Love and Bonding with your Baby
One of the most basic human needs is to love and be loved. Babies in particular need lots of love to grow and develop to their full potential. Love is the most essential ingredient for successful bonding with your baby.
Bonding begins before birth. As an expectant parent having a child is an exciting experience. During my pregnancies I know I spend time thinking about my soon to be born child. I also have dreams about my child and dreams and hopes for my child. I prepare clothes and baby necessities for her birth. All of these actions help me to bond with my unborn child. To develop a love, an unbreakable bond between my child and myself.
On a physiological level we know that during pregnancy important hormones are produced which enhance bonding with your baby. Oxytocin is production increases during the later part of pregnancy. Not only does this prepare the body for labour, it also primes you to love and bond with your baby.
A growing body of evidence has showed the importance of babies’ skin being in contact with their mothers’ skin immediately after birth. Babies who experience ‘skin to skin’ have more stable temperatures, heart rates, breathing rates, blood sugars and less crying. It is not only beneficial for baby to feel loved but also for mothers. Mothers who have immediate skin-to-skin during the golden hour (the first hour after birth) are sensitive to their baby’s needs, breast feed they baby longer and have more confidence in caring for their baby. Each of these help a mother bond to her baby – for her to give love to her baby.
A Lack of love not only affects baby’s emotional health negatively but also baby’s physical health. Studies in orphans done in Romania in the 1980s showed significantly higher levels of cortisol in babies remaining in orphanage at age 8 months compared with those adopted at age 4 months. Cortisol is the stress hormone and higher levels indicate the lack of love and care. This is a huge stress to a baby’s body.
Love is essential for babies to bond to their mother and then later to father and siblings and extended family members. Bonding as a baby is essential for developing successful relationships in later life. One study showed that babies who experienced time in an orphanage had lower levels of oxytocin and vasopressin, both essential for appropriate bonding, than children raised in a family.
Carrying baby is likewise beneficial for babies to bond to their mother. The natural habitat for a newborn is close to mother. Close to her body – warm and snuggly. Close to her voice and soothing words. Close to her heartbeat – a familiar connection. Close and secure and warm and loved. Baby is bonding to you and you are bonding to your baby.
Co-sleeping with baby has many benefits for mother and baby. Feeding times are shorter and baby settles quicker which means more sleep for baby and mama and potentially everyone else in the house. It also means a more settled baby because her needs are taken care of sooner. It is another way that baby can remain in her natural habitat – which is close to mum, not in a sterile, lonely, empty cot. These benefits are only conferred however when mum or her partner have not been under the influence of alcohol or drugs or cigarette smoke. These all lower your sensitivity to baby’s needs and expose her to toxins – both of which compromise your ability to bond and also increase her risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
Top Tips for Loving and Bonding with your Baby
- Write down your hopes and dreams for your unborn child in your journal or a letter to be given to them later in life. As you think about your child’s potential you are developing mental and emotional bonds with your baby.
- Have time to meditate each day during your pregnancy and in the days that follow birth to think about the wonderful baby that God has blessed your life with.
- The first hour of a baby’s life is golden. This is once-in-a-lifetime experience. You get a sacred time to hold your baby close against your skin and she is able to feel safe, secure, warm and loved.
- Sing to your baby. Talk to your baby. She recognises your voice from before birth. It helps her bond to you.
- Carry your baby in a wrap close to your body.
- Sleep with your baby this increases your responsiveness to baby and helps them feel loved.
- Never sleep with baby though if you or your partner is not smoking, using drugs or smoking.
Enjoy your newborn baby. It is such a sacred time of life and can never be experienced again with that child.