Bonding: Baby in the womb

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Pregnant belly
Pregnant belly
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So there’s a new little person getting cosy in your belly? If the thought of a human inside you is a little daunting, or the thought of having a little penis growing slowly in your body is a little strange – fear not, because this is the best time to get to know the bun you’re baking.

Scientists only really started studying the maternal–foetal bond after the 60s, especially after witnessing the grief of a mother losing an unborn child. Some definitions of this bond are emotional, while others are based on the behaviours of a woman during pregnancy. This also gave researchers a guide to assess how women respond to their child after it’s born. They found the greater the bond during pregnancy, then the greater the bond during infancy. This, in turn, affects the child in later life.

Bonding with your downstairs neighbour is a great way to experience the process and challenges of pregnancy.

So what affects the baking of our buns?

The many challenges of pregnancy can affect a woman bonding with her unborn baby in various ways. Unfortunately, women from low socio-economic environments tend to go to the doctor less and have less access to health facilities, so a child may be be premature or have a low birth weight. Because of this, it is always important that, no matter our circumstances, we regularly see our physician so that they can detect any bumps in the road for the bump in your belly!

In the same way, getting the right exercise, diet and prenatal care will help you bond with bub. Your GP can help you with all of this.

It is thought to be easier to bond with your first unborn child, whereas women who are on their third or fourth may need to focus a little more. This is normal and easily remedied. It’s easier when women have a kind, supportive network in their family and friends. Your bond with others will affect how you bond with your baby, so it’s important to maintain great relationships during this time. Yes, sometimes easier said than done, but it is paramount to work towards healthy networks.

You will normally bond more as you start to get bigger – this is mainly because it is far more noticeable to your mind and body. It’s hard to ignore a 4 kg ham sitting on your abdomen, so it’s important to remember that it’s a process, not a switch.

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For women suffering mood disorders, this time can be more challenging, so focusing on bonding with your little person is very important. Your GP can also help you with this, or talking to a counsellor is fantastic.

This is especially important if you have been told you have a high-risk pregnancy, perhaps from previous miscarriages or being pregnant with multiples. There do seem to be some differences in the ability to bond, so talk it out to get it out.

However, drinking or smoking it out is a big NO. Feelings of guilt can really affect how you develop your relationship with the little one, so do both of you a favour and cut out any nasties. If this is difficult, there are many family clinics that can help.

Bonding up a storm: Some tips

Anyone for an ultrasound? Getting a snapshot of your foetus really does help. Everyone likes vacation snaps and you can show your baby the great place he’s been chilling for the past nine months when he or she pops out. It really helps women and men feel connected to the baby.

Also, talk to your foetus. Yes, they hear you – it might be a bit like being underwater, but it’s more for you anyhow.

Massaging the womb feels great for both you and baby too. So gentle touching and massaging of the belly is a great way to build awareness in your mind.

All bonds are different and all bonds are a process. Don’t stress if you feel nervous about bonding with your baby, because there is always someone to talk to about developing your relationship with this strange little foreigner renting space in your place.

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More information

Bonding with your baby during pregnancy For more information, see Bonding With Your Baby During Pregnancy.


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Date Created: November 30, 2011 Date Modified: July 3, 2018