From the first bout of morning sickness to the inaugural fluttering kick, mom and baby are connected. So much so that you might find yourself idly singing to baby, or choosing meals based on what's best for her. But is your partner feeling left out? Here's how dads can bond with their unborn baby, and how his early closeness benefits everyone in the long run.
First off, know that talking to your belly isn't just frivolous fun. As Laurel Wilson, B.S., International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) explained to Fit Pregnancy, humming, singing, and chatting to your baby are acts of prenatal bonding that help create a "peaceful pregnancy experience." And that peacefulness is really important, because it nurtures your baby's health by reducing harmful feelings of stress.
But there's more to prenatal bonding than chemistry, because connecting with a new baby also helps prepare both moms and dads for the coming adventures of parenting. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), when parents bond with their babies while they're still in the womb, the benefits are seen well into toddlerhood. But for fathers, bonding is often more of a challenge than it is for moms.
"Dads absolutely feel less connected to the baby because unlike the mom, we don't feel baby growing and moving inside us," explains Dr. Jay Warren, host of the podcast "Healthy Births, Happy Babies," and creator of the prenatal bonding course Connecting with Baby, in an email interview with Romper. "We don't experience our bodies changing day-to-day throughout the pregnancy, which reminds us that we are parents to a new life coming forth."
Don't worry, though. By working a few simple practices into the family schedule, you can help a father-to-be experience the joys of pregnancy right along with you while building a healthier, happier environment for your baby.