Congratulations on the great news! Now is the time to start your life long love affair with your child-to-be. As the other parent, it can be tough developing a bond with your baby when your partner has a head start. Don’t let this deter you. Making small but sturdy steps to bond with your baby while it’s still in the womb can make it much easier once the big day arrives.
Why is bonding with the bump important?
There are a number of reasons why bonding with the bump is a big plus. Research shows that those who exhibit positive feelings about the pregnancy, and are actively trying to be involved -- such as attending birth classes or doctor’s appointments -- are also more likely to show positive post-birth behaviours. Positive post-birth behaviours can include anything from dedicating time to play with your baby or getting involved with breastfeeding. These behaviours are important for your family’s well being and ultimately shapes your child’s upbringing.
READ MORE: First year as a new parent
Ways to bond with the bump
Did you know that some studies have shown that your baby's heart rate speeds up when it hears mum’s voice? This might indicate that sounds outside of the womb actually have an affect on your baby before it’s even born. So where is a good place to start when bonding with your unborn bub? There are plenty of ways you can bond with the bump that aren’t just your typical stare and touch techniques. You can get creative with your unborn baby through a range of activities;
- Sing. Whether you sound like a young Justin Timberlake or you’re completely tone deaf, the good news is that your little one won’t tell the difference (but your partner might!)
- Read. It can be hard to know what to say to someone you haven’t met, let alone someone that’s not even born - reading can be a more relaxing option
- DJ. If talking, singing or reading isn’t your thing, pump some quality classics to let your bub know what you like
- Hang out. Feeling baby kicks can be quite the experience; enlighten yourself and set aside some time to feel your baby’s movements
Getting involved with the pregnancy
Go beyond the bump and get involved with the pregnancy process. There are many things you can do to be more present and supportive. Here are some ideas to get you started.
- Spread the love. Got the first pic of your little blob? Why not pop it in your wallet and take it on adventures. Show your friends and fam your bub-to-be and get used to taking your baby along for the ride.
- Go to birthing classes with your partner. Impress the nurses with your newfound skills and show your partner what a super-parent you are
- Learn a little. there’s a huge amount of baby books available on the internet, podcasts and much more. Explore what kind of advice suits you and take it from there
If you’re not feeling it
Becoming a new parent is amazing and exciting, yet totally nerve wracking and challenging. It’s not unusual to feel a little different from your normal self, in fact one in 10 new partners struggle with postnatal depression. While sometimes the focus seems to be centered on your partner, it’s important to look after your own needs too. It can be hard to talk about feelings when there’s so much going on, so try to communicate where you’re at with your partner so you can be on the same page.
When and where to seek help
You should seek help if you’re not feeling like your usual self for more than a few weeks, and are experiencing symptoms such as:
- Recurring headaches
- Constant tiredness or exhaustion
- Emotional withdrawal
- Feeling isolated
- Changes in appetite
- Ongoing irritability, anger or moodiness
- High physical stress such as muscle tension
- Suicidal thoughts
- Using alcohol or drugs to ‘escape’
- A loss of interest in things you used to enjoy
If you’re feeling down, it’s important to get help and support as early as possible. It can be as simple as talking to someone you trust, whether that be your partner, family member or friend - you never know, maybe they have had a similar experience. Talking to your local GP or seeing a psychologist isn’t a sign of weakness - rather, it’s a sign that you’re taking care of yourself and your family’s well being. If you’re experiencing suicidal thoughts or disorientation it’s important seek help immediately. Get in contact with beyondblue or call their helpline on 1300 224 636.