Bonding with Baby-to-Be
Bonding with your baby-to-be can be as natural a part of your pregnancy as hormonal changes and weight gain. Indeed, research suggests that these early connections can have a lasting effect, because memory develops in the womb. These tips can help set the stage for lifelong closeness with your child.
Touch your belly.
Like most expectant moms, you probably find that your hands automatically gravitate toward your belly—whether to rub away discomfort or soothe the tiny ripples inside. You can also use physical touch to send love to your unborn baby. Pat your belly and let your little one know you’re outside waiting—you might even feel a kick in reply.
Talk to your baby.
By the second trimester, your baby develops the ability to hear, and what she’ll listen to most often—besides the beating of your heart—is your voice. In studies conducted right after birth, newborns exhibit a clear preference for their mother’s voice over those of others. Dads can get in on the action, too, by leaning in close to Mom’s belly to sing a favorite song or simply chat about the weather. At this stage, the words matter less than your upbeat tone.
Research shows that as a fetus’s hearing develops, he will also respond to music. “Most babies in utero react very well to the slow movements of baroque-type music, such as Mozart or Vivaldi,” says Thomas Verny, M.D., author of The Secret Life of the Unborn Child. “Musicologists seem to agree that these rhythms, similar to the mother’s heartbeat, have the most calming effect.” Low-frequency sounds cross the placenta best; babies will even react to the rhythm of a drum beat.
Put it in writing.
To guide yourself through this enormous life transition and bond with your unborn child, write her letters or keep a pregnancy journal. Such a record can also be a wonderful gift for your child when she’s older, notes Carista Luminare-Rosen, Ph.D., author of Parenting Begins Before Conception. “Imagine the thrill of reading about your parents’ deep desire for and commitment to your arrival,” she says.
Take time to relax.
Your mood—reflected in such physical signs as your heart rate, hormonal levels and breathing pattern— influences your baby-to-be. Just sitting quietly or focusing on your breathing is a way to de-stress and connect. “If you can relax, you’ll have a different mix of hormones in your blood,” explains Peter Nathanielsz, M.D., Ph.D., author of Life in the Womb: The Origins of Health and Disease.
Take time to reflect on the person growing inside you. “In the classes I teach on prenatal bonding, I ask expectant parents to close their eyes and try to sense their baby,” Luminare-Rosen says. “Those miniature movements in the mother’s belly help parents get better acquainted with someone they’ve already fallen in love with.”
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