A Look At Life: Mum's The Word

14th February 2014

Pregnancy Gadgets and Gizmos

Heather Harris

‘Frankly, being plugged in to the National Grid wouldn’t have made any difference…’

This was the measured opinion of my recently stitched friend when I asked if she’d used a Tens Machine to alleviate the pain of her 27 hour labour. She also observed that this delicate device must have been invented by a male electrician who has never tried to push a screaming nine and a half pounder out of a narrow ‘socket’.

The cheerful TENS assurance that ‘small electrical pulses’ would ‘stimulate muscles and nerves to combat labour pain’ proved as ridiculous as the notion of wearing a Kickbee had been during pregnancy. This latest gadget – a fabric band stretched around the waist – apparently sends a ‘Tweet’ every time the unborn baby kicks!

But that’s the trouble with pregnancy 2014 style: Mother Nature is no longer in charge. The marketing men and computer geeks are now with us – every step of the way.

From the minute an impending birth is announced – usually by a discreet Facebook shot of a testing stick with a blue window shared with your 5,000 closest friends, family and, whoops, also your boss – it’s open season.

Suddenly, your inbox is bulging with offers of goods, services and monthly magazines promising to make the next nine months as easy as falling off a log – but with less pain.

If only they lived up to expectations. My friend who suffered from serious ‘morning sickness’ (lasting well beyond noon), was offered a ‘Bioband’ to keep her breakfast down and her pecker up. This anti-nausea aid is ‘a simple band that uses pressure pads in the wrist to alleviate sickness in a drug and chemical free way’. Its total failure resulted in her suggestion that she could perhaps use it to strangle the marketing men behind it, or chew it, along with the 300 packets of ginger nuts that were the only thing that helped.

The blonde icon of perfection that is Gwyneth apparently swore by Biobands, although I’m sure she never said a rude word even with a pair of cold forceps looming. And remember, this is also the women who spawned the current craze of pregnancy fitness.

Read the 32 weekly and monthly UK-published pregnancy magazines (that’s a page a day until your newborn starts school) and you’ll discover that nine months sitting on your ever expanding bottom watching Cash In The Attic on BBC4 is no longer an option.

Aerobics, cycling, yoga, swimming – just add the words ‘Pre-Natal’ in front of it and there’s a class running near you – oh, yes, you can run too. Pull on your trainers (if you can reach that far), put your bulge in a wheelbarrow and off you go. New for 2014, Paltrow’s Pregnancy Skydiving and Tightrope Walking at a maternity class near you.
Such physical exertion is, of course, vital to keep you in perfect shape for when the plasterer arrives. Posing naked, Demi Moore style is so passé. These days it’s all about £9,000 plaster moulds and bronze casting, complete with protruding belly button – ideal to hang your coat on when displayed on the lounge wall.

If this is too expensive, then there’s always the painting option. Forget a baby shower; today’s would-be mothers are inviting friends round for a glass of organic grape juice, a bowl of Kettle Crisps and a scribble on their tummy. The organisers of Bump Painting Parties UK proclaim: “Body painting is a fun way to celebrate your changing body’. A new smock’s not enough then?

Spare a thought for the poor foetus in all this. If it’s not being plastered or painted or shot through with electricity, it’s listening to ‘Take That’ on repeat. According to the makers of ‘Bellybuds’, a specialist speaker system where large adhesive rings are stuck to your tummy and connected directly to your iPod, Gary Barlow is the new must-have womb music. No wonder so many babies come out screaming.

Of course, this is not to suggest that all pregnancy aids should be carried off by the stork and dumped in the nearest skip. The latest 4D ultrasound scan shows a live action, moving computer image of the baby in the womb, and is fantastic not only for the parents, but also for friends and family. No longer is there that embarrassing moment when you’re shown a square bit of scan paper and have to pretend to decipher more than a grey blob on an even greyer background. Now we can all genuinely share the excitement of seeing that the blob does indeed have his father’s nose.

Ah, the father. That really does bring us to the ultimate pregnancy gadget, recently revealed on Dutch Television. Called the Labour Pain Simulator, it can be strapped to a man’s stomach for 24 hours allowing them to feel ‘the exact sensation of birth from contraction to final delivery’. Invented by a woman, this surely is a stroke of genius. And obviously, if the poor men find they can’t cope with the pain, they can always reach for their TENS Machine.

Find Your Local