When Terry Atieno learnt that she was pregnant, she was ecstatic about the idea of bringing life into the world. She learnt about the value of speaking to their child while still in the womb and together with the father, they began this practice when she was just five weeks pregnant.\u00a0 \u201cAt the second or third trimester, I realised that each time I called her name she would start kicking. I would also put some music and she would kick as well. She is 10 months old now and she already grasps some words,\u201d explains Atieno. Chatting as well as singing to your bump is said to be an effective way of building a relationship with your unborn child. While it may feel silly or one sided to talk to your baby in the womb, it is said that doing so assists in establishing a lasting bond. What\u2019s more is that bonding with the baby in the womb assists the baby to learn as the baby will both hear as well as feel your voice\u2019s vibrations each time you speak.\u00a0 \u201cIt is also good to talk to them, especially when you are sad and pregnant. Babies feel the sadness, so if you talk to them you assure them that all is well and that it\u2019s not their fault,\u201d she says. Studies indicate that voices of love do wonders for the baby. It calms them in the womb all the way until the day they enter into the world. Researchers have observed that unborn babies have a different response to various sounds and vibrations with changes in their environment, movement patterns, as well as the heart rate. Consequently, concluding that the voice of the mother is significant during pregnancy.\u00a0 \tRecognise vowel sounds \u201cIt is very important to communicate with your baby while expectant. First, it helps to establish a bond with the baby. Further to this, from around 18 weeks of pregnancy, the unborn baby starts to hear the sounds around them,\u201d says Esther Kimani, a doula and infant care specialist. While one might be anxious to talk to the baby during the earlier months, it is said that the baby\u2019s ears fully develop around the 20th week and that their auditory system doesn\u2019t connect to their brain until when they are a month old in the womb. At 18 weeks, the baby hears the sounds of the mother\u2019s body like stomach rumbling or even the heartbeat.\u00a0 At 26 weeks, the baby may respond to noises which are within and without the mum\u2019s body and be soothed by her voice.\u00a0 After 32 weeks, the baby may begin to recognise vowel sounds as well as language and scientists have discovered that a child\u2019s language development starts very early before they are born. In addition, they can remember certain sounds from their mother\u2019s language as well as music played to them while still in the tummy. At 18 weeks, it is said that babies like to sleep in the womb as the mother\u2019s movement can sooth them to sleep. At 26 weeks, they can move in response to a hand being rubbed on the belly. This means that the discussions and small chats that you have with your baby during the third trimester are critical in laying the foundation for their emotional as well as social development. The mother\u2019s voice shapes their comprehension of the world.\u00a0 Social development \u201cStudies show that unborn babies clearly respond to different vibrations and sounds with changes in their heart rate or movement patterns, and are particularly responsive to the sound of their mother\u2019s voice and also to the other family member\u2019s voices like the dad and siblings. That is why a crying newborn baby will be calmed by the sound of their parents. Talking to the baby also sets the foundations for their social and emotional development, as well as their language skills and memory,\u201d explains Esther. There are various things mothers can do to assist in forming an attachment with their unborn babies. For instance, she can touch and rub the belly, talk and sing to the baby with the understanding that they can listen. She can also respond to the kicks and in the last trimester, they can gently push against the baby or rub the tummy where the kick happened. In addition, they can play music that mimics a heartbeat of around 60 beats per minute. According to Esther, fathers, caregivers and also siblings can participate in the process to prepare them for the change.\u00a0 \u201cBy the way, allowing siblings to talk to the unborn baby may help reduce sibling rivalry as it helps the baby become real to them, especially because the baby will usually kick in response to their voices,\u201d advices Esther.