Oh, baby! The things that are done to a pregnant belly. Color it. Cast it. Festoon it with tattoos.
While some women count the days until their stomach flattens, others celebrate the magnificent baby bump.
Henna art designs are a fun way to dress up those big shiny orbs.
"It's kind of like the frosting on a cake," said henna artist and doula Serena O'Dwyer.
She draws intricate designs using a natural paste from the henna plant. The brownish stain darkens, then fades away within a few weeks.
"I can put glitter on top of it to spice things up a bit," she said.
Henna art is part of O'Dwyer's doula package for expectant moms.
"There are quite a few doulas who do henna," she said. "It helps us understand where a woman is at in her journey while we are pampering them."
It's also a female bonding thing.
"I do lots of baby showers where I do the mom and I'll do the guests," O'Dwyer said.
"I have clients do an Internet search or just browse my gallery and have them pick some of their favorites so that I can kind of merge the designs into something unique for them."
The art typically is done a month or so before the due date, though some women wait until close to delivery to enhance their bare tummy for labor photos.
While henna is fleeting, belly casts are forever.
The three-dimensional sculptures can be made from do-it-yourself kits or fabricated by an artist. It's a gooey process involving plaster gauze strips, lubricants, rubber gloves, drop cloth, sealants and sponges.
The casts often are topped off with molds of bulging breasts.
The finished products are painted or decoupaged to hang on the wall or function as decorative bowls.
These keepsakes can be held over the belly for years after the baby is born as a reminder of just how much your stomach has shrunk.
From the artist
Serena O'Dwyer wrote this about the design she made on Shannon Demiter's belly:
"Shannon said she liked flowers but also really liked the idea of having a tree. She also mentioned that she thought the birds in one of my designs were super cute. I combined all the elements including three birds, representing each of her children. I also put a 'D' in the trunk of the tree for the family's last name."
From Herald Health magazine, available in the Sunday, Sept. 23, edition of The Herald.
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