Bond, Baby Bond
Did you know that touch is essential for every baby? That a baby that isn’t touched, cuddled or held at all or very little, most likely will not thrive and might even not survive? Fortunately, that hardly ever happens – phew!
Most parents are smitten as soon as they see their baby and want to hold her/him, cuddle, kiss, nuzzle. But sometimes it just doesn’t happen straight away. Sometimes it takes a bit longer. And in some cases, it just isn’t physically possible to hold your baby immediately after birth, maybe the baby or the mother needed medical attention first.
Some experts say that it is important to hold your baby, or have it lying on your chest, perhaps even have it nuzzle or suckle on the breast, during the very first hour after birth. That would be the ideal way to start off the bonding process. During birth, a hormone called oxytocin is released, which basically makes you feel very happy and fall in love with your baby straight away. But, as I stated above, and as we all know, ideal doesn’t always happen. Not to worry, all is not lost if you can’t have that initial physical contact with your newborn in the first hour.
Especially when your baby is born prematurely and must be placed in an incubator for a while, it is hard to establish that first contact. The good thing is, that neonatal departments in hospitals are obviously aware of this and will give you every opportunity they can, depending on the circumstances, to interact with your newborn baby. If possible, they will also encourage you to apply “kangaroo care”, where your baby is placed on your bare chest to make skin to skin contact. The baby’s head will be turned to one side, so that it’s ear is positioned above the parent’s heart and it will not only feel but also hear the soothing heartbeat.
Bonding is not only established through skin to skin contact: eye contact, smell, the sound of a voice, all contribute immensely. Baby massage is a great way to help you build a strong bond with your bub. If you think about it, all the elements mentioned are included in it:
- skin to skin contact: obvious!
- eye contact: preferably already before you start, when you ask your baby’s permission to massage him/her (we teach the permission sequence in our workshops and classes)
- smell: you are close enough to your baby for him or her to smell you (which is why we recommend using a massage oil with a neutral or not very strong fragrance, so that it doesn’t interfere with your personal scent)
- voice: I hope you will not massage your baby in complete silence, but talk (e.g. naming the body part you’re working on, counting little fingers or toes) or maybe even sing a little song.
A child that has a strong bond with the people closest to it, will have more confidence than one that doesn’t. Give your baby a great start in life, and consider baby massage to support that great start!