Not feeling the Love ? Bonding with Baby

There is an all too common myth that the moment you set eyes on your baby it will be instant love and you will be bonded for ever.  However it is completely normal to take some time to feel a special bond with your new baby.  Around a third (32%) of UK mothers experience difficulties bonding with baby, according to new research by NCT.

In addition, more than 1 in 10 new mothers (12%) said they are embarrassed to speak to a health professional, GP or midwife about these issues, prompting the parents’ charity to urge mums and dads not to suffer in silence.

What is bonding ?

There probably won’t be one magical moment when you suddenly feel this overwhelming love, it will be more of a gradual process.  It is important not to feel under any pressure or to feel a failure as a new mum.  There are a few reasons you might not bond straight away:

  • If you’ve had a long labour and/or a difficult and traumatic birth.
  • If you’re exhausted.
  • If your baby has a health problem or has to be looked after in special care.
  • If you are finding breastfeeding difficult and stressful.
  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your new responsibilities and not in control.
  • Suffering from postnatal depression.

Even if you don’t meet any of these reasons bonding can still take time, bear with it, don’t feel pressured, and it will come.

baby bonding

What are the best ways to bond?

Just being with your baby is the best way to bond however here are some of our top tips to help you connect.

Go for skin-to-skin

Holding your baby close, with your skin next to theirs, as soon as you can after the birth can really help with the bonding process. If you can manage to do this within 30 minutes in a calm and relaxed environment, then that’s the ideal. But on a busy ward it’s not always easy, and some mums can’t if they’ve had a Caesarean or their baby is in special care. So if you can’t, don’t panic. Ask your midwife or doctor to let you know when you can.

Chat and smile

No, they won’t understand you, but your baby will already know your voice, and research shows even newborn babies can recognise a smile. So right from the start, stroke their cheek, lean close towards them and smile (at this point they can only see about 30cms in front of them), chat and sing.

Sing and dance with your baby

It doesn’t have to be a nursery rhyme and it doesn’t have to be in tune! You’re not performing to Simon Cowell here, you are singing to your biggest fan – if you enjoy it, your baby will love it too.  Dancing with your child close to you can be very relaxing if they are upset or tired, while they may love being twirled around, jiggled about and flipped over if they’re in a more playful mood.

Ration the visitors

Bonding happens when the atmosphere is calm and relaxed and you’ve got time to focus one-to-one on your baby.  If you’ve got home from the hospital to find your house has been taken over by an endless procession of well-meaning visitors all of whom want to cuddle baby it may be time to ask your partner to act as bouncer!

Baby Massage and bonding

Try baby massage

Lots of mums have found this really helps with bonding. Baby massage encourages the release of your body’s feel-good hormone oxytocin and can lift your mood. The one-to-one contact with your baby will help you spend some quality time with them.

Is there a problem ?

If you think you are still not bonding with baby, you feel very detached and resentful towards your baby, and it’s interfering with your ability to look after both of you, then you may need some extra support.  Speak to your health visitor or Doctor as it is really common and they will be on the look out for signs of post-natal depression .  Remember there is nothing wrong with asking for help as soon as you think you need it, even having someone to talk to can be help to reassure your worries.

You can contact the NCT’s helpline, 0300 330 0700 which offers practical and emotional support in all areas of pregnancy, birth and early parenthood.

We would love to hear your experiences of bonding with baby and ideas for support in the comments below…

One Hull of a Dad

22 thoughts on “Not feeling the Love ? Bonding with Baby

  1. Lisa Savage Reply

    I know I struggled with this to begin with. It was just so over whelming and I never got that thunderbolt moment people talk about. Glad its not just me! #picknmix

  2. Amy - No More Shoulds Reply

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It is so important. #brillblogposts (in every way!)

  3. Samantha Reply

    I’m not a mum yet but this is was so interesting and I imagine it will be helpful for many women. I’ll try to keep in mind your points for the future!
    Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Samantha |

    • more4admin Post authorReply

      You are right Elizabeth it is all such a huge change with a first baby it can be overwhelming.

  4. Emma Reply

    it def took me a while. It was all so new and all of a sudden this baby had taken over my life. I think a had a bit of pnd to be honest :/ loving life now though – just wish I’d asked for a bit of help sooner #brilliantblogposts

    • more4admin Post authorReply

      I know what you mean Emma, especially with a first baby it can be such a huge shock to the system – I remember feeling so lost and unsure of myself to begin with. We all need to be able to ask for help more.

  5. Kara Reply

    I completely agree with rationing the visitors, it can all get too much – we devised a code word when we had had enough

    • more4admin Post authorReply

      I know Kara, the first few weeks I just wanted to hide away with baby and couldn’t cope with too many people around.

  6. Stephen Reply

    We dont have children so this isn’t something I have any knowledge of, but you have explained and advised so well.

  7. Sonia Reply

    Great post, it’s great to make people aware that this happens. I found no one talks about it much and then when you don’t bond with your baby you find it hard to talk about as you feel abnormal.

    • more4admin Post authorReply

      You are right Sonia, we need to talk about things so others don’t feel alone.

  8. The Mum Diaries Reply

    I used a baby wrap (carrier) and wore my boys in the early days, Definitely helped with bonding with a newborn, and still be able to bond with my older children.

    • more4admin Post authorReply

      That is a great tip, I never got on with a baby wrap I must admit but think its a great idea.

  9. Kirsty Hijacked By Twins Reply

    Great tips, I did not bond with one of the twins immediately but remember when she was unwell I felt a surge of love and protection and will always remember knowing that was the minute we bonded x

    • more4admin Post authorReply

      I never really thought how it would be different with twins, interesting to hear thanks x

  10. Ickle Pickle Reply

    I have been so lucky and bonded with each of my four babies even before they were born – and more upon meeting them. I know it isn’t as easy for everyone though. Great post. Kaz x

  11. Michelle Murray Reply

    Yeah i totally agree. Visitors can be a bit too much when there are so many piling in.

  12. Hannah Spannah Reply

    I am so lucky that despite suffering from PND, it didn’t affect my bond- it was instantaneous and strong but I think it must very hard for women who do not so easily bond. It’s a massive life change though so being kind to yourself and following your tips are perfect. Thanks for joining the #weekendblogshare

  13. Mummy and monkeys Reply

    Definitely skin to skin helped me. It can be really hard at first. I had pnd with my second and struggled initially, these are great tips. Thanks for linking to #picknmix

  14. Silly Mummy Reply

    I was actually lucky & didn’t struggle with this – but I also had short labours and uncomplicated births. I agree, however, that there is huge & very normal variation on this. I actually believe that one thing that can contribute to problems with bonding are being fed unrealistic expectations about what the post birth experience should and will be. I think the gap between reality and the picture painted of glowing, easy love at first sight can be quite overwhelming. So there should be much more discussion of the full range of emotions and bonding experiences that are perfectly normal. #picknmix

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