Oooh pregnancy. You thought it was just that bit between conception and having the baby. Think again. These days it’s more political than lunchtime at Number Ten. Kirsty Allsopp v. the NCT. Earth mothers v. Epidural-lovers. Who thought being pregnant was such a minefield? But don’t worry. Here’s our definitive guide to that mad, magical, mysterious 40 or so weeks when you’re cooking what will turn out to be the newest, most wonderful person in your life.
1) The truth about NCT. There’s a bit of a hoo haa at the moment about NCT. But let’s leave that to one side and focus on the people, because, really, that’s what you’re doing it for, right? To make new baby friends. If you do decide to do NCT classes, your group is guaranteed to contain the following examples of pregnant woman a) The Earth Mother – who extols natural pain-free labour, placenta-munching, three years of breast-feeding and home birth. Yes, she’s nuts (and probably quite annoying). b) The Worried-about-Everything Mother – who just ends up popping it out c) The Fascinating Couple who everyone wonders about. And, if you’re lucky, you might meet a few like-minded souls who feel just as lost as you do.
2) Hormones make you crazy. You’ve had PMT right? Well times that by ten and you have the state of your hormones during pregnancy. You’ll cry, you’ll laugh, you’ll be ridiculously oversensitive and probably rather melodramatic. Dropping food on the floor will have you in floods. Cheesy TV adverts will have you in floods. Your husband forgetting to put the loo seat down will have you screaming blue murder. Blame your psychotic state on the hormones and you just about have a pass to be nuttier than Lady Gaga (although that pass is revoked as soon as the baby hits 3 months old).
3) C-Sections are great. They’re not the easy option. They’re not for mothers who are wimps or control freaks or too posh to push. It’s major surgery, but in the vast majority of cases, they’re medically essential for physical or mental reasons. They save lives. Don’t look down on them. You might be the one having to have one.
4) Everyone has an opinion. You thought your bump was yours, right? Wrong. It’s public property. Countless people will express an opinion on its size and shape, whether it’s too big or too small, whether it shows you’re having a boy or a girl. And then there’s your behaviour. Dare to sip a glass of wine or cappuccino and no sooner can you say ‘hmmm, delicious’ you’ll have the Bump-Nazis castigating you like you’re a 15 year-old alcoholic without a brain. (Ed’s note. I’m not going to talk to you about what you can and can’t eat. You’re adults. You know what you doing).
6) It can be weirdly competitive. This could be related to hormones (see no. 2), but pregnancy can do funny things to people. Just ignore the competitive dieters, dressers and boasters, and focus on you. It’s the best way to get through it.
7) You can never predict what’s going to happen during the birth, so don’t even try (I was going for a water birth and ended up with a c-section). Just be open-minded and it’ll all work out in the end.
8) If you’re lucky enough to have fallen pregnant at the drop of a hat, don’t mention it. Ever. There are countless people who haven’t been as fortunate and will not appreciate you going on about it. Have some tact.
9) Everyone has something that makes them feel hideous during pregnancy. For me it was huge ankles and sausage fingers. For Natasha it was feeling sick all the way through. For others it’s varicose veins or acne. The pregnancy ‘glow’. It’s just a Hollywood fantasy.
10) It will be the most magical, tiring, mysterious, frustrating and overwhelming experience of your life – until you hit motherhood. You may not like being pregnant, but do appreciate it. Not everyone can do it. You really are blessed.
And finally, a list of things that worked for us…
Pregnancy Yoga (if you’re in London, go to Tara Lee at the Life Centre, Notting Hill. She not only looks like a goddess but she’ll make you feel like one too. I absolutely loved her classes – and this is from someone for whom Downward Dog is purgatory.) We’re also big fans of Yummy Yoga – run by two inspiring Hertfordshire-based yoga teachers (who have 4 children between them, so they know the drill from both sides). Pre-natal yoga, post-natal yoga, birth preparation workshops – they’ve got your pregnancy covered. (The next birth preparation workshop is on 19th April – book here.)
Acupuncture. I’m a big fan of acupuncture and used it during my first trimester and at the end of my first pregnancy to get things moving (I didn’t want to be late and I’m positive that a few sessions helped my son arrive a day early). Natasha used it to combat morning sickness. (Forget ginger biscuits: it was the only thing which worked.)
Long sleep pillows like this. It’s a godsend for when you’re bigger
Spanx. These are actually for post-birth, but it’s a good idea to buy them now. If you end up having a c-section (and probably even a vaginal delivery), it will help everything get back into place afterwords. Binding the stomach after birth is common practice in Asian countries. This is the Western equivalent.
And with that it’s goodbye to Maternity Monday. We hope that the pregnant ones among you have enjoyed it, maybe even found something useful. For the non-preggers majority, don’t worry we’re not going baby-crazy, normal service resumes tomorrow!
IMAGE: * The rather wonderful result of pregnancy (obviously most of you will just be having one, but who doesn’t think awwww when looking at this picture?) via Indulgy.com