A Guide to Bonding With Your Baby (Even Before it’s Born!)Luke Coutinho
All women are different and therefore become different mothers. Different isn’t a bad thing in itself. There is nothing like the perfect mother, contrary to what society would like you to believe.
Some women have strong maternal instincts, they easily bond with their children. It comes naturally to them. However, this might take longer for some other women, especially young and new moms-to-be.
Most young women feel a sense of intimidation by the idea of feeling connected to their children. Similarly, a lot of fathers might find it difficult to connect with their baby, especially while it’s still in the mother’s womb. It is easier to bond with someone when you physically can see them. This is because you can physically pick them up, hug them, cuddle with them, play with them, and so on. Also, we often have thoughts like, “Will I be a good parent?”, “Will I be able to take care of my child?”, “What if I am unable to comfort my baby?”, “How will I know what my baby needs?” or “What if my baby doesn’t like me?”
One may even come to a point where they start questioning their self-worth if they don’t feel that instant connection or bonding with the baby. These kinds of thoughts are very common and are sure to cross the mind of any parent at least once during pregnancy.
Parenting begins long before the actual delivery of the much-awaited baby. Babies can see, hear, feel, think, and even respond when they’re still in their mother’s wombs. The connection that parents make with their baby during this time helps ease into the bonding the child is born with.
This not only helps the baby to have a stronger emotional and physical bond with you but also helps in the baby’s overall development. A strong connection with the parent helps the baby to release hormones and chemicals in the brain that encourage rapid brain growth while the child is in the womb. This supports better learning, bodily growth, and helps in developing self-confidence and a healthy emotional quotient, later in life.
What To Do:
Here are a few fun and effective ways in which you can develop a healthy bond with your baby.
- Massage the Belly
We’ve all experienced the magical power of the human touch. When you have physical contact with another person, even if it’s a gentle touch on the arm, it can be very soothing and reassuring. Physical touch also helps to release oxytocin, which can help the baby feel a sense of security and comfort. Similarly, when you gently touch the abdomen, it is very soothing for your baby. Every evening, gently massage the belly in smooth and circular motions. You can apply some shea butter or olive oil during the massage to take care of the stretch marks simultaneously.
- Talk to your Baby
It has been established that babies develop hearing at 23 weeks of gestation. As you massage your belly, talk to your baby in a calm and soft voice. Tell your baby how your day was. Spare them the rough parts though! Tell them how excited you are about the pregnancy process and that you look forward to holding the baby in your arms soon. Tell them about who all are waiting eagerly to meet them and shower them with their immense love. Fathers and mothers alike, can talk to their babies about all the wonderful activities they plan to do together as they grow up. Babies learn to register familiar voices so well that hearing a new language from a familiar person’s voice may get you responses such as movement, kicking, change in heart rate, and so on.
Talking to the baby in your native language even when the baby is still in the womb will help to expand your baby’s linguistic skills in the years to come. So, talk to them in all the different languages you are fluent in and you wish for them to grasp, later in life.
Pick a nickname for your baby and talk to them using the nickname. Once they are familiar with it, you will see that they actually react to it every time you call out to them using that name.
- Read a Story
Children love to be read to. This drives their sense of imagination and excitement. The same is true for unborn babies. You can look up your own childhood favorites or explore new stories and read them every night.
Meditation helps to rewire and unclutter your mind. It brings a sense of peace and tranquility, and also reduces anxiety.
Meditate every morning with your hands on your belly to transcend this feeling of calmness to the baby.
Singing is a fantastic and ‘feel good’ activity. Good singers and especially bad singers experience a rush of endorphins, also known as happy hormones when they sing aloud. Listening to some peppy music helps you release endorphins.
When you feel happy, your baby feels happy. Singing lullabies is the best thing you should do to comfort your baby and to coax it into a deep slumber. At six months, your fetus can respond to music! Soft music helps your baby relax.
You might find that your baby reacts with a sense of familiarity when you sing the same lullabies to them later once they’re born. This can become their bedtime routine and they’ll get into the rhythm of falling asleep every time you sing to them. You can even make up your own songs, chant mantras, and use the baby’s name in it for that added personal touch.
- Maintaining a Pregnancy Journal
Record the first date of conception. Your first ultrasound. Save the picture of your first scan. Record when you felt the first kick. You could let this continue into the growing years where you record all your child’s milestones. You would definitely love to reminisce about these memories as parents once they are all grown up. They will cherish these memories later in their lives, too. You can also write letters to your baby every month, expressing how you feel and how excited you are to see it growing. Pour your heart out and mention everything you wish to tell your baby.
- Belly Art
Drawing pictures and figures on your belly is another way of capturing your pregnancy memories. You can draw yourself, coax the father, or hire an artist to draw what you like on your belly. Take a picture to share with your baby later. Be careful to choose and use non-toxic paints only.
- Positive Affirmations
Positive affirmations are a good way to prepare your mind to accept and appreciate the journey you’re on. When you are open and accepting about the pregnancy on an emotional level, bonding with your baby will seem natural. Try reciting these affirmations with belief:
– “I am ready and I welcome this new change and responsibility”
– “I am capable of taking care of my baby”
– “I will keep my mind free from negative thoughts about pregnancy and labor”
– “I will remain happy and content even in stressful situations”
– “I can always reach out for help and I am blessed with a support system”
– “I am sending positive vibrations to my baby to grow well and have a smooth delivery”
All the above affirmations need to be repeated by the parents-to-be together.
More often than not, it might come easier for the mother to bond with her baby as she nourishes and carries the baby in the womb for all those months. Some fathers might need a little more time and help to feel a genuine connection with their unborn baby.
Here are a few added things that fathers can do to strengthen their bond with their babies.
- Attend antenatal workshops with your spouse to understand how to take care of the baby’s basic needs and be a part of the journey.
- Accompany the mother on her gynecologist visits, for the ultrasound, and follow-up appointments. This will also help you appreciate what your partner is dealing with and share her experience. This will also foster a sense of security towards your partner and your efforts will show her how important she and your baby are to you.
- Exercise is very important for a smooth pregnancy. Encourage your wife to go out for a walk and join her for a nice stroll. Your wife will love your support in it and will feel safe while stepping out, which she otherwise might be cautious about doing.
- Tech-savvy dads can create a time-lapse video of the pregnancy and click pictures of your wife every week or two to record the changes in the belly’s size.
- Communication is KEY to everything. Talk to your partner about how she is feeling. Let her know how you feel. If you feel anxious and worried about the journey, let her know. She might just feel better knowing that she is not the only one who feels a certain way or has certain concerns. It’s sometimes good to know that you can be vulnerable with your partner without the fear of being judged. It only goes to show that you are both in the same boat and will be there for each other.
Strengthening your relationship during these crucial months by communicating honestly with each other will ensure a smoother post-pregnancy journey, as well. Remember to always reach out when you need assistance. Talk to other parents who share similar lifestyles and mentality as you about their experiences before and after pregnancy.
- Source good pregnancy support groups and consider joining them.
- Read blogs that give you more positive than negative, and useful information. Steer clear of anything that seems to be unrealistic or too negative.
- Identify your true desire behind having the baby. Build a mental movie in your subconscious mind. Mothers have the power to get what they desire if done with clarity.
All this will help you develop insight into pregnancy and hopefully make you feel more at ease.
What To “Not” Do
While we focus on things that we must do to bond with the baby in the womb, we must also take care that we avoid things that can harm the baby and affect the bonding.
Here are a few things to ponder on even before having a baby.
-Do not focus on what you do not want. This way you get into conception with fear and confuse your subconscious mind. It has a very negative impact on you and your baby.
-Even before the conception, the parents must have an open conversation and define their boundaries and roles. You do not want to discuss this when you have already given birth to a baby and now have your child growing up in a toxic environment. It is unfair for the partners to try to change each other after the baby is born and hence this needs to be worked upon pre-conception.
-Remember, everything that the mother hears, including foul words or hurtful things, is also getting embedded into the subconscious mind of the baby in the womb.
-Every argument, fight, and emotional stress impacts not just the mother’s health but also deeply affects the unborn baby, causing distress.
-Fix your problems, fights, attitudes, temper beforehand. As parents, it is your job to bring love, attention, comfort, and safety to your kids.
Parents should spend time going over these points because it is a part of family planning even before you decide your pregnancy shoots, baby showers, hospitals, mother care products, etc. All of the latter is secondary and will come and go. Your first priority should be to make your home a peaceful abode for the baby to be born into. Here’s wishing you the very best.
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