Going through the highs and lows of pregnancy

Published: Sunday 6th March 2016 by The News Editor

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From the tragedy of a stillbirth and the heartache of a miscarriage to the joys brought by two healthy children, Marina Fogle has definitely experienced both the highs and lows of pregnancy.

She knows all about the rigours of expecting, the pain of childbirth and the challenges of looking after a baby. And as her sister, mother-of-two Dr Chiara Hunt, has worked on a labour ward and in paediatrics, the pair are well-qualified to talk about the honest reality of pregnancy, and how best to prepare for all its stages.

They first began to give advice on all things antenatal at their Bump Classes in London, which have proved so popular they’ve now written a Bump Class guide book to pregnancy, birth and beyond too.

Fogle, wife of the TV presenter and adventurer Ben Fogle, says: “Both the classes and the book are pragmatic, with medical involvement including doctors, midwives and breastfeeding specialists, but they also have a chatty feel with an opportunity not only for women to become informed about their pregnancy, birth and motherhood, but to do it in a fun way.

“Positivity plays a huge role in pregnancy and labour, and if you’re excited and feel you’ll be able to do it, that’s much better than thinking, ‘Oh my God, this is going to hurt so much’.”

The Bump Class book starts from conception, she says, and covers everything from what to expect during each month, nutrition, different types of pain relief during labour, and baby’s first year, to dressing your bump, preparing to become a father, and the first night at home with a new baby.

The book also discusses miscarriage – which Fogle herself experienced at an early stage in her first pregnancy – although not the horrors of losing a baby to stillbirth, which she also went through 18 months ago.

Her son Willem was stillborn at 33 weeks after Fogle had a placental abruption, when the placenta detaches from the uterus wall. The blood loss caused by the abruption also threatened Fogle’s life.

“It still hurts,” she says.

“There’s always a point in my day where I miss him and I think about what could have been.

“It’s tough, but I’m really lucky to have two healthy children and I feel Ben and I are stronger as a couple since we had to endure that horrible experience together. I think that I may be a bit wiser in terms of what really matters in life now.”

Fogle, 37, says she and Ben have decided not to have another baby, as later tests showed there was a 30% chance of another placental abruption if she got pregnant again.

“I think the impact on me, the worry and the impact on mine and Ben’s relationship and my relationship with the children would be too great.

“We decided we weren’t going to have another baby, but we were going to have an amazing life together and enjoy the life we’re so fortunate to have, rather than think about what we don’t have.”

What she does have is a happy marriage and two healthy children – Ludo, six, and Isla, four.

She says she loves being a mother, and points out that while The Bump Class book does discuss in detail types of birth and pain relief, many women focus a little too much on the birth without thinking about the motherhood afterwards.

“We obsess about birth before we have babies, but the birth itself is such an insignificant part of the journey and the role you have as a mother,” she says.

“The birth is the easy bit – it’s what comes after, looking after this most precious thing in the world and being responsible for it, that’s really tricky.

“That’s often overlooked when women prepare for labour, as are their emotions. Mothers really focus on their baby when they’re born, but it’s really important for them to look after themselves because they’re the key ingredient in their baby’s wellbeing and happiness.”

This includes postnatal depression, which a lot of women don’t talk about and often goes undiagnosed, she says.

“The sooner it’s treated, the easier it is to deal with, but generally it’s treated very successfully and it makes all the difference to a mother’s life. The difficulty can be in her, and those around her, recognising that she’s got it.”

As well as using Dr Hunt’s medical expertise – she works as a GP in London – the pair consulted many medical and parenting experts when writing the book so they could be sure it was authoritative, as well as easy to read and fun.

“There’s such a lot of misinformation out there, especially on the internet – anyone can put what they want on it, yet people think they’ve read it online, so it’s got to be true,” says Fogle.

“When it comes to pregnancy and the health of your child, it’s really important that you’ve got proper evidence from people who are responsible and essentially culpable if they don’t give you the right information.”

After her miscarriage, Fogle says she remembers thinking: “‘Can motherhood really be worth having to endure this physical and emotional pain? I’m going to stick to dogs.’

“And then you have your children and think it’s 100% worth it, and I still believe that, in spite of the heartbreak I’ve suffered in terms of pregnancy. I still think it’s the best job in the world, and something I feel so privileged to have been able to experience.”

:: The Bump Class by Marina Fogle and Dr Chiara Hunt is published by Vermilion, £18.99. Available now.

Copyright Press Association 2016

Published: Sunday 6th March 2016 by The News Editor

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