The Handbook
The Handbook

While the nation was busy baking the proverbial banana bread, I’ve been cooking up my own little bundle of joy: I’m pregnant!

Call me a cliche, but I’m thrilled to be one of the baby boomers having an estimated 76,000 lockdown babies. Strictly speaking, it’s not a lockdown baby at all seeing as I found out I was pregnant the day London went into lockdown (you can imagine the mix bag of emotions that day was), but I’ll happily indulge a little creative license for the benefit of this column. 

So here we are, six months later and all of our lives dramatically changed. There’s talk of “the new normal” and “getting out the otherside” and while I desperately want that too, I can’t help but think that my otherside is going to look remarkably different to what it was. Lockdown for me and any other first time mothers-to-be out there wasn’t just the beginning of a new normal, but a definitive goodbye to our old lives and hello to a very different world on the other side. 

But amidst all the uncertainty and disruption, I am excited to bring a human into a world that is, let’s hope, much kinder, more tolerant and one that values the really important things in life. Who knows, I could be looking at it all through an oversized pair of rose tinted glasses, but I think a year of being forced to slow down, talk to our neighbours, clap in unison on our doorsteps, live through an anti-racist movement and sadly witness the descruction this virus has caused, has hopefully made us all a bit more compassionate. 

I’m also fully aware that the Internet isn’t short of 30-something-year-old women thinking they’re the first person to create a baby, so I’ll try and keep the majority of this light, short, breast pump chat-free and at best, helpful for any other expectant parents. Here are just some of the things getting me through week 27…

Back pain

Not getting me through, quite the opposite rather. If you’ve suffered back pain during pregnancy, I feel your pain. Like, really, I literally feel it. I’ve been suffering with rib flare and restricted mobility due to some metal work on my spine and it is agony to sit. It’s forced me to slow down (which I hate) and relax as much as possible, which is good. But god, I will never take sitting in a chair for granted again. 

For the time being, I’ve thrown just about all I can afford at pregnancy harnesses, lumbar supports, chiropractors and Pilates, but really the one thing getting me through is a £40 pregnancy pillow from Amazon. My partner calls it The Boyfriend Substitute and he’s not entirely wrong. I recommend everyone get one for Netflix marathons, pregnant or not. 

I've given up devouring baby books - the words “frozen peas” and “perineum” in the same sentence is literature I can do without.

Books

Someone very smart told me not to waste this precious time devouring baby books and just read stuff you want to read because you won’t have time for any of that once the baby is here. Plus, seeing the words “frozen peas” and “perineum” in the same sentence is literature I can do without. So it’s currently Vogue, Deborah Levy’s Hot Milk (not that kind of milk) and Bob Dylan’s autobiography for me. 

Ok, I have dipped into one baby book – Lucy Atkin’s First-Time Parent as I’m not entirely irresponsible and it’s practically set out in easy to manage chunks and reference points. Plus, Aitkin’s list of things you definitely need, might need and could need but aren’t entirely essential are really helpful for amateurs like me.

An unexpected sweet tooth

I’ve never really had a sweet tooth but if pregnancy cravings are a thing, mine is sugar. Keeping me going are Tony’s Chocolonely 70% Dark Chocolate, an unexpected hankering for tiramisu – Gloria’s in Shoreditch do the best (thankfully in my Deliveroo catchment area) – and Jane’s Patisserie’s brownie recipes (I’m the kind of person who bakes now, mainly because it’s an activity I can do standing up), which range from Mars Bar to Biscoff and classic triple chocolate.  Dangerously good. Try them for yourself, here.

Don’t worry, the rest of my diet is pretty healthy but I’m definitely counteracting the lack of summer rosés with a few sugary treats.

Non-maternity maternity wear

I’ve a real aversion to maternity wear in any form – apart from maternity jeans as there’s only so much hairband-through-the-buttonhole trickery you can do – so have tried my best to buy as little as possible to accommodate my growing bump.

Some gems I’ve found; a Ghost pink floral, high-neck, puff-sleeve number from two summers ago that still fits my 27 week bump – there are plenty of similar styles in their current collection that should do the same job, An & Other Stories Smock Mini Dress (go up a size) which will work sans bump next summer; and ASOS’s tiered maxi beach dress which I’ve been wafting around in during the heatwave – it’s a dead ringer for a Kalita dress but a snip at just £30.

For aforementioned maternity jeans, my tips are 1. Don’t go too skinny, it just doesn’t work with a bump 2. Choose a ‘mom’ style (how apt), one in black, one in a washed denim and cut the bottoms off so the hem is frayed a little. They’ll look instantly cooler.

The pelvic floor app

I’ve been warned of the perils of not doing your pelvic floor, or Kegel exercises as they’ve become known (sounds nicer), since long before a baby was on the agenda. The quickest and easiest way to do them and, more importantly, remember to do them is with the Kegel Trainer Pro app. It’s a one-off £5.99 payment and allows you to set targets, sessions per day, pass levels and gives you a gentle nudge when you forget. I’ve no idea if I’m doing them correctly or often enough but it’s strangely addictive.

Scroll on for some of my pregnancy must-haves I’ve been shopping this week…