Bonding with Baby During Pregnancy or Before Birth

When you’re pregnant, you may feel very excited to bond with your baby, but that might feel difficult given that you can’t see or hear them. Doing little things to start bonding with your baby is good for your child’s development and this is true even before they are born. But remember that bonding takes time, and feelings of love or attachment don’t always come immediately or naturally--particularly if it’s your first child. So don’t worry if doing some of these things feels a bit weird.

At around 16 weeks in utero, your baby will start to be able to hear you. At 26 weeks, they may feel soothed by hearing their mother or respond negatively to a loud noise. At 32 weeks, they can begin to hear vowel sounds -- some experts believe that language development actually happens before birth. At 26 weeks, they can also start to feel sensations and may respond to a hand rubbing or pressing gently on their mother’s stomach. Don’t worry if your baby isn’t responding in these ways - every baby and every experience is different.

With all of this in mind, there are lots of ways you can try to try to bond with your baby, which may have the added benefit of making you feel happier or more relaxed:

  • Talk or sing to your baby, as this will increasingly help you to feel connected and help the baby to start to recognize your voice and be soothed by it

  • Play music for your baby - don’t worry about whether the baby has similar music tastes to you! Maybe try some calming music that relaxes you. Don’t put headphones on your stomach though, as this can be too loud for the baby.

  • Tell your baby about your day or tell your baby little stories. This might seem silly at first, but it may support your baby’s language development.

  • Rub, touch or massage your belly to feel connected through touch.

  • Give yourself time for just the baby and you - have a lukewarm bath, go for a walk and think about the baby or talk or sing to it. You can also write things down in a journal with stories or how you’re feeling now.

  • When your baby starts to kick, particularly in the last trimester, you can respond to the baby by gently pushing against the baby or rubbing the belly where the kick occurred to see if there’s a response. And don’t worry if there isn’t! This never worked for us, but some mothers get lucky.