Excess baggage – what’s in my hospital bag?

Five days until d-day and my hospital bag is packed and ready to go. But what should you pack for your trip to the delivery suite? Like everything else to do with pregnancy advice, if you ask google, there are a million and one different versions  (mostly seeming to require luggage the size of a steamer trunk). As I read through the lists, I realised that all I needed to do was apply my runner’s head to the problem, so in my bag there is…

Kit – This has to be something comfy and it can’t matter if gets sweaty and mucky. Ideally, it should be long enough cover all your bumpy bits (my running kit does not involve anything cropped), this is not the time to live out that anxiety dream of being out in public wearing something inappropriately short (or is that one just me….?).

Footwear – Something appropriate for the terrain. I have mostly been wearing flipflops since May (fat feet and an increasing reluctance to have to deal with laces) but have invested in a cheap stretchy pair of slippers from Tesco. I encountered hospital issue slippers and want nothing to do with them, mainly because I would trip over them and end up in A&E.

Unglamorous underwear – The top half requires supportive, well-fitting specialist scaffolding with technical bits (flaps in this case). Like sports bras, in terms of design and fabrics nursing bras do come in a variety of styles ranging from the practical to the more exotic. Like sports bras, I think you need a certain type of confidence to carry off one in leopard print. Especially as a novice. Bottom half (if you pardon the pun) requires large comfy pants. Let’s leave that one there.

Snacks – I’ll admit that my bag packing started with the snacks. This was a combination of the fact that food is usually a priority for me and it was less traumatic to consider food than some of the stuff that’s required for the business end of things. Snack-wise, the books stress how much energy you use during labour and are full of suggestions that sound familiar from long runs. For this reason, I have dried fruit, jelly sweets and cereal bars stuffed in my side pocket. I am willing to share these with Ginge if he asks nicely (if only to avoid the risk of him following the example of my friend’s other half who disappeared for a quick chicken kiev and chips in the midst of her labour).

Drinks – It has to be my usual race day selection – water for during, orange Caprisun and chocolate milk for after. Do not judge me.

Change of clothes – Something warm and comfy to change into after the event. Hopefully I won’t have to do this in the car park.

Safety pins – Oh. Actually, I don’t need those, must be force of habit…

Counting down – more running and pregnancy comparisons…

I have less than two weeks to go until my Expected Date of Confinement (when I expect to be swept behind some heavy velvet curtains and only receive visitors by appointment) and I’ve been musing about the similarities between this point of pregnancy and running. Clearly this has little to do with my physical appearance and abilities (I nearly got stuck under the stairs the other day) but bear with me.

Taper Madness
If you taper before a long race, you inevitably go a bit stir crazy. I have been stuck in the house waiting for deliveries (which I appreciate is somewhat apt…) and workmen, which does little for my mental health at the best of times. I want to be doing stuff but circumstances, tiredness and risk assessments (getting stuck under the stairs again would be embarassing) mean that I can’t. There is this a nagging feeling that I should be doing something. I don’t like enforced not doing stuff, however choosing not to do stuff is different….

Good intentions
As race day approaches I always have good intentions. I intend to eat well, abstain from alcohol, stretch, roll and cross train my little heart out. Inevitably, none of this happens. At the moment, I intend to do some yoga at home, practise my breathing and get to grips with my tens machine. Inevitably, none of this has happened. I can’t blame not having enough time to do this, I am just procrastinating.

Acute hypochondriasis
Alongside taper madness sit a few nice imaginary ailments. Am I getting a cold? Is that a niggle in my back/hip/foot? Does my knee always make that noise when I do that with it? Pregnancy is just the same. I have been fit and well for the last 38 weeks and yet in the last few, I have self-diagnosed invented pre-eclampsia (bit of a headache), symphysis pubis dysfunction (been sitting in a funny position for too long) and DVT (wearing unfamiliar heels to a wedding). Add to that the fact that at this point every twinge could be the onset of labour (especially at two in the morning…) and it’s all one big bucket of fun.

Making comparisons
I know that we all run our own races, but it’s easy to get sucked into comparing ourselves with other runners (and usually not coming out well). We choose our training plans, we do what’s right for us…but then we talk to someone else and the self doubt kicks in – should I be doing something else…? Have I made the right choices…? Have I done enough…? Physical comparisons are also hard to avoid; it’s funny, as soon as you get pregnant there are pregnant women everywhere and you start looking at their bumps. I love my bump, but it was a watershed moment when I looked round the ante-natal yoga class and realised that I was the biggest one there that day (I’m also the next but one due date which is even scarier…).

Getting familiar with race day
Whilst I can plan my race day strategy as much as I want, I have absolutely no control of what happens on the day. What we have done though is get to know the course metaphorically (by going to our ante-natal classes) and actually (by visiting both of the maternity units that I might go into). Having worked at both the hospitals, I knew whereabouts in the building they are (and more importantly, where they are in relation to the canteen) but nothing about what goes on in the unit. If you’re expecting, I would definitely advice having a look round your maternity units just because it means there’s one less unknown to worry about. Also, check the parking situation and start saving up when you have your twelve week scan…

Waddle, waddle, splash

I appreciate that pregnancy is a binary state – you either are or you aren’t, there’s no being ‘a bit pregnan’t – but over the last week or so, I have felt Very Pregnant. Certain movements, bending forward to reach something when I’m sitting down for instance, are somewhat hit and miss and are often accompanied by a chorus of ‘ooooofs’, ‘bloody hells’, or sometimes even ‘ooooof, bloody hell’.

It’s a bit of a cliche, but one of the times where I feel slightly less lumbering is in the swimming pool. Just as the penguin is a bit ungainly and waddly on land, but sleek and gymnastic in the water, I am a bit ungainly and waddly on land, but a bit less ungainly and waddly in the water. I am still managing a nice 20 lengths on my trips to the baths, albeit a bit slower than before, and am now 65% escaped from Alcatraz. I think I would like to complete my daring swim to freedom by my due date.


Me at the pool

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve also been looking ahead and doing some forward planning (conveniently ignoring the last couple of weeks of pregnancy, the actual birth and the first couple of months with a newborn baby). This has partly been triggered by other bloggers (particularly the inspiring words of I run because I love food) and hearing about Australian cricketer Sarah Elliott, who was back in the gym after six weeks and scored a Test century in between breastfeeding. I will concede that it’s probably a bit late in the day for me to contemplate an international sporting career and if I’m totally honest, at the moment the concept of running for a bus is as unimaginable as running an ultra. However, there’s only me that can make it happen when the right time comes and so I’ve been pondering my return.

My ultimate goal is an autumn half (to keep up my ‘half-marathon a year’ that I’ve done accidentally for the last three years). This might be helped along by the Lancaster Race Series Wagon and Horses 10 miler. We were up in Lancaster a couple of weeks ago when we saw the organisers setting up this year’s race, and I’ve always got time for an event that starts and finishes at a pub…

The other news that’s made me a bit excited is that I have a new local parkrun at Cuerden Valley. The inaugural event was last Sunday and I did consider having a waddle down, only to fall asleep instead. I’m not sure how the route works, but it looks intriguing and I assume that it will be somewhat undulating. Either way it’s a lovely setting for a run (it’s where I did one of the Badger 10k series  and I last ran there in the snow during this year’s Janathon) – country park rather than municipal park, and it’s handily close to the M6 for all you parkrun tourists out there.

Water water everywhere…

It’s been a bit weird since I stopped running. I’m not sure what to write about. I know not everyone wants to read about me being pregnant, which is absolutely fine, but it is taking up rather a lot of my existence at the moment (my bump is now at a size where complete strangers strike up conversations with me; most recently I went to the shop for a bacon and black pudding baton and ended up having a proper good chat with two blokes in full bright orange hi-vis who were working on the railway…).

So I have to apologise, there might be some more pregnancy-related posts and probably some knitted stuff as well, but I’ll try not to go on too much (I’ve only got 11 weeeks to go now anyway).

Anyway, being increasingly bumpy has made be aware of a couple of things recently. Firstly, stopping running made me realise just how sedentary I am when I don’t have regular exercise built into my week. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I work in community healthcare, which means that I spend a lot of time sitting down – I’m either at my desk, in my car or sitting on someone’s settee. It’s even worse at the moment because everyone is being helpful to the pregnant lady, so the only thing that I really have to get up for is to go to the loo…

On a related note, I have also realised that I’m even more rubbish than I thought at managing my hydration. I’ve definitely written before about my bearpaw hands that swell up when I run in the slightest bit of warmth and the recent hot weather has certainly proved that.  The Department of Health recommends that we should drink about 1.2 litres of fluid every day, the World Health Organisation says 1.5 to 2 litres (I think some this is to cover all bases climate-wise), and there seems to be agreement that you should drink more during pregnancy, especially during hot weather.

Now I’m not very good at keeping track of these things (I can barely remember how many lengths I’m up to when I go swimming and I only do 20-odd) so I have out-sourced that part of my brain to an iPhone app…

Usually contains water or squash. It's been a while since this glass has seen beer.

Usually contains water or squash.      It’s been a while since this glass has seen beer.

It’s a very simple, free thing called Waterlogged, but I’m finding it really useful to make a quick note of what I’m drinking (whilst also listening to my body so I don’t drink too much) (alright, so by ‘listening to my body’ I actually mean ‘looking at the colour of my wee‘) (that links to a colour chart, not anything to do with my specific wee. And mine has never been green…).

Basically, I click on ‘Record a Drink’, flick through the pictures of all of my regular drinking vessels (favourite mug, water bottle, normal glass, pint glass) and then ‘Record Glass’. Job done. AND when I do reach my target, it congratulates me and suggests that I tell someone my good news (mostly I tell Ginge, I suspect that no one else would be interested. Or as tolerant).

Thinking about it, you could also use it to keep track of how many pints you have on a night out or keep a pictorial record of what you’ve drunk at a beer festival, but that’s probably going against the spirit of the thing.

Juneathon day seven: moo

It doesn’t happen often, but sometimes I amaze myself by getting out of bed. Alright so I get up most, if not all mornings (I’m suddenly reminded of a spectacularly bad bank holiday hangover last year), but even though I’m quite a morning person, the lure of the snooze button is great. However, some days I wake up before the alarm goes off, practically spring out of bed and just crack on with my run or whatever I’m supposed to be doing. This morning was one of those mornings – it saw me out of the door by 5.45 and rewarded by some of the best running that I’ve enjoyed recently.

My plan was an out and back run/walk for 30 minutes. When I take photos on out and backs, I usually try to take my photos on the way back so I get a bit of consistency in my running rather than being all stop-start when I set off. Today I regretted that decision a little. The calves that I’d spotted on the way out had conspired and decided to move from the middle of the wide open field and had huddled next to the hedge instead. A bit of clambering later and I managed to get one reasonable photo (and only some minor nettle stings on my shin).


I reached the half hour mark just before home and felt ok in my legs, chest and belly so I carried on and rounded up to three miles.

Oh, and I’m not really one for bump shots but, just as I do a double take every time I pass my reflection, my shadow took me a little by surprise this morning.