Commitment: Why did you write this book?
Ame Mahler Beanland and Emily Miles Terry: Postcards from the Bump is the book we wished we'd had when we were pregnant. We read all the usual books with our bumps that told us what to do, what not to do, what to eat, what can go wrong—so many of them had cautionary tones that left us anxious and often scared.
We wrote a book that simply puts the focus on the baby and through comfort and connection spotlights the amazing experience of pregnancy as opposed to the process.
Commitment: What is a postcard from the bump?
Ame and Emily: A postcard from your bump is simply your baby's way of communicating with you--"I'm a kicker, I'm a snuggler, I'm sleepy, I love Indian food, I like to flip..." It's just a fun way to imagine what that little one you're carrying is going to be like.
Commitment: What questions about pregnancy do you hope your book answers for pregnant women?
Ame and Emily: We answer many questions about pregnancy such as how hormones come into play, what your baby experiences of the outside world at different stages and most importantly, why it's so important for you to seek comfort and ease during your pregnancy.
The science and research aspects are tempered with advice, insight and wisdom from other moms. We hope Postcards from the Bump will inspire moms not to question themselves so much but to trust their instincts and listen with confidence to their bodies and their babies.
Commitment: What new and unconventional way do you hope your book allows women to think about their pregnancy?
Ame and Emily: To realize that all those bumps, kicks, cravings and hiccups aren't just developmental milestones but very telling clues as to your baby's personality—they hold key information in getting to know your little one from the inside out rather than waiting for the birth day.
Commitment: What suggestions do you have mothers-to-be who want to make sure they are not missing out on these 'postcards'?
Ame and Emily: Just pay attention, maybe keep a little journal, jot notes on a calendar, our book actually has places throughout for moms to make notes--it's as simple as noticing what's going on right under your nose!
Commitment: What do pregnant women need to pay attention to in order to receive these 'postcards'?
Ame and Emily: The movements—when is your baby active, when is he quiet; the food cravings; it's especially fun to notice things that you may be newly drawn to since you've been pregnant like music, foods, smells, books, movies—all make for cherished recollections that your baby will love to hear about when she's older.
Commitment: How did you both discover these 'postcards' in your own pregnancies?
Ame and Emily: Hindsight obviously comes into play because you need the baby/child behavior to compare to the bump observations you recall.
In a conversation that really got us excited about doing this book Emily was saying how much she already knew about her 3rd child Miles when he was born. When family members commented on how Miles didn't seem bothered by their dog Willy's loud barking, Emily remarked, "He's heard Willy barking for months now--he's used to it."
On the flip side Ame's son Luke is very distressed when their dog Buster barks because Buster hardly ever barks. Ame recalled an incident "one day I was sitting on the couch while I was pregnant with Luke and Buster had his head on my bump. The doorbell rang and Buster barked and I'll never forget feeling my baby actually 'jump' inside my belly. I teased my neighbor that she'd 'woken up the baby.' To this day Luke gets upset when Buster barks."
Commitment: Can you share with us your own pregnancy experiences, and how you both bonded and learned about your own baby while still pregnant?
Ame: "I kept a 'While We Were Waiting for You' Journal when I was pregnant with my first. It was just a fun way to think about how she was along for the ride and how I'd some day share with her all the places she'd been."
Emily: "I loved to sit in the nursery and read to my bumps. I collected children's books for their library and just couldn't wait to read them to them as babies and children. I have to say they all love the books that I read to them when I was pregnant."
Commitment: Your book offers many great suggestions on how to bond with your baby before birth.Can you share with us some interesting and creative ways to bond with your baby while still pregnant?
Ame and Emily: Postcards from the Bump is chock-full of ways to connect with your bump, from "Taking Your Bump on Date" to explore playgrounds and museums he will soon be joining you in visiting, there are tips for drawing Daddy into the circle by having him read or sing, creating a little nickname for your bump is a wonderful way to bond, reading about his or her astrological sign is a fun way to ponder your new little star, etc. You can "share" things you love with your bump like music, foods, even scents. When you realize that all your babies senses are engaged—touch develops first, they begin to hear as early as 16 weeks, and research shows they can taste, smell and see in utero--it's exciting to consider how much of the world they have truly already experiencing long before birth.
Commitment: How do babies leave clues to their personalities?
Ame and Emily: Activity levels of babies before birth really seem to correlate to activity levels on the outside. Busy babies in the belly are usually active people! Many mothers claim that foods they craved when pregnant are favorite foods of their children. We offer up a whimsical view of cravings by asking if maybe the baby's creating those demands.
One mother's postcard is about how her 2nd child hiccuped seemingly endlessly in her belly and that baby is now a little girl who loves to giggle and is still prone to hiccups. She thinks her daughter was cracking herself up from the very beginning.
Commitment: How can a woman make her pregnancy into a joyful, fun, bonding experience, not a burden to wait out?
Ame and Emily: Pregnancy is one of the most natural of experiences and while you do have to adapt, it's not a condition, disability or cause for extreme changes in who you are and what you like to do. You are not alone--when you consider that you are sharing this adventure with that little person on the inside, that can be very motivating to make it a happy and positive experience for you both.
Commitment: Do you think most women are enjoying their pregnancies or somehow missing out on this amazing experience?
Ame and Emily: Pregnancy is a moody experience--you have good days and you have bad days--that's life--but what matters is that you do your best to push through (pun intended!), savor the good things and accentuate the positives.
Commitment: How can a woman stop wishing away the experience, and get in the moment to enjoy her pregnancy?
Ame and Emily: Keep perspective. We know at times it feels like you've been pregnant for years but it is temporary--no one's ever been pregnant forever.
Commitment: Can you tell us a little about "The Cat in the Hat study" and what it revealed about babies inside the womb?
Ame and Emily: "The Cat in the Hat Study" confirms the evidence of "prenatal memory." The authors of the study, Drs. Anthony DeCasper and William Fifer, had pregnant women read Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat twice a day to their bumps for the last six weeks of their pregnancy. Soon after birth, they played a variety of audiotapes to the newborns that corresponded to pacifier-like nipples. After a few trials the little suckers figured out exactly where, and at what rate, to suck in order to tune in to the sound of their mother’s voice reading The Cat in the Hat as opposed to the recordings of strangers’ voices reading another book.
Commitment: What are some things that can help a mother get through her pregnancy with ease?
Ame and Emily: Pregnancy is the ultimate excuse to baby yourself--you are feeling good for two. Eat well to not only fuel your baby, but to stabilize your moods and keep your energy up--we have lots of easy, delicious recipes for meals and snacks and stay hydrated.
Use your knocked-up status to indulge—get pedicures, treat yourself to pregnancy massages, invest in a great looking pair of maternity jeans, go out with your girlfriends, take naps—milk that 9 months for all it's worth!
Commitment: What tips and ideas do you have for Moms who want to journal and scrapbook about their pregnancy?
Ame and Emily: Just do it and keep it simple. If you make it too complicated or formal you may not make time--that's one of the reasons we put so many places for note writing in Postcards from the Bump. We wanted to make it simple for busy moms to keep a record of their experiences. It's fun to take snapshots, save ultrasounds, collect ticket stubs, even candy wrappers of favorite cravings and simply tuck them into the book. Invite others in your life to share their feelings and good wishes too.
Commitment: What are some themes and creative ways to journal their experience?
Ame and Emily: Make little home movies, write song lyrics, create a collage piece of art, develop recipes around cravings--anything you can do to celebrate and commemorate your pregnancy makes for great traditions and family history.
Commitment: Does playing 'Mozart' to one's unborn baby increase their intelligence?
Ame and Emily: We aren't as concerned about the intelligence factor as the bonding factor in sharing music with your baby--regardless of genre. A fascinating story we share in the book is about conductor and inspirational speaker Boris Brott who claimed that he recognized symphonies that his mother, a professional cellist, played while pregnant with him.
While most moms can’t claim to be professional cellists, many are now choosing a theme song to sway to regularly on their MP3 players with the hope that familiar music can be a source of comfort, and a way of connecting, to their baby after he’s born.
Although scientists don’t know exactly how much of a song or symphony your baby might be able to hear in the womb, many mothers claim that when their newborns hear “their song” they get still and appear to listen deeply.
Commitment: What suggestions do you have for mothers-to-be who are decorating a nursery and trying to create a cozy little nest for their newborn?
Ame and Emily: It will be years before your baby can appreciate the virtues of toile versus Disney characters--so keep it simple and comfortable. Make it a place you want to hang out in—a quiet, peaceful retreat. We offer up ideas such as framing family photos, matting an ultrasound and having family and friends sign the matte, get siblings in on the act to create a special piece of art for baby brother or sister, create a fun family tree and display it, spell out your baby's name on tiny ts using iron-on transfers and hang them on a ribbon clothesline over her crib—we are big fans of making it personal--spending time creating, not just shopping.
Commitment: Any decorating suggestions for the nursery?
Ame and Emily: Have fun with it and go for transitional themes that can grow and age well along with your baby to get the most for your money. We have a whole section called "Grasping at Stars: Who Will Your Bump Be?" where we give decor ideas based on your baby's astrological sign for some non-traditional inspiration.
Commitment: What items make the difference?
Ame and Emily: The best investment is a comfy chair for rocking, nursing, feeding and reading--you'll spend a lot of time in it over the years to come so keep fabrics neutral, easy to clean and go for the best quality you can afford. Don't forget practical details like a little table for your water glass, a reading light, and music is always a nice touch.
Commitment: Do you think the food cravings mothers have come from the mother, or the baby?
Ame and Emily: Who really knows what came first—the chick jonesing for some ice-cream or a little egg with a demanding sweet tooth? We like to put the shoe on the tinier foot and blame it on the bump when we succumb to that tub of Ben and Jerry's Chubby Hubby.
Commitment: What are some ideas for a new kind of 'happy hour for the pregnant chick'?
Ame and Emily: Barstools can be precarious for bumps so we suggest you rally your girls and start some new traditions together--"Mommy and Tea" time at a cafe, regular pedicure appointments followed by dinner, cooking classes, movies, yoga, knitting, or take up learning to play poker—it's a fun time to explore your friendships in a new way.
Commitment: How can a mother-to-be enlist the support of her friends?
Ame and Emily: Being pregnant should not alienate friendships--on the contrary a bump is reason to celebrate, lean on one another and bond over a life-changing experience. Reassure your girlfriends that you won't go into "bored on bump" syndrome--be sensitive to friends who aren't in the family way and give them time, baby-free conversations and considerate attention and most likely they will reciprocate two-fold--most people love to baby a mama.
Once the baby arrives, be a grateful recipient of all those offers of goodwill. We have a section called, "Since You Asked," (page 170) to help you graciously field that question, "How can I help?" And we have a fun sidebar on the "5 Friends Every New Mom Needs" (page 158) to illustrate how different friends meet different needs to build that circle of support and community.
Commitment: Any suggestions on how to deal with nausea?
Ame and Emily: We have a great section in Postcards from the Bump called "A Bumpy Start: For Those about to Hurl" (page 60) that addresses nausea specifically.
Some of the tips we've gleaned from our own experience, other moms and doctors include eating smaller meals and moderating your hunger as well as not overeating, getting plenty of rest (research shows that being overtired exacerbates nausea), natural anti-nausea substances like lemon, ginger and peppermint in the form of hard candies can be lifesavers. Hydration is also key in mitigating nausea and when all else fails, consult with your doctor--there are medications that can help nausea in severe cases.
To Purchase Postcards from The Bump click here.
About the Authors: Ame Mahler Beanland and Emily Miles Terry are columnists and the New York Times best-selling coauthors of Nesting and It's A Chick Thing.