Tommy’s 5 Point Pregnancy Plan – Make a difference.

I have walked out of a maternity unit leaving my dead newborn son behind me. I have driven home, unaware that I left the building in my pyjamas and walked across the car park in socks and stared blankly at the car in front for a 20 minute journey home; that car had a ‘baby on board’ sticker waving in the rear window. I have told my 4 daughters, aged between 11 and 5, that their new baby brother is dead and won’t be coming home. I have told them I don’t know why.

This shouldn’t happen to any family. It shouldn’t happen to any mother. The physical sense of loss is so great that it is as if your limbs have been torn off and your soul ripped away. I would have traded any living soul, excepting my daughters and husband, for his life at that moment. I probably still would. Infant loss over rides every other sense you have.

The odds of stillbirth or neonatal loss in the UK are approximately 1 in 200 – if you are obese, your chances of experiencing a stillbirth are doubled. Obesity, something I have battled with all my life, is a factor in maternal and foetal health, in birth defects and miscarriage. And fighting with weight is an enormous challenge at the best of times for many women, never mind in pregnancy, when ‘dieting’ is frowned upon and myths of “eating for two” abound. A recent survey suggests that 40% of women believe they need to eat an extra 500 calories a day during pregnancy. The truth is that they need around an extra 200 calories a day in the last 12 weeks of pregnancy – that’s two slices of bread a day.

I’ve joined up with Tommy’s Baby charity and Bounty UK to help them launch their new 5 Point Plan for healthy pregnancy. This is a plan aimed at empowering women to make small changes to improve the health of themselves and their baby. It’s about making thoughtful choices and making a difference. Too often women feel there is nothing they can do once they are pregnant to keep themselves healthy and that all the ‘inevitable damage’ that they do during pregnancy can be fixed afterwards. This campaign is about supporting women to make good health choices, small changes that can make big differences.

If I had known how much my weight might impact on Freddie, REALLY known, I might have fought off some weight first, as I did with this current pregnancy. We don’t know why he died, but nagging in the back of my mind is that I could have taken much better care of myself. I struggled with colds all the way through, I didn’t take vitamins after the first three months, I didn’t really look after my soul and my mental well-being as well as I could have. And because we don’t have any other reason for his death, it is hard not to blame myself and my choices. I DID eat healthily and wisely and put on as little additional weight as possible, I’m absolutely sure that helped his pregnancy and birth go smoothly as it did with Maddy’s, but I wish I had planned ahead more.

The 5 Point Pregnancy Plan

Tommy’s and Bounty Uk are encouraging women and health carers to address 5 areas of wellbeing:-

Nutrition

Weight Management

Mental health

Exercise

Smoking

Women have a right to good information and supportive assistance in these areas, whether it is help to know what foods they should eat, or managing stress, which can contribute to pre-term labour, finding a gentle exercise programme to suit them or giving up smoking. 17% of pregnant mothers still smoke. 1 in 5 pregnant mothers are obese. There are common misconceptions surrounding ‘dieting’ as opposed to nutritional and healthy food and how safe exercise is during pregnancy. Tommy’s and Bounty UK aim to help women get easy access to this information by placing an information card in all new pregnancy packs given to expectant mothers.

How You Can Help

This morning I went on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire to talk about my experiences (starts at 1 hr 40m) I’ve learned a lot through my various pregnancies; after my first, I never relied on breastfeeding to shed all that extra fat ever again. After Freddie died, when we knew we would try to have another child, I took Folic Acid and vitamin supplements religiously throughout the year it took to conceive again. I attended counselling to sort out my head as I was all too well aware that the stress of his death was likely to affect conception and make pregnancy incredibly hard. Once I felt able I took up running, eventually getting to a point where I could run a 5K charity event run. It took surprisingly little time to achieve that and I kept running through early pregnancy. I now walk briskly around my circuit. We eat well here, good, nutritional and balanced meals, but I’ve monitored my treats and aimed to put on the weight associated with baby, not extra fat. I have plenty of that :)

What did you learn from your first pregnancy? How have you changed things with later pregnancies? Can you share your story, whether something huge and life changing, or small and funny, that made you manage your approach to pregnancy differently? Do yyou feel there is enough information available? Do health carers help you or frustrate you? How did your approach to physical and mental well being change over your pregnancies?

The blog hop below aims to gather lots of different stories about healthcare in pregnancy and spread the word about this new, incredibly worthwhile, campaign. Please join in and share the links I’ve included where you can. We’re using the hashtag #healthypregnancy on Twitter. Help us get the word out :)

As a small incentive, I am personally offering two GBP25 (my server refuses to do the pound sign) vouchers for our toy shop which will be randomly drawn from the entrants. If we get lots of entries, I might even add more vouchers. June from Goddess Jewels is offering a bracelet and Jenny is going to offer some Natality Mum or Baby Balm :)

Thank you for reading.

A round up of all those who took part can be read here.

 

Comments

  1. says

    Thanks so much for sharing this and for asking me to link up. I have written about the importance to have a healthy mind. In reading your post and writing my own I have realised hwo important it is this time around. Thanks to your bravery at sharing your darkest moments, I am sure that many women will find comfort and support. I know I have.
    XxX

  2. sarah says

    Just heard the interview. Good job and well done for introducing Freddie and managing the questions about him.

    Don’t have a blog and am a complete philistine when it comes to twitter so my thoughts are here:

    I put on 3 stone with each of my pregnancies having eaten relatively well in the last trimester (too sick to eat much in the first two – I don’t do pregnancy well and think my ‘blooming’ phase lasts for about 2 days somewhere around month 7 just before it all starts getting too unwieldy and tiring) and in a similar way was somewhat put out that it didn’t all disappear after the birth and the fallacy of it all dropping off with breast feeding well…… Regular body pump classes did it for me – I need to be pushed by an instructor than left to my own devices in a gym – and achieved pre-pregnancy weight by 9 months ready to go back to work on each occasion. I found I didn’t lose anything much until breastfeeding was over.

    First baby did all the healthy eating stuff and suffered a drug-free normal delivery.
    Second time too sick to eat much more than carbs (mainly pringles and chips though funnily went off chocolate), this time asked for drugs but was refused by midwives – for no good reason that I could fathom – and suffered a drug-free normal delivery again.
    Third time too stressed as was older mother, unplanned, etc etc. Because of previous experiences (mostly what put me right off having a third child), I was straight onto the GP to refer for planned section so I could have guaranteed pain control. Psychologically could not go through drug-free delivery for a third time. Had they been able to guarantee an epidural I would have gone for a third NVD but having been refused one on two previous occasions, despite asking in plenty of time and with no obvious contraindications there was no way I was going to risk it. Main panic for the last month was baby turning up early as section was booked for 7 days before due date and baby no 1 had turned up 9 days early.

    On all 3 occasions I was really superstitious and didn’t tell anyone other than family and my line manager until I had had the anomaly scan and was 24/25 weeks and starting to show. For baby 3 I didn’t even tell family until the scan had been done as I was convinced my luck had run out with 2 beautiful children – 1 of each – and didn’t want to raise hopes. I was much more detached from that pregnancy because of it.

    Midwives I have had dealings with I found incredibly frustrating. The ones at ante natal classes wanted to make me scream and those involved in my last pregnancy treated me as a pariah as I had chosen to have a NON NORMAL birth OUT OF AREA so they didn’t even have the right forms to fill in and I had had the cheek to ARRANGE IT MYSELF since I knew the consultant who also happened to be a good friend of my GP. I barely saw any of them during the pregnancy so good job things went ok. As for those in the hospital you’d think it was their job to stop as many women as possible from getting any form of effective pain relief or from getting on with the job in hand when clearly something needed doing. And as for letting the student loose with the suturing – I must have been completely out of it to allow that to happen. I’m convinced she’s the reason for my pathetic pelvic floor. Never had such trouble after the registrar did the stitching. Health visitors never really came up with any useful information extra to what I had gleaned from friends, books, google etc so my visits to them fell by the wayside pretty quickly.

    Breast feeding improved as I went along and I wish I’d known at the beginning that no matter how hard you try and how many different things you try, some babies are just rubbish at breast feeding and will struggle whatever. Baby 3 was a dream compared with baby 1 and made me realise it wasn’t me being rubbish since I hadn’t suddenly become an expert in between times (although not being knackered from labour and birthing may have played a part) and that the girls who blithely went on and on about how easy and convenient the whole thing is clearly had babies who were willing to play the game.

    All in all I’m glad it’s behind me – it was ok while it lasted but I don’t think I’m programmed to ‘do’ pregnancy and the first 6 months very well. The more I knew about possible problems the more stressful it all got. Same for my husband who has since made sure there will be no more surprises in this house!