1. “Pregnancy is a beautiful special perfect time, treasure it, and relish every tiny moment, because it is fleeting and precious.”
You can do this, but it is not compulsory.
You may not have a spare room, or a spare moment, and the thought of having a baby may fill you with as much fear as it does wonder. Even if things are pretty perfect, and all you have to do is buy a cot and some tiny shoes, do not feel inadequate if you sometimes just feel hot and fat and grumpy instead of filled with maternal joy.
2. “Pregnant women should eat a healthy balanced diet, and not use pregnancy as an excuse to eat unhealthy foods.”
Pregnant women, who famously eat coal and jars of pickles with ice cream? Who have, by one fateful sperm, been turned into a vast biological factory tasked with creating every single part of a whole human baby.
They should watch what they eat?
Never mind the list of things you can't have, like tequila, decongestants, crack cocaine or fried egg butties. You should also stay trim and perky and attractive, and create a perfect round basketball bump?
Please. Eat anything you can stand the smell of without feeling bilious. Eat anything that will get you through work, or around B&Q . It's hard enough anyway, just listen to your body and eat what it needs, even if your partner has to walk to the all night garage for cheesecake.
3. “Prepare your body for childbirth with pregnancy Pilates, Aqua-natal and pregnancy yoga.”
Q : ‘Downward dog' is
- A cartoon character
- A sex position
- A challenging posture in which you should shift your weight to your legs, to eliminate pressure on wrists.
If you answered C. you are probably reading this on your iPad while in the ‘feathered peacock' pose. Well done, I stand awkwardly in awe of your elastic fantastic physique, truly.
Anybody not so springy and limber, sit down, put your feet up so as they return to normal size and try not to wee when you cough. I went to a single Pilates class when hugely pregnant, and it was the most undignified and uncomfortable use of half an hour since the child was conceived. Avoid.
4. “Enhance the natural beauty of pregnancy with chic maternity wear, and then capture it forever with a black and white bump photo to treasure.”
Chic maternity wear translates as nine months of eye wateringly expensive ruched navy garments and floral empire-line tunics which even thin attractive people manage to look dreadful in.
A truckload of dark jersey with two way stretch is needed, and a bright cardi to show where your bump starts, in case people assume you put on weight and politely don't mention it.
Wear until bursting at seams. If anyone takes a picture of you where you‘re even vaguely presentable, Facebook the heck out of it, and leave the bump shots to Mariah.
5. “Have a Pinterest board for nursery ideas, and then be creative, design a unique space for your little one.”
Now this is a tricky one, because I adore Pinterest, and I especially love finding clever ideas for my children's rooms. The key point is that I do not expect any of it to actually happen. I do not have time or money to match grey and lime walls to vintage fabric on hand made toys. If Ty Pennington rocked up and did it all for me, that would be great, but I am not capable of it. Paint it a sunny colour that looks cheerful at night, as that is when you will be in there. Get a cot bed, a glider chair and footstool, and somewhere to put your phone/cup of tea. Anything more elaborate and you have my undying respect.
6. “Make a detailed birth plan and stick to it. You are in control of your birth!”
Um, no. There is only one person who dictates how the birth will go and that's baby.
I planned to grasp my bump dramatically, descend into a dignified squat, grunt once or twice and raise baby up like the Lion King before chewing through the cord myself.
A foolproof plan, except baby was breech, measuring big, and a section was recommended.
I was appalled. This wasn't in my Birth Plan! Three tries at turning baby later, I figured getting them out into your arms is actually the main point of the exercise, and agreed to a section.
Imagine your idealbirthand prepare for it, but know that babies don't abide by birth plans. Whether you labour at home, in hospital, or halfway round Lidl, baby is the Boss.
7. “Stay away from the Internet. If you have concerns, ask your doctor, don't Google it!”
Googling any symptom usually leads straight to the Wiki page for Ebola or The Black Death. Pregnancy is different. The internet is full of forums and groups and Facebooking tweeting mums all detailing their pregnancies in lurid ghastly detail. Chances are if you type in ‘Left boob wonky, right leg swollen' someone in Idaho had that exact same thing, and she just took an aspirin. Even really quite disgusting stuff, somebody somewhere has posted about it, and a whole forum of other sufferers have leapt to advise and console them. Doctors are great for daytimes, but at 4am when it's either wind or early labour? Google it.
8. “Spend time with other mums; create a support network to help you when you need it most.”
What I said about the internet, about asking stuff? This is similar, except the people are in front of you, possibly friends or relatives, and being pregnant means a Pandora's box is about to open.
Your new condition will stir up a hornet's nest of advice and anecdotes from which you cannot escape.
They'll say their friend had those symptoms and swelled up and died, or their gran had seventeen children, and still carried the coal up the hill, or that when they had their baby, the ward only had bed and they had to take turns in it. All because you said you have swollen feet.
People can be supportive, but they also like complaining. Be supportive. Let them complain, and maybe figure out your own stuff along the way.
9. “Have a baby shower and a gift list so friends and family can get you all the bits and bobs you'll need for your new arrival!"
This comes down to lifestyle. If you have most things covered financially, a gift list saves friends time. However, if you've stood shouting “HOW MUCH?” and “IS IT MADE OF GOLD??” in Mamas and Papas, you won't lose sleep over matching your top-and-tail bowl to the mobile.
Ask family to chip in on a really good pram/car seat/cotbed. Even if everyone buys you just that one thing, it'll repay you more than well meant knick-knacks and endless Tigger sleep suits. Friends with kids will foist baby gear when they discover you're pregnant, and between boot sales, Ebay, Freecycle and Facebook groups, you'll still have money for cake!
10. “Pack your hospital bag well in advance, don't forget: facial spritz, deodorant, nursing bras, support pants, breast pads, muslins, healthy snacks, little hats and bootees, a change of clothes for partner in case things get messy ...”
No. Vests, sleep suits, nappies, pyjamas for yourself, nipple cream, food because Hospital Food, baby blanket (hospital midwives are pro-swaddling, community midwives are anti-swaddling, presumably because hospital midwives have fifty babies crying all shift), lip-balm (nothing like hospital rooms, being pregnant, being in labour, being full of Morphine/Pethidine/epidural, and breastfeeding to give you chapped lips.) Your phone and charger, lots of drinks, and hair bobbles. To be honest, most of this will be just out of reach and you'll be trapped under a baby, so it's almost completely irrelevant.