Not so many things are as powerful as the mother-baby relationship.
Those moments, after delivery, when mothers get to hold their bundles of joy and look into their eyes are life-changing. As mom snuggles him and covers him with kisses, emotions can overwhelm her because she's a mom in love. Those moments mark the start of a long maternal-child bond.
Most mothers feel an instant bond the second they stare at their newborns for the first time. It may be confusing and scary, but most of the time, love dominates the air. This bond manifests itself as an intense attachment that a mum develops with her little one. It is the feeling that makes her want to protect the child and shower him with love.
Bonding gives babies a sense of security and self-esteem. It is an essential human instinct that helps a mother feel connected to her newest family member. In fact, bonding with a baby maybe one of the most gratifying activities of infant care.
But the way a mum cares for and nurtures a baby after birth can have significant effects on the child’s transition from the womb to the outside life. Kids need those first few minutes of being skin to skin with their mothers because it has both short and long term effects. Unfortunately, most kids are denied those crucial seconds because routine procedures need to be performed: weighing, screening, vaccination, and Vitamin K injection.
But these procedures can be delayed to give mother and baby more time to interact. In fact, the first hour should be allocated to breastfeeding and mother-baby bonding, unless both the mother and her offspring need medical assistance.
Sometimes, the bond can be immediate. Other times, bonding may take longer. Studies claim that around 20% of new parents feel no attachment to their new baby hours after delivery. In case a mom does not bond immediately, there's no need to worry. Bonding can sometimes take time. The role as a mom is to ensure that the baby’s basic needs are met. Not feeling a strong bond in the first few minutes is a normal occurrence.
The bonding process often occurs naturally for most new mothers. When left alone, they will hold the baby next to their body, rock him gently, and try to look directly into his eyes. They may also sing, sometimes, before they begin nursing. This is why mothers report feelings of overwhelming love within hours of delivery.
A normal and healthy baby is also programmed to adapt into the bonding session. This is evidenced when the baby smiles, cries, makes certain noises, seeks eye contact, or searches for the breast. These are usually cues that the mum needs to respond.
When the mother responds to these signals, a lifelong attachment and a trusting relationship are built instantly. This marks the beginning of the baby’s growth and relationship with other people.
There are plenty of ways to have an instant connection with your newborn:
15 Delay Routine Procedures And Sleep Near The Baby
The hour after delivery, sometimes referred to as The Golden Hour, is a time when the mother and her child are supposed to form an intense connection. If there’s no medical emergency, don’t allow the doctors to use up this time with their routine procedures.
Often, the nurses will attend to your baby before presenting him to you for the commence of the bonding process, but you can always change this. The child needs a clear first impression of you, and you need to take a good look at him.
Sleep near him all night long and let him rest on your abdomen and chest.
Co-sleep with your son and don’t lose sight of him. Immediately after delivery, there are certain hormones, which were part of the birth process. These hormones remain at high levels in both the mother and the baby and are responsible for the formation of the mother-child relationship. These hormones may keep the bodies of the mother and child warm and will make you fall in love with each other.
14 Ask To Room-In With The Baby
This is simply asking to spend time with your child in the same room. It is sure to give you more time to know each other.
Bonding should not end on the delivery bed. Take your baby to one of the hospital rooms and connect with him in a number of ways: smell, auditory, sucking, visual, and tactile. Let the baby know that you have labored him for nine months and you want to keep an eye on him. Make your child your roommate and ensure that you stay together at all times.
Rooming-in with your new child is only possible if both of you are in excellent health. If there are complications, your young one may need to stay in a nursery for a little while before you can grab him.
The saddest thing is seeing a newborn all alone in a nursery, bonding with the plastic and the wires around, all because the mother is tired. Have your bed close to the baby using a special bassinet or a co-sleeper to ensure your child is within an arm’s reach. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends rooming-in with your baby to enjoy night time attachment. You will also have a higher chance of making eye contact, cuddling, and skin contact.
13 Have Skin-To-Skin Contact
Skin-to-Skin contact is mostly used in premature babies, but it also works wonders with full-term babies.
This procedure is necessary because it not only helps with bonding, but it enhances the baby’s ability to breastfeed. All kids will benefit from skin-to-skin contact. This is why baby units recommend the use of “kangaroo care,” where a mum places her infant on her bare chest.
Get as much skin to skin as you can because this is the easiest way to form a secure attachment. Stick to kangaroo care, because it has been tested over time and it has proven to be successful.
Skin-to-skin will help your baby adapt, especially because thermal regulation is a common problem with preterm infants. But since your skin has the same temperature as your womb, a preterm baby will find it easier to adapt to the environment when you initiate skin to skin.
Practicing kangaroo care will also help with breastfeeding. A new baby has a heightened smell, and placing him on your chest skin-to-skin helps him seek the nipple for sucking.
12 Communicate With The Baby
Communicate whenever the baby seems awake and active. You can narrate to him what is happening, what you are thinking, or what you feel.
Let a natural baby-talk dialogue develop between you and the infant. To babies, the mother’s voice has a unique rhythm and a soothing cadence. Speak honestly, slowly, and authentically about the things happening around.
Just talk and don’t mind that the child can't understand your words. Communicating with him encourages him to interact with you. While doing this, ensure you use a reassuring tone to give the baby a chance to identify your voice. This is a way of enabling the baby to recognize your sound easily.
If you like, singing is also allowed. Hold the baby and rock him while singing. Be sure to find songs that you like and just sing out the lyrics to your loved one. Sing to him at various times during the first few hours. Sing with a soft and sweet voice and look at him deep in the eyes. You will feel the love being transferred to him.
11 Babywearing And Kangaroo Care
You can bond through wearing. Wearing is a safe way of carrying your child and promotes trust while stimulating your baby with sound and motion.
Obviously, the baby wants to be close to his mother. Children tend to be happier when they are held by mom. For a mother, keeping your baby close is a way of reminding you of your most important role.
When you wear a baby, he will likely stop crying, or he will cry less. This technique is particularly helpful when your baby is fussy. Your rhythmic walk will remind the baby of the womb while your heart will remind him of the womb sounds.
Wearing the baby will also allow the children to feel close to the mother. You can use a special sling to support your infant then walk around the room while staring at him. Babies who are carried get the opportunity to learn more.
When you walk with the baby, you will notice that he will be in a state of quiet alertness, and this is the time he interacts and engages more with the environment. In fact, the baby will be more involved in the world of the wearer because he can hear whatever mother says and can go wherever mother goes.
10 Mom Smells The Baby And The Baby Should Smell Mom
There is evidence that moms are hardwired to connect to their kids through smell. This is because babies also release pheromones that make moms more attracted to them.
In a past study, where mothers had only spent as little as ten minutes with their newborns, it was discovered that 90% of mothers were able to identify their kids by scent alone despite spending very little time together. Each mom was able to determine her baby’s smell.
Likewise, a child can recognize the mother's scent. In a past study, researchers in Japan discovered that kids who smelled their mom's milk showed fewer signs of distress compared to those who had not. In fact, the smell of a mother’s breast milk can comfort a newborn.
Therefore, smelling your child and allowing your child to smell you is beneficial for both of you: it will encourage you to look after the child, and it will motivate the child to stay close. In addition to the mother’s smell, babies get soothed by the scent of eucalyptus and lavender oils. Get some drops on the hid clothing to help calm him down.
9 Hold The Baby Close And Cuddle
Holding your baby close is another way to create a connection. Position him facing up so that he rests facing you and ensure you are as close as possible to his face. You can improvise this position to facilitate skin-to-skin contact.
Cradle that little prince between your arms and make him think he is still in the womb. This is an excellent opportunity to familiarize him to your face, voice, and to comfort him with certain movements. Use your warm hand to pat or rub him and be sure to pick on his cues since you are close enough.
Your baby should be able to learn a few things, and he will pick some form of communication from your actions. This is the time to enjoy a good cuddle, shower him with kisses, touch his hair, and make sure your noses come into contact. This love and affection will help the baby withstand health difficulties, for example, low hormone levels. This is also a great way of reducing the child’s stress, which may be caused by the hospital surrounding.
8 Breastfeed Immediately
Breastfeeding releases hormones that promote feelings of attachment and love.
Let that young one breastfeed right after birth. Most babies are content with just nipple licking while others may have a strong desire to start nursing. When you allow the baby to feed, the nipple stimulation releases oxytocin, which helps in reducing postpartum bleeding. Sucking at this early stage can also facilitate the release of prolactin, which enhances your mothering abilities.
Breastfeeding will also give you a chance to see your kid’s facial expressions and body language. On the other hand, nursing will let the baby know that you are the source of care and comfort, and you can be trusted.
If by any chance you are not able to breastfeed, for example, due to medical reasons, then bottle-feeding can also help you connect and communicate. When your baby is sucking, he will be mostly in a state of quiet alertness and is has a good chance of interacting with you. According to studies, a newborn who has an early contact with the mom will learn to latch efficiently compared to babies who are separated from their mothers during their first few hours after birth.
7 Give The Baby A Gentle Massage
Give the baby a gentle massage. According to research, a massage can ease postpartum depression and can strengthen the relationship between the mother and child. It is also able to relieve stress among premature infants.
Newborns love to be caressed, and a baby massage is the best way to make them feel great. When you massage your baby, oxytocin will be released in your body, a hormone that is produced during affectionate moments. Oxytocin makes you feel good and is sometimes called the “love drug.”
A massage soothes and comforts the baby, and is an excellent way to make him sleep better because it reduces stress, relaxes muscles, and increases circulation. Touching the baby is an important element in bonding and can facilitate a connection and deeper understanding as the child grows.
Some parents have confirmed that massage is great in strengthening a bond with special needs children. But overall, a massage will be a clear indicator of an intimate mother-child bonding.
Since babies aren’t too strong, you need to be gentle. Experts argue that a massage is a way of stimulating the baby’s central nervous system. A massage will enable the baby to produce more serotonin, which is a feel-good chemical. In the end, the baby will be more relaxed.
6 Gaze Into The Baby’s Eyes
While newborns may not see very far, they can see a few inches away.
Grab your child and gaze directly into his eyes. Make sure you are 8-12 inches away from his face. When you look eye-to-eye, you will feel the emotions and babies love faces, especially when it’s mom's. At this point, do not expect the child to respond much. Be content with a continuous stare from your little one.
While the two of you stare at each other, enjoy this visual connection and transfer your mothering feelings to him. Sometimes, your baby may pay more attention to your eyes and mouth. Try to communicate using facial expressions and see how the baby responds. For example, you can try sticking out your tongue and observe the movement of his eyes. Looking in his eyes repeatedly may enable him remember who mommy is.
This process is important in helping a child obtain information about emotions. Within seven hours after delivery, a child becomes more interested in the mother’s face and may imitate facial expressions.
5 Touch The Baby
Despite the skin-to-skin contact, gently stroke your newborn and caress his entire body. Use your fingertips to caress his whole body because he will find it enjoyable and it is medically beneficial. His skin is rich with nerve endings and stroking may help him breath rhythmically.
Remember that everything is new to him, including your first touch. An early contact is beneficial in physical and psychological development. Touching the baby releases various hormones that benefit his health and help in regulating his body temperature.
Your contact can also reduce the levels of cortisol, which is associated with stress and can improve his sleep. Also, during this physical contact, you are likely going to release oxytocin, which increases feelings of attachment.
Touching the newborn is an important aspect of looking after your young one. Your baby also needs touch stimulation for his health. Research has stated that infants who are touched on a regular basis grow at better rates and gain weight. They also tend to have fewer medical complications.
4 Respond To The Baby’s Needs
You need to be attentive to be able to respond to your baby’s needs, and you need to respond instantly. When your child starts crying, he is likely trying to communicate, and you need to be able to establish what is bothering him. Decipher your baby’s cries and respond immediately. It could be feeding, a comforting touch, or he needs to be covered. This teaches the child to trust you when he is in need.
Don’t try applying another mom’s preconceived formula because it will not always work for you. Following other people’s methods may make it harder to read your baby’s cues. Avoid it!
Whenever he cries, pick him up even if you have no clue what is bothering him. Feed him when he is hungry, and in the end, he will start trusting you. A newborn has an immature and underdeveloped brain and cannot sooth himself. So, he needs you.
Don’t be surprised when your baby wants a prolonged physical contact. Responding to baby's cues will be the start of two-way communication. Make eye contact, look relaxed and interested, make little noises, or simply smile. Look out for things like yawning, closing of eyes, crying, looking away, or fussiness.
Ensure you respond to these signals in a way that will meet the baby’s needs.
3 Rock And Sing To The Baby
Baby’s love to be rocked and sung to because it is very soothing and comforting. This is an excellent way to bond and to allow the baby to hear your voice as much as possible. You can sing lullabies. Newborns can identify their mother's voice, especially when you talk to them regularly.
Singing is an old practice that spreads across different cultures and traditions. In fact, researchers have found that singing is effective in maintaining the baby’s attention. It is preferred compared to recorded music. When a mom sings to a newborn, she will intuitively know when she needs to adjust her pitch to stimulate the child’s response.
Researchers have noted that there is a type of infant-directed communication that has a sing-song manner of speaking in addition to lullabies and playsongs. This communication has been going on across cultures and is characterized by a raised pitch, an emotional voice, and a slower tempo. According to researchers, this infant-directed music should optimize an infant’s mood while strengthening the emotional bond between the mother and the child.
2 Hug The Baby
A hug is powerful, and that remains undisputed. When your child is delivered, he will be put in your arms, and this is the time to give him a hug. Hugging enhances a skin-to-skin contact that both you and your baby need.
A hug triggers the release of hormones that help your body regulate temperature. A hug will also release oxytocin, a hormone that you need during this intense moment. Make the hug long by holding the baby for a few minutes, and keep him close to your heart.
Let him hear your heartbeat, and remind him of the sound that he has been hearing way before he saw daylight. The sound of your heart should strengthen the bond and will give your baby boy a sense of security. Having a prolonged skin to skin contact after birth is a way of getting to know each other.
As a mother, you are going to feel more confident after the hug, and you will feel the need to look after the young soul. Mothers who have had skin-to-skin with their babies are likely to demonstrate bonding behaviors later in the life of the child.
1 Mom Shouldn't Forget About Herself
Babies need you for the bonding process, and they need you to be in great shape.
The journey of delivery can be demanding, and sometimes you may need the help of friends or family members. Please seek their assistance and get some rest so you can feel happier around the baby. There are going to be tons of advice, but you need to find out what works.
Your baby has ‘changed’ you, and maybe after the delivery, you are not in a great physical and emotional condition. This can be worsened if labor was long or complicated, or if you happen to get a pregnancy-related illnesses. All these can make you weak or unfocused during the bonding process.
Don’t be an overtired mom. To handle the bonding and all the excitement that comes with it, you need to get enough sleep. Ask for help! You can have a family or friend check over the baby while you take a short nap. Taking care of yourself will make you feel better about yourself and your new role.
It will also give you a chance to re energize. Sleep when the baby sleeps. Eat healthy and connect with those who are there to support you. Take time to shower and seek help when you feel you are overwhelmed. The bond cannot disappear mysteriously.
In fact, the connection grows day by day.
Sources: Whattoexpect.com, Babycenter.com, Parenting.com, Huffingtonpost.com