Dads: Bonding With Baby
From the moment mom's find out they are expecting, life changes. Suddenly every move they make, baby makes, every food they ingest, baby eats. 9 months of connection and bond. 9 months of growing, and rubbing the belly, looking in the mirror at the growing belly, shimmying tight fitting shirts over the belly, and trying to button pants around the belly, mom's are all too aware of the baby inside. Meanwhile dad is just an onlooker. Maybe a little unsure about how to love this person that doesn't yet exist in the outside world. Maybe he's scared about bonding even when she's here on the outside. What's a dad-to-be to do?
Talk. A lot.
By 18 weeks, babies can hear sounds and by 25 weeks, babies can be responsive to sounds and voices. Let her get to know you voice. Talk to the belly. Tell her good morning. Tell her goodnight. Tell her all about your day, she would love to hear about it. And you might just see a little kick, a wave, or a scooting booty, when you sit down to chat. And when baby is earth side, pick a book and read. Babies are stimulated by the sound of voices, and especially yours since she has gotten to know you so well!
Wow. Is there anything cuter than a dad snuggling with his sleeping baby? Giving mom a chance to take a shower, or a nap, or eat some food without a little person connected, can be really lovely; for baby as well. While baby is snuggled up against you, she is learning your smell, connecting you with security, warmth, and comfort. So go ahead and get your snuggle on.
Skin to Skin.
We often think of skin to skin with mom after baby is born, which is great, and oh so important. But it's great for dad too! While mom is perhaps getting stitched up, or getting some extra medical care or rest after the big day, baby would love to have skin to skin time with you too dad! In hospital, or in home, feeling that fresh baby skin on yours is divine, and truly does bond baby to you and your particular scent. As well as help regulated their breathing, regulating temperature, skin to skin is beautiful.
Some dads are the swaddle masters. In the hospital, staff will often give you a swaddle lesson. And if you need reminding, or maybe a different swaddle technique, your doula can be a great refresher. Getting your baby tightly snuggled for the night (or at least till the next feed) can be so rewarding, and a great chance to get into a routine with the little one. Snug as a bug in a rug.
If mom is not exclusively breastfeeding, or you can take a turn with the ol bottle. Paced feeding is helpful and mimics breastfeeding with the timing and amount of milk baby receives. This is a great opportunity to bond with baby as feeding is often baby's most relaxed state. Mom also has the chance to continue sleeping, or doing what ever else she needs to get done.