When we talk about bonding with baby, we think of those early moments together; when your newborn is placed on your chest for the first time, making that slightly blurry yet incredible eye contact with each other, enjoying the wonderfully tight infant grip around your finger, and all those precious snuggles in between. Of course these physical bonding moments are so important once baby arrives, but bonding with your baby actually starts much earlier than that. The importance of early bonding and its benefit on your child’s emotional health is well researched, and the stronger the parent-child bond, the better the child’s long term health outcomes (emotional, social, cognitive – you name it!). But the foundations of that bond are first formed while baby is still in the womb; something called in-utero bonding.
Of course, baby bump bonding isn’t the same for every mom-to-be, because pregnancy isn’t one size fits all. Some moms feel the connection to their baby as soon as they find out they’re pregnant, for others it grows with their burgeoning bump, and for some that connection can be tough to establish while baby is still in the womb. Regardless of where you stand on that early connection, it’s really important to try and foster the in-utero bond between you and baby. It boils down to this: your emotional attachment to baby during pregnancy has a big impact on your emotional attachment to baby once he or she is born, which plays a big role in your child’s psychological health down the line – and your mental health after birth.
The same goes for your partner’s relationship with baby too! It may not be surprising, but we’ll say it anyway: you don’t need to have a baby growing in your uterus to be a part of in-utero bonding. In fact, for the non-pregnant partner, it’s often a lot harder to feel that early connection to baby because they physically don’t have a human growing inside of them (oh, if only we could trade places every now and then…). You can definitely find creative ways for both of you to bond with baby while pregnant, helping support stronger relationships (parent-child and parent-parent!) from the start. To help you get started, we have our top 5 ways to bond with baby in the womb.
But before we dive into those we want to say one thing: it’s OK if you don’t feel that indescribable, unconditional attachment to your growing baby right away; just as it’s OK if you do! Our hormones make us feel all kinds of things, and it’s no indication of how ‘good’ you are as a mom – because you’re already the best mom for your baby. Now, to help you make that in-utero bond even stronger, check out these top 5 tips.
- Practice mindfulness – mindfulness meditation is all about being aware of your experiences in the present moment. It’s a great way to calm your body, build a confident sense of control, improve clarity, and it can be an opportunity for you to bond with your baby as well. Try spending a few minutes in a mindful state every day if you can, and bring your thoughts to your bump and the growing child inside of you. Let everything else slip away, and focus on your breath, your body, and your baby.
- For your partner: If they are willing to try meditation as well, have them practice visualizations – another meditative relaxation technique. Have them visualize your growing baby, holding your child for the first time, and looking into baby’s eyes.
- Use your voice – talking to baby can not only help strengthen the connection you feel, but after about 20 weeks, she or he can actually start to hear your voice (it will be muffled of course). Newborns show an affinity towards their mother’s voice naturally, because they’re so used to hearing it after so many months in your womb. You can read a book out loud to baby, talk about what happened during your day, or share all the things you’re looking forward to once he or she arrives.
- For your partner: They can get in on the action too! Make it a nightly ritual where you both talk to baby, and enjoy a bonding moment together.
- Look at pictures – of course right now all you have are ultrasound (or even 3D) scans, but keeping those close can really make a difference! Looking regularly at updated ultrasounds will help the baby in your belly thing feel even more real, and you might even start to pick out defining features of baby’s face, and take a guess at who he or she resembles most.
- For your partner: If you can, make going for ultrasound scans something you do together – as it can be a really powerful experience to ‘see’ baby for the first time. They can also keep a small copy of any ultrasound scans on their work desk, in their wallet, or somewhere where they can see it on a regular basis.
- Emphasize touch – mid-way through your second trimester you’ll start to feel baby move, and she or he will keep moving around in there until the very end! Focus on connecting with his or her movements – if you feel a kick or a baby bum pressing out, gently press back against your bump to build on that physical connection with your little one.
- For your partner: It’s amazing when you both feel those first flutters, but as you become well-accustomed to the flips and flops of baby’s movements, it can be easy to forget to have your partner feel for it too. Show them how the movements change from flutters, to flips, to kicks and punches, and eventually wiggles when they get too big to do anything else.
- Put a name to it (well, to him or her!) – even if you don’t have a name picked out yet – and even if you don’t know the gender – try giving your growing baby a nickname that you can connect to. Naming something immediately increases our attachment to it – and we’re sure you can come up with something fitting for the time being.
- For your whole family: Giving baby a nickname in the womb can be great for your partner and if you have other kids too. It’s an easy and fun way for everyone to start bonding with baby before he or she arrives.
This post is sponsored by Stokke UK.