Little Darlings

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    Lots of us put career plans on hold for a few months when we spot that little blue line but it doesn’t mean you have to hang up your trainers or lose the lycra, exercise when you’re pregnant is a very good idea indeed.

    Health Editor Radhika Holmström investigates the best ways to keep you moving.

    The Benefits

    You’re going to put your body through quite a marathon of a different kind in the next 9 months and while there’s no guarantee that being in good shape will give you a good labour, it’ll put you in the best position for afterwards. Also, it’s not just your – ahem – lady parts that take a battering, the whole experience of pregnancy puts a lot of strain on your pelvic floor and your stomach muscles.

    So if you’re nursing a hope of getting back into that little black dress some time over the postpartum months, exercising during your pregancy is one of your best bets, because while we all know about the celebs who are squeezing back into red-carpet outfits within a few weeks, the reality is often a little bit different.

    “Walking and swimming are good, because they’re low-impact and not too heavy on the joints,” 

    Physical activity is also good for you emotionally. Exercise is a key part of our mental well-being – all the mental health organisations recommend incorporating a bit of regular, moderate activity – and that’s particularly important at a time when we’re prone to mood swings at best and depression at worst.

    By keeping your body busy doing something else, it will help you hang onto a bit more sense of ‘self’. And if you’re doing an activity with other pregnant women there’s also a social spin-off, which can be a huge source of support further down the line when you all have small babies.

    Getting Going

    If you’ve never exercised much before, one option is a specialist antenatal yoga or pilates class; and in fact even if you’re a regular pilates or yoga-goer you should probably switch to one that is tailored to pregnant women, because pregnancy puts all kinds of stresses on your body (your ligaments, for one thing, get much stretchier as a hormone called relaxin floods your system in preparation for childbirth, and you don’t want to push them too far). Classes like this are a terrific way to tone up, become more flexible and also meet other women whose babies are due at around the same time as yours.

    However, they’re not particularly aerobic – they don’t work your heart and lungs – so don’t forget to move as well. “Walking and swimming are good, because they’re low-impact and not too heavy on the joints,” recommends antenatal and postnatal personal trainer Mary Huckle.

    West London-based prenatal exercise instructor Gill Clegg, who recently had her own baby, is a huge fan of outdoor lidos, of which there are plenty all around London, however there are certain things to remember.

    “If you’re swimming breaststroke, don’t do the legs – just do little crawl-style kicks or use a kick board, as the  ligaments in your pelvis are very stretchy. In fact, I used little training fins to kick and my legs got very strong for labour.”


    Keeping Going

    Some activities – or levels of activity – are, obviously, off-limits. This isn’t the time to take up a completely new, strenuous activity and even if you’re pretty fit already, don’t push yourself too hard. “Keep your heart rate to around 140 beats per minute,” advises Clegg. After three months, avoid contact sports where you might be hit – that includes squash and judo – and also ones like riding, skating and skiing where a fall could injure you; and don’t lie flat on your back, as this may make you feel faint (so a conventional yoga or pilates class is out). And while swimming is great for pregnant women, scuba diving isn’t because the baby isn’t protected against a potential embolism.

    On the other hand, lots of other sorts of exercise are totally feasible. “I think the main thing women worry about is running, but if you’re a seasoned runner you should be fine if you’re careful,” says Clegg. “From my own personal and professional experience, I’d say that as well as keeping your heart rate down (it’s no bad idea to get an inexpensive heart rate monitor), a couple of other things are important too. Keep hydrated throughout, so your baby is hydrated too; whatever the weather, always have water. And don’t get overheated or perspire excessively as that’s an indication that you are just pushing yourself that bit too much.”

    Keep hydrated throughout, so your baby is hydrated too; whatever the weather, always have water. And don’t get overheated.

    “Generally speaking, if you’re already quite fit and healthy you can more or less carry on with anything you did before,” says Huckle. “Obviously, as you become heavier your cardio-vascular system is working harder and in the last trimester your centre of gravity has changed but in the second trimester you may be feeling pretty energetic. Women in my running group have gone on well into the second trimester and you can definitely do cardio and even resistance too, as long as you’re not using heavy weights.” However, do let any trainers or teachers know that you are pregnant; and indeed, if at all possible, find an instructor who works specifically with pregnant women.

    Picking up later

    The other thing to remember about life with a baby is that it’s not just about fitting into your old outfits; it’s about coping with a whole new – and rather demanding – person in your life. The more able you are to cope physically with that, the better. “Exercise will set you up for afterwards,” Clegg declares.

    What’s more, she adds, even if you’re taking it moderately easy during the pregnancy itself, if you were in fact pretty fit before, your muscles will remember how to get back to your previous levels.

    After all, Jessica Ennis-Hill is planning a great return to sport; and plenty of mums – including Paula Radcliffe and Tanni Grey-Thompson – have already shown that her ambition is perfectly achievable.

    Be Careful

    If you have any concerns, or you’ve been diagnosed with any kind of condition like pre-eclampsia or you’ve had bleeding, please do talk to your doctor or midwife before taking up, or going on with, exercise. There are also conditions like ‘pelvic girdle pain’ (PGP), which are less well-known but can cause problems (if you have a lot of pain in your pubic area, especially when stretching, PGP may be the cause).

    Your ambitions may not be quite as high-flying as an Olympic athlete, but one thing’s for sure: keeping active for those nine months can only be a very, very good thing, not only for labour, and your baby, but also for your mindset. So what are you waiting for?

      All too often, the needs of your kids come first and you’ll find your ‘me time’ comes very low down the list. As your kids get a little older, it should be easier to leave them with your partner of babysitter and you can turn your mind to something you can do – for fun, for self-improvement or just because you fancy it!


      We’ve put together a little list of things to do to help you make time for yourself.

      Make Bread Like A Pro

      Learn how to make the best bread or a perfect pizza at the E5 Bakehouse, an über cool East London artisan bakery and café. Passionate about sourdough, they use organic, locally-sourced ingredients in their daily-baked breads, lunches, cakes and coffee. The head bakers share their knowledge and expertise in a one-day bread making class, suitable for all levels. You can create four breads using a variety of techniques, or make your very own pizza over the course of an evening. You’ll find out how to make a traditional pizza base, learn techniques for opening out the dough and use recipes and instructions to create a traditional tomato sauce – just add your favourite toppings!

      The details

      Bread: Thursdays, Saturdays or Sunday, £120
      Tuesdays, 6-9pm, £60

      Visit the website

      Which Wine?

      Know your Burgundy from your Bordeaux? Pinot Blanc from Pinot Grigio? If you feel out of your depth when choosing wine, why not learn a little more about what to serve at dinner parties? Berry Brothers and Rudd hold one day and evening tasting courses, which are sociable as well as educational. Find out how to taste, describe and enjoy wine in any situation. Look out for their new daytime courses, to learn about specific wine regions in a small intimate group in the Pickering Cellar in St James’s Street London, led by Berry’s staff who are passionate about teaching and empowering you with your newfound knowledge and experience.

      The details

      Berry Brothers and Rudd, weekdays and Saturdays, from £125

      Visit the website

      Mind Your Language

      Going on holiday and a little unsure how to make yourself understood? School French or Italian may not be the best foundation for chatting or asking for the nearest pharmacist when you’re away. So why not take up a language and learn it properly? The locals really appreciate it if you try to speak their language, particularly if it’s a less common one. Studies have also shown that learning a language also keeps your brain active and helps with memory, too. The ‘Get started for your holidays’ courses start in May. Over six sessions, these short intensive courses are the ideal language survival kit for your next holiday. You can choose from French, Spanish or lots of other languages, too.

      The details

      The City Literary Institute, various dates throughout 2014,  from £128

      Visit the website


      Perhaps you used to sing, maybe you’ve always wanted to give it a go – now’s the time! Pineapple Performing Arts School offers a 12-week course for adults designed to nurture your talent as an individual performer. You’ll be given solid technical training in posture, breathing, projection, harmony and ensemble work, aiming towards a performance at the end of your course in one of their musical productions or in a singers’ showcase at a professional cabaret or theatre venue. You will leave the course with a greater knowledge of vocal training and experience what it takes to train as a vocalist and perform a song to a live audience.

      The details

      Pineapple Performing Arts School, 12-week course, Sundays 2-5pm, £375

      Visit the website

        Founder of The Bump Class and mum of two, Marina Fogle juggles family and work and is married to TV adventurer, Ben Fogle.

        Marina Fogle, married to TV presenter and adventurer Ben Fogle, runs The Bump Class in South Kensington
        Marina Fogle, married to TV presenter and adventurer Ben Fogle, runs The Bump Class in South Kensington

        It was New Years Eve, 2012 when the idea for The Bump Class was born. My sister and business partner Chiara Hunt, a private GP, sees so many pregnant women who need support. She met women who felt they’d failed if their birth wasn’t what they’d planned. Motherhood is hard enough without feeling guilty, too! The courses are led by a team of experts to give women advice on all aspects of pregnancy.Before I had kids, I ran an event company. It was my baby – but once I became a mother, it was impossible to do both, so I sold it. It continues to thrive and I’m proud of it still.The Bump Class is great because I wanted something that would fit with my primary job as a mother. No two days are the same – one day I’m meeting a journalist, the next speaking at The Baby Show, the next taking a class. I can sneak in lunch with my children and I try to take Mondays and Fridays off, although sometimes it’s just afternoons! I often wake early and will get a head start on my emails before the kids are awake. Some of my most productive hours are between five and seven am!

        “London with kids is great – there’s so much you don’t need to book or pay for. We love exploring the parks”

        The Bump Class is great because I wanted something that would fit with my primary job as a mother. No two days are the same – one day I’m meeting a journalist, the next speaking at The Baby Show, the next taking a class. I can sneak in lunch with my children and I try to take Mondays and Fridays off, although sometimes it’s just afternoons! I often wake early and will get a head start on my emails before the kids are awake. Some of my most productive hours are between five and seven am!

        My New Year’s resolution is that when I’m with my children, I switch my phone off. It’s easy to quickly check emails or tweet but that’s not fair on the kids, who notice you’re not totally engaged. Although Ben is in the public eye, going out as a family is not as hard as it could be because the press actually aren’t that interested in us! I would hate to live in a gilded cage like the Beckhams. I think people who like Ben realise that he gets to spend limited time with us and that makes them a little more respectful.

        It’s such a cliché but my family is the most important thing for me – my extended family. Both Ben and I come from close families, so there are often seven children at our house for the weekend. I’m so lucky to have both our families close to us – they’re my backbone when Ben’s away. I spend a lot of time alone but it’s doable, because Ben is such a great support. He just spent five weeks in Russia and before he went he created an ‘absent calendar’, filled with little notes and presents. And when the children felt sad, we would go and have a look at what was inside. He suffers the most when he’s away, because he misses us so much – but when he’s back, it’s amazing!



        I love my dishwasher – or should I say dishwashers. We put two in our kitchen as there are always loads of kids around and there is always one running!

        To find out more about Marina Fogle’s The Bump Class at


          Winding and weaving for over 360 miles along a lacy web of golden beaches, switchback creeks and ragged inlets, the beautiful Essex coastline is the longest of any English county, as well as one of the most diverse.

          Mersea Island

          Its beauty and sheer individuality often come as a surprise to visitors, many of who associate Essex with the cosmopolitan buzz and fast pace of its big city neighbour. Yet, despite its proximity to London, the Essex Discovery Coast is worlds apart.

          Best known perhaps are its fun-filled resorts like Clacton, Southend and Walton, with their gently-shelving sandy beaches and traditional piers packed with rides and amusements. But even here there are some surprises in store. Did you know for example that, at 1.34 miles, Southend’s pleasure pier is the longest in the world? Or that its beautifully-restored cliff railway is one of only a handful built to the unusual 4ft 6inch gauge format? Or that its seven miles of shoreline currently lay claim to seven seaside awards, making it one of the cleanest stretches of coast in the country?

          Jostling for attention with its own famous pier as well as a quirky road train and dazzling floral displays, it may also surprise visitors that Clacton is the multiple winner of a coveted Blue Flag and prized for its watersports. And that, just up the coast, Walton is as much about fossils as family fun.

          Few visitors will also have heard of some of the county’s smaller gems. Historic Maldon, home to the iconic red-sailed Thames Sailing Barges that once ferried goods along the east coast to London; or Leigh-on-Sea with its cockle sheds, clapboard artists’ studios and old cobbled streets.

          Maldon Promenade
          Maldon Promenade

          Pay a nod to genteel Burnham-on-Crouch bristling with elegant Georgian houses or the tiny sailing mecca of Brightlingsea with its colour-washed beach huts and Blue Flag beach, the only Cinque Port north of the Thames. Together they hint of the centuries of history that await discovery along the county’s coast. Harwich in particular comes as a surprise. Here, away from the international port with its monstrous cranes and ferries and cruise ships, is a town that has played a vital role in our national history, the maze of medieval streets crammed with over 200 listed buildings. Or head south to the Thames to Tilbury Fort, built by Henry VIII to defend London against invasion, where you can uncover centuries of history under the watchful eye of the great ships that ply their way from Tilbury Docks.

          They’re just one of several discoveries you’ll come across on your visit. From sharks’ teeth eroded from the cliffs at Walton and tiny Osea Island, where the postman only calls at low tide to a small but growing population of seals, many a distinctive rust-red from the iron oxide content of the rich Essex mud. Seal-spotting trips operate along the Crouch and Roach Estuaries as well as along the quiet Walton Backwaters, setting for the children’s classic Secret Water by Arthur Ransome of Swallows and Amazons fame, where little has changed since Ransome sailed here in his little yacht, the Nancy Blackett.

          Southend Pier

          It’s a place that sums up this part of the world. A place where tides rule and nature and man exist in harmony under the vast East Anglian skies.

          Little-known, utterly individual and full of rather nice surprises.


            We all know how it goes – you’ve had your  outdoors adventure day planned all week, but then all of a sudden the heavens open and you find yourself stuck indoors and the kids are bouncing off the walls – what’s a parent to do? Here are some of our favourite rainy day activities to keep the little monsters entertained when it’s tipping it down outside.

            Singing and Dancing

            Make your own X Factor or Strictly series indoors by singing and dancing to your favourite pop songs with the kids. Make flash cards with numbers to hold up your scores for each other and offer ‘constructive criticism’ of your dance moves and tunes.

            Create a colourful tea light holder

            A great gift for Grandma or Aunty, take some plasticine and set out a selection of buttons, beads, sequins and paints. Your child can learn to mould the plasticine to fit around the light’s base, then push the decorations into the sides to make a pretty present.

            Make a simple cake

            One of the easiest early cooking lessons – but still delicious – is Rice Krispies cakes. Melt some chocolate in the microwave or a bowl on top of a pan of simmering water (grown ups only for this bit, please), put it in a bowl and pour in the cereal. Kids can mix it to coat each little crispy rice kernel, then spoon into pretty cake cases and decorate with sweets or sugar strands. Try it with cornflakes, too!

            Play with your food

            Daz modelling clay is great for using with kids, as it needs nothing more than to be left in the air to dry. Make sausages, eggs, fruit and vegetables out of clay and leave them to dry. The next day, paint them realistic colours using poster paints. Hey presto – you now have pretend food so that you are ready to play restaurants on another wet day!

            Papier Mâché Piñata

            Have you got a birthday coming up? Get the kids to help to make a piñata using simple materials you should have around the house. Blow up a balloon (from the last party?), tie a string to the knot and then tear old newspapers into strips. With watered down PVA glue, paint the paper and stick all over the balloon. Use several layers and leave to dry. Then make a small opening in the top and add treats. Finally, paint and decorate it. When it’s time for the party, hang it high in a tree and you can all take turns to give it a bash to release the treats! Alternatively, you can always buy a Piñata-making kit, like this cute and colourful owl from Hobbycraft (left).

            Story Time

            Get out their favourite book, sit in a corner of the room on some big, comfy cushions and read together. This rainy day activity works really well if you have a lamp on behind you but the rest of the room is quite dark. It’s also a great help to calm the kids down before their dinner or bed time.


              For those of us who know the classic Gerry Anderson series Captain Scarlet, you’ll remember 
that he always drove his car sitting backwards, looking at a screen of the road ahead. What Captain Scarlet knew, is that this is by far the safest way to travel!

              I-SIZE –

              Car accidents are 
the leading cause of
 child deaths. In Europe,
 109 children are killed
 and 1,150 injured every week. Getting the right seat for your
 baby is confusing and until now, we have followed the ‘Group’ system, where the seat is suitable for a child between certain weights: Group 0+ from birth to 13 kilos, Group
 1 between nine and 18 kilos. The system is difficult to understand, as we don’t weigh our kids all the time and has led to some parents putting their child in the next seat up before they are ready, others leaving baby in a seat that they have outgrown.

              Experts have noted how much safer rearward-facing seats are in a crash. In Scandinavia, children are carried rearward-facing up to four years and deaths and serious injuries have been greatly reduced. New legislation, called i-Size, is coming into effect across Europe, and means you will carry your child rearward – facing for four years, though it will run hand-in-hand with the previous system. So you have not one, but two lots of regulations to choose from!

              That’s good in some ways, as you may have already bought a seat hat will fit your child up to four or even 12 years and you won’t be forced to buy a new one yet. However, it does mean that there is more room for confusion than before.

              I-SIZE AND ISOFIX

              You may already be using Isofix. This is a secure fixing system on your car’s chassis, into which a child car seat fixes. It makes each journey safer, as the seat is attached to the car and is not relying on a seat belt to hold
it in. i-Size car seats have to use Isofix, so they are already safer than alternative belt fitted seats.

              WHAT TO BUY?

              You can buy seats suitable from birth to 67cm, then 67cm to 105cm, or one from birth to 105cm – that’s about four years. See our choices (right). Move your child to the next seat based on height, not weight.

              Here a some of the best buys we recommend:


                Luxury baby boutique Blue Almonds has collaborated with Chelsea’s Mermaid Maternity Retreat to create three stylish Baby Gift Boxes.

                The beautiful gift boxes include a selection of the finest pieces from the Blue Almonds collections with a mix of baby ready-to-wear clothing, accessories and gifts including 100% cashmere shawls and teddies and hats, bibs and blankets in 100% prima cotton.

                There are three themes available: Gift for Anytime (£57), Essentials for Bringing Your Baby Home (£153) and Always Cosy in Cashmere (£213).

                Blue Almonds founder Izabela Minkiewicz, said:

                “These gift boxes have been thoughtfully created to offer an enchanting gift for new mothers and babies.

                “I really believe in what the Mermaid Maternity Retreat stands for and I’m delighted to be working with them.”

                Some famous faces are among Blue Almonds’ loyal client base, the Duchess of Cambridge, Tamara Ecclestone and Caprice have all been seen entering this magical store.

                The new Baby Gift Boxes are available to buy at Mermaid (234a Kings Road).



                  We all love being pampered, and sometimes the best person to do that is you. Here are some of our top treats for your indulgence.


                  nail kit for web 1. Beau Jardin Manicure Kit from Heathcote & Ivory
                  Perfect for a bit of pampering, this Lavender and Jasmine manicure kit includes nourishing shea butter enriched hand cream and sweet almond cuticle oil – plus a four-sided buffer for shiny nails. What’s more, it comes in pretty packaging, you can’t go wrong here.
                  (Available to buy HERE, £14)
                  iphone case for web 2Black Toast iPhone 5 Case from Emma Bridgewater
                  Emma Bridgewater’s popular designs are not just for the kitchen. This iPhone 5 case is a cute addition to that oh-so-delicate smartphone, protecting that lovely new essential with a bit of style.
                  (Available to buy HERE, £19.95)
                  scarf liberty 3. Red Lodden Silk Twill Scarf from Liberty London
                  This print is a classic – created by re-scaling and re-colouring an original William Morris print. The red, purple, blue and yellow Lodden design will brighten any outfit and is 100% silk.
                  (Available to buy HERE, £95)
                  parfum for web 5. Elizabeth Arden Untold Eau de Parfum
                  A sophisticated scent, UNTOLD celebrates the “multi-faceted woman”: from femininity and sensuality, to the warmth and optimism reflected in its floral heart. This fragrance, from Elizabeth Arden, oozes luxury and refinement. Go on, spoil her…
                  (Available to buy HERE, £30-64)


                    Babies are showered with gifts after the birth, so why not find something lovely for the new mum? Here are our five of the best gifts for a bit of me-time.

                    necklace for web 1. Alex Monroe Silver Baby Bee Necklace
                    This Sterling silver Baby Bee necklace is one of Alex Monroe’s signature designs and a thoughtful gift for a mum expecting to receive countless baby grows and teddies. There’s an adjustable chain from which a delicately crafted pendant dangles.
                    (Available to buy HERE, £115)
                    bath oil for web 2Mothers Bath Oil from Neal’s Yard
                    It’s all in the name – this fragranced organic bath oil is especially designed for pregnancy and afterwards. It not only keeps skin in tip-top condition but promotes relaxation. Who said bathtime was all about rubber ducks post-birth?
                    (Available to buy HERE, £14.95)
                    scarf for web 3. Pink Eden Silk Twill Scarf from Liberty London
                    This scarf will instantly brighten up a spring outfit with its pastel pink and blue printed design. This classic Eden Liberty print is on 100% silk, sure to make any new mum feel a little bit special.
                    (Available to buy HERE, £95)
                    new born hamper for web 5. Organic Babies New Born Hamper from John Lewis
                    Ok, so maybe it’s time to share with the new arrival with this mum and baby hamper. Beautifully packaged in a reusable wicker basket lined with cotton, this 100% organic hamper is an ideal gift for new mums. The scent free mum and baby rescue balm soothes dry skin, while the baby oil can be used for a bonding baby massage and for keeping your bump supple and soft. Complete with chamomile nappy cream (for that all-important area) and a cuddly-soft cotton bib.
                    (Available to buy HERE, £36.99)


                      Mums-to-be, bend the rules and treat yourself! Here are our five of our favourite buys…

                      dress for web 1. Emily Maternity Dress from Isabella Oliver
                      Treat yourself to this flowing, crossover jersey dress for a flattering silhouette. In a super soft premium jersey this is the perfect addition to your summer wardrobe and comes in a range of colours – but we love this duck egg shade.
                      (Available to buy HERE, £99)
                      clinic for web 2Tonic Body Firming Treatment Oil from Clarins
                      To smooth the appearance of stretch marks, this firming and toning treatment is Clarins’ best-selling body oil. It’s got 100% pure plant extracts including Rosemary, Geranium and Mint. The hazelnut oil locks in moisture to leave you feeling silky-smooth; and it smells great.
                      (Available to buy HERE, £39)
                      bronzer for web 3. Warm Bronze Mineral Bronzer from Neal’s Yard
                      Accentuate your natural glow with this lasting, organic bronzer enriched with antioxidant white tea. It has organic skin-nourishing sweet almond, sunflower and avocado oils, and shea butter – to protect your skin with its moisturising qualities. Infused with natural mica for a light-reflecting finish. Certified by the Soil Association.
                      (Available to buy HERE, £16.50)
                      bag for web 4. MICHAEL Michael Kors Leather Tote from John Lewis
                      This makes a playful hospital bag for the spring/summer season. As well as two strong leather handles and 18ct gold MK branded hanging charm and gold buckles, there’s a handy zippered pocket for all your valuables and an open compartment for easy access to essentials.
                      (Available to buy HERE, £260)
                      kindle for web 5. Amazon Kindle Fire HDX Tablet
                      Stay entertained with the beautiful, and powerful, touchscreen Kindle Fire HDX. It comes with plenty of apps and games for when you want to put your feet up, and you can download eBooks (and Audiobooks to give your eyes a rest) to your heart’s content – and use LOVEFILM for movie streaming. There’s up to 17 hours of battery life and it’s so light you can pop it in your bag and away you go.
                      (Available to buy HERE, £199)


                      EDITOR'S PICK

                      Mum of one, Meriel Miller and daughter Emilia test drive the Stokke Scoot My little Emilia is now two-and-a-half so I was on the hunt...

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