Those precious first few weeks with your newborn baby are an incredible time for any mum and dad. But for some, the pressures of bonding with their child brings added anxiety and stress.
HELLO! Online talks to The Portland Hospital's midwife, Regina Curran, about the importance of male bonding and gets some top tips on how working parents can develop and maintain their connection with their child.
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How soon should I feel a bond between me and my child?
Some new parents feel an instantaneous intense attachment after the birth of their baby, and for some it may take a bit longer. Bonding is a process and babies tend to bond with their primary care givers, so sharing the care and interaction with the baby is incredibly important.
Often men can only spend the official two-week paternity period with their new-born baby, can this impact their bond?
New babies come into our lives and yet we have to carry on in the real world. When on paternity leave new fathers should use this time with their partner and baby to do as much as possible and interact with the child. Cuddling/cradling the baby, talking to the baby, changing nappies, feeding, burping, massaging and most importantly having eye contact with your baby can all help you to develop confidence in your parenting abilities and make bonding a much easier process.
How important is it for men/women to bond with their baby?
The bond between a parent and a baby is the primary bond and babies blossom when they are nurtured by both of their parents.
What bonding activities/tactics can parents do as a family?
There are many bonding activities you can do as a family. Participating together in the labour and birth is a great start but the following five top tips can also help.
- Get Close — Immediately after the birth take it in turns to have skin-to-skin contact with the baby and be sure to remain calm as this will help to assist the baby to adapt to their new environment.
- Learn Together — As a family, learning how to care for baby together is also a great bonding exercise and it means that you can both care for the child when you need to.
- Interact — Caring for your child when it is awake is also particularly important when it comes to bonding. Giving baby a bath, playing in the bath tub, talking, reading and singing to your baby can all help to strengthen your bond.
- Sing — Even if you don’t have a great singing voice, your baby will love hearing your voice. Mirroring the baby's movements and mimicking her/his cooing will help the baby to see and hear you responding to them.
- Face each other — Eye contact is incredibly important when it comes to bonding with your newborn. If carrying your baby in a carrier initially, make sure they face you so that they can have eye contact with you.
Are there any classes I can attend that will help me to bond with my child?
Attending a baby massage class can be a great way to encourage interaction, stimulation, relaxation and relief for your baby and can also help to improve the bond between parent and baby. The Portland Hospital’s baby massage classes are designed especially for new parents and provide a great opportunity for you to meet other parents and learn from each other's experiences.
How can dad best bond with their baby?
It’s easier to bond with your new baby when the people around you are supportive and help you develop confidence in your parenting abilities, but spending time alone with the baby is also a great way for father and child to bond. Not only will this give you an opportunity to do things at your own pace but it also removes the pressure of the audience.
New dads should try to relax and enjoy every precious moment with their baby whilst remembering that this is a new adventure for you all and it is ok to ask for help if you need it.
If dads work away a lot, what types of things can they do to ensure they maintain their bond with their baby?
Once you have started the process of bonding with your baby the more direct interaction and contact you have the better.
While working away restricts your ability to participate in hands on activities you can maintain your bond with regular contact. Catching up on the day's events with mum, receiving lots of photos and videos, and of course conference/video calling/skyping when baby is awake is a great bonding exercise. Use this time to positively talk to them about their activities and your activities, and be sure to admire and sing to your baby.
How can men ensure they maintain a strong role within the family if they are away a lot?
Maintaining their relationship with their partner is important, and when they are back at home dads should try hard to understand the routine mum has set and adapt to it. Dads should also be sure to spend plenty of time with the baby when they are back in the family environment.
Are there any signs to look out for that suggests a baby isn't bonding well with a parent?
Bonding is a process which happens over time and is also often a by-product of the everyday care you give your baby.
As a new parent it often takes a while to understand your new baby but the more time you spend with baby the easier it is to discover their cues, what they enjoy and how to nurture them. If either parent is concerned that there is a problem with their baby they should talk to the health visitor.
Where can new parents go to for more advice?
If new parents want extra advice they can arrange a private 1-2-1 class at The Portland Hospital with our experienced midwifery team. For more information or to make an appointment please contact our Maternity Services Advisor on 020 7390 6068.