Barely there yet? Or out and proud? Whatever stage your baby bump’s at, we show you how to look after it.
Your baby bump is a feat of nature. In the 40 weeks it takes to grow your baby, your skin will stretch by 1.5 square feet, the umbilical cord will reach 50cm in length and your baby will be rolling from side to side in your bump.
But how do you look after this new – and very prominent – body part?
1. Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise!
Higher hormone levels and the fact that your skin will become pretty stretched can leave you with a dry, itchy bumps. Swap to a hydrating plant oil, such as rosehip, and look for aloe vera on the list of ingredients to soothe your skin. So moisturise, moisturise, moisturise.
2. Talk to your bump
Babies born to mums who spent time bonding with their bump during pregnancy have been shown to be healthier and more settled. From 15 weeks, your baby’s ears will be developed enough to hear your voice, and from 20 weeks, she’ll be able to tell your voice apart from others. Try talking and singing to your bump.
‘Your baby is guaranteed to love the sound of your voice, whatever you’re singing or saying,’ says clinical psychologist Mia Scotland. Even if the neighbours do not…
Babies born to mums who spent time bonding with their bump during pregnancy have been shown to be healthier and more settled
3. Safe exercises to tone up your belly
You can’t influence the size of your bump, but you can work on your abdominal area, which will help you during labour and make it easier to get your post-baby body back.
‘Don’t do sit-ups and crunches in pregnancy, particularly from the second trimester, when lying flat on your back puts too much pressure on your blood vessels,’ says fitness expert Jane Wake.
Instead, do this pregnancy-safe core move. ‘Think of your belly button as a horizontal lift drawing back towards your spine,’ says Jane. ‘Visualise the lift going through five floors and your belly tightening, as if you’re giving your baby a hug.’
Putting your feet up may sound like old-fashioned advice but, as your bump grows, it’s a good idea to take the pressure off your legs and feet.
4. Rest up
‘Resting improves your blood flow and allows the cells in your baby’s body to develop, especially during the final growth spurt,’ says fertility expert Zita West. ‘By the third trimester, rest when you can.’
5. Back support
The hormone relaxin loosens the ligaments that surround your joints, so you need to maintain good posture. It can be tempting to lean back in order to distribute the weight of your bump evenly. Instead, try standing with your feet hip-width apart to make you feel stable.
‘Think about lifting up the front of your pelvis to correct that “belly out” posture that can cause lower back pain,’ says Jane. Doing gentle exercise, such as swimming, walking or Pilates, is another great way of strengthening your back. Keep moving but take things gently and, if something hurts, always stop.
6. Know your bump
When it comes to your bump, trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, speak to your midwife or GP.
‘After 24 weeks, your baby should move regularly,’ says Karen. ‘You know your bump better than anyone else, so if you notice a change in your baby’s normal pattern of movement, speak to your midwife. It may just be that your baby has less room to move now that she’s bigger, but your midwife can decide whether to scan you for reassurance.’