Love Before First Sight

Don't be surprised to find yourself loving your baby before you even meet. Soon-to-be parents are often hit by a potent mix of emotions and anticipation — and these feelings help set the stage for your relationship with your child.If you're a pregnant mom, powerful mommy hormones also lay the groundwork for your connection with your baby. These kick in during pregnancy, growing stronger as the weeks go by.

As your due date nears, your brain starts producing more and more oxytocin, a hormone that literally helps bring out the mother in you. Also known as the love hormone, oxytocin is responsible for maternal behavior like nuzzling and grooming in animals from rats to monkeys. For pregnant moms, its main job is to ease feelings of stress while fueling anticipation for the new arrival.

Oxytocin has attracted serious scientific interest in recent years. Animal studies suggest that it plays a huge role in all sorts of social behaviors, from raising babies to forming long-term relationships. Animals that don't produce oxytocin ignore their offspring and find different mates every season. Species that do make the hormone tend to be doting parents that form lasting bonds with their mates. So when your body starts pumping out oxytocin during pregnancy, it's as if love is coursing through your veins.

Your baby is also developing a bond with you, even in the womb. Studies show that his heart will beat a little faster at the sound of your voice. It's something that will excite and comfort your child now and for years to come.