Bonding, here's how to foster the parent-child bond

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Catherine Le Nevez
@catherinelenevez
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Contents

  • 1 What is bonding
  • 2 Bonding and hormones
  • 3 How the bond with the baby is built
  • 4 Bonding and crying of the newborn

The word bonding indicates the process of formation of the parent-child bond. The term - from the English "bond" to unite, to bind, to glue - has ancient origins since, in a certain sense, without bonding the human race would certainly have died out. The word, however, only entered the common lexicon in the early 80s in the United States. The deep physical and psychological bond that is created between mother / father and child during the period of pregnancy, but above all immediately after the birth of the baby, is part of a process that is not always immediate. Parents respond at different times and in different ways.



What is bonding

First of all, bonding is a bond that also includes the father and is made up of caresses and attention, looks and care. The little one feels protected, welcomed: for life. In some cases, however, some adverse conditions such as a difficult birth or a separation for medical reasons are not conducive to the natural start of this affective-protective mixture. 

The interaction between parents and child can actually take place since pregnancy: talking to the belly or caressing it, singing or indulging internal-external movements are part of an initial and positive dimension of bonding. For example, for many years now, and except for specific problems, the newborn has never been taken from the mother. On the contrary, contact is favored especially in the hours following childbirth. Hence the increasingly widespread habit of rooming-in.

The smell and warmth of mom's skin activate her receptors as well as both parents' voices. If during the nine months mom and dad have in fact conversed with the "baby bump", their voice will not only be recognizable for the baby but also magnetically familiar. 



Bonding and hormones

Hormones also play a pivotal role in building bonding: Oxytocin, the so-called love hormone, peaks straight up after childbirth. This is a necessary elevation to awaken the mother's sense of care and protection towards her child. The same role is played by endorphins (natural opiates that increase the sense of well-being) and prolactin (regulates milk production) whose values, in fact, tend to rise immediately after giving birth to their own creature. 

Maternal adrenaline also peaks in the release of adrenaline hormones in the last contractions with the aim of making the new mother energetic and attentive. In addition, maternal adrenaline increases the fetal one as the baby is also alert at the time of delivery. A rise in fetal adrenaline thus allows him to adapt to the extrauterine world and to "activate" the attachment process more quickly.

How the bond with the baby is built

So the daily behaviors that immediately characterize the bonding construction process are certainly innate, but it is good to know that for example the baby's "active wakefulness" phase, that is, when placed on the chest immediately after birth has wide eyes, it is the first ideal moment to enter into a relationship with him through "the eyes". Other proactive moments are the changes on the changing table, when playing or while breastfeeding.

Bonding and crying of the newborn

Do not forget that the only communication channel that the little one has is crying. The primary cause of this moment of despair does not matter: the child must be consoled, welcomed, fed, covered. In short, the parents' response must be different and ready according to the child's need. Being attentive and available by responding to the baby's requests does not mean spoiling him, but making him understand through pampering that he can trust mum and dad. 



From this sense of security, bonding takes strength and over time the parent-child relationship will be stronger and stronger as it is dictated by trust.

So caressing him, talking to him, reading for him is part of a family well-being that concerns both parents. If opposite symptoms arise, such as not wanting to take care of your baby or being totally devoid of stimuli, it is good to talk about it with your partner. The new mother should also do this with the doctor in order to avoid a possible hormonal imbalance that causes postpartum depression.


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