Many parents have this expectation that they will instantly fall in love with their baby at first sight or touch. But sometimes it doesn’t happen in an instant. That doesn’t mean you are a failure as a parent. There are several ways you can build this bond of a lifetime.
The 7 B’s of bonding :
1. Birth bonding – the concept of skin to skin contact immediately after your baby is born is not just a fad. It has been scientifically proven to help to stabilize the baby’s heart rate and temperature, aid in early establishment of breastfeeding and successful lactation for a longer time, baby is less likely to cry, and yes, the most rewarding of it all, is the feel of this bundle of joy you have carried for 9 months, against your skin, bliss beyond words ;it is a start of a lifelong bond. If there is no contraindication and both you and your baby are healthy, you could request your doctor if you could give skin to skin right after birth. This can also continue into the days and weeks following your delivery, especially for babies who are preterm or low birth weight, a practice commonly known as kangaroo mother care.
2. Breastfeeding – is not a choice, it’s a responsibility. Start breastfeeding as soon as possible, within 30 minutes of a normal delivery. Breastfeed on demand, and unless medically indicated, nothing apart from breast milk is required for your baby in the first 6 months, not even water. It is not just about nutrition—when your little one snuggles up against you to nurse, she hears your heartbeat, smells your scent, and is reassured by skin-to-skin contact.
3. Babywearing: That is, carrying a baby in a sling or wrap. Results in lesser crying, emotional development, and ideal for breastfeeding. However, it is critical to observe that the baby’s neck is well supported and breathing is not obstructed. Respond to your baby’s cries, it’s fine to pick her up and hold her close when she cries especially in the first few months.
4. Bedding: Proper swaddling can ensure better sleep. For both you and baby! Sleep, when your baby sleeps, visitors and socialising, are secondary. A well-rested mother is less stressed, and that benefits her baby the most. Give her a massage. The benefits of baby massage are staggering.
5. Beware of multiple inputs! – Turn off any unnecessary inputs that may interfere with your natural maternal instincts to nurture your baby. Be it interfering relatives who’ve “been there, done that”(well to be fair, those tricks might have worked on their baby but this baby is YOURS), or the multiple and sometimes conflicting inputs from the internet. You are the best judge, at times of panic, take a deep breath, stay calm, trust yourself, listen to your heart. And no, do not turn to googling at the drop of a hat!
6. Believe in her cues. Over time, you will be able to identify baby’s crying cues, be it for hunger, sleep, discomfort, or just the need to be held.
7. Balance and Boundaries. It’s true that your baby is picking up on the bond his parents share. Spend some time in the day, where you can unwind with your partner in any way, just spend some “we –time”.And put your phone away. Right now, your family and colleagues will understand if it takes you a few hours to respond to a text. Take advantage by giving all that extra time to your little one.
(Disclaimer: Writer is Dr Shalini Chico, Consultant- Neonatology and Paediatrics, Fortis La Femme Hospital. Views expressed are a personal opinion.)