Amid the purveyors of belly casts and placenta pills, sonogram art and cord banks at a recent baby gear extravaganza stood a smiling Rosie Pope, pregnancy advice guru, mommy concierge to the rich and, with any luck, the Martha Stewart of maternity.
"There's Rachael Ray for cooking and Rachel Zoe for style, but who in motherhood? That's my dream," said the affable mom of three as she signed copies of her pregnancy guide, "Mommy IQ," showed off her maternity clothing line and chatted up fans Saturday at the New York Baby Show.
Making sense of maternity and baby gear these days isn't easy, so Pope may just get her shot. More than a few moms-to-be were befuddled as they walked the crowded show floor, some with exhausted husbands in tow, at a cavernous pier just off the West Side Highway.
There's the "Tortle," for example. It's an infant hat with a soft wedge built in to battle flat head syndrome. And there's Clean Bee Baby, an eco-friendly cleaning service for strollers and car seats.
The sellers of the Woolino were there. It's a four-season wearable sleep bag for baby in Australian merino wool that promises to regulate body temperature, wick away moisture and last until age 2 in place of those dangerous things called blankets.
There were also numerous reinventions of the wearable baby carrier, bright and cheery seats and rides of all kinds, including one that looks like an actual car, and all-natural everything, from squeezable baby fruit to Kinder by Nature herbal wipes, loaded with certified organic aloe vera, tea tree and ylang ylang extracts.
A couple of doulas turned up with a pink Mini Cooper, extolling such services as "placenta encapsulation." It involves dehydrating one's placenta, turning it into a powder and putting it inside capsules for ingestion as a postpartum supplement. Which is not to be confused with a reinvention of prenatal vitamins as a powder you can sprinkle on food or mix with a liquid, or with services that will store umbilical cord blood for its stem cells soon after birth.
In addition to a little trend-spotting (highlighter orange is in and the nursery animal of the moment is the hedgehog), Pope offered her view on the explosion of gear for mom, dad and baby.
"There's so much we do not need," she said. "What we do need is a safe place for the baby to sleep. We do need a safe car seat. We do need a stroller system that the car seat can snap into. What we do need is SOME clothes. What we don't need is shoes and hair accessories and wipe warmers and bottle warmers and all of this sort of extra stuff that really is just adding complication to what you're doing rather than making your life easier."
Like gear, maternity clothes have come a long way, as have some famous expectant moms, she said.
"I think that maybe she's a PR genius since that caused her a lot of attention, but really what I always tell my clients is stay true to your sense of style. Kim was very sensuous and her clothing was generally very tight and you could see her curves. But an upholstered turtleneck gown with matching gloves is really hard for anybody to pull off. She is a beautiful pregnant woman, though."
And the other high-profile mom-to-be, the former Kate Middleton?
"She is keeping to her sense of style, so very understated, very demure and classic and tailored. And what she's really showing, which I love, is that you don't have to just wear stretchy clothes when you're pregnant."
In addition to sellers of wearable baby carriers and a foundation looking for donations to fund kiddie yoga lessons for the underprivileged, the makers of modesty covers for nursing women were on hand at the show sponsored by New York Family magazine.
Pope said she used one called the Hooter Hider but made clear she casts no judgments on breast-feeding versus bottle feeding. She nursed her first, now 4, for about six months but said "it didn't work" for her second. When her third came along she decided as a busy working mom on a combination of pumping and formula.
"There's a lot of pressure to breast-feed and I think if you can do it, it's a wonderful thing, but it doesn't work for everybody," Pope said.
The star of Bravo's "Pregnant in Heels" reality series takes a similar approach to many maternity issues in her book, out last October with medical-related advice by one of New York City's foremost obstetrician-gynecologists, Amos Grunebaum, who was Pope's doctor as she navigated infertility treatment.
"So many of the books I find to be quite heavy and quite hard to figure out whether they're saying yes or no. It's always in the middle, the advice. I wanted to know what is right and what is wrong and then what is up to me. That's really important."
She professes zero tolerance for caffeine and alcohol during pregnancy, "but then I am much more open-minded when it comes to breast-feeding and when it comes to attachment parenting or sleeping. I really believe every family is very, very different and what's right for one person is not right for another."
In decades past, maternity advice was "this way or the highway," but so many options and so much readily available information today is a "blessing and a curse," Pope acknowledged. "If you can navigate your way through that you can really find a path that is wonderful for you."
Agnieszka Golasik of Brooklyn, an artist by way of Poland, wasn't looking to help expectant moms navigate so much as decorate. She'll turn your sonogram pregnancy image into a psychedelic portrait of your fetus through her company Your Baby to Be, at a starting price of $250.
"I was experimenting with these images for a series of small monotypes when I found out I was pregnant," Golasik said at the booth she shared with co-founder Margaret Blat. "This is a special time and new way to remember your baby."
The folks over at Cast in Time were of similar minds. They'll take a plaster cast of your naked and pregnant silhouette, from pubic bone to breasts, decorate it and frame it for hanging, at a minimum of $495.
Said the founder, who goes by Bindia: "Pregnant women are beautiful."