Of course, you can’t bond with someone you’ve never met! Does that feel better? I hope so, because I bet everybody tells you “don’t worry” or “when you see the baby, nature will take over”.
But by not really listening to your fears, your partner, family and friends are making them worse. What’s more, it doesn’t allow you to talk about other worries lurking behind the bonding issue.
For example, will I make a good dad? How will I cope with all that responsibility? How will I ever afford to pay for everything this baby needs? And you’re not alone, every man worries but most keep busy, distract themselves and hope for the best.
Talk to your friends who are dads already. Ask them how they felt before their baby was born. You’ll be surprised at what will come tumbling out.
If you haven’t got used to the idea that you’re going to be a dad, seeing your baby on a scan may make it real. Once you can see your baby as a tiny person, try talking to him through your partner’s belly. He’ll be able to hear conversations by about 21 weeks of the pregnancy. (After he’s born, he’ll know your voice.)
Also around this time, your partner will start to feel your baby’s movements. Ask her to tell you when he’s lively, and place your hand on her belly so you can feel your baby kicking. There’s a real person in there!
When you finally meet your baby, you might be overwhelmed by feelings of tenderness, protection and love. However, it is perfectly possible that you will be too tired, stressed and in shock from the general messiness of the birth.
That’s perfectly normal. Some mums take a while to forge a strong attachment with their baby, even though it’s spent nine months growing inside them.
Ultimately, all you will need is a little time alone with your baby. Try to have plenty of skin-to-skin contact. Get in the habit of bathing your baby or giving him a bedtime massage.
Talk to your baby, tell him everything the two of you will do together when he is older. Share your memories from your own childhood and your hopes for the future. Keep your voice low and soft, because this will be reassuring and calming for both of you.
Another option is to lie on your back on the sofa with your baby on your chest, so you can feel his heart beating against yours. With a bit of luck, he will have a short nap and your partner can have five minutes to herself. It is one of the most calming experiences ever. And probably one you will remember for the rest of your life.