Bonding with Your Unborn Baby Through Books

On March 28, 2011, in Blog, Research, by Bellybuds

If you’re like most expectant parents, the last few months of your pregnancy will probably be a whirlwind of shopping, preparing, and painting—and a whole lot of waiting. In between tasks, you’ll likely feel impatient and anxious for your little one to arrive. While you won’t see your baby’s face until he’s made his debut, you don’t have to wait until delivery to begin interacting with him.

The womb is not a quiet environment. As early as six months in utero, your baby is already accustomed to the sound of his mother’s heartbeat, the rushing of blood through the umbilical cord, and digestive sounds. Although noises from outside the womb—like the voices of his future parents—will be about 10 decibels lower, they’ll be perceived with amazing clarity. From week 25 on, your baby will use sound as his primary connection to the world and his central source of information about what’s going on outside of your womb.

Now that your baby is primed to hear what you have to say, what better way to introduce yourself than by sharing a favorite book?

• Benefits for your Unborn Baby

You’ve most likely seen a photo of a pregnant woman with headphones on her belly, piping classical music into her unborn baby’s ears. It may seem silly, but some experts believe that there are some valid advantages of exposing the fetus to music and books. While it’s unclear as to whether the baby actually derives educational benefits, many studies have shown that fetal heart rates slow when the mother is speaking, indicating that the baby is comforted by her voice. This early bonding sets the stage for a lifetime of healthy relationships.

• Benefits for Parents

Pregnancy can be fraught with uncertainty and second-guessing, especially when you’re expecting your first baby. As the due date nears, future moms and dads may worry about how they’ll connect with their little one when he enters the world. Reading to your unborn baby provides an opportunity to slow down, take a break from all the frenzied preparations, and get in some valuable bonding time that goes well beyond shopping for strollers and decorating the nursery. As you talk to your unborn baby, you’ll gain a fresh appreciation of the person he’ll soon become.

• What to Read?

A great place to start is Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by DR. SEUSS. An inspirational book for readers of all ages—especially for those about to set off into a new part of their life. Especially fitting for the birth of a new baby, this book lets readers take a deep breath and get ready for the next adventure. The rollicking verse happily tells readers about the great heights they’re sure to soar to, while also being realistic by warning readers to expect some lumps and bumps along the way. And in the end . . . “will you succeed? Yes! You will Indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.).”

What book did you treasure most during your own childhood? Whether it was Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss orBambi, bringing these timeless classics back into the limelight will be just as fun for you as for baby. When your baby enters the world, the books you shared during pregnancy will take on even more meaning when you read them to your newborn, and what better way to begin than with the wonderful DISNEY and DR. SEUSS classics you were raised with?

While there are still many unknowns about prenatal development, it’s become evident that bonding–and perhaps even learning–can start well before a baby enters the world. Prenatal reading is a great way to kick-start early literacy skills that will extend into infancy and beyond.

Prenatal Child Development Tips

• Can You Hear Me?

Yes, and sooner than you might think! By 18 weeks, a baby can hear the sound of your heartbeat and loud noises from the outside world. By 25 weeks, he can begin to distinguish the voices of those closest to him—especially those of his mother and father. Don’t be afraid to bond with your belly. Get into the habit of relaxing in a glider with your favorite childhood book and reading to your baby every evening. These relaxing prenatal reading sessions will help you get a head start on bonding with your little one through books, and will expose your baby to the basic sounds that will form the foundation of his native language.

• Soothing Words

Your voice is the most familiar and soothing sound to your unborn baby. Studies have found that an unborn baby’s heart rate slows down when his mother is speaking, indicating a sense of calm. By spending time talking to and reading to your baby, you can start bonding with him before he enters the world. Don’t wait until birth to share favorite lullabies and stories—whenever you have a few minutes to spare, grab a book and read aloud or sing to your baby before turning in for the night. Don’t be surprised if you notice him physically responding to your voice.

• All in the Family

While his mother’s voice will probably be the most familiar to an unborn baby, also encourage other family members and close friends to talk and sing to your belly. This will help baby associate their voices with love, safety, and comfort, so he’ll be more likely to feel comfortable with them as a newborn. This “team communication” can also serve as a strengthening bond between parents.

• Sound it Out

While we hear sound firsthand, it has to travel a bit farther to get to your unborn baby. His ears are covered in a thick coating of vernix, the waxy substance that protects his skin. There are also some other layers the sound has to get through, such as your belly and uterus. Given all of these factors, it’s rather surprising that your unborn baby can hear sounds with impressive clarity, although they’ll be somewhat lower in volume than when you hear them. At this stage, enunciation isn’t as important as hearing the tones and cadences of his parents’ voices.

• Natural Responses

Don’t be alarmed if you begin to feel your baby physically responding to the world outside the womb. In the wake of a sudden loud noise, like a car door slamming, a wailing siren, a barking dog, or a heavy book dropping to the ground, you may notice your baby kicking or jerking suddenly. When this happens, you can soothe your baby by rubbing your stomach and speaking to him in a calming, soothing voice.

Originally posted at


Pregnant women taught to sing to babies at NHS hospital

On March 28, 2011, in Blog, by Bellybuds

Pregnant women are being taught to sing to their unborn babies in a pioneering project at an NHS hospital.

7:00AM GMT 22 Mar 2011

The “womb song” classes are intended to boost language skills in infants and also help mothers develop a closer bond with them.

Women who attend the classes are taught how to sing a range of songs including rounds and lullabies – although not nursery rhymes.

Maya Waldman, who runs the project, said: “The repertoire is a selection of quite simple and inspiring songs from around the world. They are quite soulful, some are uplifting and some relaxing.

“One of the goals is increasing the chance of people singing to their children.”

The Womb Song workshops, which started in January for women booked into the maternity unit at Chelsea and Westminster NHS foundation trust in west London, are based on the idea that unborn babies respond to music and their parents’ voices.

It is hoped that singing “can provide emotional, social, educational and physical benefits for women and their babies during pregnancy, labour and after birth”.

The classes are intended to “strengthen communication” between mother and child but also “prepare for labour through vocal and breathing exercises”, and “build musical confidence and repertoire”.

So far about 10 mothers-to-be have been attending the 90-minute classes, which are part-funded by the local authority and the hospital’s health charity and free for the participants.

They are thought to be the first singing for health project aimed at pregnant women in the NHS.

Anna Matthams, arts assistant for the Chelsea and Westminster’s health charity, said: “Singing is a very early form of communication and expression.

“The baby’s auditory system is one of the first things to develop and there’s a lot of physiological evidence that singing helps with language development.”

Liz Neale, a first-time mother who has attended the classes, said she felt self-conscious talking to her baby in the womb but enjoyed singing to her.

“I’m a first-time mum but we were very calm and relaxed for her birth at Chelsea and Westminster – I’m sure the singing really helped,” she said.

Article originally posted at



Bonding with Baby, During Pregnancy

On March 17, 2011, in Blog, by Bellybuds

by By Elizabeth Geiger

By nature, mothers are nurturers. From the moment of conception, a mother’s love will greatly influence her baby’s journey through life. As babies are conceived out of love, they need to be cared for and loved. Bonding with your baby doesn’t have to wait until birth. Mothers can bond with their baby throughout their pregnancy.

Babies need to have their most basic needs met. From their mothers’ body they receive the nourishment needed to grow and thrive outside the womb. Mothers must establish a healthy pregnancy lifestyle to make sure their baby is getting all he needs to be healthy at birth. This means having routine prenatal visits to your doctor or midwife, eating a healthy diet, and establishing a routine exercise program.

Mothers can connect with their unborn baby through touch and relaxation. When a woman massages her belly using both hands, hormones are released which relax the uterus. This in turn calms and relaxes the baby. This is one of the examples of baby “knows” how you are feeling. Try to be relaxed during pregnancy. Take time to pamper yourself. This will let your baby know that everything is alright, and that he is safe and secure.

Women tend to daydream about their babies during pregnancy. I like to call it meditation for connecting with baby. While sitting peacefully, and daydreaming about her baby, a woman almost creates a telepathic connection. This is how I felt while pregnant with my first daughter. We were making a mother-child bond. I would concentrate really hard on my baby. I would try to image her inside me; what she was doing, what she was thinking. She would then reward me with a kick, or a squirm to let me know she was alright. I can’t think of a more nurturing way to connect than through meditating or daydreaming.

Mothers can also connect with their baby through music. Babies like the rhythmic sounds of music, (like a heartbeat, or breathing), as it is very calming. If you put a tape player with headphones on your belly while lying down, and play a lullaby or classical music, most babies, in the third trimester, will respond by kicking or moving. A baby will also respond to his mother’s voice, whether you are humming or singing, your baby can hear you and knows you are with him.

Mothers and Fathers can both bond with their baby by nurturing their own relationship. After all, the baby was conceived out of love, and needs to feel that love throughout pregnancy and life. Continue dating your partner throughout pregnancy. Laugh with each other and don’t be afraid to make love. Most women are able to have sexual relations throughout pregnancy, but check with your doctor first to make sure you are not considered as having a “high risk” pregnancy. Nurturing your own relationship will ensure your baby will be born feeling loved and nurtured. The time you share together now will also help your relationship later when you face the many challenges as new parents. As a couple, you will enter into parenthood with open arms for your baby.

Elizabeth Geiger is the editor and founder of The Baby Corner website. She lives in New York With her husband Scott and two daughters, Cassi and Hannah.


Not “happy”? Having kids may help…

On March 15, 2011, in Blog, by Bellybuds
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