A few clever changes before you have your baby will make you a healthier, happier new mum.
Prepare Your Mind
Getting yourself ready mentally can really put you in the right frame of mind for becoming a mum. ‘It’s a good idea to keep a journal and write down what you think you’ll love as a parent, what you know you’ll miss about your non-mum life and what you’re most worried about,’ says psychologist Mia Scotland. ‘This can help you process your hopes, fears and worries. Later, you can read it back to see how accurate you were, too.’ [Corbis]
Reduce Hair Loss
You may notice your hair becomes thicker in pregnancy, so it’s tempting not to bother giving it extra love. ‘Higher oestrogen levels lengthen the hair’s natural growth cycle,’ says trichologist Marilyn Sherlock. ‘But, once your hormones return to normal after the birth, it may start falling out.’ While a deep condition now won’t stop this happening later, it will help keep loss or breakage to a minimum. Try Weleda Oat Replenishing Treatment, £11.50, weleda.co.uk. [Corbis]
Protect Your Teeth And Gums
While the saying that you lose a tooth for every baby isn’t strictly correct (phew!), it does have an element of truth. Pregnancy hormones cause your gums to soften and they may become inflamed and bleed. ‘It’s important to floss as well as brush daily, as only 60% of the tooth is cleaned using just a brush,’ says Karen Coates, dental health advisor for the British Dental Health Foundation. ‘And don’t skip your check-ups – NHS dental treatment is free during pregnancy and your first year as a mum. Ditch fast food and embrace your new, expanding body.' [Corbis]
Turn Over A Healthy Leaf
Now is a brilliant time to rethink unhealthy habits, as pregnancy motivates you to look after yourself, ditch fast food and embrace your new, expanding body. Best of all, these changes are likely to stick beyond the birth of your child, according to the latest US research, which showed that pregnant women who were empowered to improve their diet and start a gentle exercise regime for health reasons actually kept them up well beyond motherhood. [Corbis]
Avoid Saggy Boobs
Making a baby can give you a natural boob job virtually overnight. You can expand by up to two cup sizes in your first trimester, so it’s important you get yourself fitted for a proper maternity bra – they don’t contain rigid wires, have wider straps and there’s more sturdy ‘engineering’ built into them. ‘Wearing the right bra stops the tissue in your breasts stretching, which helps prevent sagging later,’ says Heather Booth, from maternity clothing specialist expectingmaternity.co.uk. [Corbis]
Keep Your Nails Strong
Nails can change noticeably now, as the extra hormones often make them grow faster. ‘Then, once you’ve had your baby, you may notice they weaken because your hormone levels drop again,’ says nail expert and celebrity manicurist Jenni Draper. ‘Massage in a cuticle or almond oil regularly to hydrate and strengthen them now, and they’ll be in better condition after your baby is born.’ Try Dr Hauschka Neem Nail Oil Pen (£14.40, johnlewis.com). [Corbis]
Increase Your Energy Reserves
Focus on getting enough vitamin B12 and iron, which will boost your energy levels as well as benefiting your baby. ‘You can get B12 from dairy, eggs, meat and fish – it’s needed to prevent tiredness as it improves the delivery of oxygen to tissues,’ says nutritionist Hayley Pedrick. Topping up your iron by eating red meat and green leafy veg will also reduce your risk of anaemia after the birth, when blood loss can make this more likely. [Corbis]
Strengthen Your Back
Extra weight from your growing bump, and hormones that loosen ligaments ready for birth, can cause a bad back. ‘Lifting your baby and breastfeeding can make a pregnancy back problem worse after birth, too,’ says Zoe Ewart, from the British Back Institute. ‘A few regular exercises now will strengthen it for then. Stand straight and imagine you have a balloon attached to the crown of your head. Lift your head high and pull your shoulders back to improve your posture.’ [Corbis]
Say No To Stretchmarks
‘Stretchmarks are a form of scarring caused by tearing in the dermal layer of the skin, often due to rapid stretching during pregnancy,’ says Tim Verhaeghe, a skincare development specialist. If you’re hoping to escape these silvery lines, use a cream containing vitamin E or collagen. ‘Creams help prevent them because they make your skin more supple and elastic.’ Try Pure Mum To Be Stretchmark Oil (£9.50, marksandspencer.com). 'Use a cream containing vitamin E or collagen to prevent stretchmarks.' [Corbis]
Prevent A Weak Bladder
One of your most important workouts during pregnancy (and after birth) is your pelvic floor exercises. Pelvic floor muscles support the bladder, womb and bowel, so toning them up will help prevent stress incontinence. ‘Tighten the muscles around your rectum, while keeping your buttock and thigh muscles relaxed. Then tighten the muscles around the front passage as if stopping yourself peeing. Hold for 10 seconds and release slowly,’ says consultant gynaecologist Melanie Tipples. [Corbis]
Keep Limbs Slim
If you’ve noticed you’re developing cankles – yep, calves that merge into swollen ankles – treat them now to reduce the chance they’ll continue after birth. ‘Excess water in your blood during pregnancy can pool in your feet and legs,’ says Denise Linay, from the Royal College of Midwives. ‘Put your feet up to let fluids flow back up your legs, do gentle exercise and avoid standing for long periods.’ If it is worse on one side or painful, see your GP as it can be a sign of pre-eclampsia or deep vein thrombosis. [Corbis]
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