There is a big difference between being pregnant and becoming a mom. For many women, pregnancy is an exciting time, but what moms really yearn for is to connect with their child — and if that can happen even before he comes into the world, that would be even better.
Bonding with the baby isn't always easy, though. For some women, it doesn't happen until the baby is several months old, although there are some things that moms can do during pregnancy that might help the mom and baby to bond even earlier.
Even in the womb, a baby is aware of the sound of his mother's voice and the smells that are going on around him, so moms might want to take advantage of that to build the connection even sooner. And relaxing and enjoying the pregnancy can do a lot to make the mom feel the bond with the baby in her womb. But women need to be careful about what they do to promote bonding since some ideas could be dangerous, and no mom wants to risk their baby's health.
Here is an in-depth look into bonding with the unborn baby, including 10 things moms should do (and 10 things doctors don't recommend).
20 Singing Lullabies
One of the first things that babies know when they are born is the sound of their mother's voice. That's because they were listening the entire time in the womb, whether the mom was talking to a co-worker, making a presentation or singing in the shower.
Research has shown that babies even recognize the lullabies that their moms sing to them while they in the womb, so we think an amazing way to bond is to go ahead and sing to your heart's content. It can make motherhood seem real for mom too, so she can connect and prepare her herself to all those lullabies through the first few years after birth.
19 Give The Baby A Nudge
Mom and dad may not be able to see the baby yet, but they can go ahead and start playing with them before the birth. It's been proven that when the baby kicks and mom gives a nudge back, babies are aware of what is going on and they respond in kind.
It's a little way to communicate before the baby's arrival, and it can make dealing with kicks even more fun. Dad can also get in on the game, although it can take a little longer for dads to be able to see and feel kicks, compared to mom, so that everyone has a chance to bond with the baby before the birth.
18 Keep A Baby Journal
Journaling can be therapeutic at any stage of life, but it can be especially helpful with moms-to-be in bonding with baby. The exercise gives a woman to process what is happening with her body and write down special memories that she wants to look back on.
Some women choose to create a journal by writing letters to their baby, and other prefer an approach that is more about their own thoughts and emotions during this precious time in their life. But no matter the format, keeping a journal gives her a chance to reflect each day on the life growing inside her and that can help forge a bond.
17 Baby Massage
Massage is a great way to relax, but with the baby on board, it can help with so much more, including improving the health of mom and baby. Moms-to-be won't be able to lie on their tummies — at least without a cutout for the bump — but they can still have an incredible experience laying on their side.
A prenatal massage can give a mom-to-be an opportunity to have some time to relax and reflect on the baby within her. She might enjoy the kicks and cuddles more when she feels good in body and soul. And the massage can help dull the aches and pains of pregnancy enough to lift her spirits for those tough months.
16 Family Chats
Having a baby isn't just about the mom — it's about the entire family. That's why we've included this section because it's not just important for the mom to talk to the baby in her womb but to also give a chance for her partner to do the same.
Family chats can bond the mom and dad to each other and to the baby, and the more that they feel like a family, the more mom will feel bonded to the baby itself. That's a gift to the entire family, and it means everyone can feel connected before the birth.
15 Embrace The Baby Bump
A lot of women struggle with their changing body during pregnancy. It's especially tough early on in the pregnancy when the might feel like they look more fat than with child. But if they can embrace the baby bump, it can help them to bond with the baby.
One way to embrace the bump is to take weekly photos that celebrate the growth of the baby inside the mom. It's also a good idea to physically embrace the bump. Cradling the belly is as close as you can get to cradling the baby for a while, but it can also help with bonding.
14 Yoga, Swimming Or Walking
Exercise isn't just a great way to stay healthy during pregnancy; it also can be a way that mom gets in some bonding time. Moments can happen with several lower-impact activities, such as yoga, swimming, and walking. Plus, the exercise can help mom's body to be strong and healthy for the birth.
The biggest part of the bonding ability happens when mom relaxes and is in tune with the baby on board. Floating in a pool or relaxing in corpse pose during a yoga session can help to focus on the new life inside, and that is what it is all about.
13 Baby Classes Help Feel Prepared
One of the obstacles that moms might face when trying to bond with their unborn baby is feeling anxious with the idea of parenthood, especially when they don't know how to care for a newborn. That's why we suggest getting prepared for the tasks ahead.
Most hospitals offer classes that can help moms and dads to get a handle on diapering and swaddling and bathing. New parents can practice, meet other moms and dads and start to figure out what life with a baby will be like. That can help them imagine their future with their little one and open them up to bonding.
12 Name Calling
Bonding can be difficult when the life inside of a mom-to-be doesn't feel as much like a person. That's why it can help to decide on a name early and start calling the little one by his or her new moniker.
Before the birth, a baby can feel like a nebulous concept, even when you feel it kicking. But it can be easier to imagine a child who has a name and a personality and a place in the family. Some moms change the baby's name a couple of times before the birth, and that is OK. The point is to forge a bond, and until the ink is dry on the birth certificate, a mom can change her mind.
11 Making A Pregnancy Keepsake
A pregnancy keepsake might feel like a gift for the mom-to-be, but it's actually more than a memento. Whether it is a framed photo of an ultrasound image, a belly cast or another unusual choice, a keepsake can help a mom and baby to feel connected to her baby.
Pregnancy is a special time in a woman's life, but it's just the beginning of her journey as a mother. Creating a unique reminder of that special time can give the mother and child a chance to reflect on the time when they were physically the closest they have ever been.
10 Don't Recommend: Visualizing The Baby
It's one thing to spend a few minutes every day gazing at an ultrasound image — better yet, a 3-D one — but it's another thing to spend a ton of time picturing the perfect child. Some moms have dreams about newborns and they can't help but wonder if he will have his daddy's eyes or mama's lips.
The danger about visualizing the baby, though, is that it won't help to bond with the baby if he comes out looking completely different. It's OK to wonder but don't set up expectations that might not meet with reality after the birth. That isn't good for the bonding once the baby has arrived.
9 Don't Recommend: Essential Oils Aren't Always A Good Idea
During today's era of natural parenting and sustainable living, it's no surprise that a lot of moms-to-be might think that essential oils can do a lot to help pregnant women in health and in bonding with baby. Some researchers say that there are benefits, but moms do need to be careful.
Essential oils can cause contractions, so doctors recommend that moms skip them entirely in the first trimester. There is a long list of oils that should be left out altogether until after the birth because of potential for issues. Babies do respond to smells, so mom's favorite oil could be baby's at birth. But be sure to investigate which ones are safe.
8 Don't Recommend: Constant Kick Counts Add To Stress
Feeling the baby kick is a magical part of pregnancy, and it can definitely help the mom and baby bond. But if mom goes too far, it isn't healthy for her or the baby. Like just about anything in life, moms need to avoid becoming too stressed about things, and that includes how closely they pay attention to the baby's kicks.
At some point in the pregnancy, the doctor will ask the mom to count kicks and come in for a checkup if she notices less movement. But moms need to remember that babies do sleep, even in the womb. Don't stress too much about the kick counts; just drink something sweet and enjoy the kicks.
7 Don't Recommend: Bath Time Can Be A Problem
A lot of our tips about bonding talk about methods of relaxation and some women's favorite might be getting in the tub and enjoying some bubbles or a bath bomb. Sometimes that's OK, but we do want to issue a warning that moms should keep in mind before preparing the tub.
For one, it's not a good idea to have a bath after your water breaks, and it can also be a problem if you aren't careful with the chemicals you use. Be sure to keep the water temperature from getting too high as well. Otherwise, relax and enjoy the time with the baby inside you.
6 Don't Recommend: Constant Health Worries
There is no doubt that the first trimester can be a really trying time for a woman. She doesn't even feel like a mom yet, but she constantly feels sick. For most, things can be better after that, but worrying about health can make it hard to feel bonded to the baby.
The health worries can happen for mom and for baby, and either way, it makes it harder to just enjoy being connected. This can be really tough on women who go through bed rest, so family members should do all that they can to help the mom-to-be celebrate the baby even during the roughest moments.
5 Don't Recommend: Don't Paint The Nursery Yourself
A good way to get ready for the baby and also feel like you are getting to know them is to set up the nursery. But we have to warn moms-to-be that they need to be careful while setting up their nest — they don't want to hurt the baby or themselves as they prepare for the little one's arrival.
Painting the nursery can be a problem because of the fumes, and if you live in an older house, the old paint might have issues with lead and such, which can be especially dangerous. Moms-to-be should also be careful about moving furniture and such because that could harm the baby as well.
4 Don't Recommend: Too Much Sun
Sunshine and fresh air can do an amazing job at making people feel relaxed and in tune with themselves and the world around them. It could do well for bonding with the baby, and the vitamin D is great for mom and baby's health as well. But moms should be cautious.
It's important to avoid getting too much sun. Of course, there are cancer worries from sun exposure over time, but we are talking about a new short-term problem that can arise. Women's skin behaves differently during pregnancy, so they can get sunburned much quicker than normal, so be sure to use sunscreen and limit the time in the sun.
3 Don't Recommend: Mellowing Out With Medication
There's a big difference between relaxing and relieving when it comes to bonding with the baby. The latter, if it involves using medication or soothing oils is not always advisable.
With access to so many new age oils and natural medications only growing with technology, many moms are partaking in their use for certain benefits — including staving off nausea, which is a big problem in the first trimester. But research has shown that it could be bad for the baby and the long-term effects are unknown. If you are going to turn to medicinal practices to relax while pregnant, it's always best to consult with your ob-gyn.
2 Don't Recommend: Giving In To All Cravings
Lots of women like to think that their cravings are coming from the baby. There is a little bit of truth to that since women might crave meat if they are low in iron, for example. But eating ice cream every day just because "the baby wants it" isn't healthy.
There are some cravings that are dangerous and some are that might be OK in moderation but could cause health and body issues after the birth. There is definitely a connection to the type of cravings that a woman goes through and her baby — some women will always associate grapefruit with their child, for example — but be sure to be healthy about it.
1 Don't Recommend: Pressure To Be The Perfect Mom
There are some women who want nothing more than to be a perfect mom. They want to be bonded to their baby so bad, but sometimes it's the pressure that gets in the way.
As much as you want it, you can't force a connection between mom and baby. The items in this list can help forge a relationship with the baby before the birth, but for some people it takes time. The best advice for moms is to relax and enjoy their pregnancy and the baby growing inside them. The bond will form at some point, and it will be unbreakable.