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Bonding with Your New Baby

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    Bonding with your new baby may happen immediately, or it may take a while. Either way is just fine. Take it at your own pace as both mum and baby need to learn more about each other.

    Bonding with your baby is a magical process. It’s the start of a love-affair between you and your baby, but it’s also vital for their development and wellbeing. For parents, it’s about loving, caring for, and protecting their baby, who will instinctively respond to their touch, affection and attention.

    As one mum puts it, “it’s that unconditional love for your child – the ‘I will do anything and everything for you’ feeling.”

    When bonding happensBonding with your New Baby

    There’s no one single moment when bonding takes place. Some parents have an overwhelming rush of love for their child the first time they hold them, but for others it takes a little more time. Often a new mum can feel under pressure if they don’t feel an instant bond, but like any relationship, it’s different for everyone, so if it doesn’t happen immediately, try not to worry!

    Top tips for skin to skin contact

    Holding your baby close after the birth is a really important part of getting to know each other. Ideally it should:

    •Take place within 30 minutes of the birth.
    •Be in a calm, relaxed and unhurried environment.
    •Be for as long as you like (ideally longer than 45 minutes).
    •If you have had a caesarean birth or cannot hold your baby at first, ask your partner or midwife to help you hold your baby when you feel ready.

    What other mums have told us

    “It took months to totally bond with my daughter, and even then there were points when I wasn’t sure if I had. I didn’t "force" it, it took time and we got there in the end,” says Small steps mum Sally from Warwickshire.

    For mums who have had a distressing or exhausting birth, a special care or premature baby, or who are affected by other factors such as depression, bonding may not be immediate.
    “With the C-section, first of all I did not know what to feel. I was looking at her with hubby holding her. When I was able to hold her and feed her, then it came ... she did not quite feel like mine before that,” says B-Walsh. From Cheltenham.

    But for others, the delivery method didn’t affect them at all.

    “I couldn’t have imagined before I had them how easily I would fall in love with them – with both of them it was instant,” says Molly from Nottingham.

    Don’t forget to look after yourself. Getting as much rest as you can in the early days will help you feel less tired and more able to cope with the demands of a new baby – and will help you to build your bond with them.

    Dad bond

    Bonding isn’t just for mums. New dad Peter says: “Nothing prepares you for the first moment you look at your child and they look back at you. A little later on, their first smile, their first ‘goo’ or ‘gaa’ is wonderful. These are amazing bonding experiences for a dad. Even in the toughest times, after sleepless nights, when you’re exhausted… when your child falls asleep in your arms, or pulls a funny face, all of this counts towards the relationship you start to build with your child each and every time you are holding them, singing to them or pacing up and down to get them to sleep.”

    Bonding advice

    If you have any concerns at all about bonding with your baby, talk to your midwife or health visitor as soon as you can to get the advice and support you need.

    Top tips to bond with your baby

    Develop a bond with your baby by:

    • Holding them close – start straight after birth if you can with skin-to-skin contact.
    • Smiling at them.
    • Stroking their cheek.
    • Chatting to them.
    • Bathing them.
    • Singing to them.
    • Trying baby massage
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