You don't need to wait until your baby is born to bond with them. Pregnancy can be the perfect time to start forming an attachment with your baby, which is very important for their development once your baby is born.
What might babies experience in the womb?
As you baby grows in the womb, their senses will begin to develop.
While they are developing your baby may start to recognise certain sounds from your language. Some research suggests that very early language development may start before birth.
Unborn babies’ eyes start to open between week 25 and week 28. They begin to sense light during weeks 29 to 32. Your baby’s eyes will continue to develop after they are born.
Between week 24 and week 25 of pregnancy, your baby may start to be able to feel pain.
How I can bond with my baby during pregnancy?
Here are some things that might help you and your baby to start forming a bond before birth:
- talk and sing to your baby
- gently touch, rub or massage your belly
- respond to your baby’s kicks by gently nudging your belly
- play relaxing or calming music to your baby.
It is also important to relax, look after yourself and try not to stress. You can:
- give yourself time to reflect
- go for a walk
- have a warm bath
- write a diary or stories to the baby about what you are experiencing
Your partner or a close friend may be helpful if you are feeling stressed.
How partners and caregivers can bond with my baby?
If you are the partner, you can also bond with the baby by:
- massaging the baby bump — if the pregnant person is happy for you to do so
- feeling the baby kicking as often as you can
- attending ultrasound appointments
- reading and talking with the baby so they get used to your voice
Talking to other parents can help. Share your thoughts and feelings and allow them to share theirs about their pregnancy and birth experience.
It can also help to talk about the birth plan with the baby’s mother and meet the maternity team. The more confidence you have in the pregnancy and birth process, the easier it will be for you to bond with the baby.
How can my other children bond with my baby?
By preparing your toddler or child for the upcoming birth, you can help them bond with the baby. You can:
- talk to them about the baby
- read stories to them about pregnancy and babies
- invite them to touch your belly to feel the baby kicking
You could involve your child in preparation for the birth by:
- taking them shopping for baby supplies
- letting them help set up the nursery
Your child may also like to put a piece of their art on the wall of the baby’s room.
Your feelings and the baby
You may find that instead of being excited about the birth of your baby, you are feeling stressed and confused. Your feelings during pregnancy can affect the baby too. For example, if you are feeling stressed, the baby’s heart rate will respond to this and might increase.
It can help to talk to someone about your feelings. Try to increase your support network and meet other pregnant people to share your experiences.
You should visit your doctor or midwife as soon as you can if:
- you have had a mental health issue before
- you are struggling with feelings from you don’t usually have
- you are struggling with stress
They can suggest support and treatments, such as:
- psychological therapy
- certain antidepressants that can be used safely during pregnancy
Your doctor will help you develop a treatment plan tailored to you.
Resources and support
For more information and advice about bonding with your baby, you can:
- talk to your doctor, child health nurse, or midwife
- find a parenting helpline that suits you through Parentline
- visit the Centre of Perinatal Excellence website
- call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636
Speak to a maternal child health nurse
Call Pregnancy, Birth and Baby to speak to a maternal child health nurse on 1800 882 436 or video call. Available 7am to midnight (AET), 7 days a week.
Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.
Last reviewed: May 2023