She's finally here: your brand new bundle of joy. Cradled in your arms, you gaze at your new baby and feel... nothing. You are not overwhelmed with joy or happiness and you are not overcome with love and sweet emotions as you imagined you would be, and as you have been told you should be. You wonder: I've been so excited about this baby, and now that she's here, I don't feel any bond at all. What's wrong with me?
First, know that you are not alone, and that these feelings are shared by others. There are many possible reasons you feel an inability to bond with your new baby, and just because you feel this way today does not mean it will be this way forever.
Bonding between mother and child from the early days of infancy can help build trust and security.
Here are five simple ways that mothers can create strong bonds with their babies.
- Spend as much time during the very early days after your child is born allowing for skin-to-skin contact. Studies show that this contact helps you release endorphins, resulting in projecting calm and reassurance to your baby. Soon your baby will recognize your touch, scent, and feel compared to others.
- Talk and sing to your baby. Allow him/her to hear the sound of your voice as much as possible from the very beginning, whether singing lullabies or simply explaining how you are changing baby's clothes. Newborns can recognize their mother's voice from the time they are born.
- Make eye contact with your baby. Although eyesight is still developing, newborns can see approximately 12 inches in front of them, so when you are holding your baby, be sure to also hold his/her gaze. Your child will begin to recognize your features and be soothed by your familiarity.
- Make sure you and your partner are the main people who take care of feeding your baby. Breastfeeding can help build strong bonds between mother and child, but bottle feeding can also strengthen the bond between you and your baby, as well as your baby's bond with your partner. When feeding your baby, hold him/her close, make eye contact, sing or speak softly and give all of your attention to your newborn so that he/she feels calm and soothed during the feeding.
- Respond to your baby's needs. You cannot spoil a baby. In fact, the more you bond with your baby now, the more they will learn to trust you. If your child feels secure in his/her attachment to you, he/she will more likely grow up to be a more independent adult.