Mistress of reinvention, Madonna's latest incarnation as mother is almost complete and the signs are she's taking her maternal role pretty seriously. With the baby due on 10 October, Madonna has moved out of the media limelight. She's told friends she wants a 'cosy' retreat where she can bring up her kid. Even her choice of name, Lola, after the Kinks' hit, is surprisingly discreet for such a flamboyant character. Is this the final change, then, that nobody, perhaps not even Madonna, could have predicted: a switch from sensuous to downright sensible? Exactly what can we expect from Madonna the mother? Emma Cook asked the experts

The celebrity watcher

Caroline Peal, deputy features editor on 'Here!' magazine

"Madonna is very aware of being in the public eye and being stalked, which is why she'll want to give her child a safe environment. She's already moved out of Hollywood to a much smaller place. She's downsizing; feathering her nest. I'm sure she'll really cherish her baby - at 38 she's reached an age where this child is really wanted. She may also be more protective than other mothers.

"At the moment, Madonna's really trying to be like a normal woman. She's avoiding public places, hanging out with her family more and she's spotted with far less of her entourage around her. She's always been surrounded by people who want to be near her for status, but now she wants people around her who'll care for her as a mother.

"The National Enquirer recently said that she's begging her boyfriend to come back, but whether it's true is anyone's guess. Madonna has always done everything her own way and I'm sure she'll do motherhood her own way, too."

The Catholic

Peter Stanford, Catholic writer and former editor of 'The Catholic Herald'

"The archetypal Catholic mother is meant to sit at home looking after her husband and children. I can't see Madonna doing that. She's more likely to be out on stage flaunting everything. In the past, Madonna's displayed a real preoccupation with Catholic imagery. She's got her crucifix, her pastiche image as a Madonna and now she's going for Madonna and Child.

"A Catholicism upbringing has a big impact, and at moments like childbirth you realise how important it really is. It could make Madonna think seriously about the Catholic faith - she's clearly a woman who's been very influenced by it. There's always an element of rebelling against it and then coming back; I've noticed the most rabid, unhappy convent girls always tend to send their children to convents. It certainly wouldn't surprise me if Madonna does the same thing. It's something that's so deeply inbred - you just have those beliefs whether you like it or not."

The psychologist

Dorothy Rowe, psychologist and writer

"It's now becoming fashionable for women with careers to have children without a husband on the scene. But I wonder whether some of these poor children are nothing more than fashion accessories. The danger could be if Madonna, like any parent, is having a child as a possession rather than a person in its own right.

"From what I've read, I'd imagine her to be a very good organiser and used to giving people orders. But it doesn't work like that with children. If you try to organise them they'll either be too docile or rebellious. As a parent you have to learn to lose to your children, to let them be their own person. It will be interesting to see if Madonna is prepared to do that."

The glamorous mother

Angie Hill, model and mother of Harley, 6, and Phoenix, 3

"When I first got pregnant I didn't give up the idea of trying to look glamorous - right up to the last week I was wearing really tight dresses. During my second pregnancy the weight spread more and I felt ugly and depressed. It really hurt. I think Madonna will find that people also look at you differently when they find out you've got kids. They automatically put you in an older category, which can be difficult in my area of work, and in hers, I should think.

"I still try to look the best I can. I take care of myself and keep that side of my ego going. My daughter is really beautiful, but I could never be jealous of her looks as she grows older. I think there's always a problem between mothers and daughters, though; a sort of conflict from the very beginning - daughters will always give mothers grief."

The childcare expert

Gabriella Vianello, joint director of the Dulwich Nanny Agency

"Madonna will make a good mother. She really wants the child and will be involved in every aspect. At her stage in life, she's done everything possible, good and bad. Now she's older and ready to settle down.

"I don't see it as a disadvantage if Madonna raises a baby without a partner. After all, her mother died when she was six, so she knows what it's like to be brought up in a single-parent family. She may want to compensate for her own experience - it's unlikely she'd work away from home and leave the baby for months at a time."

The midwife

Caroline Flint, president of the Royal College of Midwives and director of The Birth Centre

"What's difficult to take on board is that celebrities are surrounded by so many people - there's always the nanny, chauffeur, publicist, agent etc. I have to say that's quite disconcerting for the midwife. Then there are other pressures. After the birth the media are camped outside and the midwife will get asked all sorts of questions. Is she all right? Is she breast feeding? It can put a lot of pressure on the new mother. It also makes things difficult because she's likely to be photographed straight afterwards. She's used to being pictured as a sex symbol, which can be hard, especially if she's breast feeding.

"Some famous women may choose to have an epidural and a Caesarean so they don't have to lose their glamour through the birth. That's their way of dealing with it. Labour is not a glamorous process but, on the other hand, it is one of the most exciting. It's hard work, painful and gruelling. But as a midwife I'm constantly overwhelmed by the courage of women when they give birth - and that goes for celebrities, too."

The celebrity daughters

Justine Roddick, 27, is the daughter of Anita Roddick and the mother of Maiya, 22 months

"My mum was a big blur during childhood because she was always rushing from place to place. As she has got older, we have all been sitting with our fingers crossed, hoping that her energy would disperse. I feel so lethargic compared with her. Underneath I think I'm quite like Mum because I'm very creative. And I think I could be more like her if I didn't feel so threatened at having to try to achieve what she's achieved. She's such a fine example of what women can do - social activist, environmentalist, OBE, businesswoman. All that holds me back: I don't try in case I fail.

"For me personally, the Body Shop has been a real pain -it makes me feel I have no identity. I really do feel I must work outside the Body Shop so I can know I've got the job on my own merits, not Mum's."

Emily Wilcox, is the daughter of Esther Rantzen

"Since I was tiny, I've been happy as long as I've been with Mum. I used to spend hours at the BBC in a Moses basket, and when I was a bit older I liked playing with white pencils in the cutting room. At home with the nanny I missed Mum desperately. Although I went to Mum's old school, North London Collegiate, I didn't feel under any pressure to follow her. To be honest, I was mortified every time her name came up.

"Both my parents are workaholics, but we've never missed out on time together. Mum might have felt guilty that she was doing another job as well, but we knew that we were the most important part of her life."

The journalist

Vicki Woods interviewed Madonna in 1987 for American 'Vogue'

"In my interview I asked her if she remembered her mother singing to her. She got very cross and said, "What the f---? What the f--- is this?" Fourteen questions later she admitted her mother did sing to her - a well-known Italian lullaby called Come balla bene bella bimba. And I bet that's what she'll sing to her own baby. She's Italian, so she'll make a great mother - she'll be a 'mamma'."

The adolescent behaviour expert

Jeannie Milligan, psychotherapist and clinical lecturer in social work, adolescent department of the Tavistock Centre

"Perhaps one of the most difficult things for an adolescent growing up in the public eye is working out what kind of space exists for yourself and trying to develop your own identity. I think it would be difficult not to feel marginalised if your parents have lived an extraordinary life, and it could also be a disadvantage with peers. Adolescence is a lonely time anyway and the teenager could feel extra lonely if they haven't knocked about with other kids of their age in an ordinary way. And if your mother has been extremely rebellious, you may feel that since she's done everything, what is there left for you to do? That could make you feel depressed; as if you're not much of a person."