How To Connect With Your Baby
When you have a baby there is an expectation that you will automatically feel an overwhelming love and connection with your child. For some parents, this does happen, however it doesn't happen for everyone. In some cases it takes time to build up a relationship, both for mums and dads.
If you are a mum-to-be, giving birth is often a traumatic experience that can make it difficult for you to immediately connect with your baby. You can associate the pain and stress of labour with your child which in some cases makes it hard to bond. Often the first few weeks can also be stressful, putting a lot of pressure on you through lack of sleep and getting your head around becoming a parent. During this time you might not feel like you think you should about your newborn. This is incredibly common and not something you should feel bad about.
For new dads too it can be very difficult. Your partner has spent 9 months carrying your baby and helping them grow. You might feel like she has had a head start in getting to know them and some how automatically knows what she is doing as a parent. If your partner is breastfeeding this can lead to you feeling less involved and less needed, which is definitely not the case. Some new dads also say that they're lack of knowledge and experience makes them feel like they will harm their baby or not do the right thing which can lead to difficulty in bonding.
Today we're suggesting a few ways of connecting with your baby and helping to grow the bond between you.
5 Ways To Bond With Your Baby:
1. Skin to skin - having skin to skin with your baby is so important for both mums and dads. The feeling of love is a result of chemicals in our brain increasing, including oxytocin, which is generated by physical contact. Even if you don't feel like you want to hold your baby it is a good idea to do so as it will naturally release oxytocin in your brain and also in your babies brain which will comfort them, making them feel loved. You can have skin to skin by removing your top and laying your baby on you. Having a bath with your baby is also recommended by some psychologists but you must obviously be careful when doing this.
2. Face to face - talking to your baby allows you to get to know them and for them to get to know you. Research has also found that it helps your baby's brain development. When your baby is awake and fed, lay them or hold them in front of you and speak to them then wait for them to respond. It's important to allow them to have time to respond either with a noise, a look or a movement. Before long you will know and understand your baby's communication and this will help increase your bond with them.
3. Baby massage - this is linked to skin to skin and encourages chemicals of love within both yourself and your baby. Many parents believe that doing baby massage helps them bond with their little ones allowing them to have quiet time with their child that is different to the other day-to-day activities. You can access baby massage classes through the NHS or pay to go to local classes in your area.
4. Get involved - as a mum or a dad you might find it difficult to actually care for your baby, either physically because you are not able to, perhaps having had a C-section, or because you're worried that you don't know what you are doing. You would be surprised at how many parents feel like this. You are not alone. All we can say is, do what you can. The more you do the more confident you will feel. As a dad, you might feel it is natural to step back and allow your partner to do the main tasks, but it is important to talk to them about the day-to-day things and perhaps choose some activities that will be 'yours'. Spending bath time, just you and your baby, or reading to your baby, just the two of you, can give you that precious alone time which will allow you to bond and your relationship to grow.
5. Get to know your baby - doing all of these things will allow you to get to know your baby's personality. Many parents who suffer from post-natal depression or the baby blues often say that they felt the world expected them to love this person they didn't even know, and that is difficult. Getting to know your child, how they work, what they like, dislike will help you to bond. This obviously takes time and will involve you being with your baby, communicating with them, experiencing new things with them and becoming comfortable around them. Becoming a parent is a huge change that has lots of challenges but at the same time it is a unique and amazing journey that you take as a family. Allow your family to support you and in turn be there for them. You'll be surprised at what you learn about each other, yourself and just how much love one person can feel.
There is no right or wrong way to grow a relationship with your baby but we hope that our suggestions will give you a starting point and perhaps some new things to try. Don't forget, further advice and support is available in our Parenting group at The ASTB Community.
We welcome your comments below.