What comes to mind when you think about bonding with your baby?
Chances are it’s those early moments together; when your newborn is placed on your chest for the first time, making that slightly (OK, very) blurry eye contact, and the heart-melting feeling of a tiny infant grip wound around your finger.
These early bonding moments are so important in developing your baby’s sense of safety and attachment, and the stronger the parent-child bond, the better the child’s long term mental health outcomes (emotional, social, cognitive — you name it!). And on top of that, skin to skin bonding offers a crazy amount of physical benefits to you and baby as well.
But bonding with your little one can actually start long before you give birth, it’s called in-utero bonding.
Now, one thing we want to address: in-utero 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. It has nothing to do with how good of a mom you’ll be, and everything to do with #hormones making us feel all kinds of ways…
But regardless of where you find yourself, it’s healthy to try and foster the in-utero bond between you and baby for this reason:
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! 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. To help you both get started, we’ve got 5 easy ways to start bonding with baby in the womb.
5 Ways You & Your Partner Can Practice In-Utero Bonding
- Take a meditative approach — you’ve heard us (and everyone else) talk about mindfulness meditation before. It’s a great way to calm your body, build a confident sense of control, improve clarity, and you can use it for in-utero bonding! 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 (or at least a muffled version). Newborns show an affinity towards their mother’s voice, 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 if you have other children you can bring them in on the family bonding, too.
- Look at pictures – You may only have an early stage ultrasound or even 3D scans, but keeping those close can 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, try to attend ultrasound scans together – as it can be a really powerful experience to ‘see’ baby for the first time, and to learn what to look for.
- Emphasize touch – mid-way through your second trimester you’ll start to feel baby move, and that will persist right up until childbirth. 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 that physical connection with your little one.
- For your partner: It’s amazing when you 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 an endearing nickname that you can connect to. Naming something immediately increases our attachment to it.
- 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. You may all have your own nicknames picked out, and it will be interesting to see what sticks once he or she arrives!
For daily updates on baby’s development during pregnancy (and after birth!) be sure to check your Daily Bites on the Baby2Body app.