Former maternity nurse Gina Ford is known for her no-nonsense approach to baby care, advocating rigid feeding times, controlled crying and strict bedtime routines to encourage a ‘contented little baby’.
Whether or not you agree with Ms. Ford’s approach, lots of new mums swear by ‘The Gina Method’ to get their little ones sleeping through the night. Now, taking a step back from baby care, Gina has co-written (together with Consultant Obstetrician Dr Charlotte Chaliha) a brand new guide to pregnancy and birth. Called ‘The Contented Pregnancy’ the book claims to be “the essential guide to enjoying a relaxed pregnancy and giving your baby the very best start in life”. It is split into four sections: The Pregnancy Basics; The Stages of Pregnancy; Preparing for Life with Your Baby and Birth and Beyond.
The first section includes everything you need to know about conception. It touches on how and when to stop using contraception, how to actually ‘try’ to get pregnant – and what to do if it doesn’t happen for you. It also gives fantastic lifestyle advice about preparing for pregnancy, which lots other books don’t tend to cover.
Of course, one of the major factors in preparing for pregnancy is to get your body in the very best condition for carrying and giving birth to a baby. The Contented Pregnancy gives sound, honest advice on how being fit and healthy will increase your chances of getting pregnant and of having a good pregnancy and perhaps an easier birth. Chapter Three in the book is all about nutrition in pregnancy and explains about the benefits of a healthy diet (for you and your baby) as well as the amount of weight you can expect to gain and the calories you require. This section is also packed with facts on the nutrients your body needs during pregnancy. For example, did you know that the body uses protein to help with the expansion of your uterus as your baby grows?
When it comes to exercise, The Contented Pregnancy explains how and why you should exercise during pregnancy: what to do and what NOT to do – as well as details on those all-important pelvic floor muscles.
Section Two guides us through each stage of pregnancy (including a rather detailed biology lesson on how conception occurs). It takes us through each trimester, explaining what is happening to your body and your baby at each stage. This section of the book seems to be a little rushed and somewhat negative – personally, I think it would have benefitted from a little more detail, less repeating of symptoms and also a little more emphasis on the positive things that happen to a woman’s body during this exciting time.
Section Three gives practical advice on how to prepare your home (and your life) for your baby’s arrival: what to buy and how to choose the major purchases you’ll need to invest in. Here, Ford lists and explains all the items you’ll need to buy for your baby and gives arguments for and against why you need (or don’t need) each item. The section talks about going back to work after the birth and also about how relationships with your partner, family and friends may change once the baby is born – and gives good advice on how to make sure your partner doesn’t feel left out. There’s also a short chapter titled ‘Advice for dads-to-be’ for you to pass onto your other half to read!
The final section ‘Labour and Birth’ offers excellent guidance on what to expect during the last few days of pregnancy including signs of labour, induction, pain relief and way of staying relaxed and calm during your labour. It then goes on to explain the stages of labour right through to the actual delivery and the moment you meet your new baby. This chapter also gives practical advice about breastfeeding, crying, nappy-changing and even holding your baby. It talks briefly about getting back into shape after birth – with the realistic statement “it takes us mere mortals a bit longer than it does the celebs, who are usually helped by personal trainers and nannies.”
Generally, The Contented Pregnancy is a good read. The advice given by Ford and Dr Chaliha is reassuring and friendly. Unlike some pregnancy guides, the text is not patronising and does not lecture – it’s real common sense guidance and suggestions for mums to be.