Your newborn baby is finally home. After 9 months of pregnancy, you and your partner are finally parents. Nobody has ever said that parenting is easy. Or that pregnancy is a walk in the park. In general, though, you had an idea of what to expect. What you didn't anticipate was not connecting with your child immediately.
Maybe you are the one who gave birth, and you don't understand why you don't feel a strong connection with them now that they are outside of your belly. Or, you could be the partner, and you just can't seem to connect with your child in the ways that the mother can.
Both of these situations can be highly distressing for a new parent. If you are struggling with this, know that you aren't alone. Here's what you should know.
Why Is It Taking So Long To Bond With My Baby?
First, know this is normal. It's not normally discussed, but this is actually common. Many people don't talk about it because there is shame associated with not immediately connecting with your baby (even though there is no actual shame in it.)
If you haven't felt an immediate bond, don't criticize yourself for this. The emotional connection, if not immediate, will certainly be there in due time. At the end of the day, all that matters is you are trying to take care of your child to the best of your ability.
How To Bond With Your Newborn
Whether you are the birth mother, father, or partner, you might be frustrated that you can't connect with your baby. Here are just a few ways to foster that connection—even if the results aren't immediate.
1. Skin-to-skin contact
Direct contact with the parents is a crucial part of a newborn's life. In fact, touch is an important aspect of every person's life—even adults!
For a newborn, being in close proximity to the birth mother can help them feel connected to her from outside of the womb. Recognizing the mother's scent can bring comfort and stability to them as their eyesight develops before they officially recognize mom as mom!
For the dad or partner, skin contact is still important. As the baby's senses develop, they won't always recognize immediately who the person is to them that is nearby. Letting them pick up on the other parent's skin and smells can help them see that this person is also the caregiver.
2. Take care of their needs
Babies, over time, have the ability to pick up on who their caregivers are actually. This is obvious, but it's vital for both partners to tend to the baby. While the adult might not feel the initial bond immediately, it will be with the newborn. Ensuring you are both doing your part can help the baby and the parent bond with one another.
3. Go easy on yourself
Parenting is not a competition with other parents. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is that you are trying your best with your baby. If it doesn't feel like you are, don't believe the lies your mind will try to trick you into believing.
Be gentle with yourself. Taking care of yourself so that you can show up for your baby in the best way possible will ensure that the bond is made.
It's not a competition on who can bond with their newborn faster.
If you are struggling to bond with your baby, don't hesitate to reach out for more information about maternal mental health. Together, I can help you learn to take this new chapter day by day.