The thought of bonding with someone you’ve never met may feel difficult, or maybe exciting. All sorts of feelings are normal in pregnancy. Whether you’re a mum or dad, there are ways to try to build a bond with your baby while they’re still in the womb.
Babies growing in the womb will begin to hear mum’s heart beating and belly rumbling around 18 weeks into the term. By 26 weeks or so, they can hear your voice and the sounds around you (at about half the volume at which you hear it). By the time a baby with functional hearing is born, they will already be familiar with at least mum’s voice.
You and your loved ones can talk directly to the baby in the belly. It may not feel like a conversation, but your little one is already picking up on the language and the sound of your voices. Singing can also be a lovely way to feel bonded with your baby. Try choosing a particular song to sing throughout pregnancy and sing it to your baby once they’re in the world – you’ll already be making memories and positive associations.
An ultrasound can help a pregnancy feel ‘real’. Seeing that your baby has little hands and feet can help you realize they’re soon to be a little human you can meet! You might like to frame a photo of the ultrasound and place it somewhere you can see often.
Tracking your bump can be a nice way to take a time-out to think about your baby. It also makes a beautiful keep-sake and could be nice to show your child when they’re grown up. Set a time each week to take a side-on photo of your belly.
Mum and baby will feel each other well before they see each other. When you feel kicks, try rubbing back. Belly rubs are an awesome way to help a partner bond with an unborn baby. Find a nourishing body cream and encourage anyone wanting to bond with your baby to massage your belly and gently feel for parts of the baby (if you’re comfortable being massaged, of course).
Allow yourself to feel whatever pregnancy makes you feel. Some of your emotions may be negative – that’s okay. Talk to trusted loved ones about the way you’re feeling. Share your excitement, confide in your anxiety. It’s not always easy being pregnant, so don’t beat yourself up for not always feeling happy and radiant.
If you’d rather not share some feelings, try keeping a journal or writing whenever you’re experiencing a strong emotion. If you’re struggling emotionally for an extended period, check-in with your GP or therapist.
Some parents feel instantly connected to their unborn baby. Some parents don’t feel a bond until their baby is born or even sometime after. Some parents take a while to feel truly bonded with their baby after they’ve met. Don’t panic. Every relationship is different. If you find it difficult to bond with your baby for an extended period, you may want to consult with your GP or therapist.
Becoming a parent is about learning and patience. Just like with any stranger, it can take time to get to know one another. Be kind to yourself – your little one will be all grown up before you know it!