Bonding with a newborn comes naturally. Physical touch like cuddling and kissing, reading stories, and singing songs all helps you and your baby get to know each other. But what about bonding with your baby before birth? You don’t have to wait until your baby is born to start bonding. You can begin bonding well before your due date arrives.
What do babies experience in the womb?
Senses develop as a baby grows. The first sense to develop is the sense of touch. The first touch receptors appear on the baby’s face at eight weeks. More touch receptors form all over their body during your pregnancy.
A baby’s hearing begins to develop around 18 weeks of age. At first, the baby can hear sounds in your body. By 27 to 29 weeks, they can hear sounds outside of your body, including your voice.
Their sense of smell, taste, and sight all develop before birth.
Babies develop touch receptors early on, but they don’t feel pain until around 24 weeks. Until then, they don’t have the connections needed to send signals from the sensory nerves to the brain.
Can Your Emotions Affect Your Baby?
Up to 10% of pregnant women will experience depression. Without treatment, women are at a greater risk of developing postpartum depression — or PPD. Depression during pregnancy increases the risk of complications like miscarriage, preterm birth, and low birth weight.
Ways to bond with your baby during pregnancy
There are many ways to bond with your baby during pregnancy. Do what feels comfortable and natural for you and your baby.
Massage Your Baby Bump
Massaging your belly can feel good. Rubbing lotion onto your skin can keep your skin soft and hydrated. Belly massages can be good for your baby. A 2015 study looked at 23 women in their second and third trimesters while they talked, rubbed their bellies, and did nothing. The researchers found with sonograms that the babies were most active during activities involving touch.
Sing and Talk to Your Baby
Talking and singing to your baby is a great way to bond. An unborn baby may recognize their mother’s voice. A baby actively listens to their mother’s voice in the last 10 weeks of pregnancy.
You can sing lullabies, read books out loud, and talk to your baby. You may find that you enjoy talking to your little one.
Some people believe that playing classical music to an unborn baby can increase intelligence. But, studies found no link between the two.
Some research shows that newborns do recognize music regularly played to them while in the womb.
Do Something to Relax
Taking a bath, doing prenatal yoga, or going for a walk can help you relax. Not only is relaxing good for your health but it’s also good for your baby. Relaxing activities improve your overall mental state, which has a positive impact on your baby.
As you relax, you can talk or sing to your baby.
Keep an Ultrasound Picture Nearby
Keeping an ultrasound picture of your baby nearby can help your pregnancy feel more real.
How a father can bond with the baby during pregnancy
There’s plenty a father can do to bond with an unborn baby:
- Sing with mom
- Read to the baby
- Introduce the baby to the voices of other family members
- Massage mom’s belly
- Create a music playlist and play it for the baby
- Go to appointments with mom
- Take classes together
- Carry a picture of the ultrasound
- Buy an item to share with the child after they’re born
When to see a doctor
Bonding with your unborn baby should be a pleasant and joyful experience. If you had depression or anxiety before pregnancy, or you begin to notice different feelings, you should make an appointment with your doctor. You should schedule an appointment if you experience signs of depression, like:
- Overwhelming sadness, worthlessness, or hopelessness
- Losing interest in your favorite activities
- Crying for no reason
Your doctor can go over your symptoms and help you get treatment to ensure you and your baby’s health.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Healthy Children: “When can my unborn baby hear me? I’d love to be able to read and sing to them.”
The Journal of Perinatal & Neonatal Nursing: “Relaxation during pregnancy: what are the benefits for mother, fetus, and the newborn? A systematic review of the literature.”
Paediatrics & Child Health: “Depression in pregnant women and mothers: How children are affected.”
Parents: “Eight Ways Dad-to-Be Can Bond with Baby Now.”
PLOS ONE: “Fetal Behavioral Responses to Maternal Voice and Touch,” “Prenatal Music Exposure Induces Long-Term Neural Effects.”
Pregnancy, Birth & Baby: “Bonding with your baby during pregnancy.”
Sanford Health: “Will listening to music pregnant make your baby smarter?”
University of Washington: “While in womb, babies begin learning language from their mothers.”
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