Your precious pregnancy will be over before you know it – savour the experience and capture memories before your baby arrives.
Meet our expert: Dr Kerry Taylor is a clinical psychologist, specialising in parenting and parent-child attachment, brightpip.co.uk
‘Do you have your due date highlighted in your diary?’ asks clinical psychologist Dr Kerry Taylor.
‘After all, when you’re pregnant, it’s common to be preoccupied with the birth of your baby. But there’s a whole exciting chapter of your baby’s life happening right now – and you should be celebrating it.
‘What’s happening in your womb is amazing. Did you know that as early as 12 weeks, your baby’s fingers may start to move and she can make a sucking motion with her mouth?
‘Or that by 14 weeks she can pull faces and suck her thumb? And at 15 weeks she starts to hear you.
‘It’s a good idea to set aside time each day to connect with her – just five minutes thinking about her is great. But also plan some fun that will give you and your partner golden opportunities to bond with her together.
‘Pregnancy is a rollercoaster of emotions and marking this special time, and creating memories of it, will help you adjust to motherhood.
‘It is easy to underestimate the amount and complexity of different feelings and thoughts that you need to make sense of during pregnancy. Becoming a parent is a massive transition, so it’s good you’ve got nine months to adjust.
‘Research shows that the more opportunities parents-to-be have to think about their unborn baby, then the better they will adjust and cope as parents, and the stronger the bond with their baby.
‘So, planning activities to make sure this vital time happens in our busy lives is a good idea.
‘It also means you’ll spend hours with your partner, connecting over your hopes, fears and expectations and creating a shared understanding about this big step you are about to take as a couple.
‘Your baby will enjoy the fun too. She loves it when you’re cheerful, because your happy hormones pass directly to her via your placenta. Neuroscientists have found that your emotional state can even impact on your baby’s development, so it’s good for her to know that, even if there are some stresses in your life, you’re happy and relaxed.
‘These memories will stay with you as you adjust to motherhood, and also as your baby grows and grows – until the day comes when you just won’t believe you ever carried her because she’s so big.
‘And then you’ll be glad of everything you created to remember this precious time.’
Spend a day as a couple
Plan a simple celebration of your story so far – the enjoyable every-weekend bits, rather than the firework high-points. As you savour the day, make mental notes of all the little things the two of you do together – the path you take in the park, the cake you have at your favourite coffee shop, the playlist you put on when you get back home. And promise to do it all over again, exactly the same, in a few months’ time as a trio.
Have a gender date
At your 20-week anomaly scan, you may be able to find out if your bump is a boy or a girl.
Policies vary, so ask your midwife what’s possible at your local hospital. Even then, deciding if you want to know is a very personal matter. Just over half of parents decide to find out, with a higher percentage of second-time mums than first-time mums opting to know.
If you do want advance notice, then make the most of the moment you receive the exciting news.
Now we’re not talking about holding a gender-reveal party: what about taking a piece of paper, pen and an envelope along to your scan, and asking your sonographer to write down the sex of your baby without telling you? Then have a meal at your favourite restaurant, or a picnic in the park – no guests invited – and open the envelope…
The 20-week scan is a medical examination to check your baby’s development. If revealing the gender is allowed at your hospital, it’s fine to ask the sonographer to write down the sex rather than tell you, but do bear in mind the importance of the main focus of the scan.
Write a letter to your baby
Perhaps it’s all those happy hormones, but you do tend to daydream a lot when you’re pregnant.
Whether you’re zoning out in a meeting or missing the critical last five minutes of Game of Thrones, you’ll find yourself drifting off to speculate about who your baby will be and what her life will be like.
So, why not let her know how much she means to you already? Write a letter to her, telling her all about how she makes you smile when she wriggles at one o’clock in the morning, and the way she kicks back when you push down on your bump.
Explain what your dreams are for her, and make some promises. Then place the letter in an envelope and tuck it away safely for the moment way in the future when she will tell you she’s pregnant!
Send dad-to-be a thank-you card
And tell him that he’s the only man in the world you’d want to share this journey with (other than Ryan Reynolds, of course, but let’s not go there). It’s only a little thing, but it will mean a lot.
Take that seat on the bus
Even though you have the perfect excuse to take it easy when you’re pregnant, lots of women come over all Superwoman.
Bump the size of a small mammoth? No worries, you can still nip round Tesco in 10 minutes.
But by not letting others help us, we’re ignoring the fact that most people have a strong instinct to help pregnant women.
Perhaps it’s a memory of being pregnant themselves, or a reminder of a friend or family member growing a precious bump? Maybe it’s some evolutionary survival tactic? Or could it be that people are more caring than we sometimes give them credit for?
Whatever the reason, just say thank you, and feel like the VIP you truly are.
Get a sneak peak of your little one
Visit morphthing.com, where you can upload a photo of yourself and your partner. Click the ‘Morph Baby’ button, and see how your combined genes might turn out!
Go to the cinema twice in a week
Take it from us, this is one thing you won’t miss when you’re a mum, because you’ll prefer to be home with your baby. But your main reason to go right now is so you can sit through the credits to the very end – there’s no better way to find baby-name inspiration!
Paint your bump
Forget painting your nails – it’s all about bump art! Use children’s face paints, which will be gentle on your skin, and share the results.
Get creative! Last year EastEnders actress Jacqueline Jossa shared a photo on Instagram of her bump decorated as a Kinder Egg, with a baby peeping out of the top, and the caption: ‘Our little Kinder Surprise’. When she was pregnant with baby number four, Tori Spelling shared a photo of her bump decorated with the handprints of her three other children. And model Alessandra Ambrosio tweeted a photo of ‘It’s a boy!’ painted on her belly for her baby shower.