Bonding with you baby bump is not only a great way to prepare for parenthood. Many expertsi believe that your baby’s awareness begins in the womb, and that learning is possible even before birth. Psychologists have also found that your emotional state affects your babyii—the healthier and happier you are during pregnancy, the better it is for your baby’s wellbeing. In other words, you can start working on your child’s development from early days and weeks of your pregnancy!
1. Sing and Talk to your Bump
By the time your baby is 25 weeks in gestation, he or she will be able to hear you and your partner, when you speak to your bumpiii. Researchers in Queen’s University have foundiv that fetuses can remember and recognize their mother’s voice even before they’re born!
They observed that the fetus’ heart-rate accelerates upon hearing the mother’s voice, while a stranger’s voice makes the beating slow down. Talk to your child as you go about your day, read aloud to your little one, and sing your heart out!
2. Enjoy Healthy Food
Did you know that the food you eat changes the flavor of the amniotic fluid surrounding your baby? Your baby gulps down several ounces of this fluid a day, and researchi has found that at 21 weeks, your baby will be able to taste what you’re eating. Having a healthy and balanced diet is also important to nourish your fetus’ growth and development.
Babies tend to be drawn to familiar tastes, so if you want your baby to grow up loving vegetables, starting early and eating plenty of greens while pregnant may help!
3. “Touch” your Baby
You won’t be able to hold your baby until after you give birth, but you can already interact by stroking and rubbing your bump. This movement only helps you relax, but also lets you communicate with your baby.
One studyii found that fetuses respond to their mother’s touch with more movements. You can “communicate” with your baby by responding to the kicks and movements in your belly.
4. Keep a Photo of your Baby’s Scan
Staring at scans really brings home the fact that your baby is growing. Place them on your fridge, in your wallet, or on your desk at the office.
When you’re further along (at 26-30 weeks), you could even have a 3D or 4D scan to get a better look at your baby’s face!
5. Take a Prenatal Class such as Yoga
Prenatal yoga is beneficial for pregnant women because it helps them get in touch with their changing body, while having a relaxing workout. One studyi even stated that yoga helps make labor easier, reduces stress, and results in healthier babies. As always, consult your doctor on the exercise suitable for you.
6. Get Dad Involved
Because dads don’t go through the physical changes that moms experience during pregnancy, it takes a little more effort for them to feel connected to their unborn child.
Involve him by bringing him along to birthing classes, have him read to your bump, and feel your baby move. This helps reinforce your team dynamic, so that when the baby arrives, you’ll both know that you have each other’s backs.
7. Keep a Journal
Whether your experience has been smooth sailing or full of difficulties, a journal will help you focus and unwind. Be honest and candid—writing things down can help you process everything that’s happening. Maybe when your baby is older, you can even share some of what you’ve written!
* Some tips compiled from BabyCentre, Mother&Baby, Bounty, and BellyBelly.
Eshleman, A. (2009 February 23). Probing Question: Can babies learn in utero? Retrieved April 6, 2017, from http://news.psu.edu/story/141254/2009/02/23/research/probing-question-ca...
Change in Mother’s Mental State Can Influence Her Baby’s Development Before and After Birth. Retrieved 7 June 2017 from, https://www.psychologicalscience.org/news/releases/a-fetus-can-sense-mom...
Fetal development: The 2nd trimester. (2015, January 15). Retrieved April 10, 2017, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-de...
Kisilevsky, B. S., Hains, S. M., Lee, K., Xie, X., Huang, H., Ye, H. H., Wang, Z. (2003). Effects of Experience on Fetal Voice Recognition. Psychological Science,14(3), 220-224. doi:10.1111/1467-9280.02435
Mennella, J. A., Jagnow, C. P., & Beauchamp, G. K. (2001). Prenatal and Postnatal Flavor Learning by Human Infants. Pediatrics, 107(6).
Marx, V., & Nagy, E. (2015). Fetal Behavioural Responses to Maternal Voice and Touch. Plos One, 10 (6).
Chuntharapat, S., Petpichetchian, W., & Hatthakit, U. (2008). Yoga during pregnancy: Effects on maternal comfort, labor pain and birth outcomes. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice, 14(2), 105-115.