Bonding with Baby
Bonding is not necessarily something that magically happens when your baby is born. It is usually a growing feeling between the two of you that happens over time. For some mothers this begins to happen as soon as they find out they are pregnant, is strengthened when they feel those first movements and kicks, and heightened to a point they never imagined possible the first time that they hold their baby. For others, the bonding process won’t even begin until their baby is born, and will then be a gradual process over time as their baby begins to smile and develop a personality. You may look at your baby’s screwed-up face after birth and not be quite sure what to think! The realisation that you are responsible for this little person is terrifying and even though you may not get a flood of maternal love immediately, you will definitely learn to love your baby.
Dads in particular may find it difficult to form a bond with a baby before they are born. The initial first few months filled with sleep-deprived nights can also make it difficult to feel much love for this little person who is determined to keep everyone awake. If the baby is being breastfed it is even more difficult for the father to play a big part, as the baby will rely on Mum for feeding, but also for soothing a lot of the time. Many dads can feel very pushed out during the first few months after a baby is born, and not really understand their place and what they can do to help. I always advise the fathers of the babies I look after to just try and be as supportive of Mum as possible. They can help her out by taking on a lot of the household chores so that she can concentrate on the baby, without the worry of mess around her, and cooking a healthy meal so that she can keep her energy stores up. Mothers will really appreciate this type of help – I know I did!
Most fathers don’t really get a chance to really feel like they are beginning to bond with their child until they are a few months old. This usually coincides with the baby developing a personality – smiling, giggling and cooing. It’s wonderful to finally start getting something back from your baby, after what may seem like an endless round of sleep-deprived nights!
*Cuddle her frequently: skin-to-skin contact particularly in the first few weeks will be a lovely experience for both of you. It’s something that mum and dad can do.
*Talk to her constantly, about anything and everything, even what you are doing as you walk around the house. She will love to hear the sound of both Mum’s and Dad’s voice, and will learn to recognise both of them very quickly and be soothed by them when she’s upset.
*Watch her as she sleeps for a few minutes every day. Babies and older children have such a calm, peaceful look about them as they sleep. This is a particularly helpful thing to try if you have had a rough day. She will look so angelic that your bad day fades into the background as you watch her sleep.
I still creep in to look at all three of my children as they are sleeping before I go to bed myself, and they are much older now. As I watch them calmly sleeping I can forgive them all the stress they have caused me throughout the day!