The idea of talking to someone you can’t see (and who can’t understand anything you say) can be pretty odd. Any expectant father might find themselves feeling a little foolish at first. But stick with it, because speaking to your unborn child is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have before they arrive.

For a mother-to-be, chatting to their stomach is probably something they don’t think twice about. Their bond is more direct; they can usually feel that little person moving around on a regular basis after the first few months. As a father-to-be, I found the one way conversation a little harder to start. Not being able to feel those signs of life in such a personal way can make it slower to come around to the idea of interacting with them directly.

It’s easy to feel self conscious when you know your partner’s listening, and get caught up trying to find the words that feel right. Making small talk on the spot is something I’ve never been comfortable with, and a voiceless pregnancy bump isn’t going to break the ice any time soon. Being put on the spot can be its own challenge, but there’s no shame in going mute – it probably means you care enough that you want it to mean something, at least.

Taking your role seriously is great; just remember that everything you say doesn’t necessarily need to be serious. I’d always had the ambitious idea that I’d play my unborn child all sorts of things in the womb; music that inspired me, our voices talking, and a few optimistic brain-builders like the alphabet or basic arithmetic. But slowly I realised that I was missing the point; while I was searching playlists and pondering what sounds I wanted to record, I was silent. Though research indicates that babies can recall noises heard in the womb, it’s the noise that they recognise – not its meaning. Hearing your voice at all is far more important than what’s being said.

If you’re not sure what to say at first, try basing it on a joke between you and your partner. Whenever the baby is feeling particularly awkward – whether it be an elbow under my wife’s ribs, or using her bladder as a convenient pillow – she’ll ask me to “have a word”. It’s just a fun way to start thinking of ourselves as a family, and to get into our new roles with some humour. Once you start building a little personality for your silent family member, it becomes much easier to make that connection.

Reading is another great way to let your baby hear your voice. One night as we lay in bed, I read aloud from “Warcraft: Rise of the Horde” by Christie Golden. My wife wasn’t particularly interested (though mostly engrossed in something typically Twilight-esque), but told me after a chapter or two that the baby had been kicking and moving throughout. As much as I wanted to take it as a sign of my unborn daughter’s nerd credentials, it was incredibly rewarding just knowing how she reacted to the sound of my voice.

I know that when she’s born, I’ll want to tell my daughter everything. Even though she won’t understand what I’m saying until much later in her life, it’ll just be an amazing feeling to connect with her face to face. But for now, speaking to her through an ever-growing baby bump is a wonderful reminder of what’s to come.