Bonding with the Newborn

If you have given birth to the newborn baby without any medical complications, you’ll be able to enjoy the first hour or so after birth holding, stroking, and looking at your baby. Because babies are highly alert and very responsive during this time, researchers have labeled this the sensitive period.

The first exchanges of eye contacts, sounds and touches between the baby and mom are all part of a process called bonding, which helps in laying the foundation for your lifelong lovely relationship as parent and child. Although it may take few months to understand your child’s basic nature and personality, many of the core emotions you feel for the child may begin to develop during this short period immediately after birth. As you gaze at the baby and it looks back, following your movements and perhaps even mirroring some of your expressions, you may feel a surge of protectiveness, admiration, and love. This is part of the bonding attachment process.

It’s also quite normal if you do not have immediate tremendous warm feelings for your baby. Labor is a demanding period, and your first reaction to the birth may well be a sense of relief that at last it’s over. If you’re exhausted and emotionally drained, you may simply want to rest. That’s perfectly normal. Give yourself until the strain and pain of labor fades and then request your baby. Bonding has no time limit.

Also, if your baby must be taken to the nursery right away for medical attention and care or if you are sedated during the delivery, don’t despair. You don't have to worry that your relationship will be harmed because you didn’t “bond” during the first hour. You can and will love your baby just as much, even if you weren’t able to watch the child's birth or hold it immediately afterward. Your baby also will be fine, just as loving of you and connected to you in the lifelong journey of affectionate bonding.