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Forming a Bond With Your Baby -- Why It Isn't Always Immediate

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Why Am I Not Bonding With My Baby? continued...

Bonding can be especially difficult if you had a C-section or couldn't see your baby right after the birth. It can also be difficult if your baby was premature and had to spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), or if you adopted the child. It may take longer to bond in these instances, but it eventually should happen.

Some mothers develop postpartum depression, which prevents them from completely bonding with their baby. The pain and exhaustion from childbirth -- especially from a difficult delivery -- can also get in the way of the bonding process.

Sometimes, a mother's or father's situation can affect her or his relationship with the new baby. Any of the following can interfere with your efforts at bonding:

  • A childhood that lacked a positive parental role model
  • A history of depression or mental illness
  • A past pregnancy loss or loss of a child
  • Lack of a social network
  • Life stresses such as a difficult job, unemployment, or other financial troubles
  • Marital problems or abuse

 

Are There Tips for Bonding With My Baby?

Here are some suggestions that will make it easier to bond with your baby:

  • Ask to room-in with your baby at the hospital. Sleeping in the same room will give you more time to get to know one another.
  • If your baby is premature, ask the hospital staff if you can touch and hold him. Just talking to your baby can help the two of you bond. Visit the NICU often to see your baby.
  • Once you get home, spend as much time as possible with your baby by wearing her in a sling or carrier, rocking her on your lap, or singing her a song. Your voice and touch can be very comforting.
  • Try giving your baby a gentle massage. Research has found that massage can not only improve the relationship between parent and baby, but it also can relieve stress in premature infants and ease postpartum depression in the mother. To learn how to massage your baby the right way, get a video, read a book, or take a class at a local hospital.
  • Try making skin-to-skin contact with your newborn. This practice, called "kangaroo care," is often used in premature babies, but studies are finding that it's also calming to babies born full-term. It not only helps with bonding, but it also can improve your baby's ability to breastfeed.

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