As we learn more about babies in the womb, we are beginning to understand just how impactful time in gestation can be beyond just their physical development. Awareness of their surroundings begins long before baby is born – and the ability to have an instinctual response to that stimuli. Simply put, you have impact on your child during pregnancy. How much and to what extent we interact with our baby during pregnancy can play a big role in the lifelong quality of our relationship with our kids (not to mention their physical and mental health!).
For obvious reasons, birth moms sometimes have a simpler time bonding with baby during pregnancy – but that doesn’t mean their partner doesn’t have options. In fact, dads can bond with baby during pregnancy in many of the same ways moms do.
1. Bond with Mom
How dads react to the news that their partner is pregnant is, to say the least, very individual. But how dads respond to mom as the pregnancy develops is a perfect way to bond with baby. We all know pregnancy is rarely picture perfect. There may be night sweats, copious amounts of vomiting and tears, and a redefining of the word “unpredictable.” Supporting her through every baby kick and bathroom break will not only bring you closer to your partner, but also with the little nugget causing all of it. And, you’ll get some experience in how your life will change with a baby.
Some things you can do:
Pay attention to milestones mom and baby meet, like how many weeks, belly and baby growth, and how mom and baby are developing. Get involved in creating the nursery, making the shower list, stocking up on baby essentials, and just generally preparing for their arrival. Go to a store together and pick out some outfits to welcome them with. Discuss what books you’ll read to them, music you’ll play, and activities you’ll experience. Not only will this likely bring you and your partner closer, but you’ll feel more prepared as a parent when baby finally arrives.
Be There for Your Partner
Pregnancy is hard. It’s rewarding, amazing, special, and beautiful. But it’s also really hard. And, it’s hard on partners, too. But it’s still harder on the pregnant person. Tap into that deep well of understanding we all have inside us and help your partner when and where you can. Foot rubs can bring unspeakable relief. Food runs are a godsend. Picking up more household duties is incredibly kind. Asking if you can help her when she’s sick is thoughtful. Even simply thanking her for doing all of the hard work of creating a human and acknowledging that she’s going through something extraordinary will go a long way in bringing you two closer. This won’t last forever, and your support will be deeply appreciated – even if she still gets hijacked by her hormones.
Learn About Pregnancy
A man can never fully grasp what being pregnant is like. Sure, the sympathy weight helps a growing woman feel less lonely, but there’s so much more going on than that. Learning about what happens under the surface to a woman’s mind and body during pregnancy can give you a handle on what your partner is experiencing. You can learn by both listening to your partner and reading about it, which may mean picking up a book or two.
2. Go to the Sonograms
For some dads, that first blurry picture of your bean-shaped blob may be just the ticket to bond with baby. For others, it may take a few more visits. But by going to every sonogram visit, you can watch baby get bigger and bigger on the inside, bringing you closer to your little one each time. Sure, sonogram pictures and videos are great if you just can’t make it – but there’s something to be said about the live experience, hearing their heartbeat and mom’s belly sounds as they move around in real time.
3. Engage with Baby
There are two different ways you can directly and indirectly engage with baby and get to know them better before they arrive.
Speak to Baby
Speak to baby, sing them songs, rub mom’s belly (when she’s okay with it), and just generally enjoy knowing your little one can hear you and will recognize your voice before they ever enter this world. The more you interact with your child directly, the more you’ll get to know each other, and the stronger the bond will be when they are born.
Learn About Them
Read everything you can about baby’s development during pregnancy. Getting to know about babies in general will do wonders for helping you get to know your own baby faster. You’ll learn when they can begin hearing you and what stimuli can be beneficial at what stages, and as a result, what they may like or dislike.
Bonding with your partner, getting to watch your baby grow in the womb, and interacting with baby will all go far in helping you develop a bond with your little one during pregnancy. Combined, these actions may help make it more “real” for those who aren’t reminded of the impending arrival every second of every day. Of course, the ability to bond requires a person be open to the effort and time – so make sure you practice your own self care to ensure you can remain that way. Rest, breaks from the topic of babies, and alone time may all be necessary to maintain energy. Because you’ll need every bit of energy you have.