hey baby: tips for pregnancy

I wanted to share a few things that have helped me through the first half of my pregnancy - perhaps they will help you too.

Ways to Move

In London I enjoyed the Bumps classes at Frame, finding their encouragement to exercise a far sight from many other gyms who completely freaked out at someone wanting to (god forbid) work out in the first trimester.

I also loved Sunday yoga classes at Stretch, preferring the Broadway Market location to the tiny Columbia Road option. It's nice when your teacher is also pregnant, Amanda, the current teacher of this class is brilliant - and the practice was never too light and breath focussed - it actually worked you a little hard which I what I enjoy.

Sweet, intimate Yoga On The Lane in Dalston is a favourite too. Their prenatal yoga is gentle, quiet and soulful; and the studio is reminiscent of being in someone's living room (in a really good way). Nice light, herbal tea after class and simple decor.

In Hong Kong, I've tried out classes at The Yoga Room, Flex and Pure. I prefer the Yoga Room for a more "boutique", peaceful setting and great teachers (plus, it's 100 metres from my apartment).

I've also found this half hour YouTube video 'Prenatal Yoga with Lara Dutta' fantastic for a quick, simple, at home routine that's suitable throughout pregnancy.

Beyond that, walking every day and swimming (ideally in a non-chlorinated pool) once a week have been keeping me feeling good.

Things to Read

Working my way through Jessica Stanley's list of books on babies, motherhood and pregnancy. Particularly helpful in early pregnancy was Emily Oster's Expecting Better. Oster, an economist whose research into the reasoning behind doctor's recommendations such as "don't eat sushi" gives a clear understanding of what to avoid, why and what to ignore, with evidence. I love evidence.

I also, of course, loved Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman. A little silly, of course, but also full of wisdom about routines and feeding.

Following the bulk of Gowri Motha's advice in The Gentle Birth Method and looking forward to purchasing her book The Gentle First Year. Motha is a London obstetrician who, when practicing with the NHS, noticed that recurring issues due to diet and lack of exercise were cropping up in her patients. This approach to pregnancy and birth includes massage, reflexology, homeopathic remedies, a gentle yoga regime, ayurvedic dietary advice and some elements of hypnobirthing. If it was good enough for her clients (Kate Moss, Stella McCartney et al), it's good enough for me. What I like about it most of all is its easy to follow, week by week recommendations (as well as the massages it's suggested the father or your partner gives you).

Then, there's this - a compendium of all the links, films and books about pregnancy and babies you could ever want, compiled by Meaghan O'Connell on The Cut.

Things to Wear

What a dearth of simple, stylish maternity clothing there is. Just because I'm pregnant certainly doesn't mean I want to start wearing floral fucking wrap dresses, nor do I want to spend money on things I'll wear for just 6 months. As a result, I've tried to minimise what I've purchased and hope that I don't have to buy too much more.

Storq is a godsend. I bought an organic, high quality cotton set of basics (leggings, a black teeshirt dress, a black tube skirt and a longline white singlet) that's designed to be mixed with your existing clothing. I like their aesthetic and commitment to locally produced, organic products. Plus, Courtney Klein is the coolest.

Lingerie is another minefield. Breasts that have gone from an already generous D to an EE are difficult to deal with. I've purchased some simple Heidi Klum Intimates maternity bras, a set of pretty Stella McCartney Maternity lingerie for feeling special and some basic Bodas sets for everyday. Happily, these all work for nursing too. Oh, and the best cheap find has been a 'sleep bra', reminiscent of a training bra but so comfortable and great for sleeping in comfort.

Indian print cotton dresses are good for warmer climates - I love these because my mother used to wear them when she was pregnant with me. As she's binned them I got frustrated and bought some at Zara - yes, they're viscose and they're probably made by small children. This one and this one are empire line and work well for an expanding shape.

Similarly, COS tend to cater well to the maternity market as so many of their dresses and shirts are A-line and/or super loose.

I bought maternity jeans, a striped long sleeve Breton top, opaque tights, white shirt and a plain black swimsuit from Toyshop's Maternity range. The jeans are a little thin in the denim for my liking but I have to admit they're very comfortable. I look forward to burning them in four months.

Amongst these items I've worn my own 'normal' clothes - shirts that are longer and looser like these by Sherie Muijs, beautiful dresses and jumpsuits by Penny Sage, trainers and flats (Adidas Stan Smiths, Nike Internationalists, Celine espadrilles), looser and more empire line dresses.

Things to Eat

I take Viridian's Folic Acidpregnancy multivitamin and drizzled a flaxseed oil blend designed for pregnancy on my cereal or fruit in the morning.

I also follow Dr Motha's recommendations for homeopathic tissue salts which you can find in her book (you can buy these at any homeopathic pharmacy).

I've been eating loads of organic fruit and vegetables, oily fish (organic and line caught where possible) and have replaced coffee with pregnancy safe herbal teas (fresh ginger, peppermint, chamomile) and almond milk hot chocolates.

Things to Put on Your Body and Face

While I've always tried hard to use natural products, pregnancy spurred me on to be very careful about what I put on my body - plus, my sensitivity to unnatural scents is so strong it made me nauseous - I couldn't wear my usual Byredo perfume or the Aveda shampoo I had used for years.

Weleda's Stretch Mark Oil and Trilogy's Rose Hip Oil are wonderful applied straight out of the shower.

I've been going through bags of magnesium salts to ease muscle tension and help with insomnia, as well as using lots of lavender oil to destress and help me sleep.

I replaced my hair products with ones from Sans Ceuticals, and swapped out my makeup to RMS, all purchased from the wonderful Glasshouse Shop.

I also started using a skincare range called PAI, which is all made in the UK from organic ingredients.  I love their cream cleanser and daily moisturiser, as well as their redness serum and flash mask. I was sad to give up using my old favourite REN, but they've been sold to Unilever and I've noticed the formulations changing to incorporate sulphates and mineral oils.

I also swapped over my Diptyque candles (weeping!) to the healthier option of NEOM. Nice, natural scents which still feel luxe enough to be a treat and look good on the coffee table.

Wizards with healing hands: Rebecca Clarke is an East London based massage therapist who I absolutely swear by - her facial massage and special pregnancy massages are heavenly. I also recommend reflexology at Holistic Health Hackney.

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