As an expectant mother, you read and are told countless times about the importance of bonding with your baby. While for some new mums, this happens effortlessly, for others it can be more of a challenge. In this series of Expert Editions we have Angela Spencer, creator of the Babyopathy wellness programme and author of Babyopathy: Baby Care the natural way of to share the realities and challenges of bonding with your baby, and some practical tips for helping to smooth the way…
Bonding with your baby the moment they are born is natural, right? Well actually it’s not as straightforward as it may seem. In a survey by the NCT, one third of new mothers say they struggle to bond with their baby. I say, that’s not unusual at all, let me explain.
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 and bonding with your baby can often be more challenging. 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 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 judgmental 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!
The bond a baby has with both his or her parents is important and so here are my top tips for encouraging the bonding process.
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.
Begin the process of bonding with your baby early
Knowing what and when your baby can hear, feel and see etc means you can 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.
It’s good to talk!
When you have shared your pregnancy through groups 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 but at Babyopathy, we don’t judge, we just share and support.
Many people underestimate the power of crystals however, in recent years their popularity has been increasing with amber being used in teething necklaces for example (although amber is technically a resin). Rose quartz is a great healing stone and promotes harmony in the family. However, to help with the bonding process and the maternal instinct it has to be pick chalcedony. Wear as a bracelet or put next to your bed (and baby’s crib).
Take care of YOU
One of the most important things many new mums forget, because they are so busy trying to do EVERYTHING is to take care of themselves. This tends to be the case even more so if you are finding it hard to bond, because if you keep yourself busy then you don’t have to sit and be the ‘cooing’ mum over her baby. All you are doing though is wearing yourself thin and ultimately making the problem worse because you are almost consciously ‘avoiding’ the baby. So instead, leave baby with your partner or someone else close to you and take a little time to take care of you. Have a bath, have a sleep, do something to make you feel like you and not a mum. This is allowed!
Introduce a bottle
This is allowed too! It won’t upset your breastfeeding routine, in fact it may even help it because if you are struggling to bond you may also be struggling to feed effectively. By introducing just one bottle, your partner can take some of the strain and this will also take some of the mental pressure of of you.
Taking some time each day to relax, and if you can to meditate, can have a profound effect on both yours and your baby’s well-being. If you are relaxed then your baby will be more relaxed (they will pick up on your stress if you are worrying about not bonding) and you will find your natural instincts will eventually kick in.
Finally, 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.
Angela Spencer is the creator of the Babyopathy wellness programme and author of the book Babyopathy: Baby Care the natural way, available from Amazon and all good independent bookstores. For more information about classes and shows, please visit Babyopathy.com. Connect on Facebook and Twitter.
Discover expert advice on a host of other topics on the dedicated Expert Editions page here.
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