TAKING CARA BABIES

Bonding With Your Baby Before Birth

Dr. Christine Sterling

What if I told you that there is something pregnant mamas can do once a day that would:

  1. Increase chances of a vaginal delivery
  2. Shorten labor
  3. Reduce the risk of pregnancy complications
  4. Help with baby bonding
  5. Reduce the risk of postpartum depression -AND-
  6. Establish a nighttime routine that can be continued outside the womb to help baby sleep better

Does that sound like a worthwhile activity? Of course!

When we combine a bedtime routine with fetal kick counts and baby bonding we reap all of these rewards and more.

I’m going to guide you step-by-step through implementing this, but first let’s answer the question-

What are fetal kick counts and how do I do them?

Starting at 26-28 weeks you can start keeping track of baby’s movements. At least once a day, you should be feeling 10 movements in an hour. If you are unable to get those 10 movements, you can try for an additional hour to get baby to move 10 times. The most common ways to elicit movement are- sound, touch, eating a meal or snack, and drinking something cold or hot. If baby still isn’t meeting these kick counts it is time to call your doctor or proceed to the nearest labor and delivery.

Your doctor may have different parameters she wants you to follow, so please check with your provider. That being said, mom intuition is real. Even if you are getting 10 movements in an hour, if your baby feels slower than usual and you aren’t able to provoke the normal amount of movement, listen to your intuition and call your doctor.

Why does my baby’s movement matter?

Think back to the last time you were sick. Were you jumping up and down with energy? Or did you move slowly and spend more time at rest?

As humans, we tend to move less when we aren’t feeling well, and the same is true for baby. Performing kick counts at least once a day is a simple way to check in on baby’s health and has been shown to increase chances of a healthy baby, something we can all get behind.

So we’ve talked about how fetal kick counts can improve outcomes for baby, now let’s talk about the benefits of pairing kick counts with a bedtime bonding ritual.

Why do we do fetal kick counts at bedtime?

There are two reasons doing kick counts at the end of the day is the perfect time-

  1. Babies tend to be more active at night.
  2. Sleep is one of the most important components of a healthy pregnancy.

Research shows that a routine at bedtime leads to better sleep. That’s right: bedtime routines aren’t just for babies after they’re born. The components of this routine should help you release the tension from your day, before your head hits the pillow. Not only does sleeping better make you feel your best, better sleep in pregnancy is also associated with lower rates of postpartum depression, increased chances of a vaginal delivery and shorter labors*. Who wouldn’t want that?!

How does this help me bond with my baby?

Setting aside a specific time of day to attune to baby is a beautiful way to honor your growing bond. Even if you aren’t far enough along to do kick counts, you can still begin to create a meaningful bedtime bonding ritual. Starting around 16 weeks, your baby begins to hear, so the end of the day is the perfect time to talk, read, or sing to your baby.

As a special bonus, I recommend choosing the same thing to read, say or sing to your baby every night as a way to start establishing a nighttime routine for them that you will continue outside the womb.

I started singing my daughter “Dream a Little Dream” every night before bed from 19 weeks on. At 28 weeks, I started counting her movements while I did so. After she was born, I continued this ritual. The song was her signal that daytime was over, and now our behavior and sleep patterns change. At 6 weeks old I was able to use the song to soothe her. Now she’s 2 years old, and it continues to be part of our bedtime routine. When I sing the first line, she lays her head on my shoulder and starts to close her eyes.

I will also say that during those early days of motherhood, when I felt like I was never sure about what I was doing, singing her that song every night made me feel like a good mom. It was a precious gift for both her and me.

In Conclusion

The benefits of a regular bedtime routine, fetal kick counts, and bonding with baby in pregnancy are undeniable. This bedtime ritual works beautifully paired with the Taking Cara Babies Newborn Class. With Cara’s class and a bedtime routine, you are going to be well on your way to sleeping success. To create your very own bedtime ritual, check out my Bedtime Baby Bonding Ritual Checklist.

Featured image from @brittneydeyoung

* Lawson, Andrea, et al. “The Relationship between Sleep and Postpartum Mental Disorders: A Systematic Review.” Journal of Affective Disorders, vol. 176, 2015, pp. 65-77., doi:10.1016/j.jad.2015.01.017.

* Lee, Kathryn A., and Caryl L. Gay. “Sleep in Late Pregnancy Predicts Length of Labor and Type of Delivery.” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, vol. 191, no. 6, 2004, pp. 2041-2046., doi:10.1016/j.ajog.2004.05.086.

Dr. Christine Sterling

is a board-certified ObGyn, who after her own challenging postpartum experience, committed to transforming the way we support and prepare women for the 4th trimester. For more guidance and information about pregnancy and postpartum, follow her on Instagram (and make sure to say Hi if you do!)

Dr. Christine Sterling

is a board-certified ObGyn, who after her own challenging postpartum experience, committed to transforming the way we support and prepare women for the 4th trimester. For more guidance and information about pregnancy and postpartum, follow her on Instagram (and make sure to say Hi if you do!)