As a new mother, bonding with your baby can be a real struggle sometimes. Here’s the personal story of a mother of twins.
While the birth of your child is a momentous and exciting time for any parent, you may also feel anxious about bonding with this new little person in your life.
Bonding helps to start a relationship between you and your baby. It is based on the need for love, safety, security, and protection, which is very important throughout life.
Learning about attachment and bonding helps parents to build the foundations for secure family relationships.
When To Start Bonding With Your Baby?
As a mother, you don’t have to wait until your baby is born before you can bond with him or her.
During the nine months that you are carrying your baby, there are many things that you can do to start the connection.
Some mums like to talk to their baby bumps or give them extrasensory experiences, such as playing music.
How To Bond With Your Newborn?
When your baby is born, take the opportunity to have skin-to-skin contact as soon as possible. This will help initiate a bond, while also helping to keep the baby calm and steady their breathing.
This is also a good time for you to start his or her’s first breastfeeding, as the baby will be alert and ready to feed.
If your baby is premature and taken to a neonatal unit, you may be advised to carry out kangaroo care.
This means that, when the baby is ready, you will be encouraged to hold the baby against your skin regularly, usually under clothes.
If you are unable to hold your baby, talking softly, holding his or her hand, or stroking your baby’s head will also help to start the bonding process.
Taking care of your baby’s needs, communicating, smiling and holding him or her, and responding to their noises while giving them attention will also help to build the bonding process.
Bonding Is Not Always Easy
The most important thing that you can do during the first few weeks of your newborn’s life is to enjoy your new baby and being a parent.
Some new mothers worry that they don’t feel a connection with their babies straight away.
For some parents, bonding develops within the first few days, but for others, it may take a few extra days, weeks, or even longer.
Bonding is still very successful even when it is delayed so mums shouldn’t panic.
If you are worried about struggling to bond with your new baby, then extra support can be found by speaking to a health visitor or GP.
Don’t Let Dad Get Left Behind
While there are many opportunities for a mother to bond with her baby, a father can feel a bit left out. You should give your partner as much encouragement as possible to get involved.
It is important that he tries to spend as much time with the new baby, such as by giving him or her a bath, a cuddle, or even arranging paternity leave from work.
Wider support and involvement in other aspects of the baby’s care will form bonds, which are just as special and just as close.
The more opportunities that a dad has to hold and get to know his baby, the more confident he will feel.
Bonding With My Twins
When your babies are rushed into the neonatal intensive care unit immediately after birth, it can be difficult to start the bonding process, as Helen Keightley explains.
My twin boys were born 13 weeks early and both weighed less than 2lb each. Due to their tiny weight, they were immediately taken to the neonatal intensive care unit to be ventilated.
There wasn’t any time for me to hold them, or even see them. As you can imagine, the whole experience was incredibly traumatic.
I had given birth and left the delivery room, but I had no babies to hold. At the same time, I was trying to deal with the feelings that I may have two very poorly babies, possibly even brain-damaged.
Struggling To Cope
This had a huge impact on trying to bond with my newborn twins. When I did eventually get to see them, they were both in incubators, covered head to toe with tubes and wires, with masks over their tiny faces. How could I possibly even think about trying to bond with them then?
Looking back, I don’t think I actually wanted to bond with them, just in case the worst was to happen and we lost them. I was also worried that they could be severely disabled.
After a week of them being in intensive care, I was finally able to hold my first-born twin.
However, he was so tiny and wrapped in so many layers of blankets that I couldn’t really feel him. He was still attached to all of the machinery as well, which made it a bit tricky.
I was then able to hold his twin brother a few days later. As the weeks went by and the boys got stronger, I was able to have skin-to-skin contact, where you hold your unclothed baby against your bare chest so that both you and your baby’s skin are in direct contact.
Although at first, it was only for a short length of time, it still felt very special.
The whole time they were out of their incubators I was so nervous as they would regularly ‘forget’ to breathe as their brains weren’t developed enough to remind them, so they would go blue in the face, needing to be resuscitated and put back into their incubators.
There were definitely some terrifying moments we had watching over them in neonatal intensive care.
When the boys came out of hospital we weren’t able to take them outside until they were a few pounds heavier.
So my husband and I spent lots of time cuddling the boys and letting them go to sleep on us after their evening bottle and generally having lots of skin-to-skin time as we did in the hospital.
When they were a bit stronger, I used to walk miles with them and would regularly get stopped by people wanting to have a look in my huge pram only to see two tiny little babies.
People would say how beautiful they were and I would feel very proud.
I also went to new mums groups and joined a twins club as talking to other mums about my babies made me feel closer to them.
I still worry that the effects of the experience might have left my boys with slight learning or attention difficulties, although they are now both five years old and flourishing very well at school.
My advice to other families who are going through a situation that is similar to mine is to get help and also to confide in your family and friends about what you’re going through.
At the time, I don’t think I ever admitted that I wasn’t bonding well with my twins. However, now I understand that it’s nothing to be ashamed of.