You’ve reached the grand finale of your pregnancy: the third trimester! On one hand, your excitement levels might be at an all-time high as you get closer to meeting your little one. On the flip side, you might also feel anxious about the unknowns – labor, delivery and parenthood.
One way to ease this rollercoaster of emotions is through prenatal bonding. Bonding means creating both emotional and physical ties with your baby. It might sound like something that just happens, but it is a gradual process that can take some time.
In the third trimester, you have a great opportunity to build a deep connection long before your baby is placed in your arms. With the help of Jennifer Steir, a certified nurse midwife with Banner Health, we share 10 ways you can strengthen your connection with your little one.
1. Birth planning and childbirth classes
Birth planning in the third trimester can help deepen the connection with not only your baby but your own body.
“We do better at anything in life when we are prepared. Having children is no exception,” Steir said.
Childbirth education is an important tool that can help arm you with the information you need to feel you are ready to be a parent. Class formats in a group setting can also help you feel a part of a community with the added benefit of more question-and-answer activities.
“It is a common misconception that we all love being pregnant, but that doesn’t mean you are not bonding with your baby if you aren’t,” Steir said. “Taking time to understand more about becoming a parent will help create and intensify a bond before your baby arrives.”
2. Talk, read and sing
Take time each day to talk to your baby, read stories or sing songs. Your baby’s hearing is developing rapidly, and they can now hear the outside world. They may not understand what you are saying, but it is a way for your baby to learn the sound of your voice and get familiar with it.
3. Feel the rhythm
“Your baby communicates daily with movement,” Steir said. “Paying attention to this movement and patterns in the movement is a great way to communicate.”
Take moments throughout the day to sit quietly and pay attention to your baby’s kicks and movements. Gently stroke your belly to acknowledge them and connect.
Invite your partner, child or someone close to you to feel the kicks. It’s a special moment that allows others to connect with the baby, too.
4. Listen to music together
Listening to calming music will not only have a soothing effect on you, but it may also have a positive influence on your baby.
5. See your baby on the big screen
Ultrasounds and other imaging scans provide important information about your baby’s health and well-being while also creating a visual, tangible connection. Research shows that when a pregnant person sees their baby on imaging scans, it can help strengthen the bond they feel for their unborn child.
6. Journal about your journey
Document your thoughts, feelings and experiences during the pregnancy, like when you found out you were pregnant or the baby’s first kicks. It’s a keepsake you can share with your child later, and it helps you reflect on this special time.
7. Visualize and meditate
“Meditation can strengthen your bond with your baby and create a calm and connected environment within the womb,” Steir said.
Use moments of quiet reflection to close your eyes, breathe deeply and focus on the sensations within your body. Visualize yourself with your baby in your arms. It can help create positive associations and a sense of anticipation.
8. Give your little one a nickname
Even if you don’t have a name picked out – or want it to be a surprise – try giving your baby a cute nickname that you can connect to. Naming something immediately increases attachment to it. Giving your baby a nickname can be great for your partner and family, too.
9. Get their space ready
Setting up the baby’s space taps into the nesting instinct many expectant parents experience. This instinct drives you to create a safe and comfortable space for your baby, fostering a sense of readiness and anticipation.
“Choosing the furniture, colors and decorations involves emotional investment, as you envision the space where you’ll spend moments with your little one,” Steir said. This emotional connection deepens as you put love and care into every detail.
10. Enjoy a shared activity
Try prenatal yoga or gentle aerobics classes for expectant parents. The shared activity fosters a sense of connection as you move together. Certain exercises can also help you prepare your body for labor. Remember to check with your health care provider before starting any new exercise routine during pregnancy.
The third trimester is an exciting period of anticipation and growth. Bonding can positively impact you, the baby and even your family. Plus, it sets the stage for bonding after your baby is born.
Remember: bonding is a personal experience that takes time. There’s no magic formula. If you have questions, talk to your health care provider or a Banner Health specialist.