As part of our #IhadPND campaign, we're collaborating with wellbeing retreat, &Breathe, to help raise awareness of postnatal depression. In this article, Olivia Horne (&Breathe’s happiness coach) shares her advice on how to bond with your newborn.
Bonding is a love connection between mother and baby. Some mums get an instant rush at birth, others bond gradually over several months. Learning to read and respond to the many needs of a tiny human takes a lot of energy, but really what babies need most is a happy, rested and well nourished mother. Here are a few things you can prioritise to give you both a boost.
Wear your baby in a sling
Wear you baby in a sling for a soothing rock, entertain them by throwing your own shapes or get out for a walk in fresh air. Cuddles from the start can really help you bond and moving your body will boost your feel-good endorphins. It is important for dads to connect with their newborn too, and baby wearing can really help to establish this connection.
Snuggle skin to skin
Snuggle skin to skin after birth to stimulate the ‘love hormone’, oxytocin. Baby massage is great for both mama and baby. It allows you to get out and meet new mums and it will also help connect further with your little one as they love the touch, gentle strokes and eye contact.
Nourish your baby
Nourish your baby by breastfeeding, which is one of the best ways to really connect with your baby. Whether you breast or bottle feed, you can make feeding a time to really connect with your baby using touch and sound to ensure you are engaging with them. The intimacy of this time together means you can start to read their language and facial expressions too. Bottle feeding is also an excellent way for dads to boost their bond.
Use your senses
Use your senses to tune in with your baby and the world around you, which can help you to feel more present and less anxious. Use your eyes, ears, touch and smell to interact, helping both of you to relax, learn and bond.
Keep it simple
Keep it simple with realistic expectations, plenty of rest and help, and minimal visitors. Find a balance that works for you, and consider your own needs every single day. Try to switch off from tech too – screens can zap your energy, and social media can floor your self esteem.
Ask for help
Ask for help if you’re worried. If your lack of bonding is making it hard to look after yourself or the baby, or if you feel resentful and hostile, then you may need to seek some additional support. There is absolutely no shame in finding it hard.
For more top tips, check out our Omega 3 fish oil guide to pregnancy.