Eter­nal bond

Here she is in your arms at last. Do you feel over­whelm­ing love, asks Nina Vis­agie?

Your Pregnancy - - Pregnancy Files -

IN SOME CASES bond­ing is in­stinc­tive, but of­ten you don’t im­me­di­ately feel in­tense love for your baby. Rest as­sured, it’s quite nor­mal. Bond­ing is a process that could take months. This is how it works: most ba­bies are ready to bond with their moms al­most the minute they leave the womb. Ex­actly the same could be said of many ma­mas. Sci­en­tists have long be­lieved there’s a win­dow pe­riod shortly af­ter a birth when baby and mom are finely at­tuned to each other, and that a strong bond is forged be­tween them dur­ing this time. Mean­while, sci­en­tists have for­tu­nately also found that bond­ing is not a now-orn­ever kind of thing. Bond­ing be­tween par­ents and baby – de­vel­op­ing those deep emo­tional ties be­tween you – is a process that hap­pens over a long pe­riod of time, and of­ten with­out you even be­ing aware of it. It can ac­tu­ally al­ready start long be­fore baby is born. You might have been bliss­fully un­aware, but that first time you heard her heart­beat in the gy­nae’s rooms or saw her body on the sonar screen, you were al­ready bond­ing. It’s not im­por­tant when and how it hap­pens. What is im­por­tant is that it does hap­pen, be­cause bond­ing plays a big part in a child’s emo­tional devel­op­ment. The ab­sence of a strong bond be­tween a mom and her baby could dam­age that child’s abil­ity to bond with oth­ers later, ex­perts warn. There are some guide­lines on how to es­tab­lish and strengthen the bonds be­tween you and your baby, be­fore and af­ter birth. We share a few…

BOND WITH YOUR BUMP UN­DER­STAND YOUR BABY The more you know about your un­born baby’s re­ac­tion to the out­side world, the more you’ll be in touch with her. Find out how she grows from week to week and what she can hear, see and taste. GET PHYS­I­CAL Mas­sage your belly and press back when she kicks. SONAR BOND­ING Sonar ex­am­i­na­tions are not only there to put you at ease that ev­ery­thing’s go­ing well with your preg­nancy. It’s also a place to bond with your child – es­pe­cially for dads. So bring him along for the next doc­tor’s ap­point­ment. CHAT A LOT Greet your baby when you wake up, chat dur­ing the day and say good night. Mom’s voice is one of the first things a new­born recog­nises and one of the things that will keep her feel­ing safe for a long time. FEET IN THE AIR Take a half an hour or so ev­ery day to sit or lie back. Keep a kick tally by hold­ing your hand over your belly and count­ing how many times your baby moves dur­ing those few min­utes. It’s ex­cel­lent bond­ing time and will also put your mind at ease about his move­ment. DEAR DI­ARY… Write what you’d like to tell your baby in a di­ary or jour­nal. BOND WITH YOUR BABY IN THE HOS­PI­TAL For the past al­most 30 years re­search has been con­ducted on bond­ing be­tween mom and baby. The re­sults con­firmed, among other things, the im­por­tance of mom as baby’s pri­mary care­giver. Ma­ter­nity wards have acted on these find­ings, which is why baby is en­trusted to mom’s care (rather than a nurs­ing sis­ter’s) a lot quicker fol­low­ing the birth nowa­days. Hos­pi­tal nurs­eries are emp­ty­ing, and cots are be­ing moved next to moms’ beds in the wards. SKIN ON SKIN Ask the nurse for your freshly born, un­washed baby, and hold her against your naked chest be­fore she’s taken away for weigh­ing and the rou­tine new­born tests. DON’T WAIT TO NURSE Breast­feed­ing stim­u­lates the re­lease of hor­mones that en­sure your car­ing in­stinct kicks in even faster. Ba­bies are usu­ally more than will­ing to suckle al­most im­me­di­ately af­ter birth, when their suck­ing re­flex is very strong. QUIET TIME To chat all the time re­mains a fan­tas­tic way to forge a tie be­tween you, but some­times you don’t need to say a word. Eye-to-eye con­tact also pro­motes bond­ing. ROOMIES Ask the nurses to leave baby in the room with you if she’s healthy and you’re not too ex­hausted. It has been proven that ba­bies want to be in mom’s com­pany and thrive in it. Give her what she wants! BACK AT HOME PY­JAMA PARTY Those first two or three days at home – es­pe­cially with a first­born – are very spe­cial. Cher­ish this time, and for­get about get­ting up and dressed. You and baby can spend all day in bed while you hug her and sing and read to her. NIGHT OWLS Cher­ish the quiet mo­ments with your baby in the wee hours of the morn­ing. Many ba­bies quickly learn to drop their night feeds. START WITH BABY MAS­SAGE It’s one of the best ways to bond with your new baby, and you don’t have to wait too long be­fore start­ing. Margo Kil­born, a trained baby mas­sage in­struc­tor, says new­borns can def­i­nitely be mas­saged – just re­mem­ber that they can be­come over­stim­u­lated. “Also re­mem­ber never to mas­sage a sleep­ing baby.” AGAINST YOUR HEART Carry your baby in a sling or baby car­rier close to your body dur­ing the day. Your hands are free and you can do what you need to while baby ben­e­fits from your prox­im­ity. Your move­ments are also sooth­ing. IF BABY IS PREM OR BORN ILL All these way to bond with baby are easy if she came into this world in ex­cel­lent health, but what hap­pens if things didn’t go as smoothly? How does a mom bond with her baby if she’s in the new­born in­ten­sive care unit (NICU)? Sis­ter Liana Herbst, who works in the NICU at Panorama Medi­clinic, ex­plains: “Pre­ma­turely born ba­bies are par­tic­u­larly sen­si­tive to han­dling and noise. They don’t like to be stroked at all, for in­stance. We teach moms of these ba­bies a spe­cific way of touch­ing them.” It in­volves hold­ing one hand on baby’s head and the other un­der her bum. Kan­ga­roo care is an­other very ef­fec­tive way to bond with pre­ma­ture ba­bies. “It in­volves baby be­ing car­ried naked, wear­ing just a nappy and a beanie, against mom or dad’s chest with di­rect skin con­tact. The baby is then tied to the par­ent’s chest, and cov­ered with a blan­ket or shirt. In this way, a con­stant tem­per­a­ture can be main­tained – just like in an in­cu­ba­tor.” Liana says re­search has shown that pre­ma­ture ba­bies in kan­ga­roo care gain weight more quickly and ex­pe­ri­ence fewer ir­reg­u­lar breath­ing ses­sions. And for moms there’s an added ben­e­fit: it boosts their milk pro­duc­tion. Moms of prem or ill ba­bies are also en­cour­aged to be­come in­volved with their lit­tle ones in other ways. As soon as the baby is sta­ble, mom can start chang­ing nap­pies her­self, Liana says. “Of course we also strongly en­cour­age breast­feed­ing be­cause it’s so fan­tas­tic for bond­ing, also with an ill or pre­ma­ture baby. Even just by ex­press­ing milk and stor­ing it (ba­bies are given the milk through a tube in the nose), the mom feels much more in­volved. “If baby is still very ill, we al­low her mom to sit with her for as long as she wants to. It’s also very im­por­tant that she talks to her baby. She can also cosy up the in­cu­ba­tor with a soft toy.” YP

BOND­ING IS A PROCESS THAT COULD TAKE MONTHS

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