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How accurate actually is your due date?

Hate to break it to you, but less than 5% of babies are born on their due date. Yup, that’s right. Even more bizarrely, in France due dates are calculated as 40 weeks and 6 days since the date of your last period. That’s a whole week later than the way the UK calculates it. I’ll just give you a…

What you can do about pregnancy reflux

Lots of women experience reflux - also known as indigestion or heartburn - during pregnancy because of the changing levels of hormones in your body and also because of the growing pressure on organs that aren’t used to being put under pressure. Some of the key symptoms are burping, a burning…

How to write a birth plan

The basics of planning birth are deciding where you would like to give birth, whether you’d like to have any pain relief (and if so what types are you comfortable with) and also how you would like to give birth. Don’t worry, you don’t have to work this all out on your own. Think of a birth plan…

Swollen ankles: why and what to do about it

Ankle and hand swelling is (unfortunately) a super normal feature of pregnancy. It’s usually down to the big changes in hormones, specifically oestrogen, which make you retain water more than normal. Some easy changes can help to manage swelling: 1. Drinking more water (counter intuitive, we…

What is the dark line down your belly all about?

The dark vertical line that can develop around the second trimester of pregnancy is known as the ‘linea nigra’, which literally refers to the black line. About 75% of pregnant women develop a linea nigra, stretching anywhere from the pelvic bone to the belly button and from the belly button to up…

The third trimester: what to expect

The third trimester begins at week 28. The third trimester means a lot of wonderful things including baby showers, guaranteed seats on trains and buses, choosing baby names, relishing that thick pregnancy hair, getting your baby room ready and free dental work (who knew!?). But over the next…

What's normal when it comes to stretch marks?

Did you know eight out of 10 women develop stretch marks during pregnancy? Now that's a reassuring stat if ever we’ve heard one. Stretch marks (or striae gravidarum as it’s known in the medical world) are caused by, you guessed it, the rapid stretching that takes place during pregnancy. This…

How important is it to have a birth partner?

⁠A birth partner can be a sexual partner, parent, friend or neighbour - the key is that you bring someone you trust. Having a team around you that makes you feel safe and supported throughout birth isn't just nice to have. Although they can't get the baby out for you (🙄), they can absolutely make…

What's the deal with colostrum harvesting?

Colostrum is the first form of breast milk that your body will produce when you're having a baby. It is very concentrated, rich in vitamins, antibodies and nutrients. From around week 16 of pregnancy, you’ll produce colostrum. You can then try to hand express colostrum from 37 weeks. The gap…

What is group B strep and what are the risks?

Group B strep (GBS) is a type of bacteria called streptococcal bacteria that’s usually found in the rectum or vagina. It’s very common in both men and women (about 20-40% of women carry it), although most people won’t realise they have it as it’s normally completely harmless. GBS is also common…

Does sex really induce labour?

Most people, when they reach 40 weeks pregnant, enter what we like to call the ‘get this bloody thing out of me’ phase. And - once they’ve tried the spicy food, castor oil, and walking around - usually start to wonder: ‘shall we try having sex?’ Indeed, we’ve all heard about couples having sex to…

What is the vitamin K injection and when will your baby be offered it?

One of the notable parts of the first day after birth is that you’ll be offered a vitamin K injection for your baby, so it’s a good idea to know what’s what. Vitamin K is very important as it helps blood clot. Babies have a lot less vitamin K in their blood than adults, and this means that they…

What to pack in your hospital bag

Packing a hospital bag can be overwhelming. That’s why we suggest breaking it down into three separate bags - your labour bag, your postpartum recovery bag, and your baby bag. In your labour bag, you might need: - Antenatal notes - Birth plan  - Sick bags (mainly for the journey there!) -…

What is continuous CTG monitoring?

CTG stands for cardiotocography. Continuous CTG monitoring uses ultrasound waves to measure your baby's heart rate and the strength of contractions in your uterus during labour.  Normally, a baby's heart rate stays between 110 and 160 beats per minute. For comparison, an adult’s heart rate is…

You're full term... now what?

From 37 weeks, your baby is ready to be born at any time. Most women go into spontaneous labour at some point between now at 41-42 weeks. But in the UK, one in five women are induced. You might be induced because you’re between 41 and 42 weeks pregnant or if you or baby are having some kind of…

What will your baby be checked for after birth?

In the UK, your doctor, midwife, nurse or health visitor will offer a physical examination of your baby within 72 hours of them being born. For most people, this examination takes place in hospital before you’re sent home. But as most of us will not be at our sharpest in the hours after birth (or,…

What is a membrane sweep?

A sweep involves a midwife or doctor inserting their finger into your vagina and ‘sweeping’ it in a circle around your cervix. This idea is that this sweeping motion will separate the membranes of the amniotic sac from your cervix, releasing labour-triggering hormones. Many women are offered…

Does holding a comb really work as pain relief?

Have you ever heard of the comb technique before as a pain relief method during labour? The idea is that gripping a comb in your hand hits various acupressure points, which are thought to stimulate oxytocin and endorphins. The technique is based on the pain gate theory. This is the theory that…

What is the let-down reflex?

The let-down reflex is the process through which the nerves in the breast send signals that release the milk in your milk ducts. In other words, it is what allows breastmilk to flow. The nerves of your breast can be stimulated by your baby sucking, by hearing or seeing your baby, by using a…

Episiotomy: what, why, and how to recover

An episiotomy is a cut to the skin between the vagina and the anus (the perineum) to help make the opening a bit wider for the baby to come through during childbirth. These cuts are small and are made during the pushing phase of labour by a doctor or a midwife. Episiotomies are performed much…