Sometimes in life, things just don’t go as planned. But when your firstborn suddenly ends up in special care… well no one plans for that. Here, writer Emma Oliver remembers bonding with her baby and speaks to a baby wellness and childcare expert...
Having not bonded with my bump at all throughout the pregnancy, I wondered about bonding with my baby after he or she was born. Ironically, at birth she was very ill and taken away to special care. Looking back… if anything was going to help me with the bonding process, it was the thought of losing my new baby daughter.
We often believe that bonding with our baby the moment they are born is natural. But actually it’s not as straightforward as it may seem. In a recent survey by the National Childbirth Trust, one third of new mothers said they struggled to bond with their baby. For all sorts of reasons.
Baby wellness and childcare expert Angela Spencer, explained to me that struggling to bond with your baby is not that unusual at all. She said, ‘As always, media, celebrities and films depict the perfect scene – a relatively smooth and quick labour and that perfect moment of birth where they fall instantly in love with their baby. However, reality is usually very different. No two births are the same and very few new mums now have either the family support around them or prepare properly for their new motherhood journey.
‘Maternity benefits and family services have been cut year on year so that very few mums attend classes or groups to prepare them. Many live apart from their family unit and so do not have that regular ‘mother figure’ themselves to give them tips and advice and finally in this technological and judgemental social media age, very few will talk about their concerns or want to admit that their journey is not a ‘perfect’ one to be berated.
‘We all want the perfect birth and to bond instantly but for so many new mums circumstances make reality very different. A very long and arduous labour can leave a new mum feeling exhausted mentally and physically, a very quick labour can often leave a mum in shock and sometimes that rush of emotion just does not happen straight away. It is all perfectly normal.’
Knowing the bond a baby has with both his or her parents is very important, Angela shared her four top tips for encouraging the bonding process.
1). A mother figure
It may sound strange but as with everything in life, we learn from our experiences and so having a mother figure in your life that will guide and support you on your journey is important for your own bonding process. For those of you that have your own mother close take the time to nurture that relationship during your pregnancy. For those of you that do not, for whatever reason, find someone that can be the ‘mother figure’ for you, offering guidance and support.
2). Begin the bonding process early
I hold Babyopathy workshops that take expectant mums on a sensory journey with their baby. Knowing what and when your baby can hear, feel and see etc means you can establish a connection with your baby before they are born. So even if that rush of emotions doesn’t come straight away you can still have a connection though sounds and the routine you have already established.
3). It’s good to talk
When you have shared your pregnancy with a group of friends, you will find it much easier to share what others may find embarrassing, as you will already know that everyone goes through the same things. Everyone leaks milk from their boobs, everyone has sore ‘bits’ from their birth and everyone has moments of tears for no reason – and they are just some of the things that few people generally discuss.
4). Don’t worry, be happy
The most important thing if you find you don’t have the instant ‘bond’ with your baby is – do not worry! You are not alone. Just be happy they are here, and the bond will come when it is good and ready.
This BONDING WITH YOUR BABY post first appeared here