Hearing the baby’s heartbeat, feeling the first flutter of movement, getting that first real kick… some of the most special moments during pregnancy are simply magical.
I can still remember the rush of joy that these experiences inspired. That close bond between Mama and baby during pregnancy is like nothing else.
It’s easy to see why. A mother and her baby are connected at nearly every level, viscerally, physically, emotionally, and psychologically. As a result, a baby can recognize its mother’s heartbeat, voice, and touch all while still in the womb.
That can sometimes leave Dad wondering if the baby can tell when he’s talking to or rubbing their partner’s pregnant belly.
Have you ever wondered if your baby can feel Dad’s touch on Mom’s belly? Learn about the connection between a baby and their dad before birth.
Can a Baby Tell When Dad Touches Mom’s Belly?
An unborn baby becomes very familiar with their mom’s voice, touch, and internal sounds. In fact, while a fetus is developing its senses throughout the pregnancy, their sense of touch develops during the second trimester. This means that by four months gestation, an unborn baby can feel it when their mom strokes her belly.
Babies enjoy familiar touch and even respond more frequently when it’s a touch they’re used to. Inevitably, babies will respond more often to their mother’s caress, since pregnant women have more opportunities to stroke and talk to their own tummy and connect with the little one inside.
So, it comes as no surprise that many dads want to know if their baby recognizes their touch as well.
Since babies respond more frequently to touch and sounds that are familiar, it’s important for fathers to touch the belly of their pregnant partner as often as possible. The more time they spend talking to and rubbing the mother’s belly, the more likely it is that the baby will recognize both their dad’s voice and touch.
It’s common for babies to respond differently to different sounds and feels coming from the outside world. Since they can differentiate between the sources of touch, it’s likely that babies will know that it’s someone other than Mom.
By 25 to 26 weeks of pregnancy, babies in the womb can respond to noises and voices. And by 32 weeks, they can recognize their father’s voice.
The more often that Dad can talk to the baby while rubbing his partner’s stomach, engaging more of the baby’s senses, the more likely the baby will be able to recognize that it’s Dad.
Sometimes fathers complain that the baby stops moving when they touch or talk to the baby bump. It could simply be bad luck or it could be the baby’s way of responding to a new, different, or unfamiliar voice or touch. So, it’s important to engage often.
9 Ways Dad Can Bond with Baby While They’re in The Womb
Making sure that the dad is bonding with his baby before it’s born is an important part of the pregnancy and parenting journey. While the delight of those first baby kicks slowly wears off for most pregnant mothers as the baby grows and baby movements become common and even painful, most fathers relish the moments when they can feel their baby kicking.
At around 19 weeks, most dads can feel the baby kick in the lower part of the stomach, since the top of the uterus is just below the belly button. As the baby grows and becomes more active, it’s easier to feel those little movements. The more often Dad spends touching and talking to his baby, the more likely the baby will be to respond.
A father’s bond with his children is special and there are some things they can do to strengthen that connection while the baby is still in the womb.
1. Talk and sing to the baby
The more often that you can speak to the baby, the more connected you’ll be. By the third trimester, even though the sounds are muffled by the amniotic fluid, the baby can hear words, and some experts believe that language development begins even before birth. So be sure to take advantage of that and chat up your baby as much as possible!
2. Massage and touch
You should caress your partner’s pregnant belly often, especially when coupled with talking or singing. Baby is more likely to respond to familiar touch and sound, creating an increased bond. It’s a compound effect. The more time you spend touching Mom’s belly, the more likely the baby is to recognize you, and the deeper your connection.
3. Respond to baby’s kicks
In the last trimester, gently push back against the baby’s movement or rub where the baby is kicking and see if there is a response. It’s important for Dad to find the times when the baby is the most active in order to best interact.
4. Learn about the pregnancy process
The more you know about your baby’s development, what your partner is experiencing, and what to expect, the more connected you’ll be to your baby and the pregnancy journey in general.
Understanding the details of what’s happening from the first trimester on, can help fathers feel closer to their soon-to-be son or daughter and builds much-needed empathy for their pregnant partner.
5. Go to the appointments
Accompany your partner when she goes in for doctor appointments. While making every single appointment might be logistically impossible, be sure to prioritize the times when you’re hearing the baby’s heartbeat and seeing the ultrasound images. Those moments are so special and as the dad, you’ll feel closer to mother and baby if you’re a part of them.
When you hear the first whoosh of a heartbeat or see your baby’s little hands and feet and face for the first time, it’s something you’ll never forget. It’ll go a long way in strengthening your connection and bond with your little one.
6. Get ready for the big day
Dads, you should start preparing early, knowing what your role is when your partners go into labor and understanding the birth plan. Getting involved in the entire process, going to prenatal classes, and finding ways to be supportive are all ways to deepen the bond with your baby.
7. Take care of Mom
Taking care of your baby’s mom is one of the best ways for you to stay close and connected. Making sure that Mom is comfortable and well cared for is another way of caring for and staying close to the baby.
8. Stay connected to your partner
Pregnancy is an emotional roller coaster, to say the least. Between the hormones, body changes, and impending life changes, to say that it can be overwhelming can feel like an understatement. Growing, preparing for, and birthing a human being requires a lot and every woman experiences it differently.
As her partner, you can help by staying connected to her, asking her questions, and helping her stay on top of her mental health. If you sense that she’s struggling, don’t hesitate to reach out for support and help. Start by reaching out to her OBGYN, they are certain to have the resources you and your partner will need.
9. Find your own support
Talk to friends, fellow dads, and guys in your family who are fathers. Listening to them talk about their experiences and sharing yours is a healthy, helpful way to better and more deeply understand the journey of becoming a father.