How to bond with your baby
MPs have been debating giving themselves the same right to maternity and paternity leave as other new mums and dads.
They’d need to change the way votes are held in Parliament to do so, but the debate has shone a spotlight on the point of maternity and paternity leave – to allow parents to bond with their newborn.
Bonding is completely natural – but that doesn’t mean it’s always really easy.
Birth can be physically and mentally exhausting, and it might take a little time to develop the intense attachment that you’ve been expecting to feel for your baby.
Skin-to-skin contact through massage, lots of eye contact, the closeness of feeding and gentle water play as you bathe your infant can all help.
Skin-to-skin contact is said to help newborns sleep deeply for longer, cry less and gain weight more quickly. It triggers a powerful hormonal rush that doesn’t just happen in mums but dads, too – a feeling of overwhelming love and a fierce desire to protect your tiny baby.
The love hormone
There’s actually a “love hormone” – it’s called oxytocin and it helps nurture emotional bonding. It is produced during breastfeeding to facilitate bonding of mother and infant, and it can be captured in placenta capsules so mums can keep enjoying the benefits for months after giving birth.
Research reported in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry in 2011 suggested that breast milk could be one of the secrets of mum-and-baby bonding, as it found that bonding was easier for breast-feeding rather than bottle-feeding mothers. Breast-feeders also showed stronger brain responses when they heard their baby cry.
The UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative has also advised against reducing the ‘breast versus bottle’ argument to solely an issue of nutrition, saying that breastfeeding “has much greater potential to enhance the lives of parents and children.”
Bonding through baby massage
Of course, not all mothers are able to breastfeed their infants, and there are plenty of other ways to bond. Baby massage can be a joy for parents and newborn. Touch should be very gentle at the start, as your baby has been used to contact with nothing but amniotic fluid.
Gentle, rhythmic stroking of your baby's fingers, wrists and ankles, while softly singing, humming or talking, can create a sense of reassuring calm for adults and child alike. Baby massage also gives parents more confidence in handling their newborn. While there is no conclusive evidence, some parents say it also helps their baby sleep – an advantage few of us would ignore!
Meeting your baby’s needs
Babies love to listen to their parents’ voices and may move in time with the adult’s speech. You can even read the paper out loud so your baby tunes into your soothing voice.
But why do MPs – and new mums and dads up and down the country – think bonding is so important?
Because being securely attached to “someone special” makes babies more curious, confident, cooperative and self-reliant as they grow, studies show.
And if bonding isn’t always instant, the essentials are simple. All babies will securely attach if parents tend to their physical and emotional needs – with food, a clean nappy and a warm cuddle.
Speak to our experienced Birth Doula, Postnatal Doula and Placenta Encapsulation Specialist Amanda Denton
I’d be delighted to talk you through the benefits that my clients have claimed for placenta remedies, and explain how the process works.
Do give me a call if you have any questions. I always love to help.