Bonding With Baby Before Birth
Making a connection with your unborn child can strengthen the bond you share, make you feel closer, and enrich you and your baby's lives.
Jeanne Berkowitz is expecting a baby in late January. In
October, Jeanne and her husband went to Hawaii for a "babymoon." While
there, Jeanne got a massage from a woman who works frequently with pregnant
"She told me that it was important to massage my belly
often to introduce the baby to human touch and to the world outside the
womb," Jeanne recalls, adding that she now massages the baby regularly, as
does her husband. "We can often feel him respond by kicking back and
Jeanne says she's not an expert on the benefits of prenatal
massage, but reports that "it's fun for us, helps us (especially my
husband) think of the baby as a real person, and I can't help but think it has
to be good for the baby, too."
Jeanne might be interested to know that there is indeed science
to back up her intuitive feelings. According to Carista Luminare-Rosen, PhD,
author of Parenting Begins Before Conception: A Guide to Preparing Body,
Mind, and Spirit for You and Your Future Child, research shows that babies
in the womb have the emotional and intuitive capabilities to sense their
parents' love. "Prenates can see, hear, feel, remember, taste, and think
before birth," says Luminare-Rosen, founder and co-director of The Center
for Creative Parenting in Marin and Sonoma counties, Calif.
Bonding (also known as attachment), says Marilee Hartling, RN,
prenatal program manager at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, is how
babies -- before and after birth -- learn what the world is all about.
"It's also part of their personality development.
"When there's a healthy attachment between baby and
parent," Hartling says, "the baby comes to believe that the world is a
safe place. This is the beginning of the establishment of trust."
Some parents talk about feeling connected to their baby from
the moment it's conceived, says Hartling. For others, that feeling grows as the
baby develops. Fathers tend to begin bonding later than mothers, for obvious
reasons, Hartling says, but they can help the process along by going to
doctors' visits with the mother, looking at ultrasound pictures, and feeling
the baby's kicks.
When Luminare-Rosen was pregnant, her husband made up a jingle
to sing to their daughter, Kylea, before she was born. It was one way her
husband could feel close to the baby before she was born, and even as an
infant, the jingle would have a soothing effect on Kylea. "Babies can
recognize music they've heard in the womb after they're born," says
Music provides a calm, harmonious environment in which the baby
can grow in the womb, says Luminare-Rosen, who has also developed an audiotape
called "Communing with Your Future Child."
That's not necessarily any music, however, she says.
Studies have shown that babies -- who begin hearing by the 18th week of
pregnancy -- prefer classical music (Mozart and Vivaldi are good standbys), or
any music that mimics the mother's heart rate of 60 beats per minute (lullabies
and New Age music, for example). Hard rock is not the way to go here,
especially since the amniotic fluid amplifies the sound. (An occasional
rock-out tune won't hurt the baby, says Luminare-Rosen, but a steady diet of it
won't make your growing baby all that happy.)