The mother and baby bond is one of the strongest human bonds. The maternal bond begins during pregnancy. Many women are unprepared for the rush of unconditional love they experience when they first hold their newborn. What creates this magical bond between a mother and her newborn baby? The answer includes both physical and emotional factors.

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Physical Bonding

Physical bonding begins when a mother first holds her newborn.  Doctors know the importance of having the new mother feed her newborn within those first few hours of birth to begin to develop the mother and baby bond.

Skin-to-Skin Contact

Doctors emphasize the importance of skin-to-skin contact. It is through the sense of touch that newborns first feel comfort and security. When a child breastfeeds, their need to receive physical sustenance from their mother creates an immediate bond. Some mothers choose to bottle feed but can still have the benefit of skin-to-skin contact. They can stroke and pat the baby gently as they are fed.

Skin-to-skin contact helps the newborn sense the mother’s emotions and feelings of love. The development of a newborn’s own emotional characteristics and qualities begin during this process.

Scent

One study showed that 90% of mothers were able to identify their newborn baby by only their scent after spending only ten minutes with them. After spending an hour with their babies, 100% could identify their own infant.

Scent recognition goes both ways. In Japan, researchers found that infants who smelled their mother’s milk during a routine heel-stick exhibited less distress than babies exposed to the smell of formula or another mother’s milk.

Emotional Bonding

Emotional bonding typically can take a little longer and with come with time. There are different factors which can influence emotional bonding; if you have any concerns it is best to consult your paediatrician.

Cuddling

Research shows the importance of cuddling. Cuddling releases the hormones oxytocin and vasopressin, thought to play key roles in social behaviours and stress. Babies who have not been cuddled may have trouble forming attachments in adulthood. However, babies who are cuddled tend to sleep better with more organised and predictable sleep patterns, research has shown. They also have steadier heart and respiration rates.

Smiles of Love

Smiles motivate you to care for your child and motivate your child stay close to you. A study conducted by the Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, Texas, disclosed what happened when brain MRIs were taken of women while they looked at photos of their own babies and of others making happy, sad, happy, and neutral faces. When a woman saw a picture of her own child, her brain activated the parts of her brain making her happy. The effect was even greater when she saw pictures of her child smiling.

Gazing into your baby’s eyes while bottle-feeding, snuggling, or cuddling unleashes the feel-good hormones in both of you contributing to the maternal bond. So, ignore phone calls and let the dishes wait. Bonding with your newborn needs to be your priority. Play, cuddle, or lie around doing nothing but loving your newborn. Nourish your baby’s senses while rocking and singing. Introduce scents and bright coloured toys.

Yes, there is science involved in the magical mother and baby bond. However, despite all the science involved, it is the power of your love that is the foundation for that magical bonding between a mother and her newborn.

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