Connecting with pēpi before birth is one of the most important and satisfying things parents can do.

In the booklet Te Kākano, you’ll find information to help parents start to connect with their baby long before birth.

Connecting with pēpi

  • Knowing that their baby is a living person who is growing and changing and is dependent on them is a key understanding for parents to build their attachment relationship with pēpi.
  • If parents start a relationship with pēpi before birth, they’re more likely to be strongly attached with baby when they’re born.
  • By relating to baby as more than just ‘the bump’ in mum’s puku, parents are influencing baby’s emotional development too.

Ask whānau:

  • What can you do to start building a relationship with baby right now?

If they need ideas, suggest the following:

  • Name baby — thinking about names can help them to focus on baby.
  • Talk about who baby might look like or take after or what baby might become in life.
  • Massage mum’s puku — touch is the first sense to function in the developing baby. Baby will feel the touch of hands on mum’s puku and may respond by moving.
  • Sing and read to baby — this helps baby to recognise their parents’ voices. Songs or stories repeated often throughout pregnancy can soothe baby once pēpi is born.
  • Talk with siblings about the new baby.
  • Music, especially soothing sounds, can be calming for baby, and for parents too.
  • Having both parents present for scans can reinforce the idea that baby is a real person.

Talk with them about:

  • the preparations whānau have made already
    • have they chosen a midwife?
    • do they have a scan date?
  • what it might be like for pēpi at this stage of the pregnancy
  • activities they might have already started, or what else they might like to try
  • how baby can hear the voices of parents and siblings at least 10 weeks before birth – whose voices will be familiar to pēpi? Talking in a loving way is the start of baby feeling they’re loved.

Other things to talk about

  • With the whānau, read through the appropriate trimester pages in the Whakatipu booklet Te Kākano.
  • In the 'Pēpi says' sections, baby is telling parents what’s going on for them and gives ideas about how parents can connect with their unborn baby.

Helpful resources for whānau