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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.

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"Even in the womb the baby can respond," says Luminare-Rosen. When the mother is frightened or upset, for example, the baby's heart rate can double. Stands to reason then, that when the mother is calm and relaxed, the baby will be, too.

Luminare-Rosen says that if you're pregnant you shouldn't worry if you occasionally get upset or angry. "All pregnant women get emotionally upset. But if you're chronically upset, this can have an effect on the child's personality."

By providing a peaceful environment in which you and your baby can bond before it's born, Luminare-Rosen says, your baby gets the message that it's wanted and loved. She suggests communicating those feelings of love by taking some time every day and sitting quietly, with your eyes closed, and telling your baby how welcome it is in your life.

"Even if you're only bonding to a concept at that point, and not the baby itself, you're establishing a connection that will continue after the baby is born," says Luminare-Rosen. "You're expressing your love."

When Luminare-Rosen was pregnant with her daughter, she kept a journal that not only documented her pregnancy, but also included letters to her daughter telling her about her hopes and her fears. "I read the journal to her now so that she knows how loved she has been, from the very beginning," says Luminare-Rosen.

In the prenatal bonding classes that Luminare-Rosen holds, she will play relaxing music, then have the parents (mostly moms-to-be) imagine that they are meeting their child for the first time. "Visualize your child," she suggest. "What is the image you have of the child?"

Luminare-Rosen says that you may see a picture of your child in your mind, you may hear a conversation between you and the baby. "Draw a picture of what you have seen, or write it in your journal," she says. "This will make the visualization that much more conscious."

Marilee Hartling has several tips of her own:

Talk to the baby. Say goodnight before you go to bed, good morning when you wake up, and talk to it throughout the day. "Newborns know their mom's voice after birth," she says. "That's the voice they will turn to."

Feel the baby. Place your hands on your abdomen and rest your hands quietly, feeling the baby kick, or gently massaging the baby. You can even play games with the baby, says Hartling. Press lightly on your abdomen and you'll feel the baby kick back, she says.

On a more serious note, Hartling says that at Cedars-Sinai, more attention is being paid to moms who are suffering from depression or have suffered from postpartum depression in the past (if you have, you're more likely to experience it again). In these cases, medication may be prescribed for the pregnant mom, says Hartling, because it's difficult to bond with your baby when you're depressed.

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