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Belly Mapping

By Gail Tully

In the last months of your pregnancy, your baby’s kicks and wiggles become more certain, and more perceivable. When you lie on your back with your knees bent, your abdomen is often soft enough to feel through your skin and uterine wall to contact your baby.

Feel your baby’s contours. The womb and your belly muscles, although they are likely softer than usual at this stage, will protect your baby during your gentle but determined touch. Getting to know your baby’s shape will help you picture her position in your womb. (You can see the steps on my website,, or get a more detailed description and a template to draw in my Belly Mapping Workbook.)

Sketching your baby on paper is even more powerful than visualizing your baby in your mind’s eye. “Seeing” your baby ignites fires in your heart beyond imagination. Highly technical ultrasound scans have been shown to increase parents’ positive perceptions of their babies. Yet ultrasound is a medical tool that can either reassure or increase questions, many of which suspend bonding until the question of normalcy is answered. Another way of visualizing a baby is to have her painted right on the mother’s abdomen. Painting the baby in the position determined by the pregnant woman’s perceptions of kicks and wiggles is a bonding experience that unites the parent, partner, and family in celebration of the life within.

Let’s explore how drawing can increase bonding. Your hand moves the pencil or crayon along the curves and lines of your child. It’s as if you discover this mysterious visitor as you draw. You begin to see the image, feeling the love of creation as you draw. This is the being within, and the art expresses your hope, your wonder, your own emerging self.

Belly Mapping is a three-part process to discover your baby’s position in late pregnancy.

  1. First, draw a circle, dividing it into four areas to help you draw baby’s small parts in their proper locations. Fill in the “pie” you’ve drawn with marks to indicate the kicks, flutters, bulges, and firm, smooth areas.

  2. Sketch the baby around the circles and lines, like connecting the dots in a coloring book page. Next, put a doll over your map, and then over your belly, to visualize your baby’s actual position. Do the hands match the location of small flutters? That’s about where they should be. Put the doll’s feet where you feel the biggest kicks. Swing the doll’s back around to match the largest firm, smooth part of the baby that you feel. (An anterior placenta will mask the baby with the big, smooth placenta.)

  3. Lastly, you can describe your baby’s position with right, left, anterior, posterior or other words. Learn more in the Belly Mapping Workbook. The photos on these pages will help you see the what the finished paintings look like. But the real result is in the connection between mother and child within.

“The mother is the center of gravity for the child. Even facing outward, the child leans to Mother as the locus of perspective. From thence is the world interpreted as friendly or hostile. Pregnancy and birth is an open, sensitive period of maternal brain development. A mother’s very sense of herself can be raised or crashed by the regard in which we, her professional and social support, care for her. Hold the mother in high regard, for the perspective of all who live on the world is shaped by her beliefs” -Gail Tully

The photos on these pages will help you see the what the finished paintings look like. But the real result is in the connection between mother and child within.