Ramping up to Birth Article

Connecting With Your Child before Birth

Remember, mom's connection is hard wired; fathers have to build theirs. 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, he becomes real enough to talk to, and if you do, he will recognize your voice after birth.

Recommended steps in building your connection are as follows:

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.

Get a hold of one and go through it with mom, and you will have taken a big step in tuning into your baby yourself and letting mom 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 3-4 months 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.

The Impact of a Father on His Child
After the birth, a baby is usually scared, screaming, flailing around, and quite frankly, just pissed 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, okay. . . 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 okay. I'm here. You're going to be okay. You're safe. You're my son. I love you. Everything's going to be alright. I'm here now, I'm here."

Remarkably, once the baby heard his father's gentle voice, he would calm down, his body would relax and find rest, he'd become very quiet. The baby's heart would stop racing, his respirations would calm down. This little newborn child would often strain to turn his head towards '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, he knew he was where he was supposed to be. . . within the sound of his father's voice.

My sisters and I had that our whole lives with our father. Whenever we heard our father's voice, we knew everything was going to be okay, we knew we were safe, we were loved. Just the sound of Dad's voice seemed to make everything okay.

- Julie, a former nurse in the newborn nursery, in a eulogy to her father

See Him Move in a Sonogram
You and mom get to see him for the first time when the doctor checks him out on a sonogram, and he might even move while you're watching.

Ask the doctor to describe him, particularly any special features; now is also when his boyhood is visible. He is all there, gaining strength, and this picture is worth a lot more than words.

Feel Him Kick

After six months and a few attempts when mom invited you to put your hand on her tummy, you will feel your baby move for the first time. Whoa, he is really in there!

You have heard him, seen him and now can feel him move. Later on you'll find it amazing how hard your baby can kick. Spoon with mom to feel him move while lying in bed.

Talk to Her
The combination of mom's heart beat, 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 she 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 He 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 herself in a couple of decades what she wants to do, you'll probably think that it is an even better idea.

Don't believe the doctor when they do the ultrasound about the sex of the baby. We actually didn't want to know what it was going to be, but the doctor . . . said it would be a girl.

So we were prepared and had about three names for a girl. And then he popped out and then we go "what's his name?" and then thought "Wait a minute . . ."
- Veteran Da


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