Having a baby is a life changing experience. For many new moms, the thought of not having that "special bond" between their baby right away is one of their biggest fears. Every mother wants to hold their newborn baby, overwhelmed with a sense of accomplishment, awe, and love. However, many moms don't feel that immediate sense of connection with that they'd been dreaming about. Luckily, there are several ways to bond with your baby as soon as they're born that will increase your chances of experiencing that connection right away.
Although there's no one size fits all method for bonding with your baby that will work for everyone (parenting isn't that simple, unfortunately), these steps are proven to encourage the parent-baby bond right off the bat. You can start the very first time you hold your baby, and continue the steps once you're home, during their first months of life and beyond.
The beauty of bonding with your baby is that it's an instinctual process. Chances are, you'll know what to do without reading or researching beforehand. But knowing the benefits of how you instinctually bond with your baby is a great way to encourage the steps to go even further, beyond the hospital room.
1. Have Skin To Skin Contact Immediately After Birth
According to the International Breastfeeding Center, skin to skin time promotes bonding, stabilizes their heart rate, and promotes quicker and easier breastfeeding.
2. Keep Eye Contact With Them When They're Awake
Although the times they're fully awake won't be very long at first, taking advantage of their awake hours by holding them and making eye contact will help them get to know your face, movements, scents, and sounds, and connect the two of you even more. Your baby likely won't be able to make eye contact with you until about six weeks, according to Parenting, but it will still build a valuable connection between the two of you.
3. If You Plan On It, Breastfeed As Soon As You Can
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), breastfeeding soon after giving birth helps establish a healthy mother-child relationship, encourages your milk to come in sooner, and increases your chances of exclusively breastfeeding for six months or longer.
4. Sleep With Them Close-by
Sleeping with your baby in a co-sleeper or nearby your bed, also known as room sharing, is a safe and beneficial way for you to bond with your baby. According to the Baby Sleep Site, room-sharing promotes a healthy breastfeeding relationship, helps mothers be more attuned to their baby's needs, and more. You can start this on your baby's first night in the hospital too.
5. Respond To Their Cues
According to Dr. Sears, babies cry to communicate, not manipulate, so responding to their cries will help you get to know your baby's likes and dislikes, without worry of "spoiling" them.