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Since discovering I was pregnant in May, I have been buying lots of books and magazines on the subject. After all, it is fifteen years since I was last pregnant and things have changed over that time, so I felt the need to do some revision! Each month, the supermarket shelves offer an impressive array of different magazines on the topic and I have bought most of them at least once, but Pregnancy & Birth is one I try to get each month if I can.
The main attraction this magazine has for me is that almost all of it is relevant to me. Lots of the other magazines in this area include sections on babies and toddlers, such as weaning, teething and getting them ready for nursery, but this all feels a bit too far away to interest me at the moment, which means I don't read these pages. Pregnancy & Birth, as you may suspect from the title, covers issues around pregnancies, birth and new babies - all of which I am interested in, so I usually read the issues cover to cover.
The magazine comes out every month, it is glossy and modern looking and costs £2.80, which I think is good value for 120 to 130 pages. There are regular features on real life stories, fashion, beauty, shopping, food, birth and homes. You can also access their website which is askamum.co.uk and I have found this useful several times.
To give you a better idea of what kind of things are in this magazine, I'll examine the November 2011 issue in a bit more detail. After the letters page, there is a section called Monitor, where they assess the latest news in health, celebs, style and trends. This includes a Hotlist where they review 'this month's must-have buys'. While I have a look at these, a lot are out of my budget. The November issue highlights such things as a £210 pushchair and £180 changing bag! Thankfully their item on labour bag luxuries includes a few cheaper items, but I suggest the magazine is trying to appeal to middle class mums-to-be.
Each issue includes a Book Club where readers review pregnancy and birth books. I enjoy this feature as I enjoy reading a lot and it is easy to apply to become a book reviewer for them too. In fact, one of mine is due to be in the January issue!
The Monitor column is currently following Abbie, a 28-year-old journalist, through her pregnancy. She was 30 weeks pregnant by the November issue. I enjoy reading about real women's pregnancies and this column is written in a very accessible, chatty, friendly style. The Monitor section finishes with Celebrity, which is an interview with pregnant actress Jennifer Garner.
The Real Life section of the magazine is one of my favourites. November has an interesting feature about four pregnant women who are doing things slightly differently. The only slight complaint I have about the women in this magazine is they tend to be in their late twenties or early thirties, whereas I am in my early forties and would love more articles and interviews with older mums.
There are some good articles about pregnancy including ten tips to boost your energy levels and the rise of the pregnancy proposal. This section is followed by one on fashion, which I tend to flick through rather than spending lots of time on it. Again, some of the clothes featured are rather expensive, although they do have some cheaper items such as a pair of £14 leggings and a £19 T-shirt from Dorothy Perkins.
The beauty section is quite short, which is good, as I'm not so interested in this. I spend more time browsing the shopping pages as this is more of an area I am into. November's issue has a feature on twenty-five baby bedtime buys including Moses baskets, cribs and cots which range from a £35 Moses basket from John Lewis to a designer crib for a whopping £9,600! I also enjoy the 'You test...' section, where readers try out various products and their reviews appear in the magazine. This time, it features baby baths and disposable nappies.
The food section includes some attractive looking recipes as well as tips on healthy eating during pregnancy. This is followed by another of my favourite sections Birth & Baby. This includes questions from readers, tips and longer articles. November's magazine has an article about getting the best birth you can from the NHS, driving with a newborn baby in the car and bonding with your new arrival.
A regular feature is 'Your Baby, Week by Week' which is a really handy guide to where you are at each stage of pregnancy, how your baby is growing and developing. I have often checked through this and feel it is very informative and helps you know what is happening inside you each week. There are some amazing photos of babies in utero too.
Another favourite of mine is 'Your Birth Stories' where each month features stories and photos of three women's experiences of labour and birth. November's topic is caesarean births, but previous issues have included an emphasis on pain relief choices and how births don't always go according to plan.
Overall, Pregnancy & Birth is a really good read with lots of tips and helpful information for pregnant women and new mums. It is good to have a relevant magazine without pages about toddlers, when having a two-year-old seems a world away.
Pregnancy and Birth Magazine
After trying to conceive for over three years and being told that through medical reasons I only had a 1% chance of ever conceiving naturally, you can imagine my surprise and immense pleasure when the two blue lines showed on the seven different pregnancy tests I took nearly 8 months ago. Immediately I started thinking of everything an anything to help the pregnancy progress healthily and one of the first things I did was to go to the local supermarket and browse the pregnancy magazines. After flicking through a few, I was disappointed in the quality and quantity of them, that is until I came across Pregnancy and Birth.
Although I was pregnant with my first child, I have a younger brother and sister who are quite a bit younger than me, so have some experience, though I felt that having my own brought new fears and worries (mixed with happiness and excitement) especially about carrying this baby and providing her with the best. The other fear, which was probably the greatest fear which was of the unknown was that of the labour and actual birth, all of which I hoped that this magazine would help ease my mind to a degree and give me helpful advice, and I was not disappointed in the slightest.
The magazine comes out once a month (a month in advance to its published date, though this isn't an issue, just weird!) and holds so much information which is easy to consume in each issue. There are regular features, as well as ever changing stories, best buys, questions and so much more. As there is so much and also always adding and changing with each issue, I can not possibly cover everything, though I will try to highlight the main parts of the magazine as follows;
* Nine Magical Months and The Secret Life of your Unborn Baby *
This feature appears in most issues and is amazing. It gives different information on a week by week basis throughout the whole nine months, often with amazing scan pictures to support the information, from 2D, 3D and even 4D images. It is extremely breathtaking and helps you understand both what is happening inside you with your baby as well as what is happening to your own body, because lets face it, the changes we women feel can be quite scary if we don't know what is going on. It also provides wonderful informative views for the man in your life so they can understand more and be supportive (and if they are like my husband, understand the phantom pregnancy symptoms he is experiencing!!).
* Real Life Stories *
There are many real life stories both from pregnant women to those who have had many children. These stories cover the changes in pregnancy, birth stories (some including pictures - possibly not for the squeamish!!), views of pregnancy from both the womans and mans point of view, embarrassing moments in pregnancy and birth (this is one thing that rested my mind as if something weird happened whilst giving birth at least I know Im not alone!) and so much more! These parts of the magazine are possibly my most favorite parts, and even my husband enjoys reading the stories. They are not only reassuring but helps both you and your partner understand that you are not alone in anything you are going through. My husband was slightly worried at fist that I would become panicky after reading some of the true life birth stories, though it has actually helped me 'try' to plan what I really want in labour and birth and be aware of what could go wrong and how we might be able to deal with it.
* Advice Pages *
Everything from readers writing in to have their questions and fears answered to midwifes helping with complicated medical jargon which could otherwise leave you feeling terrified if you don't understand what on earth they are talking about - after all, this is your life and your babies life they are dealing with and you need to know what is going on. Also covered are such aspects as sex in pregnancy, morning sickness, and good and bad things during pregnancy plus so much more.
* Best Buys *
Each issue gives you the rundown on best buys and what is on offer from prams to maternity clothes and more. It caters for a wide range of budgets and often offers competitions to win some luxury goodies and money off codes. Although it caters for most budgets, sometimes they do forget those of us on a tight budget, so more often than not, I skip these parts, though they are worth a read as they give you an idea of what is out there for you and your baby.
* Labour and Birth Tips *
Top tips for a speedier and easier labour and birth. An extremely helpful part of the magazine and covers different aspects each issue. As I still have eight weeks to go, I can not tell you if these tip actually work yet or not!
* Health and Beauty *
Tips and products to help get over the exhausted and sick feeling and feel as though you are blooming. Also covers such aspects as 'ask the midwife' eating and diet tips, questions and answers, cravings, styles and so much more. Quite interesting and informative.
* Fertility *
A part I felt extremely drawn to due to the difficulties we had in conceiving. It offers advice as well as the rundown on what help you can get both on the NHS and Privately. Also featured recently is a campaign on Group B Strep something which can cause deaths in a baby during birth from a common infection which the mother may carry, yet it is not routinely screened for! (A little bit of information there as this is something I feel strongly about).
* Celebrities *
What magazine would be without something of the celebrities we either love or hate. Each issue focuses upon one celebrity mother or mother to be and asks them the questions about their experiences to make us realize that some celebrities are not all 'give me a caesarian because I want to keep my figure'.
* Beyond Birth *
Follows new mums as they deal with becoming a new mum for either the first time or the forth time. It covers difficulties and worries about your newborn on both the mothers and fathers outlook. It also features aspects such as communicating with your baby, shopping, what to expect, more stories etc etc.
There is so much more within the pages of this wonderful magazine which I can not possibly cover as they are ever changing with each issue. They are all informative and an extremely great read, though, and would recommend to all pregnant women (and expectant dads) especially first time parents.
Each magazine is £2.70 per monthly issue, which is slightly expensive as magazines come, though it is incredibly informative and helpful - like having your own personal midwife and pregnant friends around you whenever you choose. I have found myself relaxing of my fears just by reading the 150 plus pages each month, so I would say that, although on the high side slightly, it is well worth buying.
Pregnancy and Birth Magazine also has a discussion forum which can be found here: