For some It’s overwhelming ‘love at first sight’: “The moment I met Olivia ‘on the outside’ I thought, “Of course it’s you!” and fell instantly and totally in love with her.
It was a total Earth Mother, mother lioness reaction, and one I could never have imagined the intensity of nor described before it happened. I was suddenly and absolutely prepared to do anything to protect her and told her at least every 5 minutes how much I loved her. Six years on, nothing has changed…”
For many women, this instantaneous bonding experience that Lucy describes with her baby daughter might sound like a romanticised ideal. While some mums feel cheated because they didn’t feel like this, others may simply wonder what women like Lucy are on about or see her as ridiculously overprotective or even, a little ‘balmy’.
Teresa, a mum of two, had two starkly contrasting experiences with her two babies. She says, “As much as I loved her, I didn’t realise I hadn’t completely bonded with my first baby. I remember walking out of the birthing suite to my room and leaving her behind and a nurse reminding me to take her with me.
“For the first three months she looked like a weird scared little alien who seemed to be thinking, ‘what the hell am I doing here?’ and I felt I could do little to help her. I learnt baby massage and tried very hard to do all the ‘right’ things, Iike carrying her in a sling and talking and singing to her. When she was about nine months I noticed a big shift and I felt more connected to her.
When I had my second baby, I fell in love instantly. I bonded with her so deeply the moment I set eyes on her. I remember for weeks afterwards, constantly kissing the top of her head and feeling so in love with her. At the same time though, I felt guilty about not having had that with my first child.”
Teresa attributes her instant bonding with her second baby to an easier birth. There is compelling evidence that after a natural birth, you and your baby will be hormonally, chemically primed to engage with each other and fall exquisitely in love. There is also an ‘optimal period’ for bonding with your baby. However, there are many factors that may affect or delay this, including total exhaustion, complications during labor, separation after the birth, or you may just need time to get your head around what you have achieved – a beautiful baby!
Be reassured though, that even If things don’t go according to plan, nature does provide ongoing opportunities for this to happen. Bonding with your baby is rather like falling in love – it can be ‘love at first sight’ or it can happen gradually over a few weeks or months. However, just as with any relationship, your own conscious efforts will strengthen your connection with your baby. Skin contact, breastfeeding and gazing into your baby’s eyes will release hormones that enhance bonding and by holding your baby close and becoming aware of his subtle cues, you will learn to understand his needs. As your connection with your baby grows strong, you will also develop confidence and your inner mother lion will roar!
Growing bonds with your baby
- Regardless of your birth experience, skin to skin contact without interruptions will release hormones that encourage bonding.
- If you are separated, connect as soon as medically possible.
- Bathing with your baby by candle light will help you connect as it reminds her of the safe sensory environment of her womb world.
- Baby Massage comprises all the elements of bonding – skin contact, eye contact, the sound of your voice, your familiar smell and uninterrupted time to get to know your baby.
- Gazing at your little one will release endorphins that will help you bond with each other. Look into your baby’s eyes and tell her you love her at least seven times a day. And, if you have to, fake it ’til you make It!
How did you fall in love with your baby – was it ‘love at first sight’? Or something that crept up more gradually?