The bonding process

While many mums feel an instant connection with their newborns, for others that bond grows more slowly...

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Falling head over heels in love with your newborn is one of the best things about being a mum, and the bond between a mother and her child is one of he most powerful forces in nature.

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Before birth

The process of bonding starts long before birth. As you feel your baby move inside you, a deep connection forms. And as you can feel her, so can she hear your voice and heartbeat. By the time she’s born, you already know each other intimately.

During birth

During labour and birth, your body releases oxytocin, a “feel-good” hormone, which can trigger a huge rush of love for your newborn. Research suggests that around 60 per cent of mothers bond with their babies immediately after birth.

A gradual process

But not all new mums feel this way. It happens more gradually for some. ‘Lots of women expect to feel a rush of love at birth,’ says Dr Anja Wittkowski, clinical psychologist at Manchester University. ‘But studies show that, initially, around 40% of women feel indifferent to their baby, and for them it’s a longer process.’

Take time to adjust

For some mums, a true bond can take weeks or even months to develop. The hard work involved in caring for a new born comes as a shock to many. ‘People often have an idealised vision of what life with a baby will be like, but the reality is that it can be quite a traumatic phase in a woman’s life,’ says doctor Anja.

A difficult birth, breast feeding problems and lack of sleep can all contribute to a delay in bonding, and it can be a difficult subject for women to discus, as Rachel Harrison, mum to Ben, two, found. She says, ‘I was ashamed of how I felt and didn’t admit it to anyone, not even to my husband. After all, what kind of mother doesn’t love her own baby?’

But as long as you meet your little one’s emotional and practical needs in the early weeks, she shouldn’t be affected. ‘Cuddle your baby often, and comfort her when she cries,’ says Dr Anja. ‘Also, try talking and singing toher. As you become more confident as a mum, so those loving feelings will usually come.’

If you’ve experienced problems

Just caring for your baby everyday allows the bond to develop in it’s own time. For most mums/, this will happen without help. However, for up to one in ten women, this struggle to bond may be caused by post-natal depression. If you are experiencing problems with coping for prolonged periods and are feeling detached from your baby, then seek advise from your GP or health visitor. Don’t feel you have to struggle on alone.

For many mums, the turning point can be an event in your little one’s development, such as her first smile or her first words.

Whether it takes days, weeks or months, rest assured, you’ll be smitten with your little one before long!

5 Fab ways to bond with your baby.

1) FEEDING
Breastfeeding produces the ‘love and cuddle’ hormone oxytocin, which promotes feelings of well being and helps you feel close to your baby.

2) SMILNG
Make eye to eye contact and smile. Babies can focus 30cm, which is the distance from you cradling your baby in your arms to your face.

3) HOLDING
cuddling your baby close to your chest will make her feel safe and loved.

4) SINGING
Your baby is soothed by the sound of your voice, so sing to her- it doesn’t matter if you can’t hold a tune. Or just chat- it doesn’t matter what you say. Just the process of talking to her will bring you closer together.

5) LAUGHING
Make funny faces, tickle her feet blow a raspberry. One day she will reward you with a huge gummy grin and your heart will melt.

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Not sure if you’re getting the right response? Have a read about the signs your baby loves you. click here…

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