When it comes to bonding I think what it is important to remember is that bonding is a process. It is not a (pow) moment in which you are instantly bonded to your baby , there is not one magical action which will switch this "BONDING" on. Many new parents report immediate "bonding" after talking to their baby bump and a trouble free birth they hold their new baby and feel that bond and this bond only grows over time. Equally many parents after also talking to baby bump and anticipating the birth of their precious little one, report feelings of anxiety, overwhelm and lack of a bond. Both are perfectly normal and you have all you need to build a bond that will only grow. The bond between you and your baby will develop it is a journey, a (process) and an important one. BONDING is hugely important in the mental and emotional health of parent and child. When established the maternal and paternal bonds are by far the strongest bonds experienced and as humans beings and nothing can compare . The whole bonding process has baffled scientists for years. When a loving bond is formed it sets the foundations and forms the model for all of your baby's intimate relationships throughout life. This bond is the building blocks for all adult relationships. It also increases parents responsiveness and improves mood and relationships. Which is all good right ???
Unfortunately one of the most detrimental things to that bonding process is the myth that you will automatically experience this bond after birth, leaving parents who do not experience this initial rush of love feeling worried and unable to express their worry through fear of being judged. This could lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self esteem as parents. Please hear me on this it's not unusual !
I have two children born within 2 years of each other and my bonding experience was such a vast contrast from one birth to another. Both times it was a journey That journey is amazing and beautiful and there are things that all parents can do to secure that loving bond. here are the five important concepts when it comes to bonding with your little one.
The power of touch (hold, cuddle, massage your baby)
Touch is the first sense your baby develops in the womb. It is a key element in the bonding process and positive touch is reassuring both to parent and baby. A new baby experiences their world through tactile experiences and being earth-side is a huge contrast to life in the womb. Just think baby goes from being constantly warm, rocked and fed, to something quite different after birth. Parents can make the transition a little easier ,by giving lots of loving touch. Hold your baby close, your baby is set and ready to bond with you. They were born craving your closeness and connection. Massage can be the perfect way to give all of that positive touch and reassurance to your baby.
The magic of scent
That's right smell is super important, more important than most of us realize! Who doesn't get that warm fuzzy feeling at the smell of a brand new baby? Research done by Porter in 1983 showed that an infant’s highly refined sense of smell immediately after birth helps it to identify its mother’s chemical signature and discriminate it against others. Kennell and Klaus’ research in 1983 also showed that smell is a crucial component in the bonding process between parent and baby. Your individual smell will be comforting to baby. When you massage your baby with an unscented massage oil you help the natural transfer of your scents.
The look of love ( eye contact, eye contact, eye contact )
So here we are in this digital age where we are experiencing less face to face interactions still there is
something so appealing about looking into each other eyes and rightly so. Human beings have evolved for millions of years, this need to make eye contact . This type of connectivity can not be underestimated. Research shows that babies are particularly attracted to the shape of a bull’s eye which resembles the shape of the iris and the nipple, both essential features for the infant to identify its mother. I heard Stephen Fry on a podcast recently say this " if you were to lay a baby in a cot next to a multi coloured, revolving mobile playing music and a piece of paper with two dots and a smile that baby will choose to look at the dots and the smile. We are programmed to respond to faces." That's it !! Your face is what your baby wants to interact with your smile and your loving eye contact. How awesome!! It's free and yours to give.
So gaze into the longing eyes of your baby.
The Sound of your voice
Dum dum dummmmm !!! Ok I am not a fan of my own voice. That moment when I hear myself back on the cute video I made of the girls and the shock horror of (is that really how I sound) hits I recoil in horror. I think this is a fairly common insecurity. Here's the good news. If your not the most confident singer in the world you've finally found your audience. Your baby will love to hear your voice so sing and talk to them, it doesn't matter what you say or what you sing they will listen attentively. You can read anything nursery rhymes and songs are great because of the repetition but believe me it doesn't have to be you can rap, read your fav book or blast out a power ballad. Your baby just wants to hear you ! When I think about this it makes complete sense. I can not think of much more comforting than the sound of my mother's voice.
The Love Hormone (Oxytocin)
This wonderful hormone is released during pregnancy and is associated with feelings of love, trust and safety. Oxytocin has been proven to play a big part in the bonding process for both mothers and fathers. It is the the feel good hormone that is released when we cuddle each other and it is released when we have skin to skin contact. How do you increase yours and your babies (Love) hormone ? Touch, hugs, cuddles, skin to skin contact such as massage.
That's it !
It’s that simple, It’s all you, hold your baby close, gaze into their eyes, smile, talk , sing, let them smell you, let them feel the warmth of your skin on theirs. Why I love baby massage so much is that all of these things are incorporated making any amount of massage the perfect space to nurture a loving bond. You've got this :)