Are you nervous at the prospect of birthing a stranger? Sure, you love the little nugget floating in your uterus, but do you feel like you know them?
When I was pregnant, I had serious doubts about my ability to “do parenting well.” I felt wholly unprepared and feared the big P-D: postpartum depression.
Because I have control freak tendencies, I became consumed with putting in bonding work before my son was born — I had a deep need to get to know him before he was put in my arms.
Many of the following prenatal bonding activities are practiced in the HypnoBirthing (Mongan Method) childbirth preparation classes I teach, and some are pulled from my personal tinkering.
1. Sing it out
Belt it out, mama! Baby won’t care if you’re Mariah quality or a strictly-shower vocalist, she just wants to hear the sound of your voice and the vibrations of your harmonizing (or, attempts at harmonizing?). Reading, verbalizing your stream of consciousness, or anything else involving baby being exposed to your unique tones is muy bueno. But, make sure you keep your cool as much as possible — if you don’t enjoy the sound of harsh voices or yelling, baby won’t be into them either.
2. Groove with your baby
Sometimes there just aren’t words to express the depth of your love; the swaying of your body will soothe baby and connect him to your natural rhythm, which may just train him to chill out when he’s wiggling in your arms and you commence the Mama Sway.
No human is ever too young (or old!) to play. Have some loving fun with your baby by placing a cool object on different areas of your belly and waiting until baby responds with a tap. You can also play by tapping on an area of your belly until you receive the response tap. But be forewarned, baby might be so into playtime he’ll wake you up at 3 AM with a swift kick to the ribs, and a request for Monopoly.
Meditation is more fun when you have someone to do it with. Meditate with your baby, while setting the intent that you’re tapping into their “voice” and intuition. With your eyes closed, focus on connecting to the heart-energy of your baby, then ask her questions and listen to the answers that appear in your heart. No pressure, just have fun with it.
5. Write love letters
Write letters to your baby conveying how you’re feeling during pregnancy, the current state of world affairs, your pregnancy cravings, how excited you are about her arrival, your hopes and predictions about her future, and anything else that strikes a chord. The real fun begins when you get to read the letters to your child when she’s older.
6. Create a video diary
Letters are fun, but videos are so fun. Make a video at the beginning of each month of pregnancy, reflecting on your current weight gain (10 pounds? Go girl!), what baby is up to, your predictions for how the birth will go, what movie you’re going to see, how the smell of peanut butter makes you gag, and anything else you’re inspired to share.
7. Try playing the baby
With your partner, take turns closing your eyes while the other instructs you to pretend you’re the baby in your mother’s womb, preparing to be born. Ask about the environment you’re coming into — what you like, what you want to change, and what needs to be explored further. This exercise can inform the changes you make before baby is born.
An oldie but goodie. Creating a sanctuary for your baby and your new self that will emerge during childbirth helps you align with your shifting reality and feel like you’re doing something tangible and productive for your baby’s comfort.
9. Just send love
If you do nothing else, just focus on sending your baby love — surrounding and filling her with your golden light of warmth and protection. Your love is enough.
While the shift in hormones during childbirth might send you on a wild and emotional postpartum ride, these exercises will serve to build a strong foundation for the bond between you and your developing baby. This foundation will help to ease your sense of emotional overwhelm and remind you that you will rock your new role as mother.