That moment when your baby is placed on you for the first time – after all those months of growing and nurturing your baby, birthing them and then finally that rush of love to make it all worth while.
But sometimes after birth there isn’t that rush of love. It’s also perfectly normal to need some time to adjust, to get to know this new person in your life and to maybe just feel like you need to rest! If this is you don’t worry, the bonding will come with time and there are a few simple things that you can do to encourage it:
1. Skin to skin – holding your baby naked on you increases your oxytocin levels which is your bonding and love hormone. More of this will help you feel connected to your baby, and you can do this any time in the months after giving birth not just during the golden hour.
2. Smelling your baby – that newborn smell is magic! Smelling your baby, especially their head will give you a huge surge of hormones. In the days following birth avoid putting hats on your baby or letting anyone hold your baby who is wearing perfume.
3. Breastfeeding – when you breastfeed your body produces more oxytocin so this can be a great way to bond. (This is not to say those who breastfeed love their baby more than those who bottle feed, but more it can encourage bonding for some people)
4. Talking or singing to your baby – this is great for your baby’s development and for them to learn language patterns. But it is also helpful for you, as mammals we love interacting and communicating with people. It might feel a bit odd at first but you’ll soon get used to it, and eventually be rewarded with smiles. Any easy way to get the one way conversation going is to simply describe what you are doing “I’m putting your vest on now, it’s white, over your head it goes’.
5. Taking care of yourself – it’s hard to let the love in when you are tired or hungry. Keeping on top of your basic needs (and maybe getting support with this) will mean you are more open emotionally and receptive to your baby.
6. Taking time out – similar to the previous point, taking some time out can make you a better parent, even if it’s a ten minute walk or bath solo. Think of it this way – if you spent every minute of every day with your partner they’d start to annoy you pretty quickly! The relationship with your baby might also benefit from some breathing space. Don’t feel rushed for this or guilty for needing it either, we’re all different and work at different paces.
Something that can really help you have a great start to bonding with your baby is a nice, calm birth that leaves you feeling happy and eutrophic. Not only because with a calm birth you are usually in better shape physically, so need less time to recover, but also because with a calm birth you are more likely to have a higher amount of oxytocin in your body – the love hormone. And the science backs this up – there is a 32% increased risk or postnatal depression or anxiety in those who have syntocinon to induce / speed up labour or for the delivery of the placenta (Kroll-Desrosiers et al, 2017).
Hypnobirthing is a great way to prepare for a calm and positive birth, as well as giving you the best start to parenthood. With the relaxations and breathing techniques you can remain calm, and with the antenatal education you can remain in control. So that no matter how your birth goes it can be wonderful.