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Mommy – Baby Bonding – Strategies, Tips and Myths
The Myth of Instant Hookup
Many moms expect to immediately feel connected with their new baby, as if the process of giving birth creates an instant connection and love. However, feeling connected and in love with your baby may not happen so quickly. Bonding is often a gradual process that begins during pregnancy (or even conception) and continues long after your baby is born.
Let go of the Worry
New mothers have enough to worry about without adding a bond to their list:
– “Is it happening?” – “Am I connecting enough?” – “Am I doing this right?”
are questions that cause moms unnecessary anxiety and stress. Get out of your worry and realize that your physical and mental state affects how you bond and feel about your child. Focus attention on yourself — on what you need to feel physically and emotionally well — to be more present and available to your baby.
Ensuring Your Optimal Frame of Mind
BEFORE YOUR BABY’S ARRIVAL:
Create a birth plan and send it to the head nurse at the hospital where you will deliver. List all the things you need to feel comfortable and calm during your labor and after your baby is born, e.g.:
- o I want to be with my baby at all times – even during bathing and tests.
- o I am breastfeeding, so please do not offer my baby a bottle or pacifier.
- o I don’t mind a pacifier, but please consult me first.
- o I don’t breastfeed, so formula is fine.
- o Please do not bathe my baby after delivery.
- o I would like to babysit my baby as soon as she is born (if medically possible).
IN THE HOSPITAL:
- o Hold your baby immediately after she/he is born, unless medical complications arise.
- o Breastfeed if you are comfortable with that choice.
- o Hold your newborn skin to skin.
- o Sleep in the same room as your child (if you feel like it).
- o Hold your baby as much as you want.
WHEN YOU COME HOME:
Leaving the hospital and caring for your newborn at home can be scary, stressful and exhausting. Some basic pointers can ease this transition and make bonding joyful and easier for you and your child.
– Take time to adjust:
For two weeks (at least) after your baby is born, have a nesting period in which all commitments other than taking care of yourself and your child are removed (this includes cleaning, cooking, entertaining, etc.). If you have a partner, he/he should join you during the “nesting” period, to the extent his/her schedule allows.
Moms need time to adjust, at their own pace and with ample support, to both their new role and their new baby.
– Give Yourself Love, Comfort and Care:
Before you give birth (or after you’ve read this magazine) create a support network to turn to after your baby is born: whether it’s a doula, a trusted friend, a nanny or a loving and supportive relative, have someone on call who can provide relief yourself from cooking, cleaning and taking care of a baby. Take time to rest, pamper yourself, chat with supportive friends, take stock, recharge and breathe.
Tell your support network ahead of time that you will need their services beyond the first two weeks of your baby’s life.
– Leave Your Expectations Behind and Live in the Fullness of Every Moment:
Get rid of the idea that you have to be blissfully happy all the time after your baby arrives. Conflicted feelings about motherhood and about new babies are common. Feeling a range of emotions — happy, overwhelmed, frustrated, excited, disappointed, happy, sad, in love, etc. — is normal and to be expected.
Remember: As a new mom, you will experience hormonal fluctuations. If you feel depressed for more than 2 weeks after giving birth (baby blues usually hit within the first week postpartum and subside within 2-3 weeks), seek professional help.
Live in the moment and enjoy all the feelings that appear during the first months of your baby’s life.
– Trust your instinct:
Make sure all well-wishers leave their advice at the door and trust what you know:
- o If your baby cries, please pick him or her up as often as feels right.
- o If you think your baby is hungry, feed her even if she only ate an hour before.
- o Carry your baby around the house in a sling or front carrier if that’s what she likes (don’t listen to the naysayers who warn you’ll “spoil” your child).
- o Talk to your baby as much as you feel the urge, even if you feel silly.
- o Breastfeeding or bottle feeding depending on what feels right for you.
- o Determine where you are most comfortable with your baby sleeping (in a crib, co-sleeper, your bed, bassinet, etc.).
Most of all, take time to get to know your baby. The more time you spend with your child — watching for feedback and attending to needs — the more in sync and connected you’ll be.
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