I’m going to get quite technical with you today, so please know I would not do this if I did not feel it was essential! I want to make sure you feel really good about the process of falling in love with your baby. If you can’t take this information in right now, because you have baby brain, don’t worry.
Enjoy the gooey, mushy, loving feeling; you don’t need to know about bonding because you already are bonding.
Attachment theory has been wildly misunderstood by many parents, who may be led to believe that bonding is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment immediately after birth. Whilst early separation from your baby can be devastating, I don't want you to feel that your relationship with your baby is damaged beyond repair. What it does mean is you may need a little more support, time and privacy for your two jobs, falling in love and learning to breastfeed.
Bonding takes between six months and two years and it happens without you even knowing. Be responsive and sensitive to your baby’s needs. Spend time cuddling at home together and avoid visitors, and you will fall in love even if it takes a little longer than you were led to believe.
One in five mothers will find they don’t ‘love’ their babies immediately and this is not necessarily related any postpartum mood disorder.
Your baby is a new human being, and you are taking some time getting to know each other. If you don’t feel you bond with your baby straight away, you are not a bad mother and there is nothing wrong with you. Just spend time with your baby talking, cuddling and playing. Be consistent and responsive and you will fall in love with your baby in good time.
I also want to make the distinction here between attachment theory and attachment parenting. Attachment theory studies the dynamics of long-term relationships between humans, and how early relationships with primary care givers (not just mothers) can impact all future relationships and emotional development.
On the other hand, specific, prescriptive parenting techniques can make parents feel anxious and competitive, especially if their baby isn’t doing what it should. Some babies don’t like to co-sleep or be carried in slings, so it is more important to focus on your unique and loving relationship with your unique baby.
Don’t fall into the trap of feeling like there is only one correct and proper way to raise a child.
All you need to know is that sensitive and emotionally available parents and care givers, create children with secure attachment, which basically means that they become healthy, happy and well adjusted adults.
It is now thought that the science behind attachment theory is actually about oxytocin receptivity in the brain. Biologist, Gyorgy Csaba, has extensively researched this biological phenomenon called hormonal imprinting. The basic idea is that the first encounter between oxytocin and its developing target cell receptor determines that connection for life.
The most important period of hormonal imprinting in humans is the before, during and after birth. Oxytocin receptivity is thought to be fairly well set in the brain by the age of three, however this system can be imprinted at other critical developmental stages, including weaning and puberty. I’ve also been wondering if maybe we can be hormonally imprinted again when we become mothers ourselves.
If this jargon has gone way over your head, please don’t worry.
All you need to know is this, you have plenty of time to fall in love with your baby.
If you need a bit of help getting the love flowing it’s always a good idea to revisit some nourishing traditions. Staying warm is considered, in many cultures, to be essential for Newborn Mothers. Many nourishing traditions keep new mothers indoors out of the wind and weather. Mums are given hot food, warm oil and steam treatments, including massage and saunas. New mums are discouraged from washing in cold water or going outside with wet hair.
Research found that people have “warmer” emotions when they are physically warm. It also found that when we’re warm we see others in a better light. We tend to be more generous and trusting of others.
Physical warmth boosts oxytocin and helps you fall in love with your baby.
With a warm body and a warm heart, you and your baby will be on the right track to a peaceful and loving relationship.
Healthy new mums naturally want to pay close attention to their newborn’s rich emotional life. If you or your baby feel so stressed that you don’t naturally interact in these positive ways, it’s time to ask for help. Talk to a professional to find out if you or your baby may have some physical or mental illness that is preventing you from enjoying this time.