Q: What are ways that I can connect and bond with my baby before she is born? How can my partner get involved, too?
A: Consider multi-sensory activities that allow you to focus inward, like making a collage for your baby, drawing or painting images of birth, sculpting with clay, singing, even gardening or baking bread. These pursuits settle the mind and give you space to connect your heart with your growing baby. They’re also powerful tools to prepare you for birth!
How? In labor, your dominant brain shifts from the left (or rational) brain, to the right—the brain of color and sound. This change ensures that the body releases the hormones mom and baby need during delivery. Labor also induces alpha-brain waves, which are slower, allow sudden insight, and foster a meditative kind of mind, somewhere between waking and sleeping. Accessing this quiet mind during pregnancy through creative endeavors, such as making art, not only gives you time with your baby, it also familiarizes you with your body’s optimal state during delivery.
As for getting him involved, dads I’ve served as a doula for often wanted specific tips about engaging in their partners’ pregnancies. Most guys genuinely want to be useful and helpful, but need exact tasks that will meet your needs. Some specifics he can try:
• Driving you to a prenatal yoga or exercise class each way, creating a special time to talk about the baby, and giving him a quiet hour—perhaps with a coffee and a book at the café next door?
• Starting a journal or setting up a blog to record pregnancy moments and images and thoughts for your baby.
• Buying pregnancy tea and brewing it for you in a travel mug as you leave for work, or packing healthy snacks for your desk drawer and writing a love note or favorite quote on the bag.
Jill Wodnick, M.A., is a certified doula, prenatal yoga instructor, and owner of Montclair Maternity, a childbirth education center in New Jersey.