If you're an expectant Mum you're probably that little bit more cautious than usual about what you put in your body and on your skin. Pregnancy can make you more sensitive to side-effects from your usual lotions and potions, and yet many expectant mums find themselves buying new products specifically aimed at pregnant women in a quest to ease those niggles and discomforts.
So finding a brand you trust and a range of products that actually work is important. And while complementary remedies might not be part of your usual weekly shop, they can be a good bet if you've got a baby on board.
So when we were offered a range of products for new and expectant Mums from Napiers, we decided to put them to the test so you don't have to!
Napiers is one of the UK's leading brands in complementary and natural health remedies. The first Napiers shop and clinic was opened in Edinburgh in 1860 by Duncan Napier, a respected botanist and herbalist. Today they still manufacture some of Mr Napiers' formulas and tonics using traditional methods, and have one of the largest teams of professional natural health and herbal practitioners in the UK.
There are four Napiers clinics and retail outlets dotted around the country as well as a rather handy online shop which stocks a wide range of herbal medicines and natural therapies. Here's our verdict on the items we sampled:
Nursing Tea £6.45
Billed as a great-tasting combination of herbs, Napiers' nursing tea is supposed to promote breast milk production and help tone the uterus after birth. We gave it to Isla, a new Mum who instantly admitted that she'd much rather have a nice cup of PG Tips! But after a few days she was hooked.
"I've no idea whether it affected my milk supply or worked its magic on my uterus but it was refreshing to drink something that tasted clean and healthy," she said. "It's not cheap but it's the sort of thing I'd really appreciate receiving as a gift after giving birth. You get so many babygros and teddy bears but something like this, which is a bit indulgent because of the price and yet good for both Mum and baby, is an ideal, thoughtful gift for a new Mum"
This natural massage blend from Napiers contains essential oils of mandarin, roman chamomile and frankincense in a base of skin conditioning plant oils. Massaging it into skin daily should help keep stretch marks at bay! I must admit to being sceptical about this because after two babies I know only too well that some people are just cursed with stretchmarks, no matter what lengths - or lotions - they go to to avoid them! But expectant Mum Keira gave this her seal of approval.
"I've tried several different stretchmark prevention creams and this is obviously much richer and more oily than some but it also feels wonderfully indulgent and soothing. It's not one to put on before you get dressed in the morning as it is rather messy but it makes a lovely post-bath ritual and the smell is strangely comforting."
Organic Ginger Tincture, £9.95
Napiers herbalists recommend the ginger tincture to ease the symptoms of morning sickness and feelings of nausea in early pregnancy. I can't report on that but I can tell that a few drops of this in a mug of hot water with a squeeze of lemon and a drizzle of honey is lovely if you're suffering from the sniffles!
Expectant Mum Hannah was dubious about this but admitted she's not a fan of ginger in general. "It did seem to work," she says. "But I found I had to take quite a few drops for it to work and I just don't like the flavour or smell of ginger. It's pretty expensive for something that you might not enjoy taking."
Organic Raspberry Leaf Tea, £4.50
This organic tea is traditionally used to prepare the uterus for labour through its toning and strengthening action. It's not safe for use in early pregnancy, so do check packaging before use.
Expectant Mum Emma said; "I've never really used loose leaf teas before, I usually opt for the standard bagged variety, so it was an interesting experience to try the Raspberry Leaf Tea. When I opened the bag, I expected to be hit in the face by a lovely big whoosh of raspberry aroma, but I was a bit disappointed to sniff and just get a tea smell, albeit slightly sweeter than normal. I steeped some in some boiling water for a bit as per the instructions, and noticed immediately that the tea smell generally got a bit stronger. I left it to steep for 10 minutes then came back to finish the tea. By this stage, the smell had intensified, and the liquid was a nice brown tea colour. I added a dollop of honey and gave it a try. I'm afraid I didn't enjoy the tea very much. I'm not a huge fan of flavoured teas in the first place, and assam is usually my bag of choice. I don't think it will be a regular drink during the end of my pregnancy."
Personally, I'm convinced by the powers of raspberry leaf tea. I drank vats of the stuff during both of my pregnancies and got off lightly when it came to labour. Coincidence? Who knows. I've even been known to palm the stuff off on expectant friends - one of whom went into labour just hours after I made her drink several cups of this stuff! It's not necessarily a thing to drink for the taste but I recommend giving it a whirl if you have in mind to try a natural birth.
Napiers products are available from www.napiers.net or order by phone on: 0131 343 3292.