Friday, 4 March 2016

Durban Doula Pregnancy Diary Week 34

The weeks just seem to fly by!

I don't feel like there's much to report at this stage. even my weekly pregnancy update emails from BabyCentre seem to just tell me that baby is growing by half a block of butter a week - 230g to be precise. It's not quite as exciting as hearing that baby has just grown fingers, or baby can close his eyes, or that baby has a functioning four chamber heart, but good news nonetheless!

Having said that, we have finally decided on a name. We've had the basic idea in place for a while, and we're even expanding to include a second name - neither myself nor hubby have a second name, and neither do either of the girls, so it's something new for us. (English teachers are welcome to correct my 'neither-nor' grammar on that one if necessary!)

Like I mentioned in a previous post, we wanted reasonably old fashioned names with appropriate meanings, that could be easily pronounced in English and Afrikaans. So unless we get some writing on the wall, we've settled on a name, but we'll only announce the name once baby is born - so make sure you follow us on Twitter at @DurbanDoula or on Facebook at Giving Birth Naturally to keep up with any potential announcements!

Some wall decor I collected from the thrift shop
and some end-of-range specials.
Part of the birth photography prize I won a while back includes a mini maternity shoot - so I met with the photographer, Sarah-Jane from Sarah-Jane Photography, and we chatted about our various expectations for the birth, and ideas for the maternity shoot this coming week. I'm quite excited about it - it's amazing how each pregnancy and photographer and circumstance so far has resulted in two very different maternity shoots, so I can't wait to see how this one is going to turn out!

The nesting thing hasn't left me, I'm working furiously on my quilt that I started before I was even pregnant with my first. I was working on it when I went into labour with my second and I haven't done much on it since. We're not intending on having another baby, and as much as the pink duvet cover we've had since we were newly married has served us well, I think it's time for a change!

Besides that, I've been trying to cook up double and triple batches of dinner whenever I can, and freezing them for after the birth. To be honest though, we've already used a couple of them when I've had a particularly draining day - but I suppose that's what they are there for!

We have a local butchery that sells oxtail for a fraction of the price of the regular grocery stores, so I've been cooking up this most delicious recipe in my pressure cooker:

Slow Cooked Oxtail and Beans

I brown the meat first then add all the extras and pop it in our automatic pressure cooker for 90min, instead of the 10 hour cooking time recommended here. I also only add 1/3 of the water to the stock, and even that still feels like a little too much, so I have to cook some off, but it is truly delicious, and very nutritious! And it freezes well too!

Another recipe I've referred to before is my 24hour chicken soup recipe - actually I have two, this one:

The Healing Recipe - Chicken Soup

I use this one more often than the next one, just out of habit, and once I've taken the chicken bones out, I liquidise it with all the vegetables still in it, and my girls who are usually picky about vegetables absolutely love it - I can't seem to keep up! They call it swamp soup. (#momwin)

And this one:

Heal-all Chicken Soup Recipe

I love the lemony light flavour of this one but I've had problems with bitterness the last couple of times I've made it - but I think I'll give it another go. (Update: Got it right this time! Not sure what the difference was but it worked!)

With both of these soups, I try to keep portions in my freezer at all times, so that as soon as anyone reports feeling even mildly ill, I've got some ready to go. You can see why these chicken soup recipes are the obvious choice for postpartum healing too...

My other mainstay is a bolognaise sauce recipe that I learned from my mom, that she learned from my Italian godmother. I'm sure it's changed somewhat over the years, but I absolutely love it on some gluten free pasta, or in a gluten free lasagne (made with zucchini or aubergine layers instead of pasta), with a little parmesan cheese over the top it is super yum! Although, I am generally of the opinion  that many dishes are improved with a little parmesan cheese on top! I keep promising myself I'll write the recipe down, and when I do, you'll be the first to know.

I'm also researching some other postpartum healing and nourishing recipes, so if you have any good ones, or good sources, please do pass them on!

I'm actively trying to plan for a healthy babymoon period this time. I think many cases of postpartum depression, and postpartum fatigue, are the result of insufficient rest and recuperation after birth. I understand that in our current social climate, the option to have a good rest after birth is a massive privilege, but I feel it should really be part of basic healthcare because it can have such far reaching consequences.

In some cases I think it is mothers themselves who accept the pressure to act and appear as if they didn't just have a human being emerge from their bellies - because that is so often what people fixate on in the postpartum period - "Oh, you don't even look like you just had a baby!" comments abound, where magazine headlines point out the tiniest postpartum bump, or laud the mothers who lost their babyweight and were seen pumping weights at the gym within a week or two.

It's all part of a culture that often sees children as an inconvenience to be managed, rather than little people, and mothers as liabilities to the economy, rather than guardians of a future generation.

Well, where I can, I will start making that change in my own life. Having recovered from Adrenal Fatigue after my last pregnancy, I've learned the value of self-care.

So hubby and I have chatted about ways for me to stay in bed as much as possible in the first few weeks, even with two older children around to be fed and clothed and lifted to school and back. That will look different for each person, but for us that includes investing in a little more healthy convenience food than I would usually buy, and some quick trail mix type snacks for me, setting up a baby station in our room, and making use of herbal baths and herbal infusions on a regular basis. I'm also making sure to put up a school run schedule that another family member or friend could collect them if necessary, as well as a list of 'chores' aka service opportunities for any visitors...

Community makes all the difference!

Obviously the cooking ahead also helps, as does the fact that hubby is great at packing lunches and getting kids to school. Fortunately we do have some external help with laundry and cleaning, and a great family and church community around us that we can call on for help where needed. Hubby will be in charge of setting and enforcing visiting hours - even though we are having a homebirth, and perhaps especially because we are having a home birth. 

Maybe if moms and potential moms and their families see the benefits of an intentional babymoon, they may be inspired to make space for themselves and others to do likewise...
Many cultures around the world have mandatory periods of rest before and after birth where the new mother is fed special nourishing food, massaged and looked after, and her usual household duties are taken care of so she can save her energy and attention for herself and her baby. I think we could learn a lot!

Beyond that, shoelaces are evil. Catch you next time!

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