Bonding with your baby during pregnancy
It is a common assumption that bonding with the baby can only begin when it's out in the world. But that isn't really true. Babies start developing basic senses that help them bond with the womb itself.
Though the baby can't see or touch you just yet, it can still sense your presence and that can be leveraged to connect with your baby.
Let's delve into the different ways and means to connect with your baby when it is still in the womb.
Around the 18th week of pregnancy, the child develops auditory perception and can hear the sound of your body, the heart beating, the stomach rumbling, and the liquids flowing.
In fact, the baby also starts to perceive the outside noises, though he/she hears them at half the volume. The baby might find some sounds soothing while the others could be a bit stressful.
Calm music and the voice of the mother are often pacifying for the baby whereas anything too loud or fast might disturb the baby.
- Language Development
After 32 weeks, the baby starts to recognize certain vowels, sounds, and voices that they hear. This is considered the very start of language development that initiates even before birth.
Apart from recognizing certain sounds, babies can even remember specific music that is often played while they are in the womb. Though they can’t decipher the piece by words and sounds most of the time, they understand the song's rhythmic pattern because they end up memorizing it subconsciously. This subconscious picking up of a rhythm pattern is often seen as the initial development of memory.
After 18 weeks, babies' senses heighten and they're able to experience different sensations like movement, touch, and pain. This is also the time when babies prefer sleeping when the mother is awake and moving as the gentle rocking movement calms them and helps them doze off.
During this stage, they can figure out when a hand is being rubbed against the belly and can move in response. Moreover, they can also sense pain or discomfort in their body, if it arises.
Now that you know how your unborn child is growing you can use this knowledge to connect and bond with your baby and start this beautiful relationship.
Try out a few of the following methods to connect with your baby:
- The sense of touch and hearing are developed first so you can try singing or talking to your baby. You can also gently rub or massage the belly.
- After a few weeks, your baby might respond to your touch or voice with a kick. And you can gently push against the belly where the kick occurred as a response.
- Try playing music that mirrors your heartbeat, somewhere around 60 beats per minute is a sweet spot as it is familiar to the sound that the baby is used to hearing. Remember babies recognize the rhythm so something that synchronizes with the rhythm that they are used to hearing is calming.
- Having an ultrasound is a great way to see your baby in real-time and see how they react to your voice and touch.
- Make your baby feel happy by going out on a short walk in nature.
Walking and being near greenery releases endorphins (the "feel-good" chemicals) in the body that not only boost your mood but your baby's as well.
Your Feelings: A Hidden Connection
Besides sound and touch, the baby also responds to what you're feeling by feeling the same way. They obviously don't know what they're feeling is called happiness or stress, yet the way their body reacts is the same. As aforementioned, if you are out in the woods and are having a good time, your baby will mimic the same mood. On the other hand, if you are stressed or anxious your babies will experience the same, their heart rate can go up and their attention heightens. Therefore you must be at peace for most parts of your pregnancy so that the baby can feel the same way.
Adding to that, evidence shows that mothers who felt fairly calm during their pregnancy gave birth to kids with better overall health than the mothers who constantly recovered from being stressed and restless.
Henceforth, it's extremely critical for you to keep your mental health at its best.
However, at the same time, you might have a day or two when the hormones wrecking your system can make you feel haywire. In such cases, it is best to talk to your partner, friend, fellow mom, a family member, or even a therapist. Don't stop yourself from seeking help, pregnancy can drive your emotions like a Columbus ride, and having these mood swings is normal but try minimizing their intensity as if it gets too intense your baby will pick that up too.
Most women try joining yoga, exercise, or support groups to have that support system in place when they need it.
These activities help your mind to calm and get off those oscillating emotions. Experiment and choose the best activity for you that helps you calm down. It can be as simple as flipping a magazine or taking three breaths.
One important thing to point out here is that if you've had a mental health issue before or are experiencing something more severe than just mood swings you should consider seeing a doctor at the earliest. If you were taking an antidepressant before pregnancy and stopped due for some reason consult a doctor for that as well.
With the advent of maternal psychology there are loads of different approaches and alternatives to antidepressants and to handle your mental health in a way that empowers you and your baby.
All you need to do is reach out if you feel like you need help.
Gynecologist Dr. Pratibha Singhal suggests simple ways a pregnant woman can bond with her baby in the womb.