Attachment and bonding during pregnancy

The relationship you, your partner, and your family build with your baby during pregnancy and in the early months is incredibly important. Research has shown that parents-to-be who develop a close connection to their baby before they are born, find it easier to bond with their babies postnatally and are more likely to respond to their babies in an attuned way. This makes it more likely that the baby will develop a secure attachment which has been shown to lead to better outcomes in various aspects of a child's life, including:

  • Emotional Regulation: Babies who feel secure are better at managing their emotions.
  • Social Skills: A strong attachment promotes healthy social interactions and relationships.
  • Cognitive Development: Securely attached children often perform better academically.
  • Resilience: These children are better equipped to handle stress and adversity.

Pregnancy can be the perfect time to start getting to know and bonding with your baby. Involving a partner and other loved ones can also help them connect too. Here are some ideas of how you can try to support this.

Responding to baby's kicks - Gently massaging or touching your bump can create a sense of connection. Try rubbing your bump when your baby moves and you may find that your baby kicks back at you. It can be exciting feeling your growing baby respond to your touch for the very first time! Sharing movements and kicks with your partner, baby's siblings or family members can help them feel more connected too. Responding to your unborn baby's kicks is about as close as you will get to two-way communication before they are born. And you can do it at any time, wherever you are.

Speaking, reading and singing to your baby - From as early as 15 weeks, baby is listening and getting to know your voice. After birth, your new baby will be able to recognise familiar voices, which will help them feel safe and secure. So, try involving your partner or other loved ones too - your baby will love to hear from anyone and it’s great for their development. Talk to your baby about what you’re doing, sing a song or share a story.

Think about the future -Taking a little time to pause and imagine your baby and what they will be like can help you to connect with them. You might want to think and maybe talk with others about what you’re looking forward to doing and sharing with your baby and what your hopes are for them.

Choosing a nickname - Giving your bump a nickname can be a great way to start bonding with your baby and give them a little personality.

Did you know?

From around 25 weeks babies respond to voices and other noises from outside the womb and can recognise their mother’s voice at birth.

Looking after yourself and your baby

Pregnancy brings big changes to your life, especially if it is your first baby. Some people find it easier to cope with these changes than others do.

Whether it’s about your pregnancy or other things in your life, too much stress over the course of your pregnancy can be bad for your and your baby’s health.

It is not always possible to avoid stress in your life, but you can learn how to recognise and deal with it.

  • Try to find time in the day to relax and do something you enjoy.
  • Check in with friends and spend time with people who make you feel good.
  • Eat well, get enough sleep and exercise.

If you are struggling, talking to friend or family can help, and don’t forget that your GP, midwife, and Health Visitor can also provide support.

Visit the Parent and Infant Mental Health page for services that can support. 

After your baby is born, continue to build on the bond established during pregnancy

Find out more about Infant Mental Health here

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