1) Love your changing body
If watching your belly grow bigger and bigger feels more weird than wondrous, remind yourself that you’re not fat – you’re a goddess creating a new life! Stay in tune with your changing body by giving yourself daily tummy rubs: they’ll nourish your stretching skin and help you to feel more connected to your baby.
Go shopping for clothes that flatter your bump and make you confident about your new shape. And don’t forget that what lies underneath can go a long way to making you feel good about yourself. HOTmilk maternity lingerie will definitely remind you how beautiful and sexy you are!
Working out your due date is no exact science.
2) Keep a diary
Imagine the joy you’ll get from reading about the moment your first realised you were pregnant, recalling the excitement of feeling your baby’s first kick and remembering the anticipation you felt as labour day drew near in the years to come.
Writing a diary now is also perfect practice for keeping it up post-birth. You can do-it-yourself by choosing a pretty notebook with space for writing and pasting in photos and mementos you want to keep. Alternatively, A Pregnant Girl’s Life diary (www.mumstheword.com, £12.99) is ready-made for the job. This 40-week diary comes complete with stickers to mark all those important pregnancy events.
Aquanatal classes are a great form of exercise for both pregnant and postnatal women
3) Make new friends
It makes sense to share you pregnancy ups and downs with other mums-to-be: they are experiencing the same things as you. Not only will they provide you with some company now, but it also means you’ll have a ready-made support network when your baby is born.
One way to meet people is to join a regular pregnancy yoga class (try www.birthlight.com) or antenatal swimming classes at your local pool. You could also sign up for an NCT class (www.nct.org.uk) or join an upmarket members club and spa like Cupcake (www.cupcakemum.com) , set up for pregnant women and new mums to reconnect with themselves and meet like-minded women.
4) Learn to knit
It’s never too late to learn a new skill, and this one’s as trendy as it is practical. Knitting is therapeutic, extremely hip right now, and you get to produce beautiful garments for others to cherish.
During pregnancy, knitting is good for your state of mind. All that concentration forces you to slow down and as you knit, you can contemplate your pregnancy and ponder how your life might change after birth.
To learn how, check out Rowan (www.knitrowan.com), with regular classes at John Lewis stores nationwide, or join a knitting group – currently all the rage – and pick up some tips from other members. To find a group near you, visit www.knitchicks.co.uk. You can also learn by following instructions online at www.learn2knit.co.uk .
5) Get a belly cast
Never want to forget your blossoming belly? Then make a cast. You can actually do it yourself in around 45 minutes at home, with a belly casting kit (£19.99, www.babyexperiences.co.uk ). Or, if you want something more precious, First Impressions (www.firstimpressions.org.uk) will transform your basic mould into a masterpiece in bronze, crystal, nickel, silver or gold.
6) Meditate with your baby
Meditation is a great way to bond with your baby. Find a quiet place to relax: it could be in a scented bath, or sitting with an aromatic candle burning and lots of cushions. Close your eyes and let your hands rest on your bump. Inhale and exhale, allowing tensions to flow away. Become aware of your baby – is she moving, or lying still? If you like, repeat a mantra, such as ‘my baby and I are strong and secure’. Send her some loving thoughts, and enjoy quiet time for as long as you like. When you are ready, gradually bring your awareness back to the present.
Could massages help soothe your labour?
7) Look after yourself
If you feel loved and looked after, you’ll have more energy to nurture and care for your baby – what better reason to indulge in a pampering pregnancy treatment? In a perfect world, that would be the Blooming Beautiful package at The Berkeley (www.the-berkwlwy.co.uk, £250), including a full body massage, facial, eye treatment, manicure and pedicure, all with gorgeous Mamma Mio products. Alternatively, light some candles, run a warm bath, add something aromatic and soothing – Erbabviva’s Mommy-to-be Milk Bath is divine – and sink slowly into therapeutic waters.
Lullabies could help you and your tum de-stress
8) Listen to music
Singing or playing music when you are pregnant is a great way to communicate with your baby, especially because she really will recognise and be comforted by the music you play to her now when she is born.
It’s also good for mum: listening to music can be extremely relaxing, slowing pulse rates and lowering blood pressure, decreasing stress and encouraging sleep.
According to Giselle Whitwell at the Centre for Prenatal Music (www.prenatalmusic.com), babies prefer calming, serene music like classical or baroque. So when you’re not singing to your baby, try playing Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony or Pachelbel’s Canon.
9) Learn how to belly dance
It’s not as strange as it sounds: belly dancing has been used as a preparation for birth in the Middle East since ancient times. With good reason too – it’s a great workout. There are moves for all manner of ailments including belly rolls to ease constipation, pelvic tilts to relieve back pain, heart shimmies to alleviate heartburn and the camel roll for helping your baby into the best position for birth. See www.bellydancer.org.uk to find a class near you, or learn in the privacy of your own home with a DVD from Belly Dance 4 Bumps (www.bellydance4bumps.co.uk) , a snip at £15.
Your birth partner can be your partner, a friend or family member.
10) Book a babymoon
If you haven’t had time to get to any antenatal classes yet, why not do them with your other half in beautiful surrundings? Several companies offer babymoons – short breaks at posh hotels with plenty of pregnancy, birth and parenting advice. Places to try include The Baby Gurus (www.thebabygurus.co.uk) and Gentle Birth (www.gentlebirth.org.uk). It’s the perfect excuse to have a break with your partner, while learning some useful stuff from the experts at the same time.