Baby bonding with your bump

Kate Whiting on interacting with the little one growing inside you

FOR first-time mums, the baby’s movements can start between 18 and 20 weeks, while for those having their second and beyond, it can be as early as 16 weeks.

Apart from the scan pictures, these movements are often the first real sign there’s a little person growing in there, and it will make you want to start communicating.

Babies are designed to keep their senses open for stimuli in the womb. From about 18 weeks, they can hear sounds from outside the womb, and may even recognise your voice when they’re born.

Recent research found they are programmed to recognise faces, turning their heads to look at lights that picked out two eyes and a nose — and ignoring random configurations of lights.

“The foetus in the third trimester actively seeks out information,” says Professor Vincent Reid, a psychologist at Lancaster University and study head. “This means is that other ways of interacting with the foetus can be considered. I would encourage parents to read books out loud to each other. This can help with bonding and could be beneficial.”

Michelle Lyne, a midwifery advisor, agrees. “It has been shown that women who make strong emotional attachments to their foetus in utero are more likely to seek support and have positive mental health through their pregnancy,” she says.

“They are more likely to go on to have strong emotional attachments post-delivery that should help their children grow into confident, secure and independent adults.

“But don’t worry if that doesn’t happen right from the beginning. For many women, it is only as they move through their pregnancy that they may allow themselves to attach to, and with, their unborn baby, and it is possible to encourage those feelings.”

How to bond with your bump

Channel positive energy: “Unborn babies are very receptive to their mother’s happy or sad emotions and stress levels, so trying to manage stress during the pregnancy is important,” says Lyne. “Thinking positively about the pregnancy and the growing foetus/baby to the point where that warm fuzzy feeling comes over you, helps to increase oxytocin levels, the love hormone.”

Play soft music or sing: “Play/sing songs and music that create a feeling of calmness for you. Babies recognise the songs when they are born and [that can] help you manage stress,” says Lyne.

“Become attuned with how your baby responds when you listen to different types of music. If you listen to certain radio programmes or watch certain TV programmes, at certain times of the day, babies recognise those when they are born.”

Talk to your baby: “Simply tell them about where you are going, travelling to, or what you have done through the day.”

Touch and stroke your bump: “Gently stroking your abdomen releases calming and relaxing hormones for both you and your baby and can keep you in touch with your baby’s activity; a good sign of wellbeing in your baby.”

Get dad and other kids involved: “Involving the father and older siblings in these activities can also help bring all of you closer together,” adds Lyne.

“Just have fun building that relationship, getting to know each other and looking forward to that new beginning.”


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