Need to talk? Call 1800 882 436.
It's a free call with a maternal child health nurse. *call charges may apply from your mobile

Is it an emergency? Dial 000
If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately.

beginning of content

Bonding with your baby during pregnancy

5-minute read

Key facts

  • Bonding with your baby when they are in the womb can help their development after they are born.
  • Your baby can hear and feel movement before they are born.
  • There are many ways you can start bonding with your baby while pregnant, such as by speaking to them.
  • Partners, caregivers, and older siblings can also start bonding with your baby while you are pregnant.

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.

Sound

Between week 13 and week 16 of pregnancy, your baby’s hearing will develop. They will start to hear your heartbeat and your stomach rumbling.

Between week 25 and week 28 of pregnancy, your baby may react to noises both inside and outside your womb. They may be soothed by the sound of your voice.

Language development

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.

Sight

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.

Sensation

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.

If you’re planning to be a support person at the birth, go to the prenatal classes as well.

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:

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


Back To Top

Need more information?

Bonding with your baby

Bonding with your baby forms an emotional and physical connection that is important for their development. Learn here how to bond with your baby.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Tips for new parents: Bonding with your baby

Listen to our chat with Vicki Mansfield, mother and mental health accredited social worker, about bonding with your baby in their first year.

Read more on Emerging Minds website

Bonding with newborns & babies: pictures | Raising Children Network

Bonding with babies is about smiling, cuddling, massage, singing, talking, reading and playing. See how to bond with your baby in our illustrated guide.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Breastfeeding Advice For Newborn Babies | Tresillian

When establishing breastfeeding good positioning and attachment are key. Here are some tips from Tresillian to help your breastfeed your newborn.

Read more on Tresillian website

Bonding with your kids | Support For Fathers

Bonding with your kids. Support For Fathers, Fatherhood and Family Relationship Support. Relationships Australia Victoria RAV. Fatherhood Resources Library.

Read more on Support for Fathers website

Dads: premature birth and premature babies | Raising Children Network

After a premature birth, it can be hard for dads. Our dads guide to premature babies and birth covers feelings, bonding, and getting involved with your baby.

Read more on raisingchildren.net.au website

Emotional health for parents during pregnancy and after the birth

When you are pregnant, your baby is exposed to everything you experience. This includes the sounds in the environment, the air you breathe, the food you eat and the emotions you feel. When you feel happy and calm, it allows your baby to develop in a happy, calm environment. However, emotions like stress and anxiety can increase particular hormones in your body, which can affect your baby’s developing body and brain.

Read more on WA Health website

Feeding your Baby - Miracle Babies

Before your baby was born, you may have spent time imagining their birth and how you would care for them

Read more on Miracle Babies Foundation website

Baby movements during pregnancy

Every baby is unique and it is important for you to get to know your baby’s movement patterns.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Getting your pets ready for baby to arrive

Introducing your pets to your baby can be exciting and stressful. Having a plan can help make the transition smooth and safe for your pets and new baby.

Read more on Pregnancy, Birth & Baby website

Call us and speak to a Maternal Child Health Nurse for personal advice and guidance.

Need further advice or guidance from our maternal child health nurses?

Healthdirect Australia acknowledges the Traditional Owners of Country throughout Australia and their continuing connection to land, sea and community. We pay our respects to the Traditional Owners and to Elders both past and present.

This information is for your general information and use only and is not intended to be used as medical advice and should not be used to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical condition, nor should it be used for therapeutic purposes.

The information is not a substitute for independent professional advice and should not be used as an alternative to professional health care. If you have a particular medical problem, please consult a healthcare professional.

Except as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, this publication or any part of it may not be reproduced, altered, adapted, stored and/or distributed in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of Healthdirect Australia.