Meeting your newborn for the first time after nine months of anticipation can be overwhelming for any new mum. Even if your labour was relatively smooth and straightforward, it’s perfectly normal to take some time to adjust to your little one’s arrival.
The bonding process, which can happen within days or even minutes of birth, is the intense attachment you develop with your baby. It makes you want to shower him with love and is the driving force behind your ability to spring out of bed at night and cater to his demands.
Remember, too, that you have to take care of yourself to bond successfully. Babies need to be in a quiet and alert state to bond, and so do you. As hard as it may be, it’s essential for you to enjoy some me-time in order for attachment and a strong connection to occur.
And don’t worry, you’ll soon be head over heels and more starry-eyed about your little one than you ever thought possible.
New mum sanity savers:
- Try to get enough sleep. Leave the housework and when your baby’s asleep use the time to rest. Share night duty with your partner.
- Ask for support around the house and accept offers of help from friends and family – you don’t need to do it all yourself.
- Schedule some me time, as caring for a newborn is incredibly demanding. Having a 20-minute bubble bath, reading in the local café or going for a brisk walk will make you feel refreshed and you’ll return a better parent.
- Don’t put pressure on yourself to feel everything at once. Even if bonding is delayed, feeding, changing, bathing and dressing your little one while smiling gently will help to forge that connection.
When should I seek help?
If, after a few weeks, you don’t feel more attached to or comfortable with your baby than you did on the first day, or if you feel detached from him, resentful or overly anxious about him, talk to your GP or health visitor. Postnatal depression can delay bonding, but it is treatable.
10 simple ways to bond with your baby
- Enjoy skin-to-skin contact with your new baby to help comfort him from the moment he’s born.
- Make lots of eye contact with your newborn so he feels secure.
Breastfeed if you can. It helps you bond with your little one as the sucking action releases a rush of the hormone oxytocin – also known as the ‘love drug’.
- Limit the number of visitors coming to see your newborn.
- Speak or sing in a gentle, soothing voice whenever you’re with him.
- Share a bath and relax with your baby while you gently wash him.
- Gently massage your baby before putting him down to sleep.
- Leave your scent on one of his toys by sleeping with it overnight. Then use it to help soothe him.
- Use a sling or carrier at home and when out and about to keep your baby close.
- Choose a pushchair that faces you so you can interact with your baby while on the move.