If you look around the internet about ways to bond with a baby, you’ll find many many ways. But let me tell you the truth, there’s no right way or wrong as long as you care for that baby and spend time with him or her, you’ll end up bonding together.
In Spain we have a saying, “el roce hace el cariño” (A touch creates/makes the affection), and it’s very true. When you spend time caring for a person, regardless of the age of that person, eventually you become emotionally attached. This attachment is not a bad thing, it’s actually the foundations of society, if we didn’t have some form of attachment humanity would have vanished a long time ago.
A baby develops a strong attachment with their main carer, while with a mother she was born with a bond, a stronger kind of attachment, but this bond needs to be nurtured otherwise it breaks and would create imbalance for either or both sides.
I strongly believe that not all women can be mothers, due to health problems that goes beyond their control, and it’s very sad, yet more sad is that some that gave birth shouldn’t be mothers, many and many more stories emerge of abandonment and neglect or even death to the baby.
Getting back to track, as a mother or father you might feel overwhelmed or feel lost or confused in this new part of your life, it can happen even with your second or third baby! So I hope this post will be useful to you, to remind you of what it’s important, and how much you need each other.
Post Natal Depression
I wanted to hit the hardest part first as it’s very important that if you believe you have PND, aka Post Natal Depression, that you seek help immediately.
What is PND? It’s a type of mental illness that mothers suffer after usually few days or weeks from giving birth and it can last from weeks to months, some have been depressed during pregnancy and after having the baby it worsened leading to Post Natal Depression.
Let me assure you that it’s not the mother’s fault as depression can happen to anyone, about 10 mothers from every 100 is affected from it, and it can range from mild to severe.
The mother feels detached to the baby and sometimes also to the world. They struggle to keep up with life, as they feel the following symptoms:
- tired or lethargic
- feelings of being lost
- bouts of guilt and or negativity
- Loss of appetite
- Reject towards sex or any ways of intimacy
Because of that, depending of the severity of the illness the baby can be at risk from not properly being taken care of and or neglected, in very extreme cases also abused. So please if you suffer any of the symptoms even though is minimal, talk to your doctor, your counselor, best friend or family, or anyone who you feel you can trust to. Nobody should suffer in silence, and as soon as it’s dealt with the better.
For more information there’re websites in the UK like Royal College of Psychiatrists, PND & ME which is kind of support group, NCT, and the NHS website. For other countries look on google or ask to your nearest Hospital or Health Centre.
Breastfeeding helps bonding
I’ve mentioned in previous posts that breastfeeding is not easy nor it comes “naturally” like many movies portray it, it is a learning curve for the mother mostly, as for baby if you let her take her time she’ll instinctively look for the nipple and slowly feed herself.
The reason I say it doesn’t come naturally to the mother is because we are not used to breastfeed even though we have the capability, it’s acquired as soon as we engage to it, and it takes a while to get accustomed to it, some get to it faster than others.
Saying that, once the breastfeeding is successful and NOT painful (it can be a bit uncomfortable at first, that’s why I mentioned getting used to it), both mother and baby will enjoy this special moment as breastfeeding causes the release of Oxytocin, which is a powerful happy hormone.
As it’s mentioned in the website verywellFamily.com “Oxytocin is a hormone produced by the pituitary gland in the brain. It has many functions in the human body. It increases relaxation, lowers stress and anxiety, lowers blood pressure, and causes muscle contractions. Oxytocin is also the hormone involved in social relationships, bonding, trust, and love”
Now you know why you feel very at peace and happy when looking at your baby when breastfeeding, not only is a very special place for you and baby but also it is your body resonating to it. So even though I said earlier that it doesn’t come naturally it is something natural, and I believe again that breastfeeding was meant for otherwise we would have ceased to exist long time ago.
Singing and dancing
This is something anyone can do, mother or father, partner, friend, grandparents or any family member! Or at least we can try to sing and/or dance.
Babies love movement and gentle sounds, as when they were in their mother’s uterus they were constantly exposed to the movement of her body, and the sounds coming from her organs and from people she would interact with or sounds she would encounter around her.
So for baby is more natural to have some movement and some gentle sounds than being totally static and in absolute silence. Have you even wondered why he or she would wake up if there were no more sounds or if she was put down on her cot/crib? Not only she loves feeling your warmth and smell but also it’s because she can’t feel the movement or hear your beating heart or breathing.
As the babies grow they still enjoy pretty much movement and sounds and start exploring by themselves by crawling, kicking their legs and arms, or grabbing some toys and shaking them or knocking them against something to produce sounds…
But one thing they enjoy most is to do all that together with their favourite person, listening to her or him singing or together to a song playing in the TV or radio. And even better if you start swinging gently and dancing with it together!
Doing things together
It’s very much a generic answer I know, but it’s a good way of bonding. You see, it’s as simple as when you do things that are so mundane but when you do them together with a friend or someone you hold dear, then naturally you start conversation usually, suddenly the things you were doing doesn’t feel boring anymore as the company alleviate that weight. It’s pretty much the same with a baby.
You can have your baby with you by holding him close on a swing or carrier, obviously depending if you are carrying her on the front or on your back, and her age, you won’t be able to do a lot of bending or boisterous activity with her on you.
I’ve heard people saying that babies don’t understand, that are dumb, and so on. I find it insulting, babies might not understand every word we say but can feel and can recognise feelings. They have very basic and instinctive responses yet they communicate the best way they can regardless their age. I’ve seen children that even though they were two year old and didn’t have much vocabulary would communicate in a nonverbal way so clear. I would find out later that their parents barely spoke at them, probably because they belong to the same group of people I mentioned earlier.
Even though you baby might not speak yet, hearing your voice, paying attention to her, interacting with her, spending time with her, those are very important things to strengthen the bonds between you and her. Don’t take for granted any second you spend with her even though you are doing things around, because she isn’t, she just loves being with you because she knows you care enough to be around her and giving her some attention.
There’s hardly a secret formula for bonding with your child, the interactions that are needed for bonding are pretty much the same with all people regardless their age, gender, culture, race or religion. It’s all about spending time together, respecting each other and caring for each other the best way possible, and time will do everything else.
If you are already doing all these than you don’t have to worry if the baby really loves you or if you are doing enough for her. Do your best always and one day she’ll grow to let you know personally probably when you less expect it, and then you’ll see how a great parent you are.
With light and joy,