As you wait for the arrival of your little one, it’s not unusual for you to think of ways to bond with your newborn. Being excited about having a bundle of joy in your arms is a normal feeling for parents to have. However, you should know that bonding does not always happen immediately.
Still, it pays to know the advantages and importance of bonding with a baby. Creating a lifetime bond with your child will benefit everyone in the long run. You’ll be pleased to know that there are many ways to bond with your newborn.
The mother-baby bonding theory is also known as the Attachment Theory. It is a theory “based on the belief that the mother-child bond is the essential and primary force in infant development, and thus forms the basis of coping, negotiation of relationships, and personality development.”
After birth, there is a period known as the “Golden Hour” which is the first 60 minutes after your baby has entered the world. This is an important period where the mother and child can form a lasting bond.
This is why many hospitals encourage immediate ‘rooming in’ of infants as soon as possible after birth, granting that there are no urgent medical procedures needed.
Image from Shutterstock
Most maternity hospitals in Malaysia adopt the Baby Friendly Hospital Initiative (BFHI) and this includes ensuring there is Kangaroo care or skin-to-skin contact between the mother and her newborn immediately after birth, as well as rooming-in of the baby during the first 24 hours to initiate and encourage breastfeeding.
Limit Your Visitors at the Hospital
Breastfeeding early often does wonder for the formation of a lasting bond. Immediately after birth, your baby may only need to nurse for short but frequent periods, like every 20 minutes.
Other than the issue of putting your baby’s safety from outside bacteria at the topmost of your priorities, let visitors know that although their presence is much appreciated, you are prioritising bonding with your newborn.
Tell them that you must focus on breastfeeding your newborn and might not be able to entertain them as much as you’d like. This also helps you to bond with your newborn without any distractions.
Ask For Breastfeeding Advice in the Hospital
For new mothers, getting help and support while they are still in the hospital ensures that their breastfeeding journey is off to a good start. Mums who may need the most support are:
- mums who delivered via C-section or those who had a long, difficult vaginal delivery
- those who had to be separated from their preemies or sick babies
- mums of twins, triplets or more
- new mums or mums who’ve experienced difficulty breastfeeding in the past, and
- mums whose nipples are flat or inverted
Image Source: iStock
Instead of having your baby swaddled burrito-style, you can ask the nurse or doctor to hand the baby to you.
Studies have found that swaddling a baby can be attributed to less effective breastfeeding.
More and more mums are asking hospital staff to hand their babies to them so they can spend time rendering “kangaroo care.” This is done by dressing your newborn in only a diaper while gently laying them upon your chest, achieving skin-to-skin contact which allows for a deep emotional bond to be established.
This is a powerful tool that mums should use often even after they leave the hospital.
There have been many benefits of kangaroo care including good heart rate, well-regulated breathing and body temperature. In addition, since your newborn has easy access to your breasts, they are less likely to have low blood sugar and they rarely require dietary supplements.
Moreover, the baby is less likely to cry because he starts to find comfort in your smell and warm body. In turn, you are able to familiarise yourself with their feeding cues.
Breastfeed as Long as Your Baby Needs To
Shortening your baby’s feeding times can lead to having a poor milk supply.
When you’re a new mum, it’s easy to think that you can schedule feedings but, most often, this isn’t the case. Though you may have a general idea about how long or how often feedings should take place, there is really no way to perfectly plan logistics for feeding.
It helps to prepare yourself to nurse as often as possible for as long as possible.
Knowing your baby’s subtle cues such as a squeak or smacking of the lips will help you know if you should offer your breast. Try switching your baby to the other side after he’s fallen asleep. You can also try using breast compressions to help improve milk production.
How to Bond With Your Baby
Aside from breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact, bonding with a baby is possible in a lot of ways. Here are other things you can try to bond with your newborn:
- Touch and cuddle your newborn regularly. Stroke them during breastfeeding or while changing their diaper.
- Respond to their crying. Let your baby know you are always there, even though sometimes you may not know the reason for their tears.
- Talk to your baby. Describe what you are doing or share stories. In time, they will recognise your voice, so talk in a calm, reassuring, and soothing tone. This will also help your child in learning a language later on.
- Sing songs! Singing to your baby even while in the womb has benefits. After birth, singing songs to your newborn has positive effects on both the mother and baby. Aside from helping to calm them, it also helps them fall asleep, and learn later on.
Dads Bonding With Baby: Equally Important for a Child’s Development
While mothers often get to immediately bond with their newborns often through breastfeeding, this does not mean that fathers cannot form their own bonding activities with their children.
It is important to note that bonding with your child does not mean being another mother to them. Sharing unique experiences and activities with your baby is possible. This does not only help your child’s development, but it is also a great way for parents to support each other in their new journey.
For dads, here are ways to bond with your baby:
- Participating in the labour and delivery
- Help in feeding and changing the baby’s diaper
- Give the newborn a bath
- Use a carrier while doing activities at home
- Carrying the baby outside to get some sun
- Let the baby feel the textures of your face
Difficulty Bonding With Baby
It is important to have a support system when caring for a newborn and even as your baby grows. The first three months after giving birth are also called the fourth trimester, and your body and mind are still going through changes during this period.
Your changing hormones may be a reason why you may have difficulty bonding with your baby. Also called the “baby blues,” these feelings that come and go include anxiety, sadness, or distress. You may also feel anger and wonder if you can care for your infant.
When these feelings intensify and interfere with your bonding with the baby, you may have postpartum depression. It is crucial for you to get help from a mental health professional and receive treatment.
The first few days after birth will never come again so get as much bonding time as possible. Ultimately, it is up to every parent to deepen their bond with their newborn, in their own way.
These suggestions may help you make the most of the ‘golden hour.’ They do not only help bond you with your little one, they may also help you begin your parenting journey on a truly memorable note.
- Raising Children. (n.d.). Bonding and attachment: newborns. raisingchildren.net.au/newborns/connecting-communicating/bonding/bonding-newborns
- Medline Plus. (n.d.). Bonding with your newborn. medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000677.htm
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (n.d.). Bonding With Your Newborn: What to Know If You Don’t Feel Connected Right Away. www.acog.org/womens-health/experts-and-stories/the-latest/bonding-with-your-newborn-heres-what-to-know-if-you-dont-feel-connected-right-away
- Kids Health. (n.d.). Bonding With Your Baby. kidshealth.org/en/parents/bonding.html
- World Health Organization. (August 4, 2017). Unang Yakap: Encouraging Breastfeeding from the Start. www.who.int/philippines/news/feature-stories/detail/unang-yakap-encouraging-breastfeeding-from-the-start
Republished with permission from theAsianparent Philippines.
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