Skip main navigation

Hurry, only 1 day left to get one year of Unlimited learning for £249.99 £174.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

Bonding with the unborn baby

Read this article about how parents starts to bond with their child even while the child is in the womb
© The University of Warwick

Bonding can be defined as an emotional tie from parent to infant. Bonding and attachment are often used interchangeably but they are different. Mothers ‘bond’ with their babies but the baby forms an ‘attachment’ to the mother.

The process of bonding may be stimulated by the mother feeling her unborn baby move during the second trimester. Fathers can begin bonding too as they begin to connect with their baby in-utero, watching and feeling the baby move, and ‘kick’ as he or she develops.

During the antenatal period pregnant women build up maternal representations or images of their developing foetus, and of themselves as a parent. This is particularly apparent between the fourth and seventh months of gestation, when foetal movements can be felt by the pregnant woman. These representations are affected not just by biological changes but also psychological and social factors, including the environment and relationships that the mother-to-be is experiencing. For example, research has shown that women experiencing domestic violence have more negative mental representations of their developing foetus, and that their babies are more likely to be insecurely attached.

This research highlights the need for the identification of factors that may be associated with problematic mental representations such as unplanned pregnancies, substance abuse, and domestic violence, so that women can be supported using early intervention, which we discuss in more detail in the final week of the course.

© The University of Warwick
This article is from the free online

Babies in Mind: Why the Parent's Mind Matters

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now