Bonding with your baby during pregnancy | Pregnancy Birth and Baby beginning of content
You don't need to wait until your baby is born to bond with them. Pregnancy can be the perfect time to start forming an attachment with your baby, which is very important for their development once your baby has actually arrived.
What might babies experience in the womb?
At around week 18 of your pregnancy, your baby will begin to hear the sounds of your body, such as your heartbeat and your stomach rumbling. At 26 weeks, a baby may react to noises both inside and outside the mother’s body, and may be soothed by the sound of her voice.
The outside noise your baby hears inside the uterus is about half the volume we hear. However, unborn babies may still startle and cry if exposed to a sudden loud noise.
After 32 weeks, your baby may start to recognise certain vowel sounds from your language. Some research suggests that very early language development may begin before birth.
As well as remembering certain sounds from their mother’s language, babies may remember certain music played to them in the womb.
Unborn babies’ retinas are developed at 20 weeks, and they open their eyes and can see light from 22 weeks. However, babies’ eyes continue to develop after they are born.
After around 18 weeks, babies like to sleep in the womb while their mother is awake, since movement can rock them to sleep. They can feel pain at 22 weeks, and at 26 weeks they can move in response to a hand being rubbed on the mother’s belly.
Ways to bond with your baby during pregnancy
Here are some things that might help you and your baby to start forming an attachment before birth.
Talk and sing to your baby, knowing he or she can hear you.
Gently touch and rub your belly, or massage it.
Respond to your baby’s kicks. In the last trimester, you can gently push against the baby or rub your belly where the kick occurred and see if there is a response.
Play music to your baby. Music that mimics a heartbeat of around 60 beats per minute, such as lullabies, is useful. You can also search online for relaxing or calming music.
Give yourself time to reflect, go for a walk or have a warm bath and think about the baby. You may like to write a diary or stories to the baby about what you are experiencing.
Have an ultrasound. Seeing your baby moving inside the womb can be a poignant experience for parents, and can help them to bond with the baby since it can suddenly seem ‘real’.
Relax, look after yourself and try not to stress. Evidence shows that if a mother feels less stressed during her pregnancy, the health outcome for the baby is better. Your partner or a close friend may be helpful if you need someone to talk to.
How dads and caregivers can bond with the baby
If you are the baby’s father or other significant caregiver, here are some things you can do to help you become attached to the unborn baby.
Massage the baby bump if the baby’s mother is happy for you to do so.
Feel the baby kicking as often as you can.
Attend ultrasound appointments with the mother.
If you’re planning to be a support person at the birth, go to the prenatal classes, as well. Understand and discuss the birth plan with the baby’s mother and meet the maternity team. The more confidence you have in the pregnancy and birth process, the easier it will be for you to bond with the baby.
Read and talk with the baby so they get used to your voice.
Talk to other parents. Share your thoughts and feelings, and allow them to share theirs about their pregnancy and birth experience.
Older siblings can bond too
By preparing your toddler or child for the upcoming birth, you can help them to bond with the baby. This may involve talking to them about the baby, reading stories about pregnancy and babies, allowing them to touch your belly to feel the baby kicking, and preparing a gift together for the baby.
You could involve your child in preparation for the birth by taking them shopping for baby supplies or setting up the nursery. Your child may also like to put a piece of their art on the wall of the baby’s room.
Your feelings and the baby
You may find that instead of being excited about the birth of your baby, you are feeling stressed and confused. Your feelings during pregnancy can affect the baby too. For example, if you are feeling stressed, the baby’s heart rate will respond to this and potentially increase.
Talk to someone about your feelings and ask questions when you see your maternity team. Try to increase your support network and meet other expectant mums to share your experiences. Try to look after your own health and wellbeing, and make sure you get enough rest and relaxation.
If you have had a mental health issue before, or you are experiencing feelings that differ from those you usually have, you should visit your doctor as soon as you can. A range of treatments can help, including psychological therapy and certain antidepressants that can be used safely during pregnancy for moderate to severe depression. Your doctor will tell you which ones are safe or suggest another way to help you.
If you were already taking an antidepressant before you became pregnant, your doctor may advise you to stay on the antidepressant. You and your doctor may decide this is the most effective way to help your baby get the best start in life and it may give you the best chance of bonding with your baby.
Where to go for help
Talk to your doctor, child health nurse or midwife.
Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby on 1800 882 436 to speak with a maternal child health nurse.
Find a parenting helpline that suits you here.
Call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.
Beyond Blue (Pregnancy and parents - depression), Beyond Blue (Pregnancy and parents - emotional health and wellbeing), Centre for Community Child Health (The First Thousand Days - an evidence paper), Raising Children Network (Pregnancy week by week - second trimester), NSW Ministry of Health (Having a baby), Centre of Perinatal Excellence (Bonding with your baby), Virtual Medical Centre (Bonding with your baby during pregnancy), Women's and Children's Health Network (Attachment – babies, young children and their parents), Developmental Psychobiology (Maternal stress responses and anxiety during pregnancy - effects on fetal heart rate), Raising Children Network (Can you spoil a baby?), Raising Children Network (Bonding and attachment: newborns), Acta Paediatrica (Language experienced in utero affects vowel perception after birth: a two country study), Baby Centre (10 ways to bond with your baby bump)
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Last reviewed: February 2021
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Bonding with your baby
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Emotional health for parents during pregnancy and after the birth
When you are pregnant, your baby is exposed to everything you experience. This includes the sounds in the environment, the air you breathe, the food you eat and the emotions you feel. When you feel happy and calm, it allows your baby to develop in a happy, calm environment. However, emotions like stress and anxiety can increase particular hormones in your body, which can affect your baby’s developing body and brain.
Read more on WA Health website
Baby movements during pregnancy
Every baby is unique and it is important for you to get to know your baby’s movement patterns.
Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website
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10 ways to bond with your baby bump
Pregnancy is just the beginning of a life-long love affair with your child. The early weeks can be tiring and stressful, and it's easy to feel a bit disconnected from your growing baby. To help prepare for your new life, spend a little time bonding with your unborn baby when you can. From attending aquanatal classes with other pregnant women, to singing lullabies to your baby bump, we've got some great tips to help you and your partner get in touch with your little one.
1. Massage your baby bump
A soothing way to bond with your unborn baby is by gently massaging your belly. This is safe to do after the first three months of pregnancy (NHS 2018a), and it's a perfect way to relax and wind down.
Many women use oils and creams in an effort to prevent stretch marks. However, there's very little evidence that moisturisers and creams work to prevent stretch marks from appearing (NHS 2019). Nonetheless, smoothing on cream or oil can certainly be a relaxing ritual for you and your growing baby, and may help to keep your skin feeling soft and supple.
An aromatherapy massage is a great way to pamper yourself. It gives you a wonderful chance to sit still and spend time thinking of, and talking to, your unborn baby. Try adding one or two drops of lavender, chamomile or ylang ylang to a nut-free carrier oil for massage. As long as your pregnancy is going well, these oils are thought to be safe to use after the first trimester. However, as with all essential oils during pregnancy, it’s best to be cautious and talk to your healthcare professional before using them.
Ask your partner if they would like to give you a massage. It may help them to share in your pregnancy more easily, and start to develop a strong bond with your unborn baby (NCT 2019).
2. Go swimming and try an aquanatal class
Swimming is a great way to take the weight off your feet, and it’s a safe and effective way for you to exercise during pregnancy (GOV.UK 2019).
It also gives you some idea of what life is like for your baby. As your baby floats in fluid too, you’ll find yourself experiencing the same feeling of weightlessness, helping you relate to them.
No matter how big your baby bump, the gentle support of the water will give you some welcome relief in the later stages of your pregnancy (NHS 2020). You could also look out for aquanatal classes. These are the perfect way to tone up and make new friends.
3. Sing lullabies and talk to your unborn baby
Your growing baby's hearing is developing all the time. From as early as 15 weeks, they can enjoy the daily soundtrack of your heartbeat and the growling of your hungry tummy. They may even start to hear sounds from the outside world, including the sound of your voice, though these may be muffled at first (Public Health Scotland 2020, Tommy’s 2018).
Hearing the sound of your voice while they are still in the womb helps your unborn baby create a strong attachment to you, even before they’re born (Public Health Scotland 2020). After birth, your new baby will be able to recognise familiar voices, which will help them feel safe and secure.
Talking and singing to your growing baby can be truly rewarding once you know they can hear you. You may feel a bit self-conscious at first but you’ll soon get used to it and enjoy having chats with your baby bump.
4. Enjoy a bath with your growing baby
A nice long soak is the perfect way to get away from it all and enjoy some "me time". It's also a great chance to devote some attention to your growing baby. Just make sure the water's not too hot, as this can harm your unborn child.
Run a warm bath and perhaps light some candles and play soft music in the background for a soothing ambience. Then simply lie still, breathe deeply, relax completely and picture your baby.
Try taking a few minutes to visualise yourself holding your new baby when they finally arrive. Imagine what they might look like, what you might say to them and how that first cuddle might feel.
If you're well into your second trimester, you may have already felt your baby's movements. However, these can be easy to miss when you're busy during the day. Taking a nice quiet bath is the perfect way to focus on your baby's squirming and kicking. Get to know the pattern of your baby's movements, and imagine how big and strong they are getting!
Try antenatal yoga
Antenatal yoga classes aren't only a fantastic way to relax. They also help you focus on the amazing work your body is doing and pay closer attention to your growing baby.
Along with gentle stretching, you'll learn breathing techniques that can help during labour. Antenatal yoga can help to relax your mind and body and may make you feel more in touch with your growing baby.
Watch our antenatal yoga videos for ideas of poses that may suit you.
If you haven't done yoga before it's fine to start while you're pregnant. Yoga poses for beginners are usually quite simple. It’s best to wait until you’re in the second trimester, after 14 weeks. In the meantime, you can still do gentle breathing techniques, relaxation or meditation (BWY 2015).
6. Practise hypnobirthing
Hypnobirthing classes are designed to help you stay calm and in control during labour and birth. The techniques used can also help you to eliminate distractions, focus on your body and help you connect with your growing baby using positive affirmations, such as “My body was made to do this".
Classes can be expensive, but in some parts of the UK it’s possible to have free hypnobirthing classes at your local NHS hospital (NCT 2018). Ask your midwife if there are free classes in your area.
If hypnobirthing isn't for you, you could visit a trained hypnotherapist instead. A good hypnotherapist will teach you how to use breathing and concentration techniques to tune out distractions and concentrate on your unborn baby. Or you can try one of our relaxation videos for pregnancy.
7. Keep a scan picture of your unborn baby close by
A picture of your baby's scan on your phone or on your fridge door is a constant reminder that your bump is home to a little person.
Your first scan will usually be a dating scan at around 10 weeks to 14 weeks of pregnancy (NICE 2008). Most hospitals will offer you a picture of the scan to take away, but sometimes you’ll need to pay a small fee, so take some change with you to your dating scan.
Your scan picture can help you to visualise the little person developing inside you. If your NHS hospital doesn't offer the service, you may want to pay for a private scan instead.
You may well be wondering whether you're having a girl or a boy, however you're unlikely to find out at this stage. Depending on your hospital’s policy, you could ask at your anomaly scan between 18 weeks and 21 weeks of pregnancy.
You could also arrange a private 3D or 4D scan later in pregnancy. Private scans can be expensive but they can give you a clear view of your growing baby's features. You may even be able to tell whose nose your little one has inherited!
The best time to have a 3D or 4D scan is between 26 weeks and 32 weeks of pregnancy (Which? 2020).
8. Help your partner bond with your growing baby
Most mums-to-be experience some pregnancy symptoms in their first trimester. This daily physical reminder may help you bond with your unborn baby from the start. Although your partner doesn’t have this physical experience, there are still plenty of ways to help them bond with your growing baby as your pregnancy progresses.
Help your partner to feel your unborn baby’s movements. From around 15 weeks, let them know that your baby can now hear sounds outside your womb. Suggest your partner talks and reads to your baby bump. This will help your baby become familiar with their voice (Public Health Scotland 2020, Tommy’s 2018).
It’s a good idea for your partner to attend antenatal classes with you, so they know what to expect during labour and birth. Both dads-to-be and the partners of pregnant women have a legal right to take unpaid time off to attend up to two antenatal appointments (Maternity Action 2020).
Your partner can also attend your scans. Seeing your growing baby move inside your womb may make prospective parenthood seem more real for you both.
Raising a child takes teamwork, and the sooner you and your partner learn to work together, the better. There's plenty they can do to help, from taking on a few extra chores to massaging your baby bump and running you a nice relaxing bath. This may help you both to feel that you're in this pregnancy together!
How can I help my pregnant partner?
How to support your partner, emotionally and practically, during pregnancy.More preparing for birth videos
9. Go for a walk
Try taking some time out to bond with your baby bump by going for a walk. It's great exercise and easy to fit into your daily routine, even if you're working. Going for a stroll gives you space to think about your growing baby without too many distractions or interruptions. You can even have a discreet chat with your baby bump as you go.
If you didn't do much exercise before you became pregnant, start with a gentle stroll at a pace that's comfortable for you. Once you've got into the habit of walking regularly, you can build up to faster walks lasting between 20 minutes and 30 minutes (NHS 2020). You could alternate a few minutes of brisk walking with a few minutes at a slower pace.
10. Respond to your unborn baby's kicks
You may start to feel your baby's movements from about 18 weeks to 20 weeks if this is your first baby (NHS 2018b). Feeling your growing baby move can be wonderfully reassuring after weeks of having no idea what they are getting up to in there!
Responding to your unborn baby's kicks is about as close as you will get to two-way communication before they are born. And you can do it at any time, wherever you are. Rub your bump when your baby moves and you may find that your baby kicks back at you. There's nothing quite as exciting as feeling your growing baby respond to your touch for the very first time.
Learn more about your baby's movements and check out these fun bump nicknames from other BabyCentre parents.
BWY. 2015. BWY guidelines for teaching yoga in pregnancy. The British Wheel of Yoga. www.bwy.org.uk [Accessed January 2021]
GOV.UK. 2019. Physical activity for pregnant women. UK Chief Medical Officers’ physical activity guidelines, 2019. assets.publishing.service.gov.uk [Accessed January 2021]
Maternity Action. 2020. Rights at work for fathers and partners. maternityaction.org.uk [Accessed January 2021]
NCT. 2018. Hypnobirthing: where to start. National Childbirth Trust. www.nct.org.uk [Accessed February 2021]
NCT. 2019. How can dads bond with their baby? National Childbirth Trust. www.nct.org.uk [Accessed January 2021]
NHS. 2018a. Are complementary therapies safe during pregnancy? Common Health Questions. www.nhs.uk [Accessed January 2021]
NHS. 2018b. You and your baby at 19 weeks pregnant. www.nhs.uk [Accessed January 2021]
NHS. 2019. Stretch marks in pregnancy. www.nhs.uk [Accessed January 2021]
NHS. 2020. Exercise in pregnancy. www.nhs.uk [Accessed February 2021]
NICE. 2008. Antenatal care for uncomplicated pregnancies. Updated February 2019. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. www.nice.org.uk [Accessed January 2021]
Public Health Scotland. 2020. Attachment and bonding during pregnancy. Ready Steady Baby. www.nhsinform.scot [Accessed January 2021]
Tommy’s. 2018. 18 weeks pregnant – all you need to know. www.tommys.org [Accessed January 2021]
Which? 2020. NHS and private ultrasound scans during pregnancy. Baby & Child. www.which.co.uk [Accessed January 2021]
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Games with a baby during pregnancy - 5 answers you are aware of any really sensible professional literature on this topic - write :) it will be very useful).
A book is like a book, it seemed to me more academic (and I don't really like such ones, they are dryish and superficial in my opinion) - a manual for students in universities, well, that is, everything is rather generalized, like in any textbook. nine0003
Now I am reading a chapter about the development of the child's psyche during fetal development, about how the state of the mother, her attitude towards the child during pregnancy affects its development.
So, there is a chapter about "Perinatal education" - I almost fell off my chair when I saw it... Phew, already in the stomach they are trying to develop and educate.
So far, everything is standard there - listening to classical music, experiencing positive emotions (because endorphin hormones have a positive effect on the development of the child's nervous system, and stress hormones, on the contrary, negatively). nine0003
And imagine - there they offer to "play" with a baby in the tummy :))) ) I don’t know if this is useful or not (the authors of course claim that it is very useful ....) but what is cute and pleasant is for sure :)))
Modern parents are involved in teaching their future newborns through games, using for example finger massages, light tapping, which are called "push games". nine0014
This perinatal training stimulates and enhances the child's motor abilities, visual skills, intelligence, emotional expression and early speech in later years.
Perinatally stimulated children at the age of three years showed the level of intelligence by 38% higher, memory by 47%, rational activity - by 81%, social intelligence - 2 times higher compared to children with whom mothers did not were doing. nine0014
(but here my opinion is that children are so developed, this is not due to the fact that parents were engaged during pregnancy, but probably because of the parents themselves ... if they already began to "develop" the child during pregnancy, imagine what happened after childbirth up to three years ... so I would argue here ...).
I searched the Internet for games, tried to play for fun.... and almost died (in a positive sense) from the sensations.... it's so cute!!!!! I urge you to try it at least once too. .. it's insanely nice to play with a baby :))))
Here are the games I found so far:
Barely, Barely, Barely The carousels are spinning ( slowly stroke your stomach clockwise )
And then, then, then, run all run ( move your fingers quickly over your belly in a clockwise direction )
Hush-hush, don't rush Stop the carousel ( fingers walk along your stomach in a clockwise direction )
One-two, One-two Game over! nine0017 ( circular movement of the hand clockwise ).
Like this week Two black grouse flew in ( circular movements on the stomach clockwise )
Walked and pinched ( lightly pinch the skin on the stomach clockwise)
Walked and pecked ( tap your fingers )
Sat and sat ( a few light pats )
And flew back ( circular movements clockwise )
Will arrive at the end of the week Our lovely grouse ( strokes from top to bottom )
We will wait for the grouse -
Top with the foot, top with another
( we tap on the stomach with our fingers )
That's how big it is ( stroke the stomach from top to bottom themselves )0017 Legs straight to mom! ( with fingers we walk along the stomach, in the last words we stroke the stomach ).
Here is what is written on this site (link):
The expectant mother, of course, wants to be “in touch” with her child all the time, to have a “dialogue” with him, and there is a way of such communication! It's called haptonomy, or prenatal learning. This method consists in the fact that the mother carefully monitors her condition (physical, emotional) and the motor activity of the child - and comes up with ways to encourage the baby to respond to her movements (for example, in the middle of pregnancy, the fetus already clearly responds to the touch of the mother’s hands to the stomach). nine0003
"After a few weeks of "learning", if the pregnant woman rhythmically taps or pats in a certain place of the abdomen, then the child responds with a movement that is directed directly to the mother's hand. he is very spoiled, this will help to calm him down.With the help of the haptonomy method, the mother learns to accurately distinguish the nature of the movements of the fetus and confidently determine its emotional state. Communication with the help of her hands, the mother can supplement with funny poems and nursery rhymes, because the baby hears his mother’s voice and reacts vividly to her intonation.It turns out that a mother can start playing with her child even before he is born!0003
I tried to play with my daughter in the stomach when she was awake and active :))) As I already wrote, it's very nice and pleasant :))) I decided to play every day not for development of course, but for the buzz....
As for the development of the child, with my first daughter, of course, I was inspired by this idea (even as a result, I became an early development teacher and led the "Mom and Baby" groups for 4 years ... and I'll tell you a long time :)))
But I came to this conclusion - it is important not to pull the child by the ears and develop with all his might, but just love to help him discover those talents that he already has by nature and believe me, there are plenty of them :))) Create a normal environment for development, full of love, support, adequate training and development according to age (at the same time, I don’t mean anything “supernatural” by development) and all the talents of the child will reveal themselves . ...
What do you think about such games with a baby in the tummy??? Your opinion is interesting :))))
How to communicate with a child during pregnancy
When expecting a baby, future parents often wonder if it is necessary to communicate with a child while he is still in the tummy, does it make any sense at all? Our perinatal psychologist Oksana Brezhneva explains why it is necessary and how best to do it.
Why should I communicate with my baby during pregnancy?
From about 8-10 weeks, the child's sense organs are actively developing, and he is able to respond to your touch, warmth, pain, vibration.
By 18-20 weeks, he already has character traits, and facial expressions are able to convey emotions. Brain activity develops quite actively, the baby hears and perceives what is happening in the outside world.
By the 24th week, the vestibular apparatus is well developed and the baby is able to control his movements, takes a comfortable position, expresses dissatisfaction and experiences positive emotions. nine0160
There is no doubt! The kid, developing, feels everything and is waiting for your communication with him!
With regular communication with the child throughout the pregnancy (which proceeded as comfortably as possible for the mother, without stress and worries), emotionally healthy, calm, balanced children are born. Sometimes children themselves can ask for attention from their parents, wanting to be talked to and caressed, while becoming more active and mobile. Studies confirm that children with whom their parents talked in the womb, after birth, react more actively to the voices of their parents, cry less, calm down faster, and begin to develop earlier. nine0003
How to communicate with the baby?
To establish contact with the baby in the mother's tummy - observe his activity, remembering at what time of the day he is more mobile. At such moments, talk with the baby, tell him about what you like, about what beauty awaits him in this World. Mom can tell what kind of dad the baby has and how he loves him and takes care of him, and dad can tell about mom, because the child hears the voices of his parents in different ways (mother's vibrations from the inside, and dad's vibrations from the outside).