Pregnancy can be quite overwhelming, but each passing day can help you grow closer to your baby. M&B lists down some ways to love your ballooning belly, and create an eternal bond

BY SANIA DHIRWANI

IT’S Valentine’s Day! Every year, the 14th of February marks a special time for showing your partner, just how much you care. And while we believe that you don’t need a designated day in the year to express yout love, partaking in the fesivities does help to make you feel extra special. Now, if you’re expectant parents, there’s no better time than now to let those emotions flow, especially to your baby that’s about to be born. Here are some ways to love your bump, and your baby at the same time

1 HAVE THE TALK!
From about 23 weeks, your baby can hear your heartbeat and the rumbling of your hungry stomach. Talking to your baby while still in the womb seems a little funny and will make you self-conscious. But, talking and singing is one of the most effective ways to bond with your unborn baby. Dr Chaitali Laddad, founder and director, The Pediatric Network, says, “Spend some time, every day, interacting with your baby. Talk about the activities you will do together or the destinations you will visit; tell your baby about how you have been feeling all day. After your baby’s birth, she will be able to recognise your voice and will turn her head towards you when you talk to her.”

2 BREATHE IN, BREATHE OUT!
Practicing yoga and meditation is an ancient method that relaxes your mind and reduces stress. The ideal time to start antenatal yoga is in your second trimester (after 14 weeks). Dr Laddad opines, “Enrolling yourself in antenatal yoga classes will help you stay tuned in to your pregnancy phase. It is the best way to provide relief from pregnancy blues and anxiety. These exercises help a mum-to-be focus on the growth and development of her baby.” Further elaborating, Dr Anil Sethi, counsellor, motivator and psychologist says, “Yoga helps maintain good health and ensures a smooth delivery. Meditation and breathing techniques taught in these classes help reduce stress and anxiety.”

3 DADDY-BABY ATTACHMENT!
Mothers have first-hand physical experience of what being pregnant feels like, including the highs and lows. Dads don’t have the opportunity to bond with their baby the way mothers do, but there are plenty of ways to help your partner bond with your growing baby. Dr Laddad appeals to expectant mums, explaining, “The moment you feel the baby kick, immediately place your partners hand over the belly. Let him feel the kick and ask him to rub his hands over your tummy. Watching the relationship strengthen between the dad and the baby, might help you develop a deeper bond not only with the baby but also with your husband.” She further adds, “A husband can further pamper his pregnant wife by spending more time with her, going on short drives together, reading a book to the baby, taking her for a night walk and also accompanying her to her check-ups.” Participation from expectant fathers will make you feel that you are in this pregnancy together and will also bring you closer.

4 MASSAGE THERAPY!
There’s no doubt that a massage is a great way to relax. When you’re expecting, getting a massage has never been more important. Dr Laddad says, “These massages help relax tensed muscles, aids circulation and mobility, and makes you feel good. Pregnancy changes your center of gravity and puts a lot of pressure on your back, neck, abdominal muscles and shoulders. Pregnancy massages can help ease some of the pressure and alleviate lower back pains and headaches.”

5 DIVE IN!
Swimming is a great way to take the weight off your feet. Not only it is a safe way to exercise, it also gives you a chance to relate to your baby since she is floating in fluids too. Dr Laddad says, “Swimming for expecting mums offers great benefits as compared to other forms of physical training and exercises. It is the most harmless way of working out as the water helps to support body weight and lessen the burden on the spine and limbs. It also helps to enhance one’s aerobic capacity and offers relief from morning sickness.” Opting for aquanatal classes is an ideal way to tone up your body, and even make new friends in the process.

6 PLAN A GETAWAY!
After the baby arrives, going for a vacation to relax will definitely not be on the cards. You and your spouse will hardly have the time to talk, let alone spend some time together. Going on a babymoon just before your little munchkin arrives will give you two some time off from your daily routine. Dr Laddad says, “A vacation here on is going to involve a great deal of planning and execution. Make use of this opportunity, plan an amazing and relaxing babymoon escape, and engage in some serious couple bonding before your bundle of joy arrives. Parenthood is a stressful affair; this is a great way to recharge and reconnect before the baby arrives.”

7 CLICK CLICK!
Your journey towards motherhood is irreplaceable. The moments you experience when you are about to become a mommy (especially if it’s your first baby) are extremely special and unforgettable. “Capturing your pregnancy phase will give you memories to last a lifetime. Take ample side-profile photos of your belly every week. This will help you compare the size of your bump and you will be able to estimate the growth and development of your baby. Taking photographs is a great visual reminder of all the various alterations and changes you’re experiencing. Opting for a professional shoot with your partner is also a great way to bond and preserve precious memories,” says Dr Laddad.

8 PLAY BUMP GAMES!
According to Dr Laddad, “The sole method of communicating and interacting with your baby all this while is through kicking and nudging. Your baby becomes more energetic the moment you sit down to relax. Responding back to the baby’s movement is a great way to play with your unborn child. When the baby pokes you, poke back, and wait to see what your baby does next. Also, rub the area of your belly where you are experiencing movements.” ■

OTHER TIPS TO CEMENT YOUR BOND:
● Take some time out and create a photo album for your baby. You can add a personal touch by making it on your own. This will not only make you happy, it will calm and relax you in the weeks before the birth.
● Go for evening walks to the park with your partner. Seeing other children playing in the park can help you visualise the time you will spend with your child in the near future.
● Plant a sapling in the window of your room. Seeing the sapling grow into a plant will help you connect with your baby’s growth inside your womb.
● You can sit down with your spouse and family and list some of the baby  names for your child and shortlist some names for boys and for girls (since you are blissfully unaware of the sex of your baby). This also serves as a fun and light way for everyone to bond.

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