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Friday, 9 September 2011

Ten Steps to Yummy Mummy: My Guide to Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond

1. Often pregnant women complain that there is little out there that is fashionable and affordable. Keep your cool (and save those all important pennies) by buying normal clothes in a size or two above for things like tops, dresses and skirts but invest in some comfortable maternity jeans, a maternity bra and depending on the season, a maxi dress that will skim all the right places.

Heavily pregnant and wearing an empire line long length top and cropped leggings at a meal

2. It can be a little daunting going from carefree to mummy all in one go. In order to stay sane, make a list of all the things you need to buy and do before the birth and tick them off one by one over the months. Most important purchases such as a pram, something for baby to sleep in, and the car seat (if you are planning on travelling anywhere by car) should be prioritised and budgeted well for, clothes are less important as people love buying baby clothes as gifts for the new arrival.

A hospital is legally not allowed to let you leave without a car seat for your newborn if you plan on travelling by car

3. A baby shower can be an excellent thing for the (slowly getting fed up) mum-to-be. It provides a time to share the joys of becoming a parent with (usually) female friends and family. Traditionally a friend arranges the shower for you (though I helped with mine because of my degree in events), and the shower usually includes fun party games, some snacks, and sometimes gifts for the baby and mum to be.

I received tonnes of lovely presents at my babyshower which I had at 8 months pregnant

4. Towards the end of pregnancy, you might start feeling very nervous about the birth. In order to ease your worries it can be a good idea to have a clear idea of what you want the birth to be like (though make sure you realise that often labour doesn’t end up going exactly to plan and you may need to change your plans slightly). Good points to think about is the pain relief you want or are open to having, who you want at the birth, whether you want to be told the sex or find it out yourself (unless you have already found it out at the 20 week scan). You might also want to start attending antenatal classes or talking to other mums or health professionals to get a better idea of what the labour might be like.

5. Packing your birth bag can be an exciting or a daunting time. It might be hard to picture everything you could need when you are in labour. There are some great birth bag templates online to decide what you might want to take with you. Some essentials are something for you to wear during labour (that is either old or cheap as it will most likely get a little dirty), and something to wear in hospital after birth; something to eat and drink in early labour for yourself and your birth partner(s); a phone charger and/or money for the payphone at the hospital, an outfit for the baby to go home in and something for the baby to sleep in at the hospital; big knickers and maternity pads. You might also want to buy or hire a TENs machine for early stages of labour.

Be aware that it could be cold upon leaving the hospital (even in Summer, this is the UK after all!), it could be wise to pack a snowsuit like the one above to keep baby snug and warm.

6. When you reach your due date, don’t be disheartened if nothing happens. Most women don’t go into labour on or before their due date as it is always estimated within a few days anyway. You might wish to try some of the old wives tales that you find on the internet as a way to pass the time, though more often than not these have little success. Some popular ones include eating hot and spicy foods such as curry, having sex, going for a long walk and eating fresh pineapple. I tried all of these and was still 8 days late! Please, whatever you do, do not drink castor oil as it can be very dangerous to the baby and has been known to have fatal effects.

I ate so many curries when I was in late pregnancy that Cameron now loves them, even the spicy ones... I have to wrestle the fork off of him!

7. When the time comes, you may be tempted to just head straight to hospital and get going with everything. Stop and think. Do you really want to get there and be turned away? Or get there, get admitted but then be stuck there not in established labour for hours? Take it from me, as someone who eventually had to be induced and therefore stayed in hospital for 2 days, it is best to avoid going in until absolutely necessary, unless of course you have complications and you need to have hospital care. The best thing to do is to ring the hospital and talk to the maternity ward who will be able to advise you when it is best to come in. Generally if the pain is not lessening and contractions are 3 minutes apart it is time to go in. In early labour at home it may help to have a couple of paracetemol (not ibuprofen) and take a bath to ease the pain and relax you.

Another good idea in early labour is to bounce on a birth ball!

8. Labour often goes by in a blur of pain and pain relief, but when you get that baby in your arms you will forget any of the pain you could remember and everything will have been worth that long and agonising wait. Depending on the birth you had, you may have to stay in the hospital for anything from a couple of hours to a week or more. This can be frustrating when all you want to do is be home with your new baby. To make it as homely as possible take advantage of all visiting times and have friends and family come along to meet the new arrival and give you some much needed company, have a supply of magazines or books on hand for when your baby is sleeping and you might not be able to, and make sure you have some much needed rest while you have all of the support of the hospital staff on hand.

The hospital midwives were great and helped me bath Cameron for the first time as well as giving me plenty of advice and guidance.

9. When you get home you may suddenly feel overwhelmed with the realisation of how much responsibility being a parent entails. From my point of view, as a single mother, I found my own mum’s support invaluable. It is normal to feel emotional and low for the first few days and weeks after birth. It is important to talk to friends, family or even a doctor or health visitor if you feel these feelings are not going away naturally within a few weeks or are overwhelming you.

Feeling emotional after birth is normal, but don't bottle it up.

10. Becoming a mum is an amazing achievement and an incredible feeling. As a mum to a (very nearly) one year old, my best advice right now would be to make every moment last, take as many photos and videos as you can and just enjoy your tiny little baby because before long you will end up with a chunky toddler and will look at photos of that tiny baby and wonder where they went!

A couple of days after birth

At a couple of months old

Learning to crawl

My big grown up boy about to turn one!

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