For a woman, pregnancy is one of the most moving and exciting events in her life. As the life grows within you, drawing nourishment and love from your very body, it’s hard not to feel a bond with that baby grow with each passing trimester. For a man, it’s just not the same.

Unlike the expectant mother, the expectant father is somewhat removed from the event. He’s playing more of a spectator role.

For some men, this can make it hard to see the baby as a real during the pregnancy; for 9 months, it’s just an idea. After the birth, the mother and baby embrace like two parts of a whole that have been reunited; the father is meeting a virtual stranger. Sometimes, daddy and baby need a little help to get that bond started in utero.

Both of you should place hands on your belly. Meditate on the baby—visualize its size, what it looks like now in the womb, how it’s growing.

Meditation and Visualization

Mommy, Daddy and baby can start meditating together from the beginning of the pregnancy. Have the father recline back on a sofa, on the bed or sitting up on the floor. Sit in front of him and lean back on him for support.

Both of you should place hands on your belly. Meditate on the baby—visualize its size, what it looks like now in the womb, how it’s growing. Envision its tiny heart beating and the blood going in and out of its veins. Feel the small but strong energy it emits, and send your own energy into the baby to lend it your love and strength.

Feeling Movement

While this is not an activity you can always plan ahead, it is something you can do spontaneously when the baby gets a bit active. If you feel the baby moving around, stop everything and lay down. Have the father place his hands on your belly to help direct him to where he can best feel the movements.

He may wish to lay his face against your belly. Talk about whether it’s an elbow, a foot, a knee or hand, or just be silent and let him experience the sensations with you. Guide him in rubbing or gently poking back, to communicate with the baby and see if the baby responds.

Hearing the Heartbeat

Instruments that allow us to listen to the baby’s heartbeat and to hear what’s going on in the womb can really help dads internalize the fact that there is a life in there. If the father can accompany you to the doctor’s office, he can hear it during your visit.

However, you don’t have to wait for doctor’s visits to catch only a snippet of sound. These instruments can be rented so that you can listen to the heartbeat together at home whenever you want to listen. Keep your sonogram photo handy for this exercise so you can look at it while you listen.

Reading, Talking and Singing

As babies grow bigger in the womb and are almost ready to emerge, they already recognize the sound of your voice because they can hear it internally. If you’ve ever covered your ears and spoke, you can see how well you internally hear your own muffled voice. Give the baby an opportunity to hear the daddy’s voice and get familiar with it.

The daddy should get as close to the belly as possible or even gently lay his head on your belly. Instruct him to speak or sing in a loving voice. If he doesn’t know what to say, have him read children’s stories. Doing this for about 10 or 15 minutes every day is a great way foster a bond between daddy and child.