From the minute you announce your pregnancy, you’ll be bombarded with advice. But what really works? We asked pregnancy experts and real mums (also pregnancy experts!) to give us their best tips for mums-to-be.
POP THE RIGHT PILLS ‘Take a 400mcg supplement of folic acid daily from the time you stop using contraception until the 12th week of pregnancy. Folic acid has been shown to reduce the risk of your baby developing a neural tube defect such as spina bifida. You should also take 10mcg of vitamin D each day to help your baby grow strong bones.’ Sam Montel, nutritionist at the Food Standards Agency (eatwell.gov.uk.)
GO BANANAS ‘Cure leg cramps with a banana! I suffered from excruciatingly painful cramping at night and had to wake up my husband to rub my legs. Then my midwife suggested I eat a banana at bedtime, as the potassium they contain is thought to help. I was doubtful, but desperate. The first night I no longer had cramps in my calves, only my toes. The second night, they were gone! It became a nightly ritual and I never had cramps again.’ Melanie Knights, 40, from Norwich, Norfolk, mum to Lilly, 7 months .
TAKE CARE OF YOUR TEETH ‘During pregnancy, your gums may become inflamed and bleed more easily, so be extra vigilant with your oral health, brushing regularly with fluoride toothpaste and visiting the dentist – NHS dental treatment is free when you’re pregnant.’ Janet Clarke of the British Dental Association
LOOK AFTER YOUR SKIN ‘During pregnancy your skin will be drier and possibly more sensitive, so use more oil-based products. They’ll be richer and more nutritious for your skin.’ Barbara Scott, skincare expert and creator of the Green Baby range of skincare products ( greenbaby.com).
INVOLVE YOUR TODDLER ‘If you’ve already got a child, get him involved with your pregnancy, from helping choose the baby’s name to going on shopping trips to buy nursery gear. That way, he’ll feel like he’s an important part of the process and there’s less likely to be a problem with jealousy.’ Claire Morgan, 32, from Bath, mum to Owen, 2 months, and Rhys, 4.
DON’T STRESS ‘Relax and enjoy the experience. Try not to read too many pregnancy books. Overloading on advice can create confusion and worry, leading to stress.’ Debra Edwards, independent antenatal teacher, Bristol and North Somerset (birth2baby.co.uk ).
HELP HEARTBURN ‘If you’re suffering from heartburn, eat an apple. I suffered really badly towards the end of my pregnancy and nothing helped. But a friend told me about apples and they worked a treat. I used to keep one by my bed in case I woke up with heartburn.’ Theresa Thomas-Morton, 29, from Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, mum to Isla, nearly 1.
BEAT NAUSEA ‘I didn’t just have morning sickness, I had morning, noon and night sickness for the first three months. Nothing worked until, in desperation, I bought an anti-nausea CD called MorningWell [morningwell.co.uk]. It was a bit odd – like chiming music. But I used it every morning before I got up, and it worked.’ Lucy Godding, 27, from Altrincham, Cheshire, mum to Ava, nearly 1½.
TRY ACUPUNCTURE ‘Many pregnancy problems, including sickness, constipation, back pain, insomnia and anxiety, can be successfully treated using acupuncture. Fine needles are inserted into the skin to create a stimulus that encourages the body’s own healing response. It’s safe, reliable and relatively painless. Even if you’re sceptical about alternative therapies, there’s lots of clinical evidence that it works. However, always consult a qualified practitioner experienced in treating mums-to-be.’ Janetta Bensouilah, obstetric acupuncturist ( aromaticacupuncture.com) .
BUY A BUMP BAND ‘Invest in a bump band – a stretchy band that allows you to wear your usual clothes for longer. It disguises unbuttoned trousers, extends the life of non-maternity tops and also gives you a bit of support. They’re available in lots of maternity ranges and also from bumpband.co.uk.’Sally-Ann Carroll,’s style editor.
GO OVER THE BUMP ‘My top tip is over-the-bump trousers. They’re way more comfy than those that sit under the bump, and they don’t fall down!’ Vicki Murphy, 29, from Cork, mum to William, 8 months.
TAKE TIME TO UNWIND ‘Finish work a few weeks before your baby is due, so you’ve got time to relax before the birth. I finished four weeks before my due date and it was great to have some time to myself and get ready for the baby coming. I stocked up the freezer, went to the hairdresser and the cinema, and had meals out with my husband – everything I knew I wouldn’t have time for when the baby arrived.’ Sophie Howard, 28, from Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, mum to Hayden, 1.
BOUNCE ON A BALL ‘A birthing ball [birthease.co.uk] provides soft, but firm, support that helps your baby engage in a good position. It’s comfy to sit on, relieves pressure on your joints, improves your posture and even helps tone your muscles.’ Sue Lewis, an obstetric physiotherapist who runs antenatal and postnatal classes ( suelewisantenatal.co.uk).
JOIN AN EXERCISE CLASS ‘My local midwife-led unit ran a great pregnancy exercise class. It was relaxing, kept me fit and there was loads of advice on pregnancy and birth. I’m still good friends with one girl I met there – our babies even had a joint first birthday party!’ Sarah Hart, 25, from St Austell, Cornwall, mum to Joseph, 1½.
SEE YOUR MIDWIFE ‘Go to all your antenatal appointments so your midwife can monitor your health and that of your baby. Regularly seeing your midwife means problems such as diabetes, high blood pressure or urinary tract infections can be detected and treated early on. It also gives you an opportunity to discuss any worries.’ Maylyn Bonds, midwife for baby charity Tommy’s (tommys.org). For non-urgent pregnancy queries, call a Tommy’s midwife on 0870 777 3060.