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Ask the expert: Kate Middleton's pregnancy

22 March 2013
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Now nearly six months pregnant, Kate Middleton's much-awaited baby bump recently started to show. The Duchess, whose baby is due in July, was ill with hyperemesis gravidarum at the beginning of her pregnancy but now looks to be well and enjoying this exciting period. Heidi Murkoff, author of bestselling pregnancy manual What to Expect When You're Expecting and founder of, which was made into a film starring Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez, spoke exclusively to HELLO! Online. Heidi told us what we can tell from the shape of the Duchess's bump, why she's in the best stage of her pregnancy and what Jennifer and Cameron were like on the set of the film. Kate has a neat bump. Can you tell anything from the shape of the bump? The sex of the child for example? "They say that if you carry in a wide way and everything swells you're having a girl, but if you're compact you're having a boy. You have about a 50% chance of guessing correctly! All of our bodies are different so naturally how we carry a baby is going to be different. It has to do with genetics, the amount of weight that you gain, with what you've been eating. You can't tell a baby by its cover. If she's carrying compactly now, she might not be carrying compactly later."

There have been concerns about Kate's weight. Is it normal for pregnant women not to put on weight immediately? "A lot of women lose weight in the first trimester. It can happen to varying degrees. You can end up losing ten pounds or more in the first trimester but then in the second and third trimester you gain about a pound a week. In the first trimester you're likely to experience cravings. And I would advise not going against those cravings. You should take your cues from your body." Kate is almost six months pregnant. What are the highlights of this stage? "The second trimester is often by far the most comfortable trimester. Of course that's not universal. Some women won't feel great all the way through. You often have more energy and more appetite and should feel less queasy than in the first trimester. Your mood swings hopefully start to moderate too, as they're often worse and more pronounced in the first trimester. "You can learn the baby's sex at this stage or of course you can keep it secret too. The baby starts to kick around 18 to 20 weeks which is probably the best feeling of all. Your pregnancy gets more and more concrete at this stage too. It can be an abstract concept at first. "Another nice thing is that you're starting to look a little pregnant and you start to get a proper bump. Because your bump is now showing, you can have lots of fun buying maternity wear and dressing up. Maternity fashion isn't frumpy like it used to be, you can get some absolutely beautiful, well cut dresses. So Kate should enjoy dressing up her bump and flaunting it."

Cameron Diaz and Jennifer Lopez starred in the 2012 film adaptation of What to Expect When You’re Expecting. Did you go on set? "I did. It was fun and a real departure from my day job. The first time I met Cameron Diaz she'd just been fitted for a prosthetic bump and breasts. I kind of egged her on and she opened up her robe and she was so proud to show off her massive breasts and a perfect little bump! She was great and had lots of questions and took the whole thing very seriously. "Jennifer Lopez was amazing with the baby. She's a baby photographer in one of the scenes and she's holding the baby who's crying. The baby was only four months old and was very hungry and tired and kept crying for take after take when it was supposed to be happy. Jennifer was singing to the baby, walking around with it in a way that you just know she's a mum and she had that skill down to a tee." Kate opted out of skiing when she was in Switzerland recently but was photographed carrying a toboggan. Is this kind of activity advisable during pregnancy? "The only thing I would be concerned about is balance and the risk of falling over. When it comes to choosing what kind of exercise you should due during your pregnancy, that's the kind of decision that's made by the mother-to-be and her doctor or her midwife because every case is different, there are so many variables. "There are certain sports like skiing that just don't lend themselves to pregnancy. Your centre of gravity is off-kilter and obviously there's a risk of falling. There's a really incredible amount of cushioning that protects the baby and provides shock absorption. It's really rare that her baby could be harmed by any fall she might take but of course it's best to play it safe." Kate's very active. Will she be able to continue exercising far into her pregnancy? "She could run into the delivery room if she wanted to! Anything that your doctor or midwife clears is fine. There are so many benefits to staying fit during pregnancy. What a lot of women don't realise is that it's thought to increase a baby's brain power because of all the bouncing around. Also a baby whose mum exercises during pregnancy is more likely to be born at a healthier weight. Of course this releases endorphins too and they can boost your mood and paradoxically give you more energy." What exercise is best during pregnancy? "Pregnancy yoga is great. I'd definitely recommend that to Kate. Swimming or aqua aerobics are perfect for exercise during pregnancy because it's basically your only opportunity to be weightless and when you're pregnant that's a relief. It relieves pressure on all of those swollen bits and pieces and it actually helps minimise swelling. It's really important not to get overheated so Bikram yoga is out."

Kate often travels and flies. Does pregnancy restrict this? "There are no restrictions unless the doctor has said you shouldn't travel because you're at risk of something. The risk would be if you're sitting still for too many hours on a very long flight and you don't stay hydrated. You might get a clot so you have to keep moving and drink a lot. Most airlines have regulations about when a woman should stop flying but that's because they don't want the liability and because there's always a risk that you could go into labour. You have to listen to your doctor but you also have to listen to your body." Kate suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum. Is that something that stays away in the later stages of pregnancy? "Usually it does. In the short term you need fluids, which is probably why they decided to hospitalise Kate. You vomit a lot and can't keep food down. But it's not so much about the food because your baby's nutritional needs at that point are so minimal. Later on it becomes more of a concern but even then babies of mums who experience hyperemesis gravidarum are almost always fine. The mums get sick and lose weight but their babies grow; nature has a way of dealing with it. The chances are that they hospitalised her as a precaution and now she's well and staying hydrated. "It's not likely to come back. Some of us are just more predisposed to it; the systems that trigger vomiting can be more active or more sensitive in some people. For women who are carrying twins it often stretches for a more prolonged period of time. It can happen though, anything can happen." Does the condition mean she's more likely to be carrying twins? "I can't speculate about that sort of thing. She was suffering and being queasy is a horrible feeling but feeling queasy when everyone's watching and you know that everyone's watching increases the stress and increasing the stress aggravates the condition." Kate is expecting in July. What implications might this have? "If it's hot it means she'll swell more and it could get uncomfortable. Your metabolism is higher when you're pregnant so you're heating for two as well as eating for two so it's harder to stay cool. You shouldn't exercise outside if it's really hot and as always it's important to take your cues from your body and stay hydrated. If you're not hydrated that can trigger contractions or false labour contractions. You should also stay out of the sun. You're at greater risk of chloasma, which is hyperpigmentation, if you stay out in the sun too long so she should use plenty of SPF." Heidi Murkoff, author of the internationally bestselling What to Expect When You’re Expecting series has launched

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