Learning To Deal With The New World Of Motherhood
Posted on August 03 2016
On the occasion of World Breasting Week, we are presenting you with an article on learning how to navigate the new world of motherhood.
"Bonding is not an instant glue -- it develops over time and every family is different," says pediatrician William Sears, M.D. "Just because you didn't hold your baby the first hour after she was born, or you didn't breastfeed, doesn't mean it's all over." In fact, if you care enough about your child, it's safe to say you're doing your best ‑ and that your best is going to be more than good enough for your baby.
A word that means many things and our own definition of it is largely defined by our individual experiences. To one person, motherhood might simply mean the act of raising children; to another, motherhood might be what defines them. During this period, you create a bond with your child which is unique and no one else can have a bond that strong with your child as you have.
What is bonding?
Bonding is a special attachment that forms between you and your child. A bond which makes you rush towards your child in the middle of the night at their slightest whimper. Sometimes, this bond is immediate - parents fall in love the instant they set eyes on their little "bundle of joy." Other times, bonding with the baby takes longer.
Why is bonding important?
Bonding is an important human instinct that gives babies a sense of security and self-esteem. Bonding also helps parents feel connected to their newest family member. It begins to happen even before the baby is born - when you feel the first little flutters in your belly or see your baby kick on the ultrasound screen. Your baby also starts getting to know you in the womb through the sound of your voice.
How does bonding happen?
Bonding happens in many ways. When you look at your newborn, touch her/his skin, feed her and care for her/him. Rocking your baby to sleep or stroking her back can help establish your new relationship and make her feel more comfortable. When you gaze at your newborn, she/he will look back at you. In mothers who are breastfeeding, baby's cries will stimulate the let-down of milk.
“Motherhood: All love begins and ends there.” – Robert Browning
Interacting with your newborn
When you're a new parent, it often takes a while to understand your newborn and all the ways you can interact:
- Touch becomes an early language as babies respond to skin-to-skin contact. It's soothing for both you and your baby while promoting your baby's healthy growth and development.
- Eye-to-eye contact provides meaningful communication at close range.
- Babies can follow moving objects with their eyes. They become more observant to everything that happens around them.
- Babies — learn early on — to imitate your facial expressions and gestures. This helps them understand and express better.
- Babies prefer human voices and enjoy vocalizing in their first efforts at communication. Babies often enjoy just listening to your conversations, as well as your descriptions of their activities and environments.
“There’s no way to be a perfect mother and a million ways to be a good one.” – Jill Churchill
7 activities to help you bond with your child
- Reading and singing to your baby on a regular basis helps build auditory pathways
- Give your child a bath by yourself. This helps the child feel more secure and helps build a stronger bond
- Take your child to the park or zoo for her to explore the environment and also meet new people. This helps in focusing and learning new things while attaining social skills.
- Sing nursery rhymes or use flash cards as tools for learning.
- Exercise while you allow and encourage your child to imitate you. This would help build motor skills.
- Sit with your child and feed her while your play and talk to her about the different things that are happening. This makes space for bonding and helps inculcate good eating habits.
- Recite stories on varied topics while you cuddle and hug your baby.
From smells to smiles
A baby recognizes his/her mother's scent. The mere scent of the mother's breast milk is enough to calm the newborn and ease pain.
Here's an interesting fact: The act of kissing may have evolved as an affectionate gesture because it puts our nose in direct contact with the base of our partner's nostrils, where pheromones are generated. Just as scent motivates you to care for your child, it also, in turn, motivates your child to stay close to you, and so does a smile.
We're designed to become addicted to our offspring. "The mother-child bond assures infant survival in terms of protection, nutrition, and care," says Francesca D'Amato, M.D., a behavioral neuroscientist in Rome and a prominent bonding researcher.
About The Expert
Namrata Jain is our Consulting Psychologist at Brainsmith. She has a Masters in Psychology from Mumbai University and has worked with children and adults to help them achieve a better state of mind by encouraging healthy mental and behavioural growth.