As a childless woman I have a bone to pick with mothers - you've clearly been exaggerating the pains of the gestation process. I thought pregnancy meant nine months of swollen ankles, crippling constipation and eating coal to stop you throwing up on public transport.
But according to America's newest, hippest, pregnancy guru it's all orgasms, green smoothies and yoga practice. I'll have my push present back then.
Describing herself as a "tree-hugging, shoe-loving, vegan vixen and holistic wellness maven", New Yorker Latham Thomas has been dubbed a "mummy messiah" by fans who follow her pre and postnatal advice to the letter.
The 33-year-old nutritionist worked as an environmental sciences teacher before giving birth to her son nine years ago, which led her on a completely different career path - guiding mums-to-be through a holistic pregnancy to an "ecstatic birth" (her own natural labour lasted just four hours).
Her best-selling book Mama Glow is the antithesis to the birthing bible What to Expect When You're Expecting, which focused on the downsides of child-rearing.
"When I became pregnant in 2002 I quickly realised my pregnancy was nothing like those described in books," says Thomas, "I didn't experience the laundry list of ailments or drastic physical changes. In fact I was comfortable and active throughout."
The yummy mummy credits the ease of her pregnancy to a "healthy diet, lifestyle and attitude", although she also admits genetics may have played a part.
So how do women go about cleansing their "wombiverse" as Thomas puts it? Be warned, this prenatal plan is not for the faint hearted. During pregnancy Thomas recommends a mainly plant-based diet supplemented with "glow foods" like maca root and goji berries plus as much raw food as possible.
Eating for two is also not on the agenda. "In your third trimester you only need to eat an extra 300 calories a day, that's the equivalent of a smoothie," she says.
Instead of tucking into sugary treats it is recommended you squash cravings by drinking a glass of water - this from a woman whose worst pregnancy indulgence was tofu and seaweed sandwiches.
As well as healthy recipes the book also features diagrams of yoga poses for each trimester and says that when not ''ohming'' mums should practise the "love gaze" - sit in front of a mirror naked and stare at yourself, sending love and acceptance to your reflection.
Prospective parents are also advised to have sex - a lot. Right up to the moment the baby enters the world in fact. An entire chapter of the book is dedicated to foreplay for the birthday suit, where Thomas recommends the use of sex toys for pain relief and compares giving birth to a "huge orgasm".
"In early labour I encourage a lot of kissing," says Thomas, "I have a birthday couple delivering twins who were so turned on in labour we had to hang a do-not-disturb sign on their door."
Bedroom, birth room: it's all the same according to this handbook, so couples should set the scene during labour with candles and aromatherapy and talk in sexy voices.
They should be loving and intimate, which releases feel-good endorphins that should then relax your cervix. Thomas says many women are "muscular and tight in that area" as a result of an uptight mind or intensive exercise program.
With tips on boosting libido, detoxing your body and even how to make your hair shinier, it's a prenatal plan for high maintenance mothers, but for this Thomas is unapologetic.
"I want women to feel radiant," she says. "I want them to feel supported and empowered to take healthy action in their lives."
Plus she repeatedly makes it clear that her advice doesn't need to be followed to the letter and that expectant mothers can pick and choose which tips to follow, especially when it comes to new eating habits.
Sydney-based nutritionist Susie Burrell warns that expectant mothers must ensure they have adequate levels of iron, B12 and zinc if following a restrictive diet such as this one. However, against popular belief, she agrees that calorie restriction could be no bad thing.
"There is no time more important in a woman's life for weight control than during pregnancy," says Burrell. "Some mums never manage to lose their baby weight. The old belief about 'eating for two' is completely blown out of proportion and most women just need one extra snack a day, as little as 200 calories. As for cravings, there is some evidence that a mum craves foods which contain nutrients her body is lacking. However, there is a big difference between a couple of gherkins and a tub of ice cream."
Of course, not every expectant mum will have the time, the money or the urge to swap their oven for a dehydrator, make their own cashew-hemp milk and get a blow dry before giving birth (more Mama Glow advice). One thing's for sure, this book is coming to a mother's meeting near you.
- Sydney Morning Herald
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