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New baby boom

The baby boom is in full swing with a host of Irish celebrities getting ready for their new arrivals.

The number of women giving birth continues to rise despite the economic downturn. And the good news is that there has never been a better time to be pregnant when it comes to up-to-the minute fashion.

Being pregnant used to mean that women found themselves wearing frumpy clothes to accommodate their growing bumps. But fashion has finally cottoned on to the fact that it is possible to be pregnant and glamorous at the same time.

Natalie Portman (29), who won an Oscar for her role in Black Swan, dressed her ever-growing pregnant figure in an off-the-shoulder gown from Rodarte at the awards ceremony.

Meanwhile, expecting celebs, like Victoria Beckham, Kate Hudson, Jessica Alba and Mariah Carey, show the fashionistas how to be dressed to perfection and pregnant at the same time.

Sinead O'Carroll (37), who shot to fame with girl group B*Witched is expecting a baby this week (she's due on Friday), and she believes that maternity wear has definitely come on compared to the past, but "I still think the majority of women go for comfortable, especially towards the end".

She says it's great that there are so many styles for pregnant women. "It's possible to get something really nice for a special occasion," says Sinead, who is mum to two-and-a-half-year-old Samarah and has been putting the final touches to what she will be bringing to the hospital. It's a second baby for Sinead and her delighted husband Michael Rahman, who works in PR and marketing

Brilliant

She gave birth the first time round at Mount Carmel Hospital, and is also set to have her second baby there. "They were great. I had a great midwife the last time round. She was brilliant. The last time, I was there for the three days," says Sinead.

The pregnancy has been hitch-free. "It's been grand. I have been fine. I haven't been very sick or anything like that. I did have morning sickness for about the first 10 weeks, but it wasn't as bad this time round.

"I also got a touch of sciatica in my leg. I thought 'I hope it doesn't last' but it actually went after about two days, so it was great. I was really, really lucky, because some people suffer so badly from it."

Sinead who has a successful stage school, Star Academy, in Greystones, Co Wicklow, which offers classes including pop academy, breakdancing and hip-hop, says that she has been able to fit her working hours around her daughter. She may start Samarah in Montessori in September when she is three.

People still mention B*Witched to her. It's now 13 years the band had a hit with C'est La Vie. "It was great, I had an absolute ball," she says of that time.

Sinead's in good company as in recent weeks it has emerged that a number of our top celebrities will soon be hearing the pitter- patter of tiny feet. Anna Daly (33), a presenter on TV3's Ireland AM has just reached the four-month mark and says that she can't wait to welcome her first child into the world in August.

"Before I was pregnant, I was doing regular Pilates classes but now I'm doing pregnancy yoga twice a week and really enjoying it. Part of the class is challenging and the latter part is relaxing so you tend to leave the class all mellow and chilled out," says Anna.

In relation to her diet during pregnancy, Anna says: "Naturally I'm more conscious than ever before of nutrition so at the moment my fruit and veg intake is probably at an all-time high. Then again, Ireland AM is a haven for chocolate, sweets and Catherine Leydon's home-baked treats!

"But I am taking a specific pregnancy multi-vitamin with an omega-3 supplement every day."

Anna married husband Ben Ward in Portugal in September 2008, and says that she is delighted to be expecting. And the presenter will have no problems dressing her bump throughout the pregnancy, given that her husband's family own Mothercare. Aside from wearing the clothes, Anna says that she'll also be doing some modelling for Mothercare, especially as her bump gets bigger.

Meanwhile, also at TV3, fellow presenter Andrea Hayes is five-and-a-half-months pregnant with her first child. Andrea has just finished shooting Animal A&E for this series.

Both women will be able to grill their colleague, Evening Herald columnist and TV3 presenter Colette Fitzpatrick for advice when she returns to work in the coming weeks.

Also expecting her first baby this summer is model Sarah McGovern (30). She says she definitely won't find out the sex of the baby in advance. "I think there aren't too many surprises left in life so I want this to be a surprise.

"I think, particularly when it's your first child, it adds to the excitement."

The baby boom is even being witnessed among politicians. Fine Gael's Simon Coveney (38) was on top of the world after the birth of his baby girl Jessica on March 2 at Cork University Maternity Hospital. Jessica is the second baby girl born to the TD and his wife Ruth, with their elder daughter Beth now 20 months old.