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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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One of the best ways you can bond with your baby, says Thomas Ivester, MD, clinical instructor in maternal-fetal medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, is by having an ultrasound.

"Bonding during pregnancy gives a mom a better sense of responsibility in caring for herself, and by extension, the baby," he says. "When you can actually see the baby, that increases the feeling that the baby actually exists."

Recent advances in technology have made ultrasounds even more valuable tools, says Ivester. For most of the last 25 years, ultrasound images were available only in two dimensions. In recent years, 3-D ultrasound has been developed. At first, those 3-D pictures took a "painfully" long time to develop, says Ivester, and were produced as still images that were difficult to interpret.

The latest advances in 3-D technology, however, mean that you can now see moving pictures of the developing fetus. "You can actually see the baby's chubby cheeks ... see him sucking his thumb, yawning, turning over," says Ivester. "It's fantastic."

Most 3-D ultrasounds are only being performed in major medical centers at the moment, but parents-to-be are calling from "hours away" to be able to have one done, says Ivester.

"The reaction we get from moms and dads is phenomenal," he says. "They're stunned. All of a sudden, their baby is real."

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