Dad Bonding With Baby Before Birth

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dad emotionally supporting mom

This blog will be about dads bonding with baby before birth and in 27 different ways! The importance of this bonding can't be understated.

A recent study suggests that a father's bonding to his unborn baby during the prenatal period significantly impacts his involvement with the child many years into the future.

And that this interaction will have tremendous benefit with the social and emotional growth and academic skills of his growing child.

The more time and effort a father spends on his unborn child, the stronger their bond will become. So exactly how do you go about bonding before birth?

We've put together 27 surefire ways of dads becoming more bonded with their unborn babies.

1. Go to Prenatal Doctor Visits with Your Spouse

The more you become involved with your unborn child, the more you will care about them.

Prenatal doctor visits allow you to hear your baby's heartbeat and talk about their developmental updates directly with the doctor or clinician. If you are unavailable to attend, you can always join the appointment by phone or video.

2. Attend Ultrasound Appointments with Mom

Many people find ultrasound visits amazing. It adds a dose of reality to what is happening.

bonding before birth with ultrasound

A 2007 study conducted by the Annals Of the New York Academy of Sciences found that mothers' attachments to their infants increased dramatically after an ultrasound. It made it more real to them.

The reality of becoming a dad sets in after seeing the ultrasounds.

3. Bonding Through Ultrasound Artwork

Ultrasound images can be the perfect excuse for starting a physical or electronic scrapbook or sharing images online with family and friends.

Some dads and moms enjoy taking their baby's ultrasound image and crafting it into a work of art. Photoshop works particularly well for this. You can add some curly hair to baby, perhaps some slippers, and cute little bubble quotes like, "I can't wait to get outta here!"

When finished, you can put these pictures around the house, in your wallet, and on your phone's wallpaper. These will be reminders that this is happening and further help with bonding.

4. Attend Prenatal Classes

A 2007 study found that prenatal education classes help reduce anxiety in first-time parents, which may explain why infants in the study had a lower incidence of crying spells after birth.

Or perhaps this was due to stronger prenatal bonding, which these education classes help bring about. Prenatal classes also decrease postnatal depression in both mom and dad.

They also give dad basic information such as how to change diapers, and some essential roles to play, such as breastfeeding coach and helper and breathing coach during labor. Dad may also find the opportunity to talk with other dads at these classes which can be extremely helpful.

5. Read a Book about Pregnancy

Knowing what to expect brings with it the power of knowledge and a wide range of understanding.

Reading pregnancy and baby books, or just a single book, helps you learn and understand how baby is developing and what mom is going through now. Being pregnant usually has its difficult times.

Part of your job is understanding not only your baby's needs but your spouse's as well. And understanding the milestones that your baby passes through will help you feel far more connected to her or him. 

dad reading about unborn baby

For instance, did you know these following fun facts:

  • Long before your baby can smell, taste, hear or see, they've developed a sense of touch, for instance, huddling closer to objects that feel safe and warm.
  • As early as eight weeks of gestation, unborn babies can taste the flavor of food that their mother eats.
  • Also, by eight weeks, your baby has developed touch receptors in his face, and by 17 weeks has touch receptors on his abdomen, palms, and soles.
  • After 22 weeks, your little one will be able to recognize your voice and many other sounds in his surroundings, including mom's heartbeat.
  • If you're so lucky as to have twins, they will begin interacting early in the second trimester. More proof that babies are wired just like mom and dad to be social.
  • The complex circuitry necessary to tell the difference between regular and painful touch sets in at about 29 or 30 weeks of pregnancy. Fun facts to know, right!

6. Pamper Your Partner 

Pregnancy is not always a picnic, and a little tenderness can go a long way.

nuturing dad and mom

Keep in mind that a mom's emotions will have a direct effect on your unborn child, so pamper her and make her feel loved and nurtured. Your child will feel that way too.

That's right. Emotionally supporting the mom does wonders for her and the baby as well. How? It's essential to understand that baby gets chemical signals through the mother's placenta. 

A new study reveals that this includes signals about how the mother is feeling. Babies in utero can't tell the difference between their mother's feelings and their own.

So a mom's emotions directly affect the health and well-being of her developing baby. Stress hormones crossover the placenta so that if the mother is feeling particularly stressed out, her baby will feel stressed.

That's why it's essential for Mom's health and her baby's development that Mom manages her stress well and calms herself when needed so your baby can calm down too.

So you can think of caring for your pregnant partner as also caring for your baby--you get both advantages. The more content mom is, the more those emotions transmit to the baby, and the happier baby is.

Studies show that babies born feeling anxious or fearful are more likely to grow into insecure children and adults. Likewise, babies who feel safe and secure are more likely to become confident children and adults.

So pamper your partner.

Of course, this will mean taking on some new responsibilities to lighten her load, such as running errands, scheduling appointments, scheduling a recurring date night, or taking on baby proofing activities.

It means doing whatever mom needs during a pregnancy that can help her out, for instance, shopping and taking over the household chores for a while.

And never shy away from simply asking your partner the best way to support her. Reach out to family and friends if they can help.

If you know the sex of your baby, or even if you don't, you may want to begin work on the nursery. This brings on a great deal of closeness with your unborn child, thinking about their potential future as you work.

working on nursery to bond with baby

If you have other kids in the family, another way to help your partner is to take care of parental duties for the day giving mom a break and letting her and baby relax.

Remember helping mom is helping baby, and of course, there's the quality time you get to spend with your kids before the new baby arrives.

Involved dad blowing bubbles with two children

7. Reevaluate the Division of Labor

This is also an excellent time to reevaluate the division of labor in your household. Even with both parents working outside the home, surveys show that moms still do most household work.

It's time to make sure there's some equity here. You also may need to make accommodations because many pregnant women may have challenges limiting what they're physically able to do.

8. Understanding Changes In Emotion

There may also be complex emotional changes going on in mom--a topic worthy of another blog--and there may be a lot of mood swings and frustrations and venting that goes along with it.

Part of your job as a husband is to let her vent and be as understanding and accommodating as possible. If you can support each other now, you can help each other through anything.

So be proactive and look around for things that you can do. Look for the places where you can make a difference.

Doing so will go a long way in making you feel like an equal partner and a parent who's pulling your weight. Don't wait to be asked.

9. Sharing in Baby Plans and Activities

You may jointly decide on baby items, shop for them, and select a name for your child, create a birth plan and participate in household chores.

Preparing for the labor and delivery process can help you feel more connected with your unborn baby and help to relieve some anxiety.

Make a birth plan together and decide on the kind of birth experience you envision, whether at a hospital, birth center, or home.

You can also discuss in advance with your partner whether you are going with an epidural or non-medicated natural birth.

This is a time to decide who you want to have in the room when giving birth and what you want to pack for the hospital.

10. Bonding Before Birth By Talking About Baby's Future 

Of course, pick out your baby's name together and talk about her future, your hopes and dreams for her.

couple dreaming of unborn baby's future

What kind of person will she turn out to be? Where might she go to college? Should you start a college fund now?

Sharing in these activities makes husband-and-wife feel like a team in raising the baby and contributes to that bonding feeling with your unborn baby.

For the best bonding experience with your unborn child, you must consistently be bonding with your partner as well.

11. Become An Expert In Baby Things

Dads can be great researchers and voluntarily take the lead in figuring out the best crib, best baby toys, best bassinet, and best baby car seat. They can research what important pieces of gear you might need, such as breast pumps, and become the expert on how it operates. This will serve the dual role of taking a lot of pressure off mom and helping with baby bonding.

12. Discuss If Mom Is Possibly Holding You Back

Yes, it can happen now and after delivery. Most mothers invite all the help they can get in raising their children. And most mothers believe that dads don't get enough credit for what they do.

Still, it's a fact that 40% of dads state that they would like to be more involved in raising their children but feel that their partner interferes with their involvement. This is worth talking about.

Some children develop a preference for dad when mom is pregnant.

Though they understand that mom loves them, they may sense that she is temporarily more preoccupied and naturally attach themselves to the parent who seems less preoccupied.

Once a new baby is born, the older children often bond more strongly with dad, who is sometimes the more available parent following delivery.

So make sure through clear communication that mom holds no attitudes preventing you from bonding just as much as possible with your unborn baby.

13. Staying Healthy Eating Together

Remember, mom is eating for two. You can help support the health of mom and baby by cooking and having healthy meals together.

Nourishing meal for pregnant mom

Choosing the right kinds of foods for a pregnant mom-- also another blog topic--helps with the growth and development of your baby.

For instance, a pregnant woman will require certain crucial ingredients for the natural development of her child, including enough calcium, folic acid, iron, and protein.

This is important for the development of important organs. These ingredients also help develop the baby's teeth and bones and increase the blood's oxygen supply.

14. Practicing Breathing Exercises

Practicing breathing exercises together will help a pregnant woman to effectively breathe for herself and her baby at a time when her enlarging uterus takes up more space, resulting in additional pressure on her diaphragm.

Here's another instance where you can help baby and mother out. You may want to sit on a folded blanket or yoga mat or simply on the floor or perhaps on a chair with your spine upright.

You can practice breathing exercises together, learning from a class or Utube videos.

15. Massage Your Partner's Belly

Gently massaging your partner's belly can help relieve discomfort and itchiness caused by the growing baby bump. And baby may start to realize when you're touching mother's belly.

Babies can sense when touch and voice are familiar, and while they can feel any touch, they develop a preference for certain people.

You can think of pregnancy as a time when babies get to know people who will play an essential role in the outside world.

So massage your partner's belly often if she enjoys it, and your baby may start to know it's you who's touching mom's belly.

There are often baby massage classes and baby care classes available that fathers can attend that help build confidence in first-time dads.

16. Exercise Together

Juggling between backache exhaustion and ever-present nausea, sometimes a woman's condition may seem like the perfect excuse to drop her routine workout entirely.

But leading experts recommend that if your pregnancy is developing typically, some regular exercise as prescribed by your doctor will pay off.

Some Pilates exercises or yoga are excellent, and so is simply taking a walk.

However, exercising during pregnancy may not be a good idea if you're dealing with preeclampsia, preterm labor, or other conditions.

Getting your partner involved can also help by having a second person monitor your exercise routine, making sure, for instance, that it is not too strenuous. It can also help strengthen your commitment to a regular exercise routine.

Remember, the goal is to feel good, not to break any records.

17. Imagine Your Baby's Possible Future With You 

Another way to bond with your unborn baby is to imagine what it will be like when he or she grows up. Think of the things you'll be able to do together.

This may include some of your favorite hobbies and activities, as well as things you did with your mom and dad growing up. You can also make or buy something connected to future activities with your child.

It may be a set of Bob Books teaching them how to read; it may be a musical set of toys or a miniature fishing rod.

Anything that gives you a feeling of the future that lies ahead together and anticipating the adventures you'll have. The more time you invest in thinking about baby, the warmer your bond will be.

18. Writing Letters To Your Baby

Experts recommend that this be a combined effort by both the couples; however solo letters are also fine. This provides parents an opportunity to write down their thoughts and aspirations for their yet unborn child. This can turn out to be a more powerful and moving experience than you might first imagine.

19. Bonding Before Birth By Talking To Your Unborn Child

About 24 weeks in, at the beginning of your second trimester, all five of baby senses are engaged and taking in the environment.

So say hello and goodbye to the baby in mommy's belly as you would to anyone else. Baby is conscious and listening, and you want to acknowledge her presence. This is a great way to bond with your unborn baby.

Talk to the baby in Mom's womb throughout the day. You may be surprised to find your baby kicking around excitedly after hearing your voice.

Keep in mind that babies in the womb are aware of being loved and wanted. And they start to form ideas about how safe or threatening a place the world is before birth. 

Babies can create emotional connections with the father's voice before birth. Dad's voice can be soothing to the baby by letting the child know that he is safe.

dad bonding with baby before birth

Your baby probably enjoys your tone of voice, the excitement in it, and the love coming from the words. They can also recognize the voices they heard in utero after they are born.

There is also ongoing research suggesting that prenatal communication can stimulate your baby's brain. So by talking to your baby, you may be helping to develop synaptic connections and better cognitive ability.

The earlier these develop, the better. Talking to baby may also increase motor skills and provide for higher Apgar scores.

If you have to be away a lot on the job, you can record your voice using your phone or a recorder and let mom play it to the baby while you're away.

You can also call up relatives and have them talk to your baby so the baby will get some introduction to these people.

20. Sing To Your Baby

You will be singing to your baby soon enough, so you may as well let your unborn child get used to your voice now.

You can sing a lullaby to your unborn child or play an instrument, both of which help develop an early love of music. Remember that babies like their music soothing and gentle.

21. Playing DJ To Your Unborn Child

You can also play DJ to your baby by taking a pair of headphones, placing them gently around your partner's pregnant belly, and filling the sound with your favorite baby playlist.

headphones for baby music

This may be classical music, contemporary music, or baby songs. Just don't crank it up too high and keep the style of music on the gentle side.

Or you can use Wusic, which is a belly speaker to play your favorite baby hits from over your phone. This is sure to keep the volume at a safe level.

Catherine Moore

Catherine Moore, an early childhood music educator, warns that "the hearing of fetuses and infants is extremely sensitive, which means the sound levels we expose them to need to be on the gentle side."

So create an ideal playlist for your baby and see if you can get an idea of what kind of music she prefers. You might find baby kicking up a storm to certain songs or types of music.

22. Read To Your Unborn Child

Choose books that you and mom love to read and want your children to know about. Don't be thinking that it's too early to expose them to literary material. The earlier, the better.

Remember that babies are listening to you and through you. A great way to stimulate your baby is by reading a bedtime storybook such as Dr. Seuss's "Oh, Baby, The Places You'll Go! "

Or perhaps the classic, "Good Night Moon" or a Curious George book. Or make up stories and adventures of your own to tell your unborn child.

23. Talk about Your Worries and Concerns

We think of pregnancy as all happiness and bliss, and many times it is.

Still, many fathers find that it brings on concerns about finances, mother's health, and how you will handle all the upcoming responsibilities.

You may have insecurities about your ability to bond with your baby. After all, communication is primarily a one-way street before the baby is born.

Or you may be going through some personal concerns over your fitness to raise a child.

You may be thinking about living a more balanced and organized lifestyle or perhaps working less hard or less long or making personal changes such as quitting smoking.

Talk with mom about any concerns you may have, and talk with other new dads to see if they have any tips about having a baby. Remember, reaching out for help is a sign of strength.

It's also important not to be too critical of yourself over what you can't control. Most dads have to work, and every father has to figure out what works in his busy life.

Give yourself credit for what you can do and strive to hit as many vital milestones as possible. Also, spend a little time each day talking to the baby while in the womb.

24. Discuss Parenting Styles

You can have conversations with mom about raising a child at different stages of life. This will draw you closer to one another and to baby.

What do you think parenting will look like at age 3, age 5, age 15? Do your styles seem complementary? There are unlimited possibilities for healthy discussions which will make your bonds grow stronger.

25. Planning The Baby Nursery

You and your partner can discuss designing a nursery for your unique infant. If this is the plan, you'll need to accomplish it no later than the 35th week, considering the expected delivery around the 36th week.

Hopefully, going through the checklist and discussing color themes, lighting, toy baskets, and furnishings will help bring you closer together and to the baby. It may also help Mom and you to feel that you are nesting. 

You might talk about how to paint the baby's nursery. While there is still debate over it, the fact is your baby may not perceive colors for a while.

As a general rule, serene or pastoral green is an attractive neutral color for nurseries, or perhaps lavender or lilac for baby girls and baby blues for a boy.

However, the color scheme is entirely up to the parents, and there is no right answer.

26. Create a Gift for Your Upcoming Child

Even if you're not particularly artistically inclined, create or craft something for your baby that's memorable. It's guaranteed to be a gift that's both meaningful and unique.

This can range from a woodworking project to a unique baby shower invitation. Creating something brings with it a sense of accomplishment and is beneficial through all stages of life.

It also improves self-esteem, relieves stress, and helps one to focus on their unborn child. Many websites can help you with fantastic craft ideas, such as favecrafts.com and pinterest.com.

27. The Kicker

Although the exact time varies, dads can usually feel the baby kick at around 24 weeks. Feel your baby kick as often as you can.

You can play a guessing game, trying to see if you can tell whether you are feeling your baby's foot, hand, knee, head, or bottom.

dad bonding with unborn baby

dad bonding with unborn baby

Sometimes a baby will play with dad by kicking or punching wherever dad lays his hand. Put your hand on a different spot on the belly and see if baby knocks back.

And before we close out, think of all the rewards there are for bonding with your child. Just look at these statistics:

  • 90% of dads say that parenting is their greatest joy
  • 85% of dads say that being a father is the world's best job
  • 73% of dads say their lives began when they became a dad
  • 62% of dads want more information on how to be a great dad
  • 84% of parents believe the child is better off when both parents are fully involved
  • 64% of moms and dads agreed that dads don't get enough credit for what they do in raising and caring for their children

You may wish to peek ahead to dad bonding with baby at birth and even dad bonding with baby months 3-6.

I hope you've enjoyed this blog, and I would love to hear from you. I respond to all. Enjoy your baby-to-be. Happy bonding and happy parenting!

About the author 

Dan Sperling

I'm the proud father of two great children. They are grown up now, and although I would have preferred to be a stay-at-home dad, I had to work. Luckily, I could work out of my home so I was around a lot. I ran a video production company, had a couple of great guys working with me and it allowed me to be around the children a lot. I was the "fun guy" for my kids and fathering was something I just took to.
When my daughter became pregnant, I was glad to see my son-in-law was doing everything right--or as good as it gets--we're always winging it, right? It got me thinking that so many dads would like to be more emotionally involved and knowledgeable when it comes to their wives' pregnancy and the first year of their children's lives.

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