Bonding Before Birth

The bond between a newborn and his parents is actually believed to begin even before he enters into the world. A baby's hearing is developed within the womb. He can hear sounds in the world around him, although they may be muted. This is why many people feel that an infant already knows the sound of his mother and even his father. He may be immediately soothed by these people because the sound of their voice is familiar and comforting.

Bonding with you baby while she is in the womb is not only an exhilarating experience but also really important for your baby’s development. Studies have shown that babies in the womb start to react to sound at around 24 weeks, so from three months onwards is a great time to interact with your baby. Your baby’s favorite sound is your voice. She hears it when you speak and feels the vibrations of your voice through your body, so talk to her calmly all the time.

Reassure her that she’s loved, tell her your thoughts in a natural, honest way and try to be as positive as possible. Sit in a comfy chair and gently sing to your baby, or play your favorite soothing music. Once your baby is born she’ll feel a sense of calm if you sit in the same chair listening to the same music. Encourage your partner and any other children you have to talk and sing to your bump as well, as your baby will start to find those voices familiar and soothing too.

Consider these fun and easy ways to promote your bond with your unborn baby:

  1. Talk to your baby Massaging your womb gently and talking softly to your unborn child is not new. Mothers have done it throughout time. Dads, too, can get acquainted with their baby prenatally, by talking through the waters, while gently massaging your belly with cream or oils.
  2. Many mothers report feeling silly, at first, talking out loud to their babies in the womb. But, in private, you will easily overcome your initial embarrassment. Save time to talk to your baby, in the bath, or before you go to sleep. Make it a habit once or twice during the day to say something loving out loud. And why not ask your partner for a "good night" massage and verbal expressions of love and encouragement to your little one on the inside?
  3. "Touch" your baby. Push gently on your baby and you will likely get a push back! While there is no need to prod and poke, do gently touch your baby through the womb. In the last month of pregnancy, you are likely to be able to see a heel which ripples across your abdomen. A father can also push gently, to find a foot or shoulder, and the baby pushes back, automatically responding to your touch. Feeling your baby respond to your touch, while in the womb, can be very thrilling, when it occurs!
  4. Play music and sing to your baby. Music is thought to be pre-linguistic and contributes to your baby's foundation for language skills. Listening to music yourself, and singing tunes you enjoy can provide healthy stimulation for your child's development. Your baby is learning to recognize the sounds of your voice and daddy's voice in the last month of pregnancy. When born, your baby will likely turn toward the sounds of your voices over others. Yes, indeed, your baby is listening to you already.

Consider this question from an expecting mother:

"I am three months pregnant and am still not 'excited' about being pregnant. This bothers me because I am concerned about bonding with my child before it's born. Is this unusual, and if not, when does the bonding process begin? And what happens if you don't bond with your child before it is born?"

Answer: The fact that you are asking this question shows that you already care enough about your child to want to bond with it. Bonding during pregnancy does not happen automatically. While some mothers feel an intense joy at being pregnant, and seem to bond to their infants immediately, others find that this takes more time. Some mothers find that when they begin to feel the baby move, usually after the fourth month, they start to feel an emotional attachment to it. So there is no reason to feel overly concerned if you do not yet feel a strong bond with your infant.

Here are some suggestions of things you can do to increase your feelings of attachment to your unborn baby.

  1. Talk about your baby's conception. Some mothers find that the feelings they have about the sexual relationship resulting in the conception interfere with their ability to bond with their infant. If you have anger towards the father or any negative feelings about the conception of your child, this would be a good time to talk about that. Find someone you can trust, and tell them how you feel. If the conception was not planned, you may need time to sort out the feelings you have about being pregnant before you can fully accept your baby and bond with it.
  2. Take care of your physical needs and talk about any resentments you have. Even a wanted pregnancy can result in bonding problems if you have health problems, nausea, or other discomfort, because this can lead to resentment towards your baby. It is important to obtain adequate medical help, a good diet, and plenty of rest. It is also helpful to talk to someone about how your pregnancy is affecting your life in negative or unexpected ways.
  3. Explore deeper feelings. If you are frightened about giving birth, or concerned about your mothering ability or your financial situation, you will benefit from talking about these concerns with a supportive listener. It is normal to feel some ambiguity and anxiety about being pregnant, but it is best if these feelings are brought out in the open. Certainly, if you have had a previous miscarriage or stillbirth, some anxiety is to be expected, and this could interfere with your ability to bond with your baby. It is important to spend time fully grieving the death of your previous child.
  4. Follow your baby's physical development. To help you bond with your unborn infant, you can follow its physical changes by consulting a good picture book showing the stages of prenatal development. This will help you to visualize your infant as it develops, and to think of it as a member of your family.
  5. Interact with your unborn baby. Another good way to bond with your unborn infant is to spend about five minutes, twice a day, interacting with it. You can talk directly to your baby, sing, play music, or tell stories. You can also rub or pat your abdomen, rock in a rocking chair, or dance in rhythm to slow music. It is also beneficial for the baby's father to do these things. Once you begin to feel your infant move, wait until you feel movement before initiating interaction. Then you can respond to its kicks and movements by gently pressing your abdomen. Tell your baby that you love it and welcome it. Studies have shown that prenatal enrichment exercises such as these not only help parents bond with their unborn infants and become better parents, but also result in babies with larger head circumference and enhanced motor, cognitive, social, and language development after birth compared to control groups.



Following the Child

This commonly used phrase comes from the Montessori practice of observing children in their natural environment (e.g. the prepared classroom)
and using their interests and level of ability as a
guide. The caregiver provides appropriate material
and adapts to meet the needs of each child accordingly.

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Creating a More Peaceful and Sustainable World

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