First of all, if you’re feeling like this, you’re not alone. Even though you may see on television an instant and almost magical connection between a mother and her infant, there are often many things that can interrupt this bonding. A mother’s bond with her baby is built on many things, and if you’re worried that your bond isn’t as strong as you envisioned it would be, there are lots of easy, small steps you can take to build a stronger bond.
Why Can’t I Bond With My Baby?
Pregnancy, labor, delivery, and those first weeks with your newborn (along with all of the time you even anticipated becoming a mother) all play a part in the mother baby bonding experience. Mothers who were not planning for a pregnancy can feel a turmoil of emotions at the new experience of motherhood. This doesn’t mean you love your baby any less; it just means that there is a new period of adjustment as you see yourself in a new light – as a mother.
Women who experience stressful pregnancies can have a hard time bonding with their babies as well. So many months can be spent focusing on health, doctor visits, medical terminology, and anything but excited anticipation. After the baby’s birth these mothers can feel emotionally exhausted and even too drained to then physically, much less emotionally, provide for their newborns. This can be amplified if your baby is born with health conditions that don’t allow you to experience all of the close, important moments right away like skin-to-skin contact after birth, learning to breastfeed, and more.
Even a very healthy pregnancy can result in a labor and delivery full of challenges. If you have to undergo an emergency C-section, you might be physically unable to provide the close care after birth that you wanted to provide. You have to adjust what your plans were and take time to take care of your own body so that it heals and you can get on with the adventures of motherhood.
The first weeks and even months at home with a newborn can be exhausting both physically and emotionally. Some women experience post-partum depression which only compounds these already natural anxious feelings. This emotional toll can interfere with the bond you create with your baby, especially if left untreated.
How Can I Bond With My Baby?
If you’re feeling like bonding with your baby just isn’t happening – or you’re worried that when he or she arrives that it won’t come easily for one reason or another – try these tips for better bonding with your baby.
- Let the doctors, nurses, or midwife know you want to have skin-to-skin contact with your baby after delivery.
- Try breastfeeding. Not only is it a healthy way to feed your baby, but it can provide a consistent connection with your baby that only you can provide.
- Take time for yourself. If you’re feeling stressed about your new role as mother, reminding yourself of your strengths as a woman can help you become more confident about your abilities and more at ease when you’re with your child. Take a bath, read a book, or continue to spend at least 1 hour each week on your favorite hobby.
- Create a fun tradition or ritual with your baby – have your partner take your picture together every day, play your favorite music for her before she is too old to complain about it, or start reading your favorite childhood story together.
- Exercise. Not only is it good for your body but it can help provide some of those good, healthy hormones that lift your spirits.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Post-partum depression is a serious condition and you don’t have to suffer through it alone. Talk with your OBGYN, family physician, or other healthcare provider.
Most of all as you build a stronger bond with your baby, don’t be too hard on yourself. The journey of motherhood isn’t always easy, but making these efforts with your baby today is the way to begin an even brighter tomorrow.[Featured Image Courtesy of Jomphong / FreeDigitalPhotos.net]