Dads count too, especially when it comes to baby bonding. For a father-to-be, it’s important to find ways to get involved in the baby bonding experience so they, too, can feel that amazing connection with their babies from the start. While bonding can be a bit more challenging for dads than moms, since moms are with the baby all the time, there are definitely some things dad can do to increase his early bonding experience.
1. Talk, talk, talk. Studies have shown that babies are comforted by the sounds of their parents’ voices and that they are able to recognize the voice of their mother and father right away after birth. Dads should take time to talk, sing or read to their unborn babies every day – their voice is just as important as Mom’s voice. If Dad is away on business or in the military, he can record his voice and send it to his wife to play the messages, songs and stories to their unborn baby – this way, baby becomes familiar with dad’s voice even if dad is not there.
2. Up close and personal. Dads can touch or gently massage their wife’s belly to make a physical connection with their unborn baby throughout the pregnancy. Chances are mom will enjoy this rub-down too.
3. Team up. Mom might be carrying the load, but she needs her husband’s support throughout the process – after all, it takes a village to raise a baby. Dad should make an effort to participate in all prenatal doctor visits, ultrasound visits, birthing classes, and he should help shop for the baby’s nursery too.
4. Point and shoot. To help Dad feel connected to his baby sooner, he should carry ultrasound pictures of his baby in his wallet and show off photos of his developing baby to friends, family members and co-workers. This activity will help Dad establish pride in fatherhood early on.
5. Keep track. Dads who enjoy writing should be encouraged to keep a journal of baby’s milestones, such as writing down how they felt the first time they heard the baby’s heartbeat. Dad can write letters to his unborn baby to tell his baby how excited he is to meet him or her. Dads often can understand the concept of legacy even before the baby is born and value the transfer of knowledge and experience. Such letters might be funny or sentimental, but will be a treasured experience the two can share years later.
Dads in general don’t feel the same intense maternal pull that moms feel and there is no “right way” for a dad to bond with his unborn child. Most dads, however, realize the huge responsibility that comes with childbirth and start to bond with their babies through the experiences that happen for a new family before the baby is even born. Through encouraging Dad to take part in these key experiences as a partner, rather than as an uninvolved bystander, Mom can help ensure that Dad is close to the baby from Day 1, and even before.
Adrianne Godart is a licensed massage therapist who focuses on prenatal massage, and also founder of the Lullabelly Prenatal Music Belt (www.Lullabelly.com).