Author Corner: Jena Pincott on the Surprising Science of Pregnancy

The latest post in our Author Corner comes from Jena Pincott, author of Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies? The book explores the weird and wonderful science of pregnancy – the why rather than the how-to, and is a fascinating must-read for curious mums- and dads-to-be.

 Her guest blog post tackles 12 old wives’ tales about pregnancy, including morning sickness, baby brain and labour pain. All these and more can be found in her new book Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies? which is available now from Souvenir Press in hardcover, paperback and as an e-book.

 Science vs. Pregnancy Myths

Science tackles 12 old wives’ tales about pregnancy.  Guess which ones endure?

Myth #1: Girls steal their mothers’ beauty:  False. You might even argue that being pregnant with a girl enhances your beauty! Statistically speaking, women carrying girls have more sex during pregnancy than those carrying boys.  Our breasts also grow larger when carrying a girl than a boy.

Myth #2:  You’re eating for two. Not really. You’re actually eating for 1.1.  Even in third trimester, this means eating only, say, three bananas more daily than you would pre-pregnancy.

Myth #3:  You’ll crave dirt and clay.  Possibly true. The scientific explanation: Clay seals the stomach — and, in the past, may have helped to protect mother and foetus from toxins, bacteria, and viruses.

Myth #4: Basketballs are boys, watermelons are girls:  False.  Truth is, your belly can be both a basketball and a watermelon during different phases of the pregnancy.  If you’re pregnant with your first child, you’ll carry higher for longer into the pregnancy because the ligaments holding up the baby are tighter.

Myth #5: Girls make us sicker than boys:  Somewhat true.  A hormone called hCG contributes to pregnancy sickness. Generally speaking, female foetuses put out higher levels of hCG than do male foetuses.

Myth #6: More babies come out on a full moon.  False. The full moon doesn’t trigger labour, according to multiple studies that track births and the lunar calendar. (Note:  Nor are more loony people admitted to psych wards at this time.)

Myth #7:  You can induce your own labour.  Mostly false. In studies, most home-induction remedies such as walking, sex, spicy foods, castor oil haven’t had any significant effect on triggering labour.  BUT there is limited evidence that nipple stimulation (breast pumping) helps the process along if you’re already close to going into labour naturally.

Myth #8: The Chinese birth calendar accurately predicts gender.  False. Multiple studies have shown that when it comes to predicting gender, the Chinese birth calendar is no more accurate than flipping a coin.

Myth #9: Babies look like their fathers.  Not necessarily.  Of course some do, but this doesn’t happen as a rule. The strange thing is that we really think babies often look like their dads— possibly because fathers favour look-alikes. From an evolutionary perspective, this may have reduced the risk of infanticide.

Myth #10: Pregnancy is a turn-off for men. Nope. To the contrary, some studies find that men are generally as attracted or more attracted to their wives during pregnancy than beforehand. While couples may not have sex as often as before (expectant fathers may have a lower sex drive), pregnancy is not the turn-off they fear. From an evolutionary perspective, the pregnant woman benefits from her mate’s support, and sex helps couples bond.

Myth #11:  You’ll forget all about the pain.  Maybe. There’s a 50/50 chance that, five years from now, you’ll think labour pains were less painful than they felt at the time.  Only a small percentage of women look back at their labour pain and remember it as worse than they felt at the time.

Myth #12:  You’ll get pregnesia.  Probably. Many (but not all) studies find that pregnant women experience difficulty storing and retrieving memories. This may be due to hormones or the foetus diverting resources to grow her own brain. While your visual memory is intact (in fact, your ability to recognize and remember faces is better than ever), your ability to remember to do what you  say you’re going to do, or recall a name or street address, may be impaired.   Women carrying girls may be especially afflicted.

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What is Hypnobirthing?

With the latest news on the royal pregnancy being that the Duchess of Cambridge is looking into hypnobirthing for the birth of the couple’s first child next month, interest in this birthing method is due to sky-rocket.

Here at Souvenir Press we publish Hypnobirthing by Marie Mongan, founder of the HypnoBirthing programme. HypnoBirthing – The Mongan Method is now in its twentieth year, and has to date helped thousands of couples through its practice. The book from the USA was first published in Britain by Souvenir Press in 2007, and has already been reprinted eleven times in the UK, due to its overwhelming popularity.

So, what is hypnobirthing?

Hypnobirthing is a complete birth education programme, that teaches simple but specific self hypnosis, relaxation and breathing techniques for a better birth. It teaches positive thinking, visualisation, breathing and physical preparation exercises that will leave you confident and free of the fear of pain that most women assume to be a natural accompaniment to birth. It is designed to put you in control of your birth, so that you are always be aware of what is happening to you, and around you.

Why is it so good?

If, like the Duchess of Cambridge, you are keen to have a natural birth, HypnoBirthing methods can be used by the 95% of families whose pregnancies fall into the normal, no- or low-risk categories. It can teach you many things that are not covered in normal antenatal classes, including:

  • Breathing techniques that actually help the birth (and it’s not the panting that most people think they have to do. Think about it – why would anyone want to hyperventilate during labour?)
  • How to massively reduce the need for any medication at all
  • How to reduce your risk of needing an episiotomy during birth with a stunningly simple massage technique
  • How to be confident and informed when dealing with the medical staff – when to question, what to ask…and when it’s time to let them take charge
  • How to release any fears you might have about childbirth…regardless of where they come from
  • How to bring about your own easy start of labour with these simple, natural techniques, if you go beyond your “estimated due date”
  • Most importantly, you’ll know how to relax and stay calm and in control – regardless of what’s happening around you

(List taken from the HypnoBirthing UK website)

To learn more about hypnobirthing, take a look at the HypnoBirthing UK – The Mongan Method website, or visit the Souvenir Press website to read more about the best-selling book that will introduce you to the methods taught in the HypnoBirthing classes.

HypnoBirthing cover

Introducing: Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies?

This is the next post in our series introducing you to our new spring titles for 2013. If you missed our previous post, you can read about How Puzzles Improve Your Brain.

Our second title, Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies by Jena Pincott is published today. Already it is attracting a lot of attention from the media and bloggers alike, particularly after it was featured in The Daily Mail at the beginning of the month.

A pregnancy book like no other, it looks at the why of pregnancy, rather than the how-to. The QI of maternity books, Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies is packed with facts that will intrigue and surprise expectant mums and dads. Science writer Jena Pincott provides a deeper understanding of what is happening to both mother and baby as mum’s pregnancy progresses.

Find out:

What the shape of your bump really means
Why labour so often starts in the early hours of the morning
How your sense of smell changes during pregnancy
Where the maternal instinct comes from
What foetuses learn when they eavesdrop

And much more. Using research from the latest studies in biology, neuroscience, evolutionary psychology and epigenetics, Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies is a fascinating supplement to the typical maternity guide, and will answer countless queries that expectant mums and dads will have about the surprising science of pregnancy.

In the next couple of weeks we looking forward to bringing you a guest blog post from author Jena Pincott herself. She will share with you some of her favourite pregnancy facts, taken from Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies. Given that she started researching the book during her own pregnancy, it will be particularly interesting to see which facts have intrigued her the most.

Available now in hardback, paperback and as an e-book, now is your chance to uncover some amazing facts about pregnancy and discover the answers to questions that you might not have even thought of!

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Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies?

How many times have you been told that chocolate is bad for you? Maybe it’s time to have a re-think: a recent study shows that during pregnancy, and in moderation, chocolate could actually be beneficial for both mother and baby.

In the Daily Mail today, and on their website, you can read an exclusive extract from Jena Pincott’s new book Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies? published later this month by Souvenir Press. It uses the latest medical understanding to uncover the surprising science of pregnancy, and answer some of the most common questions.

From morning sickness to the shape of your bump, find out what your body is telling you about your unborn child. It turns out that how your body changes during pregnancy can reveal a lot about what your baby will be like when he or she arrives. You can predict their tastes and their temperament, and there’s even a way to predict the gender of your unborn child before the 16-week mark which is generally recognised by doctors as the earliest date when you can tell with any accuracy whether your baby will be a boy or a girl.

Published simultaneously in hardback and paperback, you can find full information about Do Chocolate Lovers Have Sweeter Babies? on the Souvenir Press website.

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A right royal pregnancy

Just in case you’ve been living under a rock these past couple of months, let me break it to you: The Duchess of Cambridge is pregnant.

With the baby expected in July, she has been in and out of hospital for hyperemesis gravidarum, and has reportedly taken to hypnotherapy to combat her feelings of nausea, as well as taking up pilates to improve her fitness for pregnancy.

Now, you may not be suffering as much as the poor Duchess of Cambridge, but there’s no avoiding the fact that pregnancy is tough on women’s bodies… and that’s before the birth! Luckily, help is at hand, and here at Souvenir Press we’ve got a couple of recommendations for any mums-to-be out there.

If you think hypnotherapy might be your thing, then you should read HYPNOBIRTHING by Marie Mongan. The most remarkable natural childbirth technique to have been developed in decades, Marie Mongan takes the pregnant woman through the techniques and philosophy of a new form of gentle, natural birthing. Drawing on self-hypnosis, guided imagery and special breathing techniques the Hypnobirthing method can bring about a shorter, easier birth.

And if you’re not far enough along just yet to be thinking about the birth (though in all likelihood you’ll have been thinking about it from day 1!), then perhaps you’re thinking about how best to get in shape for the birth. And no, I don’t mean a size eight!

THE FITMAMA METHOD by Marie Behenna makes Marie’s acclaimed FitMama exercise programme available to all mums-to-be. Giving birth is the single most challenging physical activity the majority of women will face in their lifetime,  so why not prepare for it by training and exercising, by toning and strengthening your body so that you can approach labour and delivery with confidence. It encompasses not only exercise but also advice on diet, nutrition, posture, recovery and general wellbeing. All in all, this is your complete guide to confidence and fitness for pregnancy, labour and birth.

You should also check out the baby and childcare section on our website.

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2013 at Souvenir Press

Happy New Year!

Hello and welcome to 2013 with Souvenir Press. 2012 was a fantastic year for us, and we’ve got high hopes that 2013 will be even better! In the next few weeks details of our 2013 titles will be going up on our website, we will get our new season’s catalogues in, and the office will find itself in a flurry of new year activity.

But rather than throw that at you all, let’s ease ourselves gently into the new year with a run-down of our best-selling ebooks of 2012.

1) The Book – Alan Watts

By a huge margin, this was our best-selling ebook of 2012. Since a mention on BBC Radio 4’s ‘Desert Island Discs’ by John Lloyd in mid-November, we have reprinted the paperback edition three times, and the e-book has been selling just as well! John Lloyd described it as “the best book I’ve ever read on the nature of what actually is, what the world is about, and how you should behave” – why not take a look and see if you agree with him?

2) The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron

One of our biggest selling ebooks last year was from our backlist – we originally published the hardback of ‘The Artist’s Way’ in the early 1990s. A comprehensive 12-week programme designed to help you unlock your creativity, why not start the new year by reading ‘The Artist’s Way’? Or maybe your novel will wait until next year…

3) Hypnobirthing – Marie Mongan

Marie Mongan is the founder of the HypnoBirthing (R) programme which has helped thousands of couples through its practice. This book details her breakthrough approach to safer, easier, comfortable birthing. Any normal, low-risk pregnancies can use the exercises outlined in this book, leading to a peaceful birth. So if you, or someone you know, is expecting a baby this year, point them towards ‘Hypnobirthing’ by Marie Mongan.

4) The Trachtenberg Speed System of Basic Mathematics – Jakow Trachtenberg

Jakow Trachtenberg believed that everyone is born with phenomenal abilities to calculate, he devised a set of rules that allows every child to make multiplication, division, addition, subtraction and square-root calculations with unerring accuracy and at remarkable speed. If you or your child struggles with mathematics, read this book and give it a go – it may just change your life!

5) The Hidden Science of Lost Civilisations – David Wilcock

One of our new titles for Spring 2012, ‘The Hidden Science of Lost Civilisations’ takes a look at the myth that the world would end in 2012. As the calendar has ticked over to 2013, it is clear this hasn’t been the case. Wilcock’s theory was that it would instead usher in a new golden age for mankind, and his book provides a blueprint for this golden age. A stunning synthesis of hidden science and lost prophecies, connecting science with ancient wisdom to predict what lies ahead for mankind.

6) The Artist’s Way Workbook – Julia Cameron

The workbook accompaniment to ‘The Artist’s Way’ (number 2 on our list), this helps you to follow the 12-week programme Cameron outlines, including space to work. Unlock your creativity and introduce it into your daily life.

7) The Elephant in the Classroom – Jo Boaler

Another best-selling mathematics title from Souvenir Press, this book was the subject of a huge article in the Telegraph in October. An indispensable guide for parents and teachers, this book offers concrete suggestions on ways to teach maths well, and ways to help children in the home, that will offer new and more effective ways of learning maths. This is a new approach that helps all children, even those who think that they could never enjoy maths. If your son or daughter is struggling, why not give this a go?

8) Undoing Depression – Richard O’Connor

Richard O’Connor writes from the perspective of one who has suffered two major episodes of depression during his lifetime, and also as someone who works as a psychotherapist, giving him a unique insight into the condition. ‘Undoing Depression’ examines how depression affects emotions, behavior, relationships, and self, and discusses healthier and more adaptive ways of thinking, feeling, and living happier lives.

9) Welcome to Biscuit Land – Jessica Thom

We only published this in October 2012, but already this is one of our biggest-selling ebooks of 2012! Jessica Thom has Tourettes Syndrome, and this inspiring book tells the story of a year in her life. Insightful, funny, sad and above all honest, this book has already touched the hearts of many. Through the book, and her blog as Touretteshero, Jessica Thom aims to raise awareness of living with Tourettes Syndrome. A must-read.

10) And the Band Played On – Randy Shilts

Not a book to be taken lightly, ‘And the Band Played On’ covers the origins and early years of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. A masterpiece of investigative reporting, this weaves together the personal stories of those in the gay community with reports from the medical and political establishments, exposing how AIDS was ignored, or denied, as a threat by many national institutions. A phenomenal book of immense social, medical and historical importance.

Are you a FitMama?

Last month saw the publication of THE FITMAMA METHOD by Marie Behenna.

As everyone knows, pregnancy is tough on a woman’s body. Muscles, joints, organs… It turns out that growing a person is hard work! And this is where Marie Behenna comes in. A specialist in ante- and post-natal fitness, she has recently opened her own FitMama Studio in Basingstoke, running classes for mums-to-be and mums with babies.

THE FITMAMA METHOD is a complete guide to confidence and fitness through pregnancy and birth. It covers safe exercises for pregnancy designed to build stamina and fitness – two crucial elements for when it comes to giving birth. It even covers breathing techniques for labour, and a section on how partners can best help during the birth. After delivery, the book looks at gentle exercises designed to help women repair the core damage done during pregnancy and birth, making this the ideal book for a fit and healthy pregnancy, and beyond.

It has been named Prima Baby’s book of the month for November 2012, has a rave review in the November issue of Women’s Fitness magazine, and has no fewer than twelve (twelve!) five-star reviews on Amazon. Pregnancy fitness? No problem.

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