Natural Bonding with Baby During Pregnancy

great joy is coming

Guest Post Written by Michele

When I was pregnant with my son, we chose not to do regular ultrasounds and other prenatal testing. This choice was met by surprise from many women, who assumed that an ultrasound/testing was essential for their information, “peace of mind,” and bonding with their unborn baby. I am not writing this to offend, but hope that in sharing my experiences, it will encourage you to find joy in the simple, traditional pursuits of natural pregnancy.

I personally believe that ultrasounds or other tests should be used with discretion as a tool, not a “toy.” But there are some simple, natural ways to bond with your baby as well as avoid “surprises” during labor/birth! Bonding with your child before their birth can easily be done with some “hands-on” methods, without the “invasiveness” of technology. Most importantly, take some quiet time each day to focus on your baby.

As you rest in stillness, you can concentrate on feeling your little one’s kicks and movements. In the quietness, you can pray over your little one, and practice relaxation techniques for labor. I found that an afternoon naptime or in the evening were the best times for me.

Ideally, begin your pursuit of bonding with your baby as early as possible.

As you begin to feel those little hiccups, kicks, and somersaults, pay attention to their location and frequency. Don’t obsess over documenting kick counts (unless your healthcare provider recommends it); just experience it!

You will be amazed at how this time allows you a glimpse at your child’s personality before they’re born. (How do they respond to your activity, noise level, music, etc. and what seems to soothe them?)

baby foot

Photo Credit: WTL photos

Ways to enhance bonding:

  • I recommend spending some time pursuing Belly Mapping to help you determine your baby’s position before they are born. I found this to be quite accurate in my pregnancy!
  • Practice pelvic tilts and other exercises to help encourage good positioning for your baby, and soothe during labor. Actively participating in your pregnancy and preparing for birth increases bonding with your little one.
  • Try Prenatal Massage (for you and the baby!).

In The Natural Pregnancy Book, Aviva Jill Romm describes massaging her baby (while still in the womb). We regularly practiced this (using my homemade belly balm), while I was pregnant. It was a joy for my husband to nurture our little one in this way, and begin bonding during this season.

Seek a midwife and/or doula who encourages your mothering instincts and your faith.

There are midwives who have moved to a “medicalization” mode of midwifery, depending solely upon technology instead of the traditional midwifery methods. This is disappointing, in the message it sends to the pregnant mother. (In essence, saying that the mother is unable to perceive what is going on in her body, that birth is an “unnatural” process or illness that needs invasive testing/monitoring, and most of all- that she cannot do this “alone.”) You can read more about this concept in Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth.

Highly skilled natural midwives have pursued training in manually determining position, identifying symptoms, and addressing complications (such as Midwifery Today’s Conferences).

Research tests, and symptoms to be aware of before agreeing to testing.

Most healthy pregnant women do not need all the tests offered (such as STDs, gestational diabetes, etc).

Typical pregnant mothers can be encouraged to develop their awareness of their health and of their little one. This helps equip them for childbirth, as they are allowed to instinctively position themselves during labor, as well as creating a calm focus of trust in their ability to journey through the intensity of birth, instead of being overwhelmed by fear.

By trusting only in test results to allay fears during pregnancy, a pregnant mother has not developed an alternate way of calming her fears during birth. For a mother desiring a “natural” childbirth without medical interference, she needs to be equipped with practical spiritual/emotional solutions.

I recommend reading The Christian Childbirth Handbook for further equipping in trusting and relinquishing to our Creator through the journey of pregnancy and childbirth.

Embrace the sacredness of the womb.

God has placed a little soul within your womb, to carry and nurture. As the Creator of life, He is working out a miracle. Do not needlessly “peek” early at your gift of a child! Allow God to reveal this little one (and their gender) to you at the perfect time. (Purchasing gender-neutral baby items is the most frugal option, anyway!)

Focus on the “big picture” of this pregnancy.

When you obsess over details, “needing” to know the gender, exact due-date, etc of this little one, you can be tempted to “control” what should be placed in God’s hands.

Traditionally, as well as spiritually, birth is a natural event, orchestrated by God. We do not need all the details to “prepare” for the future. Wall colors and names can wait. In fact, these exciting details can distract us from what is most important in this precious season.

Ultimately, God is growing new life within in you; in your womb, and in your heart as a new parent. Focus on glorifying God, and submitting to His power, as Lord of your life. Let Him lead you, and learn to place your hand in His, daily trusting through the unknown.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body.” (Psalm 139:13-16)

micheleMichele and her husband Calvin live a simple & sustainable life in rural Washington with their two (busy!) little ones. She takes joy in the daily ministry of delving into creativity, traditional homemaking & hospitality, homeschooling in everyday moments, and smooching her husband in the woods. Michele loves encouraging women and equipping them for frugal, natural living through her blog, Frugal Granola, and as a monthly contributor for Passionate Homemaking.

Photo Credit -mrsraggle-

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Comments

  1. I AM Grateful for this post, too. I am 2 mos. pregnant with our 3rd child and on public aid. We see a naturopathic doctor for our medical needs (out of pocket), but because of the cost of pregnancy, I must stick with the public aid providers. And for some reason, I’m also OK with hospital births. The MD I saw yesterday went into a huge justification fit that seemed to never end when I explained I was not interested in any more ultrasounds beyond the first (I’m ok with the first to “verify” size, due date, etc.). So I called another practice and explained my position, asking if they could also use the ultrasound taken yesterday, and again there was almost retaliation for my position and I was told, “That may be the way you feel, but we would do the ultrasounds anyway.” (3 more!)?!?##@? So I move on… With baby #2, I remember declining the 20 wk ultrasound and the Doc raised her voice to ask, “why in the world would you not want it??” And I remember opening the door to the waiting room with everyone clearly staring at me. . . . so I just wanted to thank you for starting this post and helping me feel I am not alone in my quest to find a “reg” doctor who will treat me with the same respect and compassion, with our views, as those who do not question the process. Wish me luck. I think I need it.

  2. ShorterMama says:

    Thanks for the post. I read it a while ago, but just came back to it again. I agree with much of what you’re saying, but disagree about the Gestational Diabetes test not being needed. I ended up having GD and I know that if I wasn’t given the tools to control it with diet it could have been very bad for the baby. Whether it caused the baby to grow very large, have birth defects or be hypoglycemic at birth – they could all be dangerous to the baby or me. I originally waived the 20 week ultrasound, because it wasn’t medically necessary. Because of GD I “had” to get an ultrasound to check on the size of the baby etc. It really made me nervous, because I had tried to stay as far away from the “medical” side of the birth process as possible. It ended up being far more encouraging than I expected. The doctor was pleased with my numbers and the size of the baby and even said I could probably ease up a little in my final weeks.

    We definitely waived tests that weren’t necessary – ones that wouldn’t change the pregnancy in anyway – meaning – if you get this test you can find out that there might be a problem, but we won’t change anything about the pregnancy and we won’t be able to do anything about it. In that case – we didn’t need to test because we’d love that baby anyway. Obviously, testing and being diagnosed with GD greatly changed the way I ate and the outcome of the pregnancy. My sister-in-law had told me the same thing – oh you don’t need that test – but I don’t understand what basis that claim can be made on…Basically – the hormones put out by the placenta made me unable to process glucose the way my body would…I wouldn’t know that without finding out. Just thought I’d post – for what it’s worth…

  3. My third child was an accidental home birth. I was at least eight days past my due date, and my doctor had offered to induce, but I declined. A wise older lady at my church tells all the young ladies to ignore due dates. “When the peach is ready, it will drop,” she says.

    I woke up early in the morning, took a bath and had four contractions, got out, used the bathroom, and had a massive contraction that burst my water and Daniel’s head crowned. I yelled for my husband, he helped me to the area rug beside my bed, where he was born after two contractions with pushing. I was standing and applying pressure to myself where it hurt. So, I basically delivered him myself. He was alert, breathing well, and just amazing.

    If I have another, I still would not choose home birth because my oldest daughter would not have made it as a home birth. BUT – I am sooo thankful that I allowed GOD’s timing for Daniel’s birth. It was so special, and I was not even sore afterward because the labor did not beat me up.

    • @Joy, Wow, Joy- incredible! :) Thanks for sharing!

      I agree with your wise woman friend. During my pregnancy I refused to tell anyone a “due date”- just saying the baby would come at the right time “in August.”

      Blessings,
      Michele

  4. I really love this post. As an adoptive mom of 3 boys with different needs and different traumas, my husband and I have learned a lot about infant mental health, attachment and bonding. We’ve learned that babies can be born traumatized or stressed. Our son’s birthmother was bi-polar, and his hormones and neo-cortex cycled with her in the womb. We’ve had the priviledge of watching studies of infants vital signs when exposed to different stimuli in the womb. What was amazing and beautiful to watch was seeing the babies’ responses to moms (or dads) rubbing and caressing the belly. The babies can feel it, and it soothes them. I think it is the sweetest thing that even before birth, God gave moms and babies the nurturing relationship that cultivates trust and is ultimately a reflection on His nurturing of us.

    I have not had the joy of carrying a little one to term, but if I am blessed in that way, I hope that I will somehow keep from getting lost in all the pregnancy commotion of nesting, physical annoyances and impatience (not easy for someone like me.) I hope that I will remember watching those babies on the ultrasound monitor who kicked with vitals soaring when mom’s were stressed, and then slowly slowing movements, relaxing vitals and sucking thumbs when mom just massaged her belly. I hope that someday I can enjoy the job of bliss.

  5. Great post, Michele! I agree. We did choose to get one mid-pregnancy ultrasound, but that’s all. I get really uncomfortable when I hear about someone having one at each prenatal appointment, etc.

  6. Several women have mentioned pretty extreme pregnancy situations that required ultrasound as a tool, which I understand that you do see the usefulness of ultrasound being used in that manner.

    The use of a midwife was my ideal situation for a long time.

    However, a year and half ago, I underwent open heart surgery to correct a complication of a birth defect and the original defect. I just wanted to add that for the average, healthy female, I think that natural experiences are best. However, if a woman, such as I, has a condition that could cause high risk to her or the child – more frequently monitoring may be necessary. In such a circumstance, it is important to factor in all concerns. Listen to your body and heart… in my case, both ask me to be in the most qualified hands possible and in a hospital.

    • @Anna, That’s certainly what hospitals are for, Anna! :) For the people that need them, and their advanced medical provisions.

      My heart is that women would thoughtfully evaluate all the considerations, and embrace birth as a natural, healthy event; not an illness. A situation such as yours would certainly be something to discuss with your provider, as you make the best educated decision possible for your family.

      Thanks for your input!
      Blessings,
      Michele

  7. Thank you so much for this respectful and loving post.

    My DH and I are expecting our first child after years of struggles with infertility. We have chosen to learn and pursue as much as we can about natural childbirth and natural pregnancy, as far as we are comfortable and with consultations with our medical helpers (our moms, our Bradley teacher, our doula and our OB).

    Unfortunately, we have encountered the most resistance from family members who are adamant homebirth advocates, who make no exception for tests or procedures that may be medically necessary in certain cases. For us, the medical community has been very understanding and welcoming of our “granola” ideas about pregnancy and childbirth.

  8. I’m really excited about learning belly mapping next pregnancy! That would be such fun to do with my little girls! Thanks for the idea and link!
    .-= Ambre´s last blog ..Pizza with a Grain Free Twist =-.

  9. That was our plan during the first pregnancy. Unfortunately I starting having seizures at 29 weeks due to Eclampsia. An ultrasound might have shown how he’d been losing weight, and could have help detect this and his inter uterine growth reduction early. However, the midwives had no idea what was going on, and I ended up seizing and having an emergency c-section at the nearest hospital.

    For our 2nd pregnancy I took caution with tests, but still had the necessary ones to keep the baby safe, thus using it as a tool, as you mentioned. We made it 36 weeks that time with a lot less trouble, but still had to have an emergency c-section.

    Unfortunately, we know that using technology as a tool is not always the case. When we got our test back, they told us that the baby would have downs syndrome, and they wanted us to know our “options”. Needless to say, we were not interested in “options”. Several months later, when we delivered, there was no trace of downs.

    We knew a girl who worked as an ultrasound tech, and when she was pregnant she gave herself WEEKLY ultrasounds so she’d know the gender and birthdate asap!! That couldn’t be good for anyone!!!

  10. My husband and I just had our beautiful daughter 7 weeks ago and we had a very peaceful homebirth (although fast and intense! and we didn’t even have time to use our birth pool…she was in a hurry :) ) The first half of my pregnancy we went to a regular OB, having not been able to find a midwife in our area, and we went through all the traditional tests and ultrasounds. It was our first baby and we just kind of went with the flow. And I was OBSESSED with finding out the gender. The second half of our pregnancy we found out about a homebirth midwife recommended by our Bradley teacher, and the prenatal care was night and day. I felt so much more respected and cared for. I am so thankful that we found our midwife and were able to have our baby in the comfort of our own home. Next time around, though, (which hopefully won’t be for a while) I am looking forward to NOT having routine tests and ultrasounds and just relishing in being pregnant and growing my baby.

    • @Olivia, Olivia, I know if God blesses us with another baby, we would definitely want to have the birth tub ready ahead of time! :)

      It took awhile for my husband to set up the tub when I was delivering our son, and labor moved very quickly! (I think Stephanie had a similar experience as you, with a birth being too fast to use the pool, too.)

      I loved hearing your perspective! Thanks!
      Blessings,
      Michele
      .-= Michele @ Frugal Granola´s last blog ..How to Make Yogurt =-.

  11. I love this post and all of the comments that have been made. I am 29 weeks pregnant and planning to deliver in a CNM run free standing birth center in Brooklyn, NY. I also happen to be a labor and delivery RN. I have worked with very low risk pregnancies to extremely high risk pregnancy. I have worked with CNM, general OB/Gyns and maternal fetal medicine specialist. I happen to be a big advocate for getting childbirth back out of the hospitals and into the home/birth centers. I also happen to be a big advocate for good prenatal care and the use of well qualified CNM. I agree that most PN screening is not necessary in a normal pregnancy, but people have to do what is a comfort level for them. One of the doctors that I worked with at a major research facility was a maternal fetal medicine physician who had a very low c/s rate and a very low intervention rate even though his patients were extremely high risk. He also went by what the current research states. Choosing the provider, location for the birth, prenatal testing, and care during pregnancy should be used with great discretion. Some pregnancies need more intervention than others, and God has given us great medical professionals and research to discover these interventions. Some pregnancies need little to no intervention, but it can’t be a blanketed statement when figuring these things out. I personally have only had 1 ultrasound to do a general anatomy screen to make sure everything “looks healthy.” I chose this because I wanted to make sure it was safe to deliver out of hospital, not to know the gender. I opted out of all other PN testing except for some blood work on me. Just points to ponder from the medical community…

  12. While I agree with the principle you advocate, our third son would have died and my life would have been jeopardized had it not been for ultrasound. He had a tumor that was vascular and would have burst during contractions, causing him to bleed to death before he was even in the birth canal. I don’t do amniocentesis, triple screens, most of the blood tests, but ultrasound is relatively non-invasive, hasn’t been linked to fetal death and allowed us not only to see our son alive, but to also have three other children. We are currently expecting our seventh as well. Ultrasound isn’t about idle curiosity.
    .-= Ranee @ Arabian Knits´s last blog ..Menu Plan- July 4 – July 10 =-.

    • @Ranee @ Arabian Knits, Renee, thank you for sharing! Your case is certainly one where ultrasound was used as a useful tool, and not a “toy,” as I mentioned. :)

      I frequently have experienced (as a friend, and as a student family practice intern) many pregnant women popping in to their friendly doctor/midwive’s office for a visit wanting to “just to see” the baby- “for fun.” (I’ve even seen it offered to them “for fun!”)

      It is discouraging to see this sort of misuse; especially combined with many women’s obsession for an “exact due date” and knowing the gender “for sure,” as an attempt to allay fear, and control their pregnancy experience.

      Dr. Sarah Buckley (mother of four, and author of the inspiring book “Gentle Birth, Gentle Mothering) has a good article here concerning responsible use of ultrasounds: http://www.sarahjbuckley.com/articles/ultrasound-scans.htm (She & her husband are both physicians.)

      The ACOG & NIH still do not recommend routine ultrasound use during pregnancy; only for a specific medical indication, as ultrasound safety actually has not yet been “proven” conclusively. Unfortunately, many (most?) healthcare providers ignore this standard.

      I believe it is something women should responsibly research, and make an informed decision in their pregnancy, as to what is best in their situation.

      Congratulations on your little ones, and blessings on baby #7! :)
      Michele
      .-= Michele @ Frugal Granola´s last blog ..How to Make Yogurt =-.

      • @Michele @ Frugal Granola, Thank you for your reply. I agree with you that women should research. After our experience with Elijah, I am all for the one mid-term ultrasound to check for things like his tumor. It was completely undetectable otherwise. By the time we realized what we were dealing with, he would have been bleeding to death. Especially because I had fairly quick labors. His tumor was not detectable by other means. It appeared the size of his head in the u/s, but turned out to be the size of his torso. I think it is because the u/s got a cross section. The tumor was 2 pounds 7 ounces of his birth weight, with a vascular system. The only other way we could have possibly discovered this is possibly amniocentesis, which carries a larger risk of miscarriage, but I don’t know if even that would have found it unless they were specifically looking for it.

        I am so pro-natural, midwife, no/low intervention birth, but having seen and been through what we did, I am for this intervention. Though, as I said, one to discover something like this, rather than a series of them for no reason and only further u/s if medically necessary.

        We were fortunate that our midwife was so supportive and that her back up doctor was so pro-natural and midwife birth himself. He saw himself as necessary for cases like mine, but that otherwise normal pregnancies and labors should be handled by midwives.

  13. I loved this post! We’re looking to conceive in a year or so and my husband is already on board with a natural, at home birth. Thank you for all the references and for the encouragement that all the testing is not mandatory!
    .-= Kait Palmer´s last blog ..Another No Spend Month =-.

  14. What I love about this post is the EVIDENCE of other women out there who understand these things and want to be more educated and involved in this beautiful process! I am so sad to see what has happened to the pregnancy, labor & delivery process in these times. Don’t get me wrong – I am thankful for the medicine and technology when it its properly used! But it’s overuse has sooo changed this beautiful experience for women.
    I had my first 3 babies at a hosiptal with all the prenatal tests and an epidural before God gave the wisdom and confidence to home birth (and not test) our 4th. It was AMAZING! ANd I am so excited to be given another opportunity to bond in peace and birth at home in confidence of the body and proces that God has made in my body! I am glad to be encouraged by others, though, as I have NOT recieved support from either side of our families – they just can’t get past the cultural expectations of birthing. I don’t think that all women must birth as I did, but I do wish that they were more educated as to their choices and the strength & design of their own bodies.
    Blessings,
    Andrea
    .-= mom24´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday =-.

  15. This is a lovely post–it brings up many precious memories from my pregnancy. Thanks for the reminder that we don’t have to do things the default way. And I agree with Nola: it is possible to find a doctor with a more natural approach to pregnancy and childbirth, so don’t despair of doing things “the natural way” if you use an OB/GYN. My own doctor (and the other women in her practice) are major advocates for natural pregnancy and birth and do quite a lot to help their patients achieve it. I had a better, more natural experience with her than some of my friends have had with local midwives.

  16. I LOVE this post! My husband & I are not pregnant, but we like to be prepared for when (or if) the Lord blesses us with children. My first real knowledge of homebirthing came from “The Business of Being Born”. That was such an eye-opener & I decided then & there that, should the time ever come, we’re doing a homebirth. The only problem is that there are no midwives allowed in AL! I told my husband that we’re going to have to move. ;-)
    .-= Chrissy´s last blog ..A Humbling Sent By God =-.

    • @Chrissy, Chrissy, If you’re not able to find a midwife, check around for a doula to accompany you during labor/birth (and sometimes after!). They can be a great asset to you as well as a “buffer” if you’re working with a provider not too familiar with natural birthing methods.

      I pray for God’s blessings upon your family! :)
      Michele
      .-= Michele @ Frugal Granola´s last blog ..How to Make Yogurt =-.

    • @Chrissy,
      There might be lay-midwives (uncertified/licensed) in your area, you would probably have to search a bit more to find one, and there are legalities to consider. I would rather risk the legalities myself and give birth the way God designed me to. :)

  17. I love this post! I’m not a Mommy yet, but I’ve been doing my “research” for when the time comes. Not to control the process, but to know my options. I just found out about a doula when I expressed my concerns over having a hospital delivery. I didn’t even know that you can opt out of getting an ultrasound.

    I agree that people can get so caught up with the “control” aspect, that the joy of carrying new God-given life is missed. I’m excited to embrace my calling as a Mommy, whenever the time comes! :)

  18. I had my first one at the hospital with a Midwife that was full of painful interventions. it was terrible. We had our second at home with a Midwife and it was the complete opposite! All the things that had happened the first time that the hospital staff had intervened over happened the second time as well, but were instead dealt with in a calm, non-invasive manner. Praise the Lord! If he allows, all the rest of our children will be born at home!
    .-= Ambre´s last blog ..Beaver Anal Glands Make Your Food Taste Sweet =-.

  19. @renee @ FIMBY, It’s so refreshing & freeing to not be “poked & prodded” all the time, isn’t it? :) The only two vaginal exams I had were during labor, too.

    Thanks!
    Michele

  20. I totally agree 100%! We haven’t gotten an ultrasound either, and people are shocked when we tell them we’re planning a home birth, with midwives, and no, we haven’t been to the hospital or gotten any testing (other than some blood tests on mommy) done. They seem freaked out by the idea of pregnancy and birthing in any other way than what they’ve seen on TV, which is sad. God created my body to do this, and to do it well. We’re thankful for a healthy pregnancy so far and are excited for the birth!
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..Home Made Pasta =-.

  21. Oh this is great! I totally agree. I didn’t want all the procedures and tests and ultrasounds for just routine reasons or to find out the gender or all those sorts of reasons, either! I actually had women tell me that they didn’t know they were optional! Actually, with one of the procedures we chose to avoid at the birth, it was the first time it was ever done at the hospital where I had to give birth (there are no midwives where I live althgough I had one with my first as I lived somewhere else). Amazingly God provided a medical doctor who listened to what I wanted and was willing (although he did warn me) about not doing certain things I wanted to avoid. If you cannot get a midwife and need to go the mainstream way, pray and make your wishes known, I never would have thought that God could work it out for me the way He did.

    I figure its a reward of all that really hard work of labour to finally know what the little baby’s gender is! I was so surprised with #2 since almost everyone thought it was a boy!

  22. Michele, I agree with what you’ve said here. My youngest is 7 (I have 3) but I was always very protective of my womb.

    Can’t agree more about having a midwife who supports your choices. My first midwife was very conservative/traditional when it came to interfering with my body so that was what I assumed was the norm. After that experience, of not being poked and prodded I requested the absolute minimum of vaginal exams during my other 2 pregnancies, so maybe 2 during the whole pregnancy – including labor and delivery.