Bonding With Your Baby (by Emilie)
We tend to expect that picture perfect scenario of ‘love at first sight’ when we think of bonding with our babies. Some parents can find themselves feeling an overwhelming sense of love and wonder for their baby, perhaps even feelings of pride and protectiveness. But for many other parents, they report a very different experience.
It’s not uncommon that you may not feel connected or an overwhelming sense of love for your baby the first few months. In fact, there are several reasons why it may take time for you to develop a connection with your baby, which you can discuss with a Perinatal Psychologist. This can include experiencing symptoms of Perinatal Depression and Anxiety (PNDA), loss and grief including previous perinatal loss, childhood or adult trauma including birth trauma, resurfacing feelings of how we were parented, and difficulties in relationships.
We know that feeling an emotional bond with your baby normally takes anywhere from a few days to several months or more. For some parents, they might feel an instant connection, but for many parents it takes time to build the connection like any other relationship. Often this occurs at any time throughout the first year of baby's life.
There are many ways you can support bonding with your baby, but it can take time for both of you to find what you enjoy together. Bonding looks different for every parent and baby and how this develops, or the time it takes to develop, is not a reflection of how ‘good’ of a parent you are.
Ways to help you bond with your baby may include:
· Engaging in activities together such as playing, reading, talking, laughing, or singing
· Focusing on connection when doing regular care through feeding, bath time, changes
· Responding to baby's emotions
· Making skin-to-skin contact, rocking, massaging, or holding baby close
· Imagining what baby is thinking and feeling and who they are as a person
· Smiling or making eye contact
It can also be helpful for you not to put pressure on yourself to have a strong or immediate bond with your baby. Instead talk openly about your feelings with other parents and encourage them to be honest about their experiences bonding with their baby. This can also feel helpful if you’re noticing any feelings of shame or guilt if bonding hasn’t happened the way you imagined.
Remember that all relationships take time to develop as you get to know the other person, what they’re thinking and feeling, and what they enjoy. It’s helpful to give you and your baby time to work out your relationship together.
Consistently and sensitively responding to your’ baby’s needs with love, warmth, and care is what develops bonding and secure attachment. This is important for your relationship, and for your baby’s development. A secure attachment will also help build the foundation for your baby’s own feelings of security, sense of self, exploration of their world, and capacity to cope with distress, which can serve as a roadmap for your baby’s future relationships and experiences. Babies can form attachments to several significant carers in their lives, such as other family members, friends, or carers.
It's important to seek help from a Perinatal Psychologist if you are worried about your relationship with your baby. Talking about your feelings can help to develop a secure relationship and feel a bond with your baby, which will have greater impacts for you and your baby’s wellbeing and development.
Our team of Perinatal Psychologists and Psychiatrists are trained and experienced in providing perinatal and infant support to families using attachment frameworks.
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