creativity and taking the space to move and breathe can lead us into a sense of ease and security – it’s something to lean back into!

 

Choosing the right antenatal class and the Latent Phase of labour……

Labour can be long and unpredictable especially for first time mums. To quote the great Shakespeare himself… “to climb steep hills takes a slow pace at first” this is why we feel choosing the right antenatal class is paramount. A class that focuses heavily on what we call the latent phase of labour (the early stages) can really get you started off on the right foot. There are lots of techniques that you and your birth partner can be shown to help you conquer the fight of flight sense of imbalance at the beginning of labour.  Get this stage right and the rest will follow….

 

Choose your birth partner wisely …..

As practising midwives, we regularly meet women on labour ward whose ideal birth has faded into what is now a scene from the latest horror movie!  We believe that to have choice you need to be truly informed and be aware of all possible eventualities.   Giving birth can be unpredictable yet we do not believe it needs to be scary and negative (whilst these may make more interesting stories!).

 

One of the first things we would hope you would consider is choosing your birth partner wisely.  It is important to remember your birth partner does not necessarily need to be your loved one.   In certain cases, this can only cause confusion and self-doubt.  When loved ones see each other in discomfort it can be a really difficult scenario, people will act out of character as there is little they can do.  Sometimes it is more beneficial for women to have the support of someone close who can focus solely on the job in hand!   As the song goes….’we all need somebody to lean on’.  In fact, let’s not forget, the dad will also call out to the birth partner for support.

 

Every couple will be different and we fully understand that some people will prefer a more intimate setting with just the two of them but we feel it’s important to ensure you know – you always have the choice!   Let’s face it, would you want Robbie Williams in your birth room singing about ‘angels’ when you are 10cm dilated!

 

 

 

 

‘What’s your ‘Normal’?

As midwives, we often comment on the type of birth someone has had…Did she have a ‘normal’ delivery?  At the Naked Midwives, this got us round to thinking about the language we use when discussing childbirth, labour and the effect our words can sometimes have on women and their expectations.

If a woman has a baby in a relatively short period of time and does so with little pain or discomfort, midwives can be heard to say, ‘oh Imogen did so well, her first baby in four hours….’.   But really, the woman who has had a long latent phase, then decided on the option of more pain relief and maybe had a forceps or ventouse delivery after days – yet is still smiling? Has she not done equally as well? Of course, but the language we use can sometimes dampen this which for some women, can lead to a sense of failure.

Midwives will freely use the word ‘Normal’ in relation to childbirth.  But really, if you’ve not had a baby before, do you even have a ‘normal’?   We all have different body types, different pain thresholds and medical history unique to each and every one of us.  So, it stands to reason that every birth will be different and what is one woman’s ‘normal’, maybe completely different from someone else’s. However, it is important to remember that for the medical term of reference there has to be a way of differentiating between a vaginal delivery, an instrumental delivery and a caesarean section, but surly the word ‘normal’ has no place within these categories… but it does and it’s used on a regular basis!

Every birth needs to be celebrated regardless of the type of delivery and whilst this is often the case, many women feel cheated or this sense of failure if they don’t have this magical ‘normal’ birth. Are we as an institute of maternity care contributing to this with our choice in language? Whilst we would all like to give birth in a comfortable beautiful setting with a short, pain free non-invasive delivery this is not always the case!    Yes, some women may take longer to birth than others, some may take longer to recover from birth and some may even take more time to come to terms with being a parent for the first time…that is their ‘normal’.   From a personal experience, I have had three caesarean sections, two emergencies and one planned so that is my normal…not a drop of ‘normal delivery’ in my birth experience!

It is our choice at The Naked Midwives to aim to stop using the word ‘normal’ in relation to birth after all………what is ‘normal’.

Please share your experiences and thoughts with us in our comments box or get in touch if you are an expectant parent and have any questions for Alex and I.

Beyond the bump…embracing our postnatal bodies

Where’s my body gone……..?

You can finally see your feet – a small but significant event after having a baby – that and being able to actually see whilst you shave your legs!   Having a baby has meant your body has gone through changes nothing short of miraculous but not everyone feels able to celebrate their own postnatal body.   But before you launch into a bout of promises and resolutions that may be at best unobtainable – I’m going to be like Victoria Beckham by the end of the month, exercise like Davina…… you know the thing, we want you to take stock of what you have actually achieved.   Take a moment to look, really study this beautiful and incredible little human you have grown.   You did this.  OK your partner may have done his bit too, but your body grew and nourished this ‘mini-me’ and did so for 9 months.

You may have stretch marks where before you had none, you may find sagging skin and thread veins and even a bulging tum but we would certainly recommend waiting at least three months before starting any intense exercise or strict diet regime.  It’s true the media – and social media, show women who apparently just pop back into place but in reality, you are never the same postnatally as you were before – you are now an improved and enhanced superwoman.  After all, look at what you have done!  With a healthy diet and exercise that starts relatively easy and then increases as you feel stronger, both your physical and your mental health will improve.  You will see photos of women, 4 days postpartum running/shopping/at award ceremonies……..don’t believe it.  Getting out of the shower and dressed is achievement enough, trust me!

A survey in 2013 by the Royal College of Midwives found that women who carried baby weight after delivery suffered with negative self-esteem issues and a considerable number felt under pressure to return to their form size and shape.    With most women – particularly those who do not have access to personal trainers/nutritionists/therapists and hairdressers to follow them around, I would say it takes a year to recover from having a baby.  And during that time, your body, mental health and life in general is all getting used to this new way of life – a life with a baby and this needs to be celebrated!   Your body will recover and you will fit into non-maternity clothes – trust me!  However, sometimes we never get our pre-pregnancy body back but that’s ok too.  This one you have now will, if looked after, allow you to feed your baby, run, dance and jump on the trampoline with your child (if you have done your pelvic floor that is!) and see your child grow.  Please do not be hard on yourself or your friends.   In spite of having 9 months of preparation, becoming a parent always comes as a shock.  You set out to have a baby but what you get is a complete and total takeover of your life!  Your baby does not need perfect – they just need you.

If you are having trouble coming to terms with your new life after having a baby, we would strongly recommend you talk to your midwife, health visitor or doctor.  Please do not suffer alone, there are many services to help and work with you.

40 Weeks and Counting…

So, you have reached 40 weeks and one day in your pregnancy.  What happens next……. Well the phone will ring and ping constantly with family and friends asking if you have had the baby yet that’s one thing that will definitely happen!    Your ‘due date’ is really a calculated estimate of a date.   Midwives categorise full term pregnancy as any time between 37 and 42 – that is a full five week window.   So by concentrating on your due date, feeling fed up and disappointed the star attraction has not yet made an appearance by this magical date can lead to feelings of frustration.

Leading French Obstetrician,  Michel Odent  likens full term pregnancy to ripe fruit on a tree.  The fruit will not all be ready for picking at the same time and decide to fall when it is ready, when the time is appropriate.

This will probably be the last time it is just you and your partner together, alone.  If you go on to have more children then, when you are past your due date on your next pregnancy, you’ll have a little one to cope with as well.   Enjoy your time together.  Go on a date night, nice forest or beach walks – it may be a while until you get to do this again!   Spending time with your partner and loved ones creates the magical oxytocin – the hormone of love, which, in turn will create the optimal environment to encourage labour to start.  Try not to wish the time away however tempting that may be, there are a number of suggestions that you may find helpful at this time.

Spoil yourself a little.  There appears to be a huge growth for beauty treatments to be undertaken – hair/nails/bikini lines towards the end of pregnancy.  Although remember, your midwife will have seen it all before so do not feel any pressure to undertake any beauty treatments!  But take care of you.  Enjoy nutritional food, you may like to invite some friends over but insist they all bring ‘a plate’ so you can socialise without the stress or hard work of hosting.  Enjoy some gentle exercise and yet rest when you feel like it.   This may be the optimal time for catching up on that box set you have been meaning to watch!

However you spend your time try, if you can to be patient, and just go with it and let it be.  Monitor baby movements, rest and enjoy these last few days of carrying your baby with you.  This magical time is soon forgotten.