Ages & Stages Pregnancy: Dads Connect With Your Child
Remember, Mom’s connection with a child in the womb is hard wired; Dad has to build his. A good time to start is now, while your little one is in the oven. It may seem surreal at first, but as you track your tiny progeny’s growth and development, she becomes real enough to talk to, and if you do, she will recognize your voice after birth.?? Here are some ways to build that connection. ??
Get the Picture
The much more detailed version of the amazing story of a baby’s development, complete with incredible “in utero” pictures, can be found in books like “A Child Is Born” by Lennart Nilsson.” ??Pick one up and go through it with Mom, and you will have taken a big step in tuning into your baby yourself and letting your wife know you will be there with her every step of the way.??
Listen to Her Heartbeat
Go with Mom to her doctor visits, and you will be able to hear your baby’s heartbeat at 3 to 4 months of age with a stethoscope, and perhaps earlier with an ultrasound device.?? Try a stethoscope on your own heart, and you will find it louder but with the same beat as your baby’s heart.?
See Her Move in a Sonogram
You and Mom get to see your daughter for the first time, when the doctor checks her out on a sonogram, and she might even move while you’re watching. ??Ask the doctor to describe her, particularly any special features; now is also when her girlhood is visible. She is all there, gaining strength, and this picture is worth a lot more than words.??
Feel Her Kick
After six months and a few attempts when your wife invited you to put your hand on her tummy, you will feel your baby move for the first time. Whoa, she is really in there!?? You have heard her, seen her and now can feel her move. Later on you’ll find it amazing how hard your baby can kick. Spoon with Mom to feel your daughter move while lying in bed.??
Talk to Her
The combination of Mom’s heartbeat, blood flow and gastric processes is going to muffle anything you say to her (perhaps a good thing if you decide to sing). It really doesn’t matter, as your baby will recognize your voice after she is born, giving her comfort in her new world.?? Talking is mostly for you, though. There are lots of things to say to your baby, and she has lots of time. So tell her, and discover another of the unexplained mysteries about babies – somehow they seem to understand what we say to them.??
Think About What She Will Be Like
Men initially connect with their babies by fantasizing what they will be when they grow up. In our dreams, our babies generally do the things we like to do, or would want to, sometimes together with us.?? So whether it is joining you in your business, or playing professional golf, your baby can be whatever you want her to be. When she decides for herself in a couple of decades what she wants to do, you’ll probably think that it is an even better idea.??
The Impact of a Father on His Child
After the birth, a baby usually is scared, screaming, flailing around and quite frankly, just ticked off that he’s been born. I would carry the baby into the newborn nursery, start checking his vital signs, etc., and the monitor would show a high heart rate, elevated blood pressure, rapid respirations – all of which reflect how stressed he is.?? Then I’d see the baby’s father hanging around, often not sure what to do, also looking a little stressed and unsure of his surroundings. So I would say, “Come over here, stand right here next to your baby and just start talking to your son.” I would encourage the father to lean down close to his baby and speak some quiet words of comfort. I would say, “It’s, OK … he knows your voice … go ahead and talk to your baby.” ??The father would start to talk to his child, sometimes using his child’s chosen name, and say things like, “I love you. It’s OK. You’re going to be OK. You’re safe. You’re my son. I love you. Everything’s going to be alright.”??
Remarkably, once the baby heard his father’s gentle voice, he would calm down, his body would relax and find rest, and he’d become very quiet. The baby’s heart would stop racing – his respirations would calm down. This little newborn child often would strain to turn his head toward that voice, blinking through the bright lights, instinctively trying to see the voice that he knew so well.?? In this very scary new world outside of his mother’s warm and safe womb, this little child had found peace, he knew he was safe, he knew he was not alone, he knew everything was going to be alright, and he knew he was where he was supposed to be … within the sound of his father’s voice.??
– Julie, a former newborn nursery nurse
Excerpted from “Hit the Ground Crawling: Lessons From 150,000 New Fathers” by Greg Bishop, founder of Daddy Boot Camp. Available at /www.DadsAdventure.com.