I wasn’t sure of much when I was preparing to bring my first child into the world, but I never questioned my ability to form a deep, strong, loving connection with him straight away.
But then I just… didn’t
It could have been that my birth didn’t exactly go to plan. That, rather than lounging luxuriantly around in my “birthing kimono”, I was weak, bloodless and hooked up to so many drips and needles that even adjusting my arm to feed my newborn was painful. It could have been that, pumped up to the nines with pain medication and basically asleep for the first couple of days, I was so consumed with staying alive, that marvelling at my baby took second priority.
Or maybe I’m just like the majority of Aussie mums for whom bonding is not instantaneous.
Our expectations aren’t meeting the reality
A new new national survey found that almost 70 per cent of mothers expected to bond with their baby at birth, while in reality, almost 60 per cent took longer to form that connection.
A new mum can take anywhere from birth right up to 6 months or more before they feel fully connected to their child. While this in itself isn’t a problem, we make it one by measuring ourselves against unrealistic ideals, leaving many of us feeling disappointed or inadequate.
Jen Hamilton, a mothercraft nurse with over 27 years’ experience, and founder of WOTBaby says, “It’s all you see in advertising and the movies. Mums are depicted as forming an immediate bond, when in reality it can take much longer to form a true rhythm with their baby.”
Jen says it’s important to remember you are not an island; there are actually many factors at play. “There are some key fundamentals that result in a successful bond between parent and baby, and so many out-of-control factors can affect that experience, including labour, health, support systems, relationships, personality and personal history or adjustment with things like feeding.”
And remember, all these things take time. “In my experience, I generally find on average, mums truly bonding with their child at four to five months,” Jen reminds us.
But in the meantime, there are some things you can do to optimise your bonding experience with your baby. Jen Hamilton shares her 5 top tips.
1. Put positive vibes in your surrounding
Surround yourself with positive people that offer you support and are like minded. A strong, positive and happy support network is crucial and this starts with your immediate others. Make sure you have open communication lines with your partner.
2. Maximise your time spent with baby
Spend more time with the bub – increase amount of skin-to-skin time with the baby. This physical bonding time can be spent in the bath together or doing gentle baby-massages.
3. Lower your expectations
It is okay not to be perfect. Lower your expectations of yourself and take things one day at a time.
4. Information is key
Arm yourself with education and helpful information. By educating yourself you feel empowered and armed with knowledge. Understanding the baby and milestones the baby is going through can help you understand your child better and make you feel more in control. Using an app such as WOTBaby can be a great place to start.
5. Find your rhythm
This comes with educating yourself and finding babies characteristics milestones so knowing their individual milestones
“Understand baby behaviour and act on that,” says Jen. “Finding your rhythm with your baby will help gain the confidence you need to encourage the bond with your baby.”
Jen Hamilton is a published author, mum of three and in her mothercraft career has helped thousands of parents and caregivers adjust to their baby. She is the creator of the app, WOTBaby.