KEEPING MUM Sophie White offers some alternative advice on what mothers-to-be should be doing while they're pregnant
There are a lot of things that pregnant women are advised against doing for the health and safety of their unborn baby – obvious things, such as giving up drinking and smoking, and recreational drug-use. But, in this modern age, the internet has cooked up a whole host of other, seemingly innocuous activities that are now considered verboten.
Now, if you're like me and a bit of a worrier (or catastrophist, as Himself says), then it will be easy to get completely bogged down in all the shoulds and shouldn'ts of childbearing.
I went through an unfortunate phase, after straying onto an American pregnancy website, of agonising over whether or not I could have smoked salmon. Important side note: the Americans are (surprise, surprise) particularly hysterical about the eating habits of gestating ladies and must be ignored at all costs. So, my first piece of advice on this, my alternative list of pregnancy dos and don'ts, is:
1) Do not google any pregnancy-related issues. 2) After flouting rule number one, do not entertain the Americans. American websites will inspire in you feelings of guilt and self-flagellation of epic proportions after doing something like eating a piece of Parma ham. 3) First-timers – do not babysit while pregnant. Conniving family members will try to convince you that it'll be good practice to mind their babies while they, literally, run from the house to the nearest vodka tonic. Himself and I babysat our new baby nephew when I was about five months along and I was traumatised. The baby (who is adorable) cried for approximately 15 minutes – then I cried for the next four nights, wondering just what the feck we had gotten ourselves into. 4) Do not watch films such as The Conjuring or Prisoners or We Need to Talk About Kevin, or Louis Theroux's documentary on the paedophile prison while pregnant. That one is pretty self-explanatory.
Now for some fun dos: 1) Take advantage of the "I'm carrying your unborn child" line – it literally applies to every scenario and is 100 per cent effective in getting your own way. 2) Do draw a face on your bump when it gets sufficiently large enough. It'll look like a giant Mr Potato Head. 3) Do snuggle the bump up close to your partner in bed at night. This facilitates the baby in kicking its father repeatedly in the back. I understand that this is good for mother/baby bonding, and is essential in setting a precedent for the inter-familial ganging up – so important in later years. 4) Do gleefully ignore any coercive attempts to make you cultivate a maternity style. I'm so sick of women 'doing pregnant' well (I'm looking at you, Peaches Geldof). Just accept the fact that you will most likely look like a boiled ham in a smock shirt for the duration, and console yourself with this delicious brown soda bread slathered in butter and jam.
One loaf serves 6.
250g (9oz) plain flour
2 teaspoons salt
15g (½oz) bicarbonate of soda
225g (8oz) wholemeal flour
75g (3oz) jumbo oats
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 tablespoon black treacle
350ml (12fl oz) buttermilk
Preheat the oven to 200°C, 400°F, Gas 6.
In a bowl, combine the plain flour, the salt, the bicarbonate of soda, the wholemeal flour and the jumbo oats. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and stir in the golden syrup, the black treacle and the buttermilk.
Using your hands, bring the mixture together into a loose dough and shape it into a smooth round. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Place the dough in the centre and, using a sharp knife, score the top with a cross shape.
Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the bottom of the loaf sounds hollow when you tap it with your knuckles.
Transfer the bread to a cooling rack and cover with a clean, damp cloth.