Whilst some parents report falling in love with their baby the first time they set eyes on them, for others, healthy bonding and attachment can take weeks or even months. The good news is that there are certain things that you can do to encourage this all-important connection with your baby, starting from the moment they are born.
The so called ‘golden hour’ directly after baby is born is a critical time for maximising the healthy bonding experience. A surge of the so called ‘love or bonding hormone’ oxytocin is experienced after giving birth, which intensifies a mother’s senses as she holds her newborn for the first time. Skin-to-skin contact causes both the mother and the baby to release more oxytocin which also helps with the mother’s milk release. In this way, the act of having their skin in contact, helps to initiate the healthy bond between them, and also lays the foundations for an easier transition to breastfeeding, if the mother chooses to do so.
Studies have shown that skin-to-skin contact also helps decrease stress on newborns as their body adapts to the changed environment – going from a warm, dark womb to a well-lit, wide-open world is quite a journey after all! Of course, there are sometimes medical reasons why a mother and baby are separated after birth. In these cases, beginning skin-to-skin contact between a mother and her newborn when it’s possible will help to build the special bond. It’s never too late!
Skin-to-skin contact isn’t just for the birth parent either. Babies can also benefit from spending time in close contact to other parents and caregivers too.
Delay Baby’s First Bath
Whilst it used to be common practice to give babies their first bath relatively soon after they were born, the World Health Organisation now recommends that the first bath should be delayed for at least 24 hours. There are several reasons for this.
Firstly, as we have already discussed, when possible, a newborn should be placed on its mother’s stomach for skin-to-skin contact.
Secondly, the white substance that babies are covered in when they are born is called vernix and it’s there for a reason! Vernix is made up of cells from earlier development, and rather than being something gross that should be removed soon after birth, actually helps fight infections and acts as a natural germ barrier for the newborn
Thirdly, bathing a baby too soon, and subjecting them to cooler temperatures they are not used to can increase their stress hormones. A newborn with high stress levels, who is no longer attached to the placenta, may have difficulty in maintaining normal blood sugar levels. A drop in blood sugar levels can make a newborn tired, and less likely to breastfeed, and in severe cases cause neurological damage.
Why Bonding and Attachment is So Important
Healthy bonding and attachment are what happens when you consistently respond to your newborn with love, warmth and care. Having their needs met, (e.g. getting enough sleep, being fed, being comforted,) not only teaches a baby that they are safe and loved, but it’s also vital to their development. Fostering an early bond with your child gives them a sense of security and wellbeing that allows them to see the world as a safe place to play, learn and explore!
But, that’s not all. Human contact, such as touching, cuddling, talking, singing and making eye contact also causes a newborns brain to release hormones. These hormones help the brain to grow and make neurological connections that will lay the foundations for development and wellbeing throughout childhood.
So, don’t worry about ‘spoiling’ your baby. Taking time to get to know each other is important for you both.
The Goldilocks Suit, with its ability to monitor and record your baby’s sleeping patterns, breathing, feeding, development, skin and core temperature helps parents to respond to their child’s needs, stress less and have more time for bonding.
You can find out more about Goldilocks here
Disclaimer: This article is for general information only and not intended as a substitute for medical advice. All information provided on this website is not intended to diagnose or prescribe. In all health-related matters we recommend consulting with your local healthcare professional.