New to Bounty?
You can start bonding with your baby well before she makes her grand entrance. In fact, spending less time obsessing over when she'll arrive on the outside and more time forging a connection while she's on the inside is good for both of you. So whether it's talking to your tummy or stroking your bump, here's how to get to know your baby better.
Chat to your bump
With babies developing the ability to hear from around 18 weeks' gestation, speaking to your bump is a great way of bonding.
"I'm constantly telling Button (my bump) how I can't wait to meet him or her," says Beth Morgan, 29, and 36 weeks pregnant. "And when my husband gets back from work he always bends over my tummy and says, 'Hello Button, Daddy's home!' I'm sure our baby will recognise our voices when he or she's out."
Nourish through smell
Smell is one of our most primal senses. Amberley Harris, a midwife, childbirth educator and founder of the holistic pre-conception and antenatal website maternal-instincts.com.au, suggests that during pregnancy you take advantage of your heightened sense of smell and surround yourself with aromas that are nourishing and balancing.
"Link a beautiful aroma, like a pregnancy-safe essential oil, to a daily positive experience such as yoga, meditation or massage," she says. "Your brain will have an association with this aroma and it will help you and your baby to relax."
A baby's olfactory system begins developing as early as six weeks' gestation, and while we can't easily measure a newborn's senses, we do know that immediately after birth they are able to identify familiar scents.
Talk via touch
When seeing women antenatally, midwife Sarah Grant likes to take their hands and show them the different parts of their baby's body.
"I'll show parents-to-be their baby's bottom and head," says Sarah. "I find the dads really enjoy this, as many men find it difficult to connect and bond with the pregnancy unless they can see or feel things."
Encourage your partner to get involved by stocking up on a nourishing belly butter and gently tracing your tummy together to try and physically connect with your bub.
Have great sex
Oxytocin is known as a woman's 'love hormone'. "It is released during orgasm, following ovulation and during labour to make the uterus contract and push the baby down to be born, and is also responsible for the release of milk during breastfeeding," Amberley Harris says. "During pregnancy some women will find they have an increased libido, and this can be a good way to bring you and your partner closer."
Have a massage
If you're stressed and busy, try a therapeutic pregnancy massage. "Our lives are non-stop, even during pregnancy," says massage specialist Jeannie Burke. "Booking in for an antenatal massage is the perfect way to connect with your baby and body. Often it is the only time we really stop and take the time to experience the pregnancy." Jeannie recommends indulging in a weekly antenatal body massage after the first trimester.
Find your groove
According to research, exposing your foetus to music can make a dramatic difference to bonding before and after the birth. Midwife and P&B expert Megan Baker says singing and playing music are positive ways to engage with your bump. And while there's no evidence that classical music will increase your baby's intelligence, it does have a soothing effect both in and out of the womb.
"Once baby has arrived, she may be more easily soothed when exposed to music or singing she has grown accustomed to in utero," says Megan.
A mother's thoughts, feelings and emotions are all channeled through to her unborn baby. And as babies are often at their most active at night, when mum is trying to sleep, Amberley suggests using this time to engage in sending your baby love.
"Every night, create a bedtime routine of getting into bed, putting your hands on your bump and sending your baby loving messages," she says. "This is a powerful method of communication to your baby. After some conscious communicating, you can both drift off into a deep sleep in unison."
Take a yoga class
Yoga can help with strength, flexibility, relaxation and inner peace which, says Amberley, are all essential to a healthy and positive pregnancy. "Another major advantage of yoga in pregnancy is how it can connect mother and baby through breath awareness," she says. "Mothers are taught directed breathing to send valuable oxygen down to their baby. I have seen many babies respond to this aspect of the class by freely moving and kicking playfully during this time."
Take a picture
Sneaking a peek at what your baby looks like is a perfect way to connect before the birth. "Seeing Mark's little face on the 4D scan made me feel really close to him," says Nicole, 28, mum to Mark, two weeks, and Alicia, six. "The picture was so clear I could even see the dimple on his chin. Sure enough, it was there when he was born!" Consult your local radiography practice for further details.