She’s well known for being an advocate of a gluten-free, vegan, ‘consciously uncoupled’ lifestyle. But now mum-of-2 Gwyneth Paltrow has released a list of ‘pain-free pregnancy’ tips on her lifestyle blog, Goop. So are Gwyn’s tips full of hippy-dippy nonsense? Or is there something sensible to be said about La Paltrow’s pregnancy advice?
“Well, I’d said much of this advice makes out that normal pregnancy symptoms are a problem,” says MadeForMums’ expert midwife, Anne Richley. “Many of the things that Gwyneth’s singling out are good signs that you’re having a healthy pregnancy and that you have plenty of pregnancy hormones.”
OK, but are there any gems of useful advice? Here’s Anne’s verdict on Gywn’s main tips…
1. Back pain? Massage your bottom
Gwyneth says: “Don’t massage your lower back; work your gluteus muscles to release tension in your hips and low back.”
Our midwife says: “Yes. Massage is a good way to relax, and massaging the area around your glutes can be good way of relieving pain in your lower back.”
Verdict: Thumbs up! (Or should that be down – deep down, in your buttock muscles?)
2. Breast pain and stretchmarks? Apply almond oil in a figure of 8
Gwyneth says: “Even if you don’t have a genetic predisposition to stretchmarks, pretend you do: slather yourself in sweet almond oil at every opportunity. Apply the oil in an infinity symbol, or figure 8 pattern, around your breasts to help stimulate lymphatic drainage and relieve any chest ache or discomfort.”
Our midwife says: “I’ve never seen any pregnant woman with ‘chest ache’ or breast pain so severe they need treatment for it but, that said, there’s no harm in massaging the area around your breasts.”
Verdict: Go ahead, if slathering sounds good to you.
3. Achey feet? Get some reflexology
Gwyneth says: “Get reflexology on your feet – but don’t go near your ankles.”
Our midwife says: “A foot massage is a good way to relax. There is a pressure point on your ankle that can trigger contractions – we sometimes suggest women go and see a reflexologist if they are overdue – but, even if it’s pressed, you won’t go into labour unless you’re ready. So you don’t have to avoid ankle massage, if you’re in early pregnancy.”
Verdict: Don’t fret about your ankles – till you can’t see them any more.
4. Late pregnancy? Don’t sit; spend time on all fours
Gwyneth says: “The closer you get to the birth, the more time you should spend on all fours. First of all, the baby’s weight is not pressing down on your pelvis, but hanging forward in the belly – much less pressure and easier to sustain during exercise. Secondly, if you’re sitting a lot, you’re squeezing your tummy, which can cause your diaphragm to lock up.”
Our midwife says: “During the 3rd trimester, we suggest women get into this position if we know that their baby is positioned ‘back to back’. Leaning forward when you’re on all fours can help the baby turn and get into the right position for birth. But I’ve never heard of a diaphragm ‘locking up’!”
Verdict: Getting on all fours can help with your baby’s position but it won’t do anything for your diaphragm.
5. Stressed? Water. Get into it. All the time
Gwyneth says: “No matter where – your bathtub, a pool, or the sea! The pressure against your belly equalises and you feel weightless, which also calms the baby.”
Our midwife says: “Some women find being in water relaxing and others prefer to go for a walk. It’s different for all women…”
Verdict: Fine, but only if it floats your bump-boat.
6. Don’t know what to eat? Avoid almost all food
Gwyneth says: “From the very beginning of your pregnancy, remind yourself that you don’t need a ton of food to sustain your baby. Stay away from cow’s milk dairy, rich fatty meats, pork, roasted peanuts and peanut butter, concentrated fruit juices (especially orange and tomato), and all wheat, sugar and sweeteners.”
Our midwife says: “This diet seems very extreme. You don’t need to eat more calories while you’re pregnant but you do need to eat a healthy, balanced diet.”
Verdict: Thumbs down. You do need to eat.
So there you have it, have a go at (most of) Gwyneth’s tips if you’d like but it’s best always talk to your midwife about any pain you may be experiencing.