Bonding Before Birth
June 26, 2023
Infant mental health refers to a child’s ability to form healthy attachments to those around them. Our expert Charlotte Dunster-Page talks about bonding before birth being an important process and can be the first step to building a strong beyond after birth. Your baby can hear your voice while still in the womb and will start to get to know you and those around you. This helps them to feel safe and secure before they enter the world.
A baby is incapable of looking after themselves and therefore is completely dependent on their caregiver. Having someone they can rely on to take care of them and provide a safe space to explore the environment around them supports healthy brain development. This also helps them learn social skills such as expressing and recognising different emotions.
Why is it important?
Experiences during pregnancy and the first two years of a baby’s life – often called the 1001 critical days, influence infant mental health. These years are particularly critical for a baby’s social and emotional development. When a baby forms a secure attachment with another, it supports their ability to form healthy relationships in the future. When you are available to meet their needs, physical or emotional, they know they can rely on you and will form a secure attachment. This means being there for your baby and responding to their needs is essential, whether they need emotional comfort or physical comforts, such as food. It is also important to note that none of us can be perfect in how we meet our baby’s needs; we will miss their cues and misunderstand them at times. This is perfectly normal and a secure relationship with form if a baby’s needs are met enough of the time.
Bonding Before Birth
Why is bonding before birth important?
Bonding before birth is an important process and can be the first step to building a strong beyond after birth. Your baby can hear your voice while still in the womb and will start to get to know you and those around you. This helps them to feel safe and secure before they enter the world. At birth, they will focus on the people they are familiar with from before birth.
How do you bond before birth?
Bonding before birth can feel difficult but the main way is by letting baby get used to your voice. Babies can hear in the womb from 16 weeks, sometimes earlier, so taking time to talk or even sing to them helps them familiarise themselves with your voice. If you can’t think of anything to say reading a story or talking about your day are great ways to get the ball rolling. This isn’t just if you are a pregnant mum; all family members can do this to get baby to know their voice before birth. This means once they are born, they will recognise those they have heard around them and feel more attached. You can also play them your favourite songs but make sure not to put headphones on the bump as this may be too loud. Another way is to gently massage the bump, although please seek advice from your midwife before doing this and wait until you are beyond three months pregnant. Later in pregnancy, you might feel kicks in response from baby. Another way to bond with baby is to think about your future together, what they might be like and how you might parent them. If you will be parenting as a couple, you might want to consider this future together to develop your bond as a family. These methods can help you feel closer to baby as well. While bonding may take time, developing your relationship will help baby to feel safe and secure and it will support their development.
For more support on infant and baby bonding, visit http://www.borntobond.co.uk/