As you wait for the arrival of your little one, it’s not unusual for you to think of ways to bond with your newborn. Being excited about having a bundle of joy in your arms is a normal feeling for parents to have. However, you should know that bonding does not always happen immediately.
Still, it pays to know the advantages and importance of bonding with baby. Creating a lifetime bond with your child will benefit everyone in the long run. You’ll be pleased to know that there are many ways to bond with your newborn.
Unang Yakap: An integral way to bond with your newborn
The mother baby bonding theory is also known as Attachment Theory. It is a theory “based on the belief that the mother-child bond is the essential and primary force in infant development, and thus forms the basis of coping, negotiation of relationships, and personality development.”
After birth, there is a period known as the “Golden Hour” which is the first 60 minutes after your baby has entered the world.
This is an important period of time where mother and child can form a lasting bond.
This is why many hospitals encourage immediate ‘rooming in’ of infants as soon as possible after birth, granting that there are no urgent medical procedures needed.
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In the Philippines, there is a campaign called Unang Yakap (First Embrace). This is spearheaded by the Department of Health (DOH) in cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO).
It is a way to adopt the Essential Intrapartum Newborn Care (EINC) in the Philippines. EINC is a series of time-bound and evidence-based interventions for newborn babies and their mothers that ensure the best care for them.
In Unang Yakap or EINC, the steps include:
- immediate and thorough drying of the baby
- early-skin-to-skin contact between the mother and the newborn
- properly-timed cord clamping, and
- non-separation of the mother and baby for early breastfeeding initiation.
Apart from Unang Yakap, there are other ways for you to strengthen your bond with your newborn.
Let your visitors know that you are prioritizing bonding with your newborn
Breastfeeding early and often does wonders for the formation of a lasting bond. Immediately after birth, your baby may only need to nurse for short but frequent periods, like every 20 minutes.
Let visitors know that although their presence is much appreciated, you must focus on breastfeeding your newborn and might not be able to entertain them as much as you’d like.
Ask for breastfeeding advice in the hospital
For new mothers, getting help and support while they are still in the hospital ensures that their breastfeeding journey is off to a good start.
New mothers might need help to get breastfeeding off to a good start.
Moms who may need the most support are:
- moms who delivered via C-section or those who had a long, difficult vaginal delivery
- those who had to be separated from their preemies or sick babies
- moms of twins, triplets or more
- new moms or moms who’ve experienced difficulty breastfeeding in the past, and
- moms whose nipples are flat or inverted
Bond with your newborn: be the ‘baby burrito’
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Instead of having your baby swaddled burrito-style, you can ask the nurse or doctor to hand the baby to you.
Studies have found that swaddling a baby can be attributed to less effective breastfeeding.
More and more moms are asking hospital staff to hand their babies to them so they can spend time rendering”kangaroo care.” This is done by dressing your newborn in only a diaper while gently laying them upon your chest, achieving skin-to-skin contact which allows for a deep emotional bond to be established.
This is a powerful tool that moms should use often even after they leave the hospital.
There have been many benefits of kangaroo care including good heart rate, well-regulated breathing and body temperature. In addition, since your newborn has easy access to your breasts, they are less likely to have low blood sugar and they rarely require diet supplements.
Moreover, the baby is less likely to cry because he starts to find comfort in your smell and warm body. In turn, you are able to familiarize yourself with their feeding cues.
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Breastfeed as long as your baby needs to
Shortening your baby’s feeding times can lead to having a poor milk supply.
When you’re a new mom, it’s easy to think that you can schedule feedings but, most often, this isn’t the case.
Though you may have a general idea about how long or how often feedings should take place, there is really no way to perfectly plan logistics for feeding.
It helps to prepare yourself to nurse as often as possible for as long as possible.
Knowing your baby’s subtle cues such as a squeak or smacking of the lips will help you know if you should offer your breast.
Try switching your baby to the other side after he’s fallen asleep. You can also try using breast compressions to help improve milk production.
How to bond with your baby
Aside from breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact, bonding with a baby is possible in a lot of ways.
Here are other things you can try:
Touch and cuddle your newborn regularly. Stroke them during breastfeeding or while changing their diaper.
Respond to their crying. Let your baby know you are always there, even though sometimes you may not know the reason for their tears.
Talk to your baby. Describe what you are doing or share stories. In time, they will recognize your voice, so talk in a calm, reassuring, and soothing tone. This will also help your child in learning a language later on.
Sing songs! Singing to your baby even while in the womb has benefits. After birth, singing songs to your newborn has positive effects on both the mother and baby. Aside from helping to calm them, it also helps them fall asleep, and learn later on.
Dads bonding with baby: equally important for a child’s development
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While mothers often get to immediately bond with their newborn often through breastfeeding, this does not mean that fathers cannot form their own bonding activities with their children.
It is important to note that bonding with your child does not mean being another mother to them. Sharing unique experiences and activities with your baby is possible. This does not only help your child’s development, it is also a great way for parents to support each other in their new journey.
For dads, here are ways to bond with your baby:
- Participating in the labor and delivery
- Help in feeding and changing the baby
- Give the newborn a bath
- Use a carrier while doing activities at home
- Carrying the baby outside to get some sun
- Let the baby feel the textures of your face
Difficulty bonding with baby
It is important to have a support system when caring for a newborn and even as your baby grows. The first three months after giving birth are also called the fourth trimester, and your body and mind are still going through changes during this period.
Your changing hormones may be a reason why you may have difficulty bonding with your baby. Also called the “baby blues,” these feelings that come and go include anxiety, sadness, or distress. You may also feel anger and wonder if you can care for your infant.
When these feelings intensify and interfere with your bonding with the baby, you may have postpartum depression. It is crucial for you to get help from a mental health professional and receive treatment.
The first few days after birth will never come again so get as much bonding time as possible. Ultimately, it is up to every mom to deepen their bond with their newborn, in their own way.
These suggestions may help you make the most of the ‘golden hour.’ They do not only help bond you with your little one, they may also help you begin your motherhood journey on a truly memorable note.
Additional information from Romy Peña Cruz