Sometimes parents don’t always feel a flood of bonding emotions toward their baby right away. It is normal for the attachment to take time to develop and grow. It can be difficult to feel connected with your growing baby during pregnancy.
Attachment is the emotional bond and relationship that potentially develops between parent(s) and child during pregnancy. Research has shown that the attachment between parent(s) and child, especially within the first two years of life, forms the basis of future relationships with peers, parent(s), and partners. Babies need to know caretakers are there to meet their needs and help them feel safe. Here are a few simple ways you and your loved ones can build a strong attachment with your baby before they arrive.
Talk, Read Books, Or Sing To Your Baby.
Baby’s ears can develop and begin to hear as early as 15 weeks. Begin talking to your baby to help them feel familiar with your voice and the voices of those that will be closest to them. This will help them feel safe and familiar with you and other caregivers. Find a quiet time when you and your baby can focus on each other. Sometimes talking to your bump can feel strange at first. This is totally normal. Reading books or just talking about your day is a good place to start. You can also have your partner or a close person who will be helping you with your baby after birth talk to the baby, too!
Call Your Baby By Their Name Or A Nickname.
This can help create a stronger bond and make the baby feel more real. Many parents choose to meet their child before deciding on a name, so no worries if you have yet to come up with a name. If this is you, consider coming up with a fun little nickname. This is just as good and can even be a little silly or light-hearted.
Practice Meditation And Mindfulness:
Try to take 3-5 minutes and sit with your hands on your belly. Pay attention to your breathing and your baby’s movements if you can feel them already. Think about what your baby may look like. Take deep, calming breaths as you think about your baby. There are even guided meditations on YouTube that can give you simple prompts.
Respond To Baby’s Kicks.
When you feel the baby kick, gently touch, rub or poke your stomach back. This will help build a physical, two-way communication with the baby. Other loved ones can also do this to feel a deeper sense of connection to the baby. It can be so exciting to feel your baby respond to your touch for the first time.
Take Birthing Classes With Your Support Person.
The thought of birth can sometimes feel overwhelming. Being as prepared as possible can not only help with anxiety, but it can also help with bonding with the baby. It can also help your partner feel more involved in the process as they have a better idea of what to expect and how to help. Most hospitals offer birthing classes for free, so you can contact yours to see what is available.
Write Out Positive Affirmations And Repeat Them To Yourself And Your Baby.
When anxiety or worry pops up, make a list of affirmations to replace negative thoughts with on your phone. This will help you relax and connect with your baby through pregnancy. Here are some examples to get started:
- “I am built for this. My body and baby know what to do.”
- “When I relax, my baby relaxes with me.”
- “I trust my instincts.”
- “With each breath, I am closer to meeting my baby.”
- “My baby and I are working together as a team.”
- “I made this choice out of love for my baby and myself.”
Create A Birth Plan.
A Birth Plan is an outline of what your preferences are during labor. For example:
- Will you be going to a hospital or using a doula at home?
- Do you want a natural birth (without medication) or an epidural?
- Would you like music playing? If so, create a playlist.
- Who will be in the room with you?
- Do you want a video, and if yes, where do you want them positioned?
- Would you like to hold your newborn skin to skin after birth?
- Do you plan to bottle or breastfeed?
Many hospitals provide free templates for you to fill out in preparation for your big event. This preparation process can help foster feelings of control and emotional connection with the baby.
Keep A “Baby Journal.”
Some parents start a baby journal to write down thoughts, experiences, hopes and dreams for the baby during pregnancy. This journal can provide memories for you and your child in the future.
Here are a few ideas:
- Track your baby bump with pictures as it grows and your body changes.
- Paste copies of ultrasounds and cards you have received.
- List all the names you are considering.
- Plan your baby’s room.
- Write down your craziest cravings.
Write A Letter To Your Future Baby.
Let your baby know how you feel about meeting them and what kind of parent you want to be. Tell them about yourself, your family history, and the people in your life who are looking forward to meeting them. Be sure to express your blessings and wishes for their future. You can even write a poem or song if you’d like.
Building a bond with your baby starts before delivery. Use these tips to begin to get to know your baby as a new addition to your family. Know that they carry a part of you with them and, therefore, are amazing and valuable. Building a healthy attachment with your baby now will have long-term benefits.
Birthright is here to help you with this process as well. Feel free to schedule an appointment for counseling to talk about your experience during pregnancy and help develop a deeper attachment with the baby that will impact your lifelong relationship.
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International Forum for Wellbeing in Pregnancy