MEDIA: PRACTICAL PARENTING - AN EXPERT'S VIEW. Anna Griffiths skims through a revamp of Practical Parenting's Complete Guide to Pregnancy

Seven months into my first pregnancy and I feel that I am already

an expert on baby magazines. Every month a slew of them arrive on my

desk and although I generally am pretty dismissive of their tone and

quality for any reader who has managed to hang on to a few brain cells,

I always read each one avidly, just in case there's a useful nugget of

information.



So, the revamped issue of Expecting Our Baby, now called (verbosely)

Practical Parenting's Complete Guide to Pregnancy, arrived on my desk to

be given a good check-over. Would this magazine dispense with the sickly

sweet editorial and not patronise me? Would there be some really

different and challenging features that would give some grit as well as

make me glow with anticipation?



Well, the format is as formulaic as the rest, with the first few pages

causing me to wonder whether I had read this magazine somewhere

before.



There was nothing in the pregnancy and birth news page that broke the

knowledge barrier and the Q&A panel was a carbon copy of all the others

I have read.



However, although it's not rocket science when a feature describes the

pregnancies of five different women, it's always comforting to read

these pieces because you usually find similar experiences to your

own.



The lengthy expert advice column alongside each account also helps to

flesh the piece out. There is a reassuring article on 'Is my bump too

big or too small?' but most of the other pieces are so samey that I find

myself skimming over them.



The only one that was a pleasant surprise because it was both topical

and slightly different from the normal stodge was the feature on the

chronic shortage of midwives, although at just one page it was pretty

simplistic and unchallenging.



Dr Mark Porter's 'ultimate pregnancy planner' was very useful and

thorough, but the skimpy fashion page left me cold in terms of style

and, by being just one page, also left me very underwhelmed. I may look

like a snake that has eaten a load of pies, but I do still care about

how I look, and any tips on economical ways to attire my changing shape

is always a bonus.



We don't all go for smocks and flowery skirts, y'know.



All in all, this magazine left me with a 'take it or leave it'

feeling.



It is probably more relevant to women who have just found out that they

are pregnant, rather than a cynical hack like me who thinks she knows it

all. The goofy smile and stomach clutching of the model on the front

cover should have warned me that this was not the magazine for me.



Now, where's my pot of marmite and the latest copy of Vogue?



Publisher: IPC Southbank

Frequency: Monthly

Print run: 80,000

Full-page ad rate: pounds 4,100

Advertisers include: Start Rite, Cow & Gate, Macleans, Persil, Pampers,

Fisher-Price, Avent, Formes.



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