The Bump Class by Marina Fogle & her sister Dr Chiara Hunt was written to provide accessible, professional and unbiased advice to expectant mothers. I became aware of it when Ben Fogle tweeted about it just before it was released, happily around the time of my first scan.
Keep reading to find out what I’ve made of it now I’ve got to the halfway point of my pregnancy.
About the authors
Both authors are mothers themselves and Dr Hunt is a private GP who has worked in the labour ward of London hospitals as well as paediatrics. They teach a private antenatal class of the same name and, where appropriate, they incorporate insights from mothers they have worked with into the text. Expert advice from professionals including midwives, obstetricians, breastfeeding specialists and paediatricians is drawn together in one place. The result is a book that offers a straight talking insight in to pregnancy and the challenges that follow when you welcome your little one in to the world.
About the book
The book is written on the premise that women who are properly informed at all stages of pregnancy, labour and adjusting to life with a newborn are reassured and less fearful, which increases the likelihood of the process being enjoyable, even magical.
“With all the experiences that we are privileged enough to be a part of we realised very quickly that the words ‘always’ and ‘never’ with regards to what is normal should not be used.” (p9)
The aim is to provide realistic, non-judgemental advice that takes account of all eventualities as far as possible. Information is provided on vaginal deliveries as well as cesareans, breast and bottle feeding, and the authors do not offer an opinion as to the so called “right way” to go.
I am particularly impressed with the matter of fact approach taken by the book. Each aspect is covered in a series of short chapters. Expect to read about everything from hormones, to maternity clothes, to telling your boss you’re pregnant, to what to pack in your hospital bag, what you need to buy for baby (and which things can be welcome additions), what to expect at all stages of labour and during a hospital stay, how to care for your baby in the first few months and much more. This book is not concerned with different parenting methods, focusing more on practical techniques you can try for example, if your baby has trouble sleeping or if your baby takes a while to get used to feeding.
Information is presented in clear, easy to digest nuggets so that you don’t have to trawl through to find what you are looking for – and the accessible layout will probably save you hours of googling.
Handy checklists are placed at relevant intervals throughout the book as appropriate to your pregnancy stage, offering ideas for maternity clothes, packing your hospital bag and which medicines to have in stock.
There are several sections dedicated the “father to be”. These are intended to draw your partner in to your pregnancy and make them feel just as involved. There are suggestions for how they can support you, especially their role in labour and things they can do to make life easier when you bring baby home for the first time – the recommendation that they should obtain treats and buy fresh flowers is particularly appealing!
I haven’t read any other books but I follow several pregnancy and mummy blogs, which are great for finding solace in shared experiences or for picking up hints and tips, mostly ones that I’m saving for later. I have also downloaded a couple of pregnancy apps that offer daily and weekly updates. It doesn’t take much looking to realise that there is a wealth of information available on the internet. However, I love the fact that having it all in book form removes the temptation to trawl through reams of mumsnet style discussion boards, where you hear from people who have experienced every weird and wonderful scenario you could possibly imagine. They can be quite overwhelming at times, and when it comes down to it, rarely offer much in the way of answers.
The Bump Class has been great for bringing some common sense to pregnancy. For example, I have read many things about the importance of sleeping on your side after 16 weeks or that you shouldn’t wear underwired bras. The book explains that your growing uterus can put pressure on your vena cava, which is the large vein that carries deoxygenated blood from your lower body to your heart. Apparently this can make you feel unwell but does not cause any danger to baby. Whilst sleeping on your side is recommended, I am no longer worried if I spend a little time lying on my back. As for underwire – apparently that’s ok as long as your bra fits really well.
Reading this book will encourage you not to set yourself up to fail nor to berate yourself if you don’t follow your birth plan to the letter. It takes a realistic, matter of fact approach to every stage, even covering uncomfortable topics like doing a poo during labour and the spectrum of baby poo. I’ve heard people say they weren’t expecting a sticky, black nappy, so it’s nice to know that when the time comes I’ll be ready – well as ready as you can be to deal with a black poo.
“It’s really important that we talk about this because if you’re afraid of doing a poo as you’re pushing, you’ll be afraid to push. And you really need to push, very hard, without any restraint.” (p142)
Would I recommend this book?
Having just reached the halfway mark in my pregnancy I can’t comment on how useful this book will be when it comes to the big stuff, by which I mean labour, figuring out how to look after the little one and getting to grips with breast feeding. It’s not meant to be a substitute for the advice that you can access via your midwife, antenatal classes and breast feeding support, but it’s great to have found an accessible book that is equally good for dipping in to as it is for a more in depth reading session.
I would recommend this book to newly expectant mums – it would make a great gift when someone close to you first lets on that they are pregnant, but I can see it would also be useful for second time parents in need of a few reminders. After all, you grow with your child and I’m sure most new mums are keen to put their experience of labour out of their minds as quickly as possible. Plus, no two pregnancies are the same.
I also think this book is a must read for fathers to be. There’s still not much written for dads so it’s a nice way to involve them in the process. And, if someone else will be with you on labour day, maybe they should take a look. It will give them an idea of what to expect and help them to give you the best support possible. You might want to point it in the direction of your family members too, after all they will also need to adjust to life with a new baby around.
In an age where you can access all the information you need about anything via the internet, and a lot of information you don’t, investing in one good book, such as The Bump Class is a great way of filtering out the noise so you are left with all the useful, practical tips you are likely to need.
You can buy The Bump Class: An Expert Guide to Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond on Amazon for £12.91.
Which books have you turned to during pregnancy and would you recommend them? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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