We hear about ways to bond with our newborns from the moment they are born. Nurses encourage skin-to-skin after birth. And most parents are advised to talk to their babies often to heighten that bond once the baby comes home. Considering your newborn takes up almost all of your time in those early days, it’s easy to find the time to connect with your new baby. You may tell them a story while feeding, sing to them while they take a bath, or hold them for a nap.
But what about while the baby is still in your tummy? Pregnant moms and even their significant others can absolutely begin bonding with their babies well before they are born. Babies start to hear sounds at around the 18-week mark of pregnancy. By 26 weeks, they may even be able to tell when it’s mom or dad talking to them. But how, exactly, can you connect with your baby while they are still in your tummy?
Ways to Connect With Your Unborn Baby
Talk it out
One of the simplest things you can do to bond with your baby is to talk to them. It may feel silly at first, but hearing your voice consistently throughout the pregnancy will help strengthen your connection. At the end of the night, when you lay down in bed, recount your day to your baby, tell them a story about something funny that happened, and tell them goodnight.
While your baby may not be able to decipher who the artist is or what they are singing about, they will certainly be able to feel the vibrations of the music playing. Some moms swear by playing classical music as a calming and educational form of music for the baby. But any music works in this scenario! Play them your favorite songs, or maybe even put on your favorite songs from your own childhood for a little nostalgia.
Sing & Dance
Playing music and talking to your baby are both great ways to bond. You can take it a step further and sing and dance with them, too. Sing a lullaby to your baby each night, and you may be surprised to see them calm down when they hear that same song after birth. Or turn up your favorite tune and have a little dance party in the living room. Keep it simple and easy. The movement is great for your baby to feel and good for you, too.
Give a gentle massage
You have probably become accustomed to touching your belly throughout the day, often without even realizing you are doing it. Capitalize on this by giving your belly a gentle massage every so often. The best way to do this is to lay down in bed or even while you shower and rub lotion, body wash, or oils on your belly for an enhanced experience.
If you are physically able to be active during your pregnancy, doing so can help you connect. A great activity is prenatal yoga, which focuses on not just you but your baby as well. At the end of each session, most prenatal yoga practices encourage you to shut your eyes and talk to your baby gently. It is a great way to get exercise and bond at the same time.
Encourage Others to Talk with Baby
Have your significant other talk with the baby when they feel comfortable. You can even ask your parents, in-laws, and close friends. In the third trimester, babies can often identify familiar sounds. So hearing your loved ones talk to them often will create a sense of familiarity after they are born.
Say their name
Even if you aren’t sharing the name with others, try sounding it out to the baby themselves. When you begin to talk to them, pat your belly and say their name. The more you say it, the more your baby will begin to recognize it and may even kick you a bit at the sound of it. It’s also a good opportunity to hear the name said aloud (say their nicknames too, if they have them!) Since it’s something you will be saying quite often for the rest of their lives.
Do a photoshoot
Maternity photo shoots are great for the memories and the keepsakes down the road, but they are also a great way to connect with your baby and spouse. Often, those images require moments of intimacy and reflection, and good photographers will ask you to rub your belly and even talk to your baby about how much you love them to create an emotional scene. Getting the images back after the session is also a great moment — you can describe them to your baby and relive the special day.
It’s normal to get caught up in the daily demands, especially if you have other little ones running around. But making a point to take a few moments or schedule something special to bond with this baby in your belly is something you’ll never regret. So make a point to celebrate this time while they are growing inside of you. They will be memories you will cherish forever.