What is bonding, really? You might be asking yourself as a new parent. Bonding is the attachment and feelings of love between a parent and their baby. It is more than a warm fuzzy feeling – it is a critical, deep emotional involvement with and trust in another person. It is a misconception that bonding is an event or occurs at a given moment, such as birth. Bonding is in fact a journey, a process of getting to know, trust and rely on another person.
The importance of bonding
Your baby’s relationship with you is their first experience of people and shapes the way they respond to relationships for the rest of their life. From you, your baby will learn about trust, how to read other people’s emotions and that love and care is a positive part of life. Bonding also creates expectations about people and what they are capable of.
A child with a secure bond has the self-esteem and confidence to explore the world from a secure base.
When does bonding happen?
There is a misconception that bonding occurs like ‘love at first sight’. The reality is that it is a process that develops over time. Bonding may begin in pregnancy or even before conception; it may occur like a flash at birth or it may take months to develop. It is different for every mom.
- Falling in love in pregnancy – Some parents have waited a long time for their little one and being pregnant brings wonderful feelings of joy. For many pregnant mums, the hormones and expectancy lead her into a love relationship right from the start. In this case, you may begin dreaming of your baby and as you rub your tummy feel the swell of love for your baby.
- Falling in love in the delivery room – For some parents, as they look at their tiny, beautiful, helpless newborn, they are flooded with feelings of love.
- Falling in love after a period of months – For other parents, love is a long slow journey. There are no aha! moment, just a gradual development of a love relationship. If this love develops within the context of a caring, consistent relationship, it is no problem at all for your baby.
It is vital that mums know that not everyone is overwhelmed with love at the sight of their baby. If however, you never feel love towards your baby and your mothering role is a process of acting out the motions and you are overcome with depression or anxiety, you do need to get help for Post Natal Depression as this condition may impact on your baby emotionally.