Anatomy of a nesting royal mother-to-be

Photo: AP / Frank Augstein
Photo: AP / Frank Augstein Photo: AP

Right now she's still strutting about in stilettos, but over the next few weeks, the Duchess of Sussex will carry out her last official engagements and hunker down at home to prepare for motherhood.

Or at least this is what she should be doing. According to antenatal coach Marina Fogle, however, alpha women like Meghan often find it difficult to slow down. "They'll be doing up a house, working, entertaining and they'll feel frustrated by the prospect," says Fogle, who founded the Bump Class, which offers antenatal classes to expectant mothers.

Even subconsciously, Meghan will be casting her mind forward to the birth. "I wanted to finish off all those niggling jobs and make sure I was completely ready," recalls parenting expert and mother-of-two Kathryn Mewes.

The Duke should not be surprised, therefore, if Meghan packs and repacks her hospital bag several times and insists on repainting a minuscule crack on the bathroom ceiling.

What she should really be doing, of course, is resting. Mums often say they regret not stockpiling on sleep and long baths before their baby arrived.

Resting helps distress the mind and takes the pressure off the joints - carrying a baby to full term is akin to having two eight-kilo weights strapped to your middle, says Fogle, who also has a weekly podcast, The Mumhood.

At this stage in pregnancy, a woman should give herself permission to slow down and veg out at home: "So long as you have a safe place for your baby to sleep, a car seat and nappies, it's OK to sit back with some Netflix," she says.

Let's hope Meghan is listening.

The eight stages of a royal nesting period

The Out of Office

Meghan will be in overdrive, finishing admin before she goes in to labour. While her productivity might be driving Prince Harry crazy, it's good to clear your desk before baby brain kicks in, Mewes says.

Advertisement

Many pregnant women shed a tear as they step out of the office for the last time. "She will likely feel a degree of fear and trepidation," says fertility expert Emma Cannon (emmacannon.co.uk).

Nursery angst

Meghan will have been deliberating hard over Baby Sussex's nursery at Frogmore Cottage, their new home. Parents are moving away from the traditional "pink for girls" and "blue for boys", says Carole Bettis of John Lewis's nursery department, and embracing more neutral monochrome greys, creams or bright multi-colours - fortuitous given that the Sussexes don't know the sex of their baby.

Mewes urges not overthinking things: in line with NHS guidelines, the baby will be sleeping in their room for the first six months, leaving time to perfect the little one's bedroom once they're born.

The big baby kit spree

The average spend at a nursery appointment at John Lewis is around ??700, but mothers who shop at expensive boutiques such as Dragons of Walton Street, a favourite of the Duchess of Cambridge, will spend much more. Among the bestsellers on posh American baby site Babylist, are the Hatch Baby Rest, a singing night light and the Owlet Smart Sock, which tracks your baby's heart beat and oxygen levels.

Meghan will probably be leaning towards eco baby products, such as non-toxic organic sleeping bags from Little Earth Baby. Mewes warns against falling prey to the baby kit industry and buying "ridiculous" things she'll never use. "Parents-to-be can be overwhelmed with conflicting advice and find it difficult to know which products are right for them and their baby," agrees Bettis.

Must-haves include comfortable nursing bras, sleep suits, nappies and a crib. "Go the whole hog and invest in a double Elvie breast pump with pumping bra so you can use it on the move," Fogle says.

Staying active

As a keen yogi, there is every chance Meghan will practise right up until the birth. The charity Tommy's recommends active birth yoga classes for relaxation, and to help move the baby in an optimum position. Swimming is another low-impact way to tone the body and improve aerobic capacity.

Cannon, however, warns against doing too much. "Women are over-exercising and enter motherhood depleted of energy," she says. "It's about striking a balance: over-exercising can make the ligaments and tendons tight, which makes labour harder."

Hypnobirthing lessons

Meghan is expected to follow in the Duchess of Cambridge's footsteps and take hypnobirthing classes to learn how to "breathe out her baby". Mewes, who took a private course at home before her first child, has high hopes that Harry will be in attendance, too.

"The teacher flagged up everything that would happen during the various stages of labour, which was great for me but even better for my husband," she says. "When we were finally in the labour ward, he knew what to expect and was able to coach me through the birth."

Panicking about the birth

In the Bump Class, when Fogle passes around a newborn baby-sized doll, she finds mums-to-be are shocked. "They haven't been thinking about the fact that their bodies are growing a real baby and they find the concept quite crazy," she says. If Meghan is worried about the birth, she should seek assurance from her sister-in-law, who has done so naturally three times.

"It's a mistake to listen to birthing horror stories as they'll only terrify you," Fogle says. Mewes also suggests she should invest in a Tens machine to quell the pain of contractions in the early stages.

Trying to speed things up

To avoid going past her due date, the Duchess might try therapies such as acupuncture or reflexology, which are thought to help induce labour - Mewes went into labour straight after an acupuncture session. "I went to get my nails done and then my waters broke," she says.

She could also take evening primrose oil capsules, which are thought to help speed things along and soften the cervix, and drink raspberry leaf tea, which is said to help tone the muscles of the uterus, allowing for a controlled labour.

Preparing the father-to-be

Given that Harry is not the one carrying the baby, he will be feeling the stress of the final weeks less acutely. There are, however, certain things Meghan can encourage Harry to do: memorise the route to hospital, for example, and install the car seat. "You don't want to be doing this when you've just given birth," Mewes says. He should also talk to his brother about how the labour experience made him feel.

"Many men don't like to ask about these kind of things, but it is so much better for everyone to be prepared," Mewes says. Harry can best survive the waiting game by giving Meghan as much physical contact as possible to ensure she feels loved before the birth, Cannon says. "This will boost her oxytocin levels and help her through."

The Telegraph, London