Written by: Caroline Mayer
You carry your baby for around 9 months, and while the baby is in the womb, they are developing quickly. There is no need to wait until they enter the world to start the bonding process. You can bond during pregnancy and help your baby’s development at the same time.
Babies start developing senses early in the pregnancy before you even reach halfway. This means that you can start stimulating your baby and preparing them for an entrance in to the outside world long before they are ready to join us outside the womb.
Your baby starts being aware of sound from around 18 weeks. They are able to hear the internal sounds of your body such as your heartbeat. They may begin to react to these sounds as well as sounds from outside your body from around 26 weeks. Your baby will be able to hear your voice (as well as other people’s voices, although muted by half) and might startle in response to loud or sudden noises. You can start singing and talking to your baby at this point and the sound of your voice will often soothe a restless baby. There is even a theory that language development can start as early as 32 weeks and baby can start to recognize certain vowel sounds at this point. Your baby might even remember music played to them before they were born.
Light and dark are experienced from around 22 weeks as the retinas are developed at this point. Babies can open their eyes and these start developing from this point and continue to do so after they are born. You can play with light and shadow to stimulate the little one in the womb. Combine light with other sensations to start stimulating baby early.
From around 18 weeks your baby can sense movement and may actually be rocked to sleep by the movement of your body while you are awake and doing things. That is why moms often complain that baby sleeps while she is awake and then kicks her all night long. Babies can feel pain from 22 weeks old. From 26 weeks they can be stimulated by outside sensations such as someone rubbing your stomach.
What can you do to bond and stimulate baby during your pregnancy?
- Play music to your baby (music at 60 beats per minute is soothing to a little one)
- Sing to your baby or simply talk softly so he or she gets to know your voice
- Rub your belly gently or push gently against where baby is kicking to get a response
- Take time to relax and enjoy your pregnancy as this time is limited
- Eat well and try and exercise while thinking about your baby
- Pick out books, toys and clothing while you are pregnant to feel closer to the little one
- Have regular ultrasounds if possible so you can actually see your baby
- Talk to caregivers, family or friends if you are not feeling positive about things
Get caregivers and partners involved
You are generally not alone in your pregnancy and you can involve your partner, family, friends and caregivers in the bonding process before baby arrives as well.
- Allow other people to attend your ultrasounds (especially your partner)
- Let people talk to your baby, read a story or sing songs softly so baby gets to know their voices too
- Allow those you feel comfortable with to touch your belly and feel baby moving
- Invite your partner to prenatal classes to prepare for the birth with you
- Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts and feelings with those you care about.
Let your other children start bonding too
If this is not your first pregnancy, you will also be bringing baby in to a family where there are older siblings. You can start the other children bonding with the new baby early on as well.
- Take them shopping and let them pick out something for the baby
- Let them help you pick out something for baby’s room or crib
- If they are old enough, let them do a drawing for the new baby
- Let them touch your tummy and talk to their brother or sister early on as well
- Allow them to sing to the baby if they want to
- Let them ask questions and allay any fears they may have
Pregnancy is a wonderful time but it can also be quite scary and even difficult. It will help improve your positivity to bond with baby and accept the reality of a little one about to enter the world. If you find yourself feeling confused, frightened or stressed out during this time, you should never be afraid to seek help. Your baby may also sense the negative feelings leasing to increased heart rates. You also do not want to flood your system with fear hormones while pregnant. Speak to your partner, a family member, a trusted friend or seek help from a professional if necessary.
Bonding with baby before and after birth should be joyous and fun and full of positive emotions. Get everyone you want to be involved in your baby’s life to spend a little time bonding with the little one before he or she enters the world. Give baby a good start and some voices to cling to and recognize. Enjoy your pre-natal bonding and stimulation of your little one for a better relationship and better development of baby overall.