5 Ways to Bond With Baby...if it Didn't Happen at Birth
Some say that giving birth is like going on a blind date where you meet the love of your life. You think excitedly of love at first sight, of sparks flying, and of palpable chemistry. While this romantic scenario can play out sometimes, more often than not, the baby blind date is akin to an engagement where the other person is running a little late, makes a few awkward comments, and leaves you feeling a little unsure of what just happened. If your baby's birth is more along the lines of a weird rendezvous, there is still hope! Here are a few things you need to know about falling into OMG LOVE with your baby.
1. If you're not over the moon right after birth, it doesn't mean that you do not love your baby
All I could think of after my son was born was how freaking exhausted and sore I was. I pushed for four hours and I felt more aware of my taint than I did of my overwhelming love for my infant. I felt a little guilty at the time, but the reality is that if a mountain lion had stormed into our hospital room, my love for my baby would have given me the strength to subdue it with my bare hands.
2. Hold hands with your baby
Physical touch such as hand holding, kissing, holding a little baby face to your nose, and breathing in that little baby scent all trigger the release of a neurotransmitter known as oxytocin. Oxytocin is the love hormone that helps gives us that blissful feeling of connection. Grab your baby's hand and hold it gently to place pressure on nerves that stimulate vagal activity, which lowers the heart rate and has a calming effect.
3. Narrate your day
Sometimes it's hard to help this new person integrate into our world and that can cause a relational disconnect. I always found it hard to know what to say or sing to my first baby, so I started narrating our day. When I picked him up in the morning I'd say, “Good morning, son! I think you need a diaper change. Let's see...where are those wipes? Will you help me find the wipes?” Your baby may ignore you or they may stare at your with wonder, but you're investing in your relationship by creating dialogue.
4. Don't be afraid to ask for help
If you're really struggling to bond with your baby after a few weeks, this might be a symptom of a postpartum mood disorder such as postpartum depression or anxiety. You might consider looking into a resource such as Postpartum Support International to see if you're experiencing any other persistent symptoms. Don't be afraid to call your doctor's office right away if you feel like you're struggling. No one will think you are a bad parent or try to take your baby away. There are many places to get help!
Keep trying to get to know your baby. It may take some time for you to get used to one another, and you may need to make a conscious effort to bond every day. You're not a bad parent if you're not head-over-heels the second you meet your newborn; and know that, as with any other relationship, this love needs a little time to grow.