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Nurturing Your Maternal Bond

by Liz Braden (follow)
Motherhood - The most challenging and yet the most rewarding "job" you'll ever do...
Your Stories (100)      Parenting Tips (83)     
5 tips to strengthen your the bond with your child.

The bond between a mother and her child is supposed to be natural and instinctive, but sometimes it doesn’t happen that way.

Some mothers have difficulty bonding with their child at birth for one reason or another, while others feel like they’ve lost the bond after birth due to stress or work commitments, etc. Complications such as poor health or postnatal depression can also interfere with the bond between a mother and her child.

It can be difficult to create or revive a bond, but it is not impossible. If you feel that you aren't bonded with your child, here is some general advice to help you.

1. Make time to bond.

This may seem obvious, but it is easy to overlook in the general busyness that comes from meeting a newborn’s needs. Life becomes a cycle of change, feed, burp, settle, repeat, and you somehow have to also find the time to wash clothes and bedding, sterilise bottles, express milk or make formula if you’re not exclusively breastfeeding… and in between all of that, you also need to somehow find time to shower, clean, and make meals (or go to work, if you are not a stay-at-home mother).

It’s a very demanding lifestyle and spare time quickly becomes a luxury. That said, it is important to make time. Nothing nurtures a bond quite like spending time with your child through choice, not necessity. Just 20 minutes of quality time can make all the difference.

2. Invest in your child.

Investing time with your child is a question of quality, not quantity. Just 20 minutes of quality time is time well spent. It is during these times, when you’re not meeting a physical need, that you will start to really enjoy your child. You will get to know them during this time, and they will get to know you.

It doesn’t matter what you do during this time, as long as it is enjoyable for both you and baby. Some ideas include:

Read to your child. It doesn’t matter whether they understand your words or not, they will enjoy just hearing your voice and being with you. Be creative and make full use of your vocal range – put emotion into what you’re doing. Make use of touch and motion to bring the story alive, even if it’s not that interesting in itself.

Sing to your child. They won’t care if you can carry a tune or not – they will enjoy your voice and they will respond to you. There is something about singing to your child that builds connection.

Talk to your child. Tell them stories. Talk about your day. Tell them silly jokes. Just let them hear your voice while you are relaxed. It will be a calming experience for you, and they will enjoy it.

Imitate your child. Face them, and copy their vocalisations and gestures. They may be confused at first, but they will quickly learn to enjoy this interaction with you. It is also a precursor to understanding language.

Just look into their eyes and let them look into yours.

3. Remember that bonding is a process, not an end result.

You won’t suddenly wake up one day and think “I’m bonded with my child”. It’s something that happens gradually as you spend time with them.

Don’t be alarmed if there are times where you feel like you could just walk away and leave them as that’s normal (especially if they’ve kept you up all night and you’re exhausted). It doesn’t mean that there is no bond, it just means you’ve reached your limit and need a break.

4. Take time for you.

It’s okay to ask somebody else to watch your child for a few hours so you can have a break and reset. Wanting a break from your child is normal, and it does not make you a bad mother; nobody can be ‘on’ 24/7 without burning out, and even the most placid babies are demanding by necessity.

Sometimes the best way to bond is to have a break from your child. Even a few hours can help, so you can do the things that you enjoy doing. You will find it easier to bond with your child if you don’t feel like you’re losing you, and that’s okay. Even the most devoted mother can end up resenting her child if she never gets a break.

5. Be kind to yourself.

Motherhood is the hardest thing that any of us will ever do. Be kind to yourself; you’re doing your best, and that’s all that anybody can do.

Read Putting Yourself First
Read 6 Things Nobody Tells You About Life With A Newborn

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A great article, Leo. I used to sing to my kids when they were little. I even made up my own little ditties complete with actions. It was fun for me as I don't dare to sing in the company of adults. I am one who can not carry tune.
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