Ask a midwife: What do you REALLY need during… pregnancy?

So this is very exciting. A blog post I’ve been anticipating more eagerly than my daily ration of fizzy cola bottles (what? I’m pregnant you know…) In the first of a series, Clemmie Hooper – miracle midwife, mother and modern-day super woman – lays out what you really need to get you through pregnancy.

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In the coming weeks she’s also going to examine the essentials for labour and the early days of a baby’s life too. And what’s so exciting is that she’s a professional. She practices this stuff every day, talks to other experts constantly, has read the research, tried and tested the fads and knows what makes a difference when push comes to, well, “PUUUUUUUUUUUSH!”

Over you to, Clemmie:

Congratulations you’re pregnant! Bet you’re feeling excited, but overwhelmed, probably really tired and the thought of having your daily flat white is making you heave.

By the time you’ve discovered you’re pregnant you’ve probably already spent at least £6.99 on a pregnancy test. Lots of women even spend a bit more for the test that says ‘Pregnant 6 weeks’ because staring at those red little lines can make you sometimes see things that aren’t there. And some women even buy a few tests just in case the first one wasn’t right! Anyway I’ll let you off the pregnancy test purchase. But here’s my guide to being pregnant without spending a penny!

From the moment you find out you’re pregnant the baby market is grabbing at you through every means to get you to buy their products. You only have to sign up to one online parenting website and your inbox is littered with ‘must haves’ when pregnant; all convincing you with things you really need to buy.

I think what’s important to remember is that women have been having babies for hundreds and thousands of years, I can’t recall the Bible stating that Mary used a pregnancy pillow to relive her back ache in 6 BC.

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  • In the UK you are entitled to free prescriptions for your entire pregnancy and up to your baby’s first birthday. This is great news as common pregnancy complaints such as thrush means your GP can prescribe you some Canesten at no cost to you! You need to make sure you fill in a FW8 form when you book with your midwife and you will receive a little credit card size card with your unique number on it. And those pesky fillings that need sorting? More great news your dental treatment is free too! To find out more   http://www.nhs.uk/chq/Pages/are-pregnant-women-entitled-to-free-NHS-dental-treatment.aspx
  • Chances are you know a few friends who have had babies in the recent months. They will want to shower you with advice, tips, tricks, knowledge (some wanted, some not so much.) These are the women to home into. They have maternity clothes! Once you’ve given birth, you never want to look at those stretchy Topshop skinnies or that floaty shirt ever, ever again. I remember bagging up a huge bin bag full of 9 months worth of maternity clothes and practically flinging them at my newly pregnant friend before she could even say “No” to the raw sushi I was happily munching. If people offer their stuff, take it. You only need it for less than a year and your body shape changes so rapidly there is really no need to spend money on clothes you’ll never wear again.
  • The same goes for baby clothes. Babies only wear white baby grows for the first few weeks of life. This is mainly because you are so sleep deprived it’s easier to keep their attire minimal whilst you try to remember to clip your feeding bra back up when answering the door to the postman. Babies grow at a rapid rate and don’t care what they are wearing as long as they are clean and dry. Take any bags going from mates and colleagues of their unwanted baby clothes. If your little one is born in the winter a snow suit, knitted cardigans and hats are essential. If it’s born in the summer, you need even less: short sleeved vests and a sun hat. And by the time the leaves are changing on the trees and your little one is popping out of its romper, you’ll find those friends are offering you the next size up of baby garms. Amazing!
  • We are so lucky to have the NHS in this country. No matter what anybody says it is truly the best service we have and all for free. You will be assigned to a midwife when you are pregnant and the type of care all depends on where you live, what GP you are registered with and whether you are classed as high or low risk. All areas in the UK offer free antenatal classes often based at your local hospital or community hospital. These are taught by midwives and are open to women and their birth partners. Due to their popularity you often need to sign up to them around 28 weeks of pregnancy and fun over 4 sessions. These classes can help you prepare for labour, birth and the postnantal period. There is often a separate breastfeeding class which can be really helpful to give you all the knowledge beforehand to help you and your baby off to the best start. Also there are lots of breastfeeding cafes which are held in children centres (Sure Start) across the UK to help you if breastfeeding is a struggle with your newborn.
  • The internet is full of forums, websites and blogs all aimed at you, pregnant lady! And it’s desperate for you to read their stuff. You’re probably gagging to know why your nipples have suddenly become so dark and if your baby’s movements are normal. It’s really important to remember that ‘Googling’ your symptoms isn’t 100% reliable and it’s always best to speak to your midwife or GP if there is anything you are worried about. But sometimes Tweeting to other pregnant women who are going through the same things as you is really helpful. Building a small network of women who will have babies the same age is yours might well prove beneficial later, at 3am when your little one won’t settle and is suffering from colic.
  • Exercise in pregnancy is vital for keeping your body in top tip condition. Studies show you are more likely to have a shorter birth, recovery will be quicker and you will be in your pre pregnancy jeans much quicker. There are lots of different forms of exercise you can do which is perfectly safe when pregnant. A gentle daily run in your local park, Yoga and Pilates using online videos such as http://www.babycentre.co.uk/c1032565/yoga and swimming. Some local authorities offer free swimming sessions to pregnant women. Ask at your local leisure centre to see if they offer this service. If this doesn’t float your boat, why not borrow a pregnancy exercise DVD from your local library and get another pregnant friend over for some deep breathing relaxation sessions. You always feel less of a wally if doing it with a pal.
  • I discovered Freecycle when living in Bristol with bump number 1. A local pregnant chum I met at active birth classes told me she kitted out her entire unborn kid for free! I didn’t believe her so I signed up to Yahoo and I was amazed by what I saw. People were literally giving away their stuff. All you had to do was be super speedy at replying to posts and be able to collect stuff. After my first week I was hooked! We got a baby bath, reusable cloth nappies, bedding, a small chest of draws and a car seat. We had saved hundreds of pounds and all because someone didn’t want to chuck out their stuff and clog up land fill. Check out their site and find your nearest group. And the best thing is once you’ve done with your freebies you can just pass them back onto fellow Freecylers! http://uk.freecycle.org/

Got any questions for Clemmie? Leave them in the comments below and we’ll try our best to get through them, please pile in with your own answers too! x