Haptonomy: How to bond with your baby like the French

Haptonomy is a popular French technique that emphasizes the power of touch during pregnancy. Getty Images

You’ve probably heard of hypnobirthing and prenatal yoga, but haptonomy is another method to bond with babies before birth.

Originally of Dutch origin, the method is quite popular in France, says social worker and psychotherapist Laure-Elina Bénard of Montreal. Bénard, who is currently finishing her training to provide haptonomy to couples in the fall, says each session allows couples or parents-to-be to learn how to work together.

And although it is not widely available in Canada, there are some professionals in Montreal who are offering the service.

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What is haptonomy?

The method itself is supposed to develop an emotional link between parents and their babies before birth.

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On Friday, Baby Centre U.K.’s blog posted a piece on the technique, calling it the trendy way to bond with your baby before birth.

“The practice is also known as the ‘science of affectivity’ as it’s all about the intense affection you give to your bump,” the site notes.

Bénard says it comes down to two aspects: to establish contact with the child before birth and giving the non-pregnant person a unique chance to bond with the womb.

“It’s awareness to the skin,” she tells Global News. “When this happens, fathers get excited. They don’t get to experience what the mother experiences from the inside.”

How does it work?

Sessions are usually up to an hour and can range from $70 to $80 and more. Bénard recommends at least eight sessions before the birth, and couples can start 20 to 22 weeks pregnant.

During the session, both partners put their hands on the belly in a subtle matter, learning different ways the baby moves within the womb. “It’s quite amazing to see the baby’s response,” she says. “They move towards the hands.”

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And besides establishing this bond, it helps couples prepare for the actual birth. “A lot of women are happy their partners are involved and this is something they can share together,” Bénard explains. And during the birth, haptonomy techniques can further be used to help parents get through contractions to make the experience a bit less painful.

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“They learn about movement, how to position themselves and how the father, for example, can help the mother through pain.”

Are there downfalls?

Bénard says while there are no particular disadvantages, accessibility and commitment are some barriers. The method itself has some takeaways couples have to do at home, so if you are not committed, you can’t experience the full benefits.

And Captain Mums adds it can take several sessions to learn how to do the method properly — which can cost a lot.

WATCH: Birthing photography

What are other techniques?

And since this method isn’t widely available, other experts say singing and reading to the womb can also be beneficial. Dr. Manny Alvarez of Fox News, says sound is an important parameter in the development of the human brain.

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“Around this time, the baby’s neurons are migrating to — and forming connections in — the part of its brain that processes sound, the auditory cortex. Once this starts functioning and the baby is able to hear the low-frequency sounds in the womb, including the melody and rhythm of its mother’s voice,” he said.

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