Parenthood is one of the most fulfilling journeys anyone can ever undertake. Nurturing, caring, and bonding with the child create memories that last a lifetime.
Around 300,000 births occur each year in Australia. For each parent, the health and welfare of their yet-to-be-born child are of utmost importance.
Parent-child relationships are complex and dynamic. Most are arguably unbreakable. So, when does the bond start to become strong? Is it immediately after the baby is born? Or does it grow as soon as you hear your baby’s heartbeat for the first time on a fetal doppler, even before birth? To answer these questions, we have to delve into the nature of Prenatal attachment.
What is Prenatal bonding?
Research indicates that a parent-child bond starts developing during the time of pregnancy. Prenatal bonding is the attachment that grows between a parent and their fetus. As Prenatal bonding intensity increases, Postpartum attachment also has been shown to increase correspondingly.
This attachment is said to happen at three levels:
- Emotional bonding
- Behavioral bonding
- 3. Cognitive function
Scientists define Prenatal attachment as an abstract concept. It signifies the affiliative connection between the fetus and a parent. It refers to emotional and cognitive capabilities to envision and comprehend another living being within an evolutionary environment.
Why is Prenatal bonding vital?
During this process, parents envision the baby’s growth in the forthcoming years. This bonding process aids parents to have more love and compassion for the baby. Consequently, this bond inspires them to take a proactive role in nurturing the baby after birth. Therefore, this bond could be a significant factor in shaping the quality of a parent-child relationship after birth.
Additionally, the process of bonding that starts during pregnancy develops after the baby is born. Prenatal bonding is considered the earliest form of parenting by evolutionary biologists.
Globally the rate of depression in expecting mothers is 10%, and it is gradually increasing. The levels can be reduced by taking some steps to develop the bond with your unborn and following relaxing procedures to reduce stress.
How to bond with your baby when you are pregnant:
Here are some ways that might help to start forging a bond with your baby before birth.
- Have a conversation or sing to your baby. Science says that around 18 weeks, the baby begins hearing sounds.
- Touch and or massage your belly gently. Babies start feeling pain and are responsive to touch from 22 weeks.
- Be responsive to your baby’s kicks. They are awake when you sleep, as babies generally sleep when there is movement. They like the feeling of being rocked to sleep.
- The baby can listen and remember sounds before birth, play relaxing music or lullabies.
- Spend time in reflection. Keep a journal to record your pregnancy journey.
- Get an ultrasound. A fetal doppler is a mobile ultrasound device. It can sense the fetal heartbeat. It employs the Doppler effect to simulate the soundwaves of a heartbeat. Listening to your baby’s heartbeat can be a surreal experience. It can serve in bonding with your baby as it all instantly feels ‘real.’
- Find time for relaxing exercises. Spend time in meditation. Research has shown that low-stress levels in the mother can affect the baby positively.
Prenatal care is equally important as postpartum care. Being a conduit to bring a new life into the world is an immensely significant task. Enjoying the journey with its highs and lows is the secret to successful parenting.