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    Bonding With Baby Before Birth

    Making a connection with your unborn child can strengthen the bond you share, make you feel closer, and enrich you and your baby's lives.

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    When Luminare-Rosen was pregnant with her daughter, she kept a journal that not only documented her pregnancy, but also included letters to her daughter telling her about her hopes and her fears. "I read the journal to her now so that she knows how loved she has been, from the very beginning," says Luminare-Rosen.

    In the prenatal bonding classes that Luminare-Rosen holds, she will play relaxing music, then have the parents (mostly moms-to-be) imagine that they are meeting their child for the first time. "Visualize your child," she suggest. "What is the image you have of the child?"

    Luminare-Rosen says that you may see a picture of your child in your mind, you may hear a conversation between you and the baby. "Draw a picture of what you have seen, or write it in your journal," she says. "This will make the visualization that much more conscious."

    Marilee Hartling has several tips of her own:

    Talk to the baby. Say goodnight before you go to bed, good morning when you wake up, and talk to it throughout the day. "Newborns know their mom's voice after birth," she says. "That's the voice they will turn to."

    Feel the baby. Place your hands on your abdomen and rest your hands quietly, feeling the baby kick, or gently massaging the baby. You can even play games with the baby, says Hartling. Press lightly on your abdomen and you'll feel the baby kick back, she says.

    On a more serious note, Hartling says that at Cedars-Sinai, more attention is being paid to moms who are suffering from depression or have suffered from postpartum depression in the past (if you have, you're more likely to experience it again). In these cases, medication may be prescribed for the pregnant mom, says Hartling, because it's difficult to bond with your baby when you're depressed.

    One of the best ways you can bond with your baby, says Thomas Ivester, MD, clinical instructor in maternal-fetal medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, is by having an ultrasound.

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