Bonding with your unborn baby

Pregnancy expert Dr Miriam Stoppard helps you begin a relationship with your unborn baby

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Your baby may not even be born yet, but you can start building a connection in pregnancy. So, exactly how can you and your partner bond with your unborn baby? We asked pregnancy guru Dr Miriam Stoppard to answer your questions on getting that bond established, as well as other big pregnancy queries…

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Why do I need to bond with my baby before she’s born?

“Talking to and connecting with your baby before she’s born is very important,” explains Dr Miriam Stoppard. “Babies are aware of things going on outside the womb before you might realise. As their senses develop, they can even hear and learn to recognise your voice.

“Bonding can also help when you get to labour, as forming a relationship with your baby helps you to visualise the kind of relaxed happy birth that you want to have. By imagining it, you’re teaching your brain to give you that happy relaxed birth which keeps your baby calmer in the womb.”

Besides talking, how else can I bond with my unborn baby?

“Mums often ask me this so I created my app to help mums understand what their baby is experiencing before it’s born,” says Dr Miriam Stoppard. “I wanted to be able to tell women more about how their baby is developing than is possible in words, to give them a kind of sound picture. So using the app, you can record your voice, or your partner’s voice, and press the translate button to create the sound that your unborn baby can hear as she grows.

“You can also take a picture of anything – of you, the dog – and you can press a button and see how your baby’s eyes are equipped to see it. So at the beginning it’s rather blurred and then as you get further through pregnancy it gets clearer and clearer. So you can tell when sounds start to make more sense or when shining a light towards your bump can make your baby blink.”

How can I get my partner to take an interest in our baby before it’s born?

“One of the best things to do is for dad to sit against a wall and for mum to sit between his legs with her back on his chest so he can reach around her to her bump. Using some safe massage oil, you can massage the bump together. Put on chilled music before you start and you can have a nice relaxing session,” advises Dr Miriam Stoppard. “If he’s not sure, remind him that these sessions can make a huge amount of difference when you’re giving birth. And they make a lot of difference to the baby, especially if you talk or sing and play music. It really helps keep the baby calm and relaxed, ready for birth.”

My bump seems bigger than other mums! Is there an ideal size or shape?

Dr Miriam Stoppard says, “No, of course they can never be the wrong size or shape! They vary enormously – as much as people do. Look at Victoria Beckham, she was very small. It’s her fourth pregnancy too, and usually by that time the bump is very big. So all bumps are different.”

I’m having trouble loving my pregnancy body. How can come to terms with the changes?

“Many women do find they have problems relating to their body as it changes so much,” explains Dr Miriam Stoppard. “Concentrating on the baby can really help as you become so interested in how she’s doing and what she’s feeling that you realise the amazing changes your body is going through are just helping her.”

How can I avoid stretchmarks?

“Unfortunately, there’s really not much you can do about stretchmarks. In pregnancy they are caused by the thinning of the collagen because of the high levels of pregnancy hormones. Once collagen is stretched, it can’t be made elastic again,” says Dr Miriam Stoppard.

“The good news is that very often these stretchmarks disappear into tiny silver lines that you can’t even see.

“I am in favour of massaging in oils and moisturing creams if you want to but not particularly to prevent stretchmarks I’m afraid! It’s worth doing just because it’s so beneficial just for you, the baby and for dad to spend time together.”

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The Dr Miriam Stoppard Pregnancy app is out now, and can be downloaded for £3.99.

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