Some parents begin bonding with their unborn baby immediately after getting a positive pregnancy test. Others struggle to feel connected during the prenatal period and often after birth. Like many pregnancy and parenting topics, there’s a wide range of normal when it comes to bonding.
During pregnancy after loss, though, bonding is even more tricky. There’s the frequent voice whispering, “What if this baby dies, too?” Afraid of reliving that pain, you might intentionally resist bonding, especially during pregnancy. While the traditional pregnancy baby books may tell you to create a baby registry, shop for newborn clothes, and decorate the nursery, those suggestions might not feel right to you. There are many ways to connect with your baby, most of which you can do in your own home when it’s convenient for you. Here are six ways to bond with your baby before birth.
Communicating with your baby before he or she is born can take various forms. For example, you can simply talk to the baby. This can be very intentional, such as a conversation about their big brother or sister who didn’t get to stay, or maybe it’s chatting about your hopes for the birth or the newborn phase. You can also just talk casually to your baby as you go about your day, mentioning errands you’re running or food you’re cooking.
In addition, consider reading to your baby while they’re in utero. You can introduce them to favorite children’s books, but really, you can read anything aloud because your baby already loves hearing your voice. No matter how you communicate with your baby — through conversation or books — use their name if you’ve chosen one. If you haven’t decided, you can go with a nickname.
During pregnancy, a unique way to connect with your baby is to pick a song for the two of you. “Your song” can be sentimental or fun, heartwarming or quirky. Play it each day, every few days, or once a week — whatever you choose. The neat thing about this tradition is that after your baby is born, you can keep playing it and eventually introduce it to your child, explaining that it gave you hope and positivity while pregnant after loss.
If you’re up for it, sing “your song” to your baby. In fact, sing any song you like during pregnancy. And while you’re belting a favorite tune, you might as well dance it out, too. Babies love movement, and a little dance party could help you relieve some stress and bring a smile to your face.
Being mindful of your thoughts and feelings can help you connect with your growing baby. You can use an app or a video for guided meditation, which helps you focus on your breath and label your emotions. Search for one that’s focused on the prenatal period and consider placing your hands on your belly as you meditate.
Prenatal yoga is another great option for bonding with your baby during pregnancy. Yoga fosters the mind-body connection, encouraging you to focus on your body as it is right now, in the present. And since your baby resides in your body during pregnancy, yoga will remind you that your body is nourishing a healthy baby.
Response to Movements
Once you get to the point in pregnancy when you notice the baby’s movements, make a point to slow down and focus on what you’re feeling. You can try to guess whether the baby is punching, kicking, or rolling. As you approach the end of the second trimester, your provider will likely recommend counting kicks as a way to monitor the baby’s well-being, so getting used to this downtime will come in handy later anyway.
Feeling fetal movements is also a great way to involve your partner and the baby’s siblings in bonding. Family members tend to get very excited to feel the baby move from the outside. You and your loved ones can even gently push back when the baby makes a move, giving you tiny glimpses of all the playful interaction to come.
Writing your feelings can not only help you manage stress or process emotions, but it can encourage relationship building before the baby is born. You can record your thoughts in a notebook or journal, type them on a computer, or even speak them into your phone.
When you’re journaling, you can write about your hopes and dreams for the baby and your family. If you’re artistic, you might even sketch something. Plus, drawing is a kid-friendly way to help older siblings bond with the new baby, so include your living children in this activity.
Would additional heartbeat checks or ultrasounds help you bond with the baby? Sometimes as a loss parent, every chance to see your little one and know they’re healthy improves bonding. If that’s the case, talk with your prenatal care provider and let them know your wishes.
Meanwhile, if you see a therapist, let them know if you’d like support in connecting with your baby. Your mental health professional can recommend strategies for stress management and techniques for anxiety, both of which can facilitate bonding with your baby.