Laila Ali: Pregnancy's A Bonding Time

Is pregnancy all about the mom-to-be? Or can it bring you closer to your significant other?

Laila Ali, who's expecting a boy, says it can indeed bring you closer -- and the daughter of Muhammad Ali, champion of health and fitness, athlete, and Early Show contributor offered advice Wednesday on how to make it happen:

Laila's Suggestions On Things You And Your Partner Can Do To Bond During Your Pregnancy

Exercise together: Taking long walks is particularly good for bonding and for your health

Walking together every day will force the two of you to bond. It will be quality time for the both of you and keep mom exercising.

Exercise can make you feel better. At a time when you wonder if this strange body can possibly be yours, exercise can increase your sense of control and boost your energy level. Not only does it make you feel better by releasing endorphins (naturally occurring chemicals in your brain), appropriate exercise can:

Relieve backaches and improve your posture by strengthening and toning muscles in your back, butt, and thighs

Reduce constipation by accelerating movement in your intestine prevent wear and tear on your joints (which become loosened during pregnancy due to normal hormonal changes) by activating the lubricating fluid in your joints

Help you sleep better by relieving the stress and anxiety that might make you restless at night look better.

Exercise increases the blood flow to your skin, giving you a healthy glow.

Regain your pre-pregnancy body more quickly: You'll gain less fat weight during your pregnancy if you continue to exercise (assuming you exercised before becoming pregnant). But don't expect or try to lose weight by exercising while you're pregnant. For most women, the goal is to maintain their fitness level throughout pregnancy.

Massage: Have the baby's father give you a massage or get a couple's massage

Before Birth:

Back pain is extremely common in pregnancy (as well as during the period of breastfeeding, or having to carry small children). It can be relieved by massage to the whole of the back area, the neck, legs, and feet, and by gentle stroking of the abdomen.

Poor circulation also affects many pregnant women, and can be helped by a general body massage, which stimulates and improves the blood flow throughout the body.

Leg massage, stroking from the ankles up toward the thighs, can help relax the body, relieve pain and reduce swelling in the legs (but avoid working directly over varicose veins).

For women who develop problems sleeping, the soothing effects of massage can help relax and calm. Some pregnant women claim that lightly massaging the abdomen can even help to send the fetus to sleep.

In addition to relaxing and soothing away physical symptoms, massage can be a wonderful way of including your partner and children in the course of your pregnancy.

Pregnant women should check with their physician before having a massage. In cases in which the physician recommends that the lower back and abdomen area should be avoided, massage the face, hands, arms, and feet to assist in relaxation.

When And How To Massage:

Although some schools recommend avoiding massage during the first three months of pregnancy, many women find gentle massage throughout their pregnancy to be very beneficial.

When massaging a pregnant woman you must be very gentle, particularly on the abdomen and lower back.

Avoid using deep pressure and percussive strokes.

Decorate the nursery together -- let him be part of the process!

Bottom line, this is going to be a room that you and your husband or partner spend a lot of time in. It will be almost like another family room and everyone should feel comfortable there. Even if your husband or partner isn't as into home makeovers as you are, try to find something that might entice him or her to get involved. Whether it's setting up the ideal sound system to lull baby to sleep, configuring the nursery monitor, or maybe just offering an opinion on the furnishings, find something for your better half to get inspired by and become a part of the process.

Register for baby gifts and, if you feel comfortable, have your partner help shop for baby clothes

Mom has read potentially read a lot about what is going to be expected when a new mother. She learns from friends, books, family what she will need and what she won't. Her better half needs to know too. Registering for baby gifts gives the opportunity for both individuals to learn the latest in baby care. It may be a good idea for you and your significant other to talk to people who have actually had babies to get a good feel for what both of you will actually need or want. (You don't want to end up with a bunch of baby gifts you'll never use!)

Take a Baby-Moon

This one-to-three day trip before the birth of your first child doesn't have to be far from home but the experience of getting away from it all is truly unforgettable. Let's face it, your lives are about to change forever and it will be hard to find some couple bonding time. Why not take it now while your lives are still your own?

Choose a name for your child

This is an extremely emotional bonding experience. Why not go by yourselves a couple of books-and see how first names go with your last name. Use it as a way to relax and brainstorm ideas. Enjoy it and have fun!