Bonding with Your Newborn Baby
“Will I connect immediately with my baby?” is often one of the thoughts that run through a new parent’s mind. This is quickly followed by “How can I bond with my baby?” For some new parents, an instant bond is formed the moment the child comes into the world, but for others, it takes longer. If you’re part of the latter group there’s no need to panic. It’s perfectly natural for these things to take time and at no point should you question your parenting skills.
What does it mean to bond with my baby?
When you become a parent for the first time it’s completely normal for you to ask so many questions. In fact, your more experienced friends, who are already parents awaiting their second or third child, may even ask the same things.
If you hear your parenting friends or those baby experts mentioning ‘baby bonding,’ they’re referring to that strong attachment that a parent develops with their baby. It’s the intense feeling that will make you want to cover your newborn son or daughter with kisses or perhaps throw yourself in front of an oncoming speeding car just to protect him or her.
It can happen in a matter of seconds immediately after birth and it can also take a bit longer. Old school parenting advisors once advocated that it was absolutely essential for a parent to spend as much time as possible during the first few days with their newborn to seal the deal and bond instantly.
However, as more research has been done, experts have come to the conclusion that bonding with a newborn baby takes place over a period of time.
Why am I not bonding with my baby immediately?
It’s okay if you don’t. It’s nothing to get too upset about. Bonding with a newborn baby can often be tricky and it sometimes takes a bit of time to make that connection. The most important thing for you to do as a new parent is to take care of his or her basic needs and this way your baby won’t be deprived if that automatic bond isn’t present.
A lot of new parents, especially mothers, feel guilt when they don’t feel that instantaneous attachment to their newborn immediately after birth, but you’ve got to remember that this journey is an individual experience and every parent has a different story.
If you’re not bonding with your baby as quickly as you’d like to, you need to give yourself a bit of a break. It’s really exhausting and often stressful being a new parent and it’s not unusual to sometimes feel overwhelmed with everything that’s going on.
Nursing your baby can help create more of a bond with your baby but at the same time, it can also play havoc with your emotions as it releases a number of hormones that could leave you feeling more emotional and vulnerable. Additionally, if you experienced a difficult birth then it’s essential that you give yourself the much needed time to heal before trying to concentrate on bonding techniques with your newborn. Contrary to popular belief, it can be left until you too are in a better place.
What are the best ways I can bond with my baby?
Of course you think that your baby is beautiful and sweet, what parent doesn’t? But you’ve also got to remember that your baby is a new human being too, a human being that you’ve got to take the time to get to know. When it comes to parent-baby bonding there’s no magic formula, but like anything, there are a couple of things that you can do to help the situation and make it a bit easier.
1. Talk to your baby.
Even though your baby can’t register what you’re saying or respond, hearing its mother’s or father’s voice constantly is reassuring. When they hear your voice over and over again, they’ll begin to make the connection and they’ll associate you with kindness, love, and safety. Cooing and making baby noises is not beneficial despite what people think - it’s best just to use your normal voice and speak a little softer.
2. Singing and music also help.
Children, especially newborn babies find music such as lullabies calming. Babies are normally calmed when they hear the voice of their parents sing. Your baby will be able to connect the song to you and it’s also got the extra added benefit of helping with your baby’s development.
3. Skin-to-skin contact is a must.
Incorporate your skin contact during cuddle time and as you do, gently stroke his or her head softly. You know too well that the touch of a human is soothing, therefore your baby will feel safer in your presence and is more likely to bond with you quicker. Skin on skin contact with the mother immediately after birth will help with the breastfeeding process and skin on skin contact with the father will facilitate emotional healing, bonding, and he’ll also get to recognise the baby’s signs for nappy changing and hunger.
4. When you speak to your baby make constant eye contact.
Eye contact is important in any kind of communication and although you may not think your baby notices this, they do. It not only helps to create a stronger emotional connection, but it also makes your baby feel more special and loved.
If you’re in the situation that your newborn is placed into intensive care after birth and he or she is hooked up to various monitors, it doesn’t mean you can’t touch them. Your nurses and medical staff will be more than willing to help you touch and hold your newborn safely. Touch is important for all bonding and your midwife can advise you how to achieve this. Babies are extremely intuitive and when they feel and see these actions and small touches, your bond will intensify. Getting to know your baby will take time, so be patient and enjoy the precious moments. Once you’ve learned how to comfort him or her, your heart will begin to swell with love and joy, and when you see their first smile because of you, you’ll understand that your connection is stronger than you might think.