Can You Train for the PERFECT BIRTH? GET SET FOR CHILDBIRTH: Bethia Hope- Rollins, Umi Parmer and Lindsay Stevens. Right: Bethia with Chloe, Now Three

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), June 15, 2008 | Go to article overview

Can You Train for the PERFECT BIRTH? GET SET FOR CHILDBIRTH: Bethia Hope- Rollins, Umi Parmer and Lindsay Stevens. Right: Bethia with Chloe, Now Three


Byline: Ruby Warrington

A growing number of mothers-to-be are choosing to be active throughouttheir pregnancies, undergoing sometimes punishing regimes in a quest for theperfect - quick and easy - birth. The move is supported by doctors - this yearmedical charity The King's Fund claimed half of all maternal deaths inchildbirth involved women who are overweight or obese.

But can exclusion diets, protein counting, self-hypnosis and strict gym plansguarantee mums-to-be a pain-free labour? We asked three women who went intotraining for motherhood to describe their pregnancy and then reveal whether thebirth went to plan.

Umi Parmer is married to Gurmail, 42, head of IT at an investment bank. Theylive in Hertfordshire.

THE TRAINING: I was a slim size 8 before I was pregnant - I walk, run and go tothe gym regularly. I was determined not to spend nine months getting out ofshape and piling on weight.

At 9pm every night, the alarm goes on my mobile phone, signalling that it'stime to prepare the Baladi tea I have to drink as part of the strict diet I'vebeen following since week 16 of my pregnancy.

The tea, a herbal Ayurvedic supplement, is boiled up with rice milk and is sosweet that I find it absolutely disgusting. But if it's going to help me havethe calm, natural birth I've been promised, then it's worth it.

It's all part of Dr Gowri Motha's Gentle Birthing Method, which I heard aboutfrom a friend who'd followed it and had a four-hour labour as a result. Once afortnight I visit Gowri's clinic for pregnancy massage, designed to get mydigestive system and immune system working correctly, and to talk aboutexercise and diet. Gurmail is RECRUITMENT MANAGER, 39 learning how to do themassage at home to help make sure the baby is in optimum position for birth.

I've been instructed to cut out all wheat, dairy and sugar. We used to live onM& S ready meals but now I cook all our food from scratch. I don't need to takeany supplements as all my vitamins and minerals are coming from a balanceddiet.

Dried figs, almonds, brazil nuts and kale are all good sources of calcium. I'veswapped grapes and mangoes, which are high in sugar, for pears - an excellentsource of fibre, Vitamins C and K, and can help lower cholesterol.

And the point of the diet is to have a small baby. Gowri believes that betweensix and seven pounds is the right weight for an easy birth.

At 16 weeks I also started an hour-long weekly yoga class where I learnbreathing techniques in line with Gowri's teaching. They are designed to helpyou relax during labour.

I work four days a week, and have Mondays off so I pack all my pregnancytraining into that day. I also spend evenings preparing food or exercising.

My family can't believe I'm going to try for a natural birth - I'm such aprincess my husband thought I'd opt for a caesarean. But I know surgicalintervention puts mine and the baby's life at risk.

THE RESULT: Our baby, Millie, was born by caesarean on Wednesday May 28,weighing 5.12lb.

I was induced at 39 weeks on the advice of my obstetrician - he said at my agethe risk of unexplained stillbirth increases. Gowri didn't believe it wasnecessary but I didn't want to take any risks.

I still believe in her philosophy - I had a neat bump and bags of energy. Manypregnant women complain about being exhausted but I could have run a marathon.I think it's helped me snap back into shape too. Now Millie is perfect andhealthy and I'm almost back into my old size 8 jeans. The courses I took withGowri cost about [pounds sterling]1,800 but it was worth every penny.

Lindsay Stevens is married to Philip, 42, a project manager.

They live in London.

THE TRAINING: Watching the woman on the DVD, I was amazed how calm she was.There was no screaming or thrashing about, despite the fact she was in thelatter stages of childbirth. …

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