As a new mother, you must have experienced incredibly intense feelings for your baby on several occasions. Despite the emotional roller coaster of childbirth and post-partum blues, most mothers experience a deep sense of joy like never before. There is often a sudden gush of feelings for the baby, a strong desire to love, care and cuddle, to be around and comfort the baby, no matter what.
Such feelings of intense emotions are part of a natural process called maternal bonding, a connection that most mothers instantly establish with their babies. In fact, this bond gets established even before childbirth. It begins during pregnancy and grows with each trimester. You must have experienced the same intense emotions when you felt your baby kick, or seen him/ her during an ultrasound scan. With every passing day, you find an upsurge of emotions.
This intense love that you experience for your child is more than an emotion. It is a connection designed by nature to ensure that you provide the vital care necessary for your baby. It has the power to influence and shape your child’s future, long after infancy and childhood.
Research indicates that a strong mother baby bond can positively influence a child’s emotional, social and intellectual growth. Infants, who enjoyed a deeper connection with parents, grow up to become confident children with a strong sense of security. They are expected to have a stronger immune system and a healthier life. They are also likely to have more stable lives as adults with greater ability to absorb as well as resolve emotional conflicts in life.
As a mother, you have the power of your love to build a strong foundation for your child, and if the strength of your love can determine the future of your child, why not work towards enhancing this gift of nature? There are several ways of enhancing this bond with your baby, and the earlier you do, the better it is. So don’t hold back your maternal instincts, just let the love flow.
Touch and hold your baby close
Touch is a newborn’s first sensory communication with the world. Mothers touch can initiate a cascade of physiological changes in a newborn baby. Being touched and held close will regulate the body temperature and offers the newborn much needed comfort in an environment outside the womb. With every human contact, the baby continues to adapt and thrive in a new world, leading to healthier growth and development. So as far as possible, maintain some form of contact with you baby. Some positive and effective ways of contact with your baby includes holding, cuddling, massaging and gentle stroking.
Breastfeed your baby
Breastfeeding is one of the strongest ways of establishing a mother child bond. For many new mothers, establishing this connection may be a big challenge during the initial few days, but once established, both mother and child benefit a great deal from it. Apart from providing essential nutrition and immunity to the infant, breastfeeding offers emotional satisfaction to both mother and the baby. It stimulates the release of a hormone called “Oxytocin”. Oxytocin, not only aids the ejection of milk from the mammary glands, but also promotes the development of maternal behaviour and emotional attachment. Research indicates that the longer a child breastfeeds, greater the benefits. Children who are nursed long term tend to have a stronger bonding with their mothers and less likely to suffer from insecurity.
Talk, read and sing to your baby
Although babies may not follow conversations or understand the stories you read, their brains are constantly stimulated by words and sounds around them. Babies love to hear their mother’s voice and follow her facial expressions. Songs, nursery rhymes or any kind of rhythmic sounds are extremely soothing and fascinating for the baby. Massage time, bath time, nappy change, they are all perfect opportunities to have a real mother baby chat. These little singing and chatting sessions not only make a huge difference to your relationship with your child, but also influence his or her own relationships with others in the future. Research suggests that talking to babies more often will make them intellectually and emotionally advanced. They grow up to become confident children and lead a more secure life.
Written by Dr. Arpitha Reddy