** Please note that NW8-mums has no affiliation with any doctor, hospital or clinic. NW8-mums cannot held responsible for unsatisfactory experiences or undesirable outcomes.
On this page, there is some general information about the antenatal care system and further down you can find links to classes and more.
General thoughts about pregnancy
Where to start? What to do? What to look for? There were so many thoughts that went through my head when I first found out I was pregnant back in 2008. When I was pregnant, there were no yoga classes, no ante-natal class groups and so on in St John’s Wood.
Since 2009 when my daughter was born, so much has changed and there is a lot going on locally from the meet-ups that I organise to classes in various venues and much more.
Below you will some general information and if you scroll down even further, I have gathered various exercise information which includes yoga, Pilates to name but a few things that are on offer.
The first thing to do once you know you are pregnant is to go to your GP and tell them your news. They will talk you through options including the closest hospitals, should you like to go through the NHS, which, depending on where you live, the closest NHS hospitals which have maternity services are UCLH, St Mary’s Hospital and The Royal Free Hospital. There are private hospitals nearby and the most well-known ones are The Portland Hospital and The Lindo Wing situated within St Mary’s Hospital. Within UCLH, there is the private Fitzrovia Suite.
Not everyone will feel great when pregnant, and for those of you who have severe nausea and vomiting, you may in fact suffer from hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). If you would like to read my story about it, please click HERE. I also wrote an article about it for leading online parenting magazine MyBaba. Should you need support, please email me.
**  Please insert link to page on NW8-mums website on HG.
If you are under NHS care, your hospital usually has a tour of the labour ward and midwife led unit (if it exists) at your chosen hospital. They will typically also offer a birthing and breastfeeding class. The good thing about doing a course at your hospital (other than it being free of charge) is that you learn more about labour.
Another big reason to do a class is to meet other expectant parents who are due around a similar time to you. However, when do you a hospital class, the other people there taking it with you on the day could be from quite far away. The truth is, when you have a newborn baby, you are not likely to travel halfway across London to meet someone for a coffee; at least not when your baby is very young and you are still getting the hang of things.
This is where the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) comes in. They offer a lot of classes for parents-to-be and probably the main reason why their classes are so popular (apart from learning about childbirth, breastfeeding and more) is that you get to meet others living in (or near) your area expecting children around the same time as you.
Check the NCT website for their workshops. Please note, their classes book up very early, so it is worth booking as soon as possible. They don’t just offer antenatal classes, but much more, so it is worth having a look at their website.
Should you find out that you are expecting twins or multiples, you can contact The Twins Trust or the NCT. I also run a separate WhatsApp support group for NW8-mums and dads twins’ parents. Please email me if you would like to join it.
Ultrasound and Health Screening
Dr Fred Ushakov is a highly renowned sonographer not just in the UK, but worldwide. He took care of me (at his NHS post at UCLH) during the pregnancy with my son. He now has a private clinic, The London Pregnancy Clinic, and I am delighted that women (outside of UCLH) can be under his care privately.
Bill Smith at Clinical Diagnostic Services offers various ultrasound services.
The Fetal Medicine Centre in Harley Street and various other places also offer ultrasounds.
There are of course other clinics that offer a range of services to accompany you during your pregnancy.
Anxiety & Perinatal Depression
This is a lot more common than many people think, because it is rarely talked about. So many of my friends have suffered from it and sometimes for no specific reason.
I suffered terribly from perinatal (pregnancy) depression with my pregnancies and for me it was very much related to suffering from Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG).
If you are struggling at any point during your pregnancy, or if you have a history of mental health problems even if mild depression, make sure you mention it to your GP, your midwife or doctor so they can make sure you get the best help possible. This is especially important for the postnatal phase too.
I have a page dedicated to this, general information as well as my own experiences, and please click HERE if you would like to read more.
**  Please insert link to the relevant page on the NW8-mums’ website.
Group B Streptococcus Testing (GBS)
GBS is one of the most common cause of life-threatening infections in newborn babies in the UK. Most GBS infections can be prevented by giving antibiotics through IV during labour.
GBS carriers won’t know they have it unless they have been tested. I tested for it with my daughter and was negative, however with my son, I was positive and needed antibiotics through IV as soon as I got into hospital when in labour.
During labour GBS can be passed on to the baby and there can be serious and life-threatening results. Testing for GBS is not standard practice in the UK, but it can be done very easily by yourself at home between 35-37 (or later) weeks of pregnancy.
The Doctors Laboratory offers a home swab test and the cost is very reasonable. You get sent all you need, do the swab and then get the result usually within three working days. To order your test kit click HERE.
ANTE-NATAL CLASSES & SUPPORT FROM A-Z
I have the most amazing acupuncturist, Ping Li, who I saw before, during and after the pregnancy with my son. She only does home visits. She is my go-to person for anything health related. I have been a patient of hers since May 2013. Please contact me if you would like to be connected with her.
One of our mums, Ingrid Huang, is also an acupuncturist. She sees patients in her house or at Violet Hill Studios.
Dr Harriet Holme of Healthy Eating Dr is a local nutritionist whose work is evidence based. She is very knowledgeable and being a mum of two young children, she also understands the challenges that parents go through. She can help with all aspects of nutrition including weaning help for babies.
Carla Pozner of CP Holistic who is one of our mums is an osteopath. She can also help postnatally as well as with paediatric cranial osteopathy. She has helped many mums and babies in the group.
Pepper Stewart sees patients in St John’s Wood/Maida Vale as well as at her Belgravia clinic. She has treated me, my mum and several others in the group.
I have worked with Alvaro Castano for a few year and he is fantastic. He trains me hard, but in such a positive way. Alvaro also works with pregnant women as well as those who have given birth. Many of the parents in the group will also know him through his football academy The A Academy.
Vivian Da Fonseca who a highly qualified personal trainer with a wealth of experience across prenatal and postnatal functional training, weight-loss, performance training and rehabilitation. As one of Brazil’s best known fitness instructors, her work has taken her to Canada, the USA and the UK. She is the recipient of Tatler magazine’s prize for “Best Bottom Class”.
One of our mums, Emma Sharav of Personal Training by Emma is another great PT and she has her studio here in St John’s Wood. Meticulous, friendly and working you hard, I have also had some sessions with her that I enjoyed.
I have worked with the amazing Pilates teacher Gemma Shaw since January 2015 and I love our sessions.
Restorative Movement, previously known as Pilates with Paulette, has a great reputation amongst local mums for helping them recover after pregnancy, and Paulette is also a Franklin Method® Pelvic Power Instructor. This is a movement technique that helps people of all ages, abilities and genders develop mind-body techniques to not only improve movement but also change the way they feel in their body, forever.
The pelvis is the bridge between our torso and legs. When correctly aligned, our pelvic floor muscles function optimally and movement improves. The six-week course will also help improve posture, balance, coordination and flexibility.
Petra of Solace Mobile Massage is amazing. She does ante-natal and postnatal massage. She is also getting quite well known for her C-section scar massage which I am told by many of the mums has helped not just with discomfort, but also with the scarring looking much better. You can enjoy Petra’s massages – she does regular massages too – in the comfort of your own home. I see her whenever I can and she never disappoints.
Abi England is a local mother and reflexologist. She specialises in pregnancy and labour induction reflexology, but also sees clients for all manner of things from stress, insomnia, back pain, IBS, arthritis and more. I can vouch for Abi’s treatments being just amazing. Abi does home-visits in St John’s Wood/Maida Vale.
Doris Block sees patients (ante-natal, post-natal and regular sessions) at Violet Hill Studios in St John’s Wood. She is a very special lady with a magic touch.
For those of you who are pregnant, it is always worth checking what classes The Kailash Centre in St John’s Wood is offering. Other than yoga being great to do whilst pregnant, it is also a good way of meeting other expectant mothers.
Netta Imber – Netta is one of our NW8-mums
Paula Lopez de Mollein – Paula is one of our NW8-mums
Westnine Yoga – Dani runs ante-natal yoga classes
Carla Pozner of CP Holistic is a yoga instructor as well as an osteopath
Other Pregnancy Conditions
If you have suffered a pregnancy condition and would like to share your story or simply tell me about it so I can add it to this page, please be in touch on NW8mums@gmail.com.
Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) (**3)
**  Please insert link to page on the NW8-mums website on HG
**  Please insert link to page on the NW8-mums website on pregnancy & Postnatal depression
Hospital Bag, Tips & What Nobody Tells You
I have collected some thoughts and tips from my own experiences of having two children as well as from fellow mothers and fathers.
Having a child is an expensive affair. If you have a Boots Advantage Card, here is something good which will give you more points that you will hopefully use to treat yourself (because mothers, in particular, tend to forget about themselves…): join the Boots Parenting Club.
If you are on a budget, and let’s face it, having a child is not easy on anyone’s bank account, there are many groups online where you can buy pretty much anything second hand from other parents. The only thing I wouldn’t get, unless it were from someone I knew and trusted, is a car seat. Here is a link to the NW8-mums Buy & Sell Group on Facebook.
There are now also two Buy & Sell WhatsApp groups; one for children’s clothes and various items (including cots), and another one for adult clothes and household items (including furniture). Please click HERE to join or email email@example.com for more.
**  Link to page on NW8-mums website where you join the loyalty card scheme
For Your Hospital Bag
I have found the Lansinoh cream to be a fantastic nipple cream. I used to whack it on all the time. The beauty of this cream is that you don’t have to remove it before nursing.
I would use disposable breast pads as well as disposable maternity briefs. I bought washable breast pads after having my first child and after a few washes, they were pretty yucky. I threw them away and used these pads instead. Disposable items may not be the best for the environment, but for this purpose, I found I wanted to use what felt physically best for me. After delivering your baby, you will bleed and you will need maternity pads that are more absorbent that your usual period pads.
Disposable change mats are also good for the changing bag (sometimes you don’t want to use your changing mat when out and about if the changing facilities are dirty or if the baby has done a poo). While I was still bleeding a lot after giving birth, I also used these disposable change mats to sit on when on a sofa or armchair, and I also had one in bed underneath my bottom in case I would bleed through. I felt I could relax a bit more knowing I didn’t have to worry about staining anything.
I used a tens machine for both labours and hired mine from Boots.
Nursing Clothes for You
For breastfeeding when out of the house some mothers want a bit more privacy and choose to use a cover. Nursing covers can also be useful when children are older and they get too distracted by what’s going on around them.
I wouldn’t buy many or very expensive nursing bras until you know what your size will be once the milk has come in properly; it often takes a few weeks or more till your breasts have settled in terms of size. I wouldn’t buy anything expensive, because I don’t think it’s worth it – at least not to start off with. I would also go for comfort in terms of nursing bras; especially at the beginning. I found that once my daughter had been born, I favoured one type of nursing
bra because I found it easier and better to use which is also why I wouldn’t stock up on loads beforehand.
I also had some fab nursing tops from H&M which washed very well. Mine were used for my two children and were lent to two friends in between my two. They were still in good condition when they were returned for me to be used for my second.
Below is a list of a few companies that carry nursing bras and maternity clothes. There are of course many more options available to suit any budget. It can be worth checking TKMaxx online as they often have maternity clothes.
JoJo Maman Bebe
Clothes for Your Baby
For the first month, you usually need 0-1 month, and then 1-2 etc. Size 0-3 months clothes are usually too big when they are first born.
I would avoid buying lots of newborn size clothes because babies grow so fast, you don’t know what size your baby will be and people will give you so many presents (and often in a newborn size). My daughter was too big for several of the newborn pieces I had got her or had outgrown them in a week or two.
For first time mothers who feel anxious about putting baby clothes on, pulling their baby’s head through the top, feel anxious about supporting their baby’s head and neck whilst dressing them etc (that was ME big time!), this type of design is great. They are also much easier to dress your child in as you them on top of it and fasten everything with poppers at the front. Super practical!
Polarn O Pyret (POP)
My daughter had massive feet as a newborn, so I would recommend leggings without feet such as these. These are lovely because of the comfort and also because of the no feet you can get longer wear out of them too; you roll up or down the waist and bottom of the legs depending on how big your baby is, so you can use them for longer.
In general, you want to avoid clothes with too many buttons (unless they are poppers). Too much hassle and when your baby is screaming doing buttons feel like forever and you can get very stressed quite easily (especially if you are a first time parent). And, as one mother reminded me of when I was writing this: when you have a very poopy nappy, you want to pull down and not go over the head if you can avoid it. So true!
It is often a waste of money to get hats unless you can actually tie them underneath or on the side of the chin, because they will fall off all the time when your baby moves their head lying down. The majority of newborn hats look cute, but they are not that great in practice. In any
case you will most likely get more than you bargained for in terms of gifts from family and friends.
I grew up wearing the clothes of Polarn O Pyret (POP) and the quality is amazing. Polarn O Pyret hats are some of the best I have found, because they actually stay on.
These booties are great for winter; they are thermal and keep your baby’s feet warm and snug!
This kind of overall (they have warmer and cooler ones) is fab as you can easily unzip them when going indoors – which is especially important during colder months in order to avoid for overheating your baby – and you can much more easily get their arms and legs out even while they are sleeping without having to pick them up.
Oh, and I wouldn’t buy more than one, or max two blankets; you tend to receive many as gifts!
WHAT NOBODY TELLS YOU…
- For labour, pack snacks like energy bars or something you can take little bites of for you AND for your birthing partner. You don’t want them to go off for a snack and miss it all. Sometimes things can happen very suddenly and quickly too.
- If you would like a water birth, make sure your birthing partner brings swim gear should they wish to come into the pool with you.
- If you end up having a C-section and you know about it beforehand, I would get waxed as otherwise the midwife/doctor will shave you in hospital. I got myself waxed just in case towards the end of my pregnancy. Waxing during pregnancy hurts a lot more by the way.
- Bring straws to drink from during labour. It is hard to drink from a bottle or cup when you are having constant contractions.
- Pour warm water over your belly when you wee after you have had your baby or just wee in the shower – I know it sounds horrible but believe me when I tell you at that point you really don’t care about weeing in the shower! You will feel uncomfortable, it might hurt quite a lot and the warm water makes it sting less and thus makes it slightly less uncomfortable.
- The first poo after having your baby is usually a bit scary. If you have had any tearing and/or stitches you push in the same way/place as where you push to give birth. And if you have had a C-section, my friends tell me they felt like pushing out that poo made it feel like their stiches would break. It is not a great experience and can take some time before you feel a bit more comfortable doing a no 2.
- The first time/s you have sex after having your baby is often not very comfortable or even enjoyable. Everything changes internally and again if you have had stitches or tearing, you can be in pain. In fact, it can hurt for quite a while. For many couples, the first time/s are more to do it to get it over and done with, and that is completely normal and ok. Often women find it awkward having leaking boobs and they often find themselves uncomfortable with their postpartum bodies from a sexual perspective. Men can also find the leaking boobs a bit strange and they might also be scared that they are hurting you. Bottom line: I have pretty much never come across anyone who has found sex great immediately after giving birth. Some women find themselves ready to try more quickly than others do, so just go at your own pace. There is no right or wrong time, nor a right or wrong way. Communicating how you feel about it is key.
- 2-4 days after you give birth, your milk usually starts coming in and your hormones can go crazy. You might be completely overwhelmed, can’t stop crying, feel you can’t cope, might feel like ‘what have we done?’ etc. It is completely normal and usually passes after a while (a few days or sometimes a few weeks). However, should you feel that the sense of low, or that you just don’t feel right, that it is not lifting or that it is getting worse, please reach out for support either to your GP, health visitor or to me. Anything communicated to me is kept confidential and I will only ever share what you would like to me to share should I connect you with others be in medical professionals or other mums. I have a separate support group that I run together with a psychotherapist for those suffering from PND (postnatal depression) or simply feel overwhelmed. I suffered from severe postnatal (including pregnancy) depression and anxiety. It is one of the reasons why I started NW8-mums back in 2009 after the birth of my daughter. Please do not suffer in silence! My email is NW8mums@gmail.com.
***  Please insert link to page on the NW8-mums website on PND.
- Your hair often starts falling out at some point after you have had your baby. It is completely normal. It is linked to changing hormones post pregnancy.