Lara Bestbier
3 minute read
30 Oct 2017
3:58 pm

Bonding with your newborn baby: Is it always natural?

Lara Bestbier

Bonding with your baby is one of the most important milestones as a new mom. But that doesn’t mean it will come naturally.

Picture: iStock

For many new moms, bonding with their newborn is natural. They have carried their baby for nine months and adapt easily to the feeding, changing, and the overall bonding process. But, this isn’t the case for all new moms.

Some moms simply find it difficult to bond with their babies. And that’s okay. If you are having trouble bonding with your baby just after birth, don’t panic. The process can take longer for some – and this doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with you. In time, as you get to know your baby, the bond will develop and deepen naturally.

I’ve had two very different bonding experiences with my children. Both premature, my daughter spent one night in the NICU while my son spent eight nights in NICU being cared for by his nurses. My daughter was bottle-fed and my son was (actually, still is) breastfed. Even though they had different starts, with my son’s bonding process being ‘delayed’ by medical issues, I wouldn’t say I’m closer to the one than the other.

The mother-child bond is natural, whether it’s there immediately after delivery, or whether it takes a few days or even a few weeks (yes, that’s OK too!), you will feel it. And when you do, you won’t remember the days you didn’t.

What can be affecting your bond with your baby?

  • Too many caregivers handling your baby.
  • Preemie babies who had a lengthy NICU stay.
  • Babies who encountered problems in the womb or during delivery.
  • Babies who were separated from their moms at birth and missed out on skin to skin time.
  • Babies whose nervous systems were affected or compromised.

How can you encourage a bond?

  • Keep your baby close. Touch and smell are key senses that newborns depend on.
  • Use eye contact. Babies are fascinated by our faces and expressions. Eye contact helps establish a loving and trusting relationship.
  • Respond to cries. Babies use crying as a means of communication. Leaving your baby to cry will make him or her feel insecure and will destroy any bonding efforts.
  • Smile! It is the universal language of love. Plus, it is believed that smiling has a positive effect on stimulating and developing brain function.
  • Chat to your baby. Your soothing voice will not only comfort your baby, but stimulate him or her at the same time.

In the meantime, talk to other moms you know. It may surprise you to find other women who suffer from the same problem as you do. They may be able to give you pointers and great advice that will prove helpful. Besides that, it will feel good to talk to someone.

Becoming a mom can be very rewarding. The struggle to bond is frustrating for those having difficulty, but it can be overcome. Know that there is a reason why you are having bonding issues and work on them. Before you know it, you’ll be forging a special relationship with your newborn that will last a lifetime.

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