When Does Bonding Begin?

Written By Karli Steenkamp 

Bonding is a term everyone uses quite easily; however it is a very important aspect in life. It is what makes us who we are. Bonding is the intense feelings two people have for each other. It can be between husband and wife or parent and child. It is a very important process in life and refines how you will react towards other people and relationships. Bonding with babies is extremely important because it makes them feel safe and secure. Babies that don’t bond with people can have psychological problems later in life. There are many ways to bond with your baby, but the question is when does bonding actually start?  

Bonding is a natural phenomenon. Some parents bond with their babies without even knowing it. For others, it takes a little more effort and trying. Every parent is different. Some mothers bond with babies even before birth. From the minute they see the line on the pregnancy stick; they can feel an immediate bond. Feeling the baby kick or move, listening to the heartbeat and looking at the ultrasound helps parents bond with their baby. The baby usually knows the mother or father’s voice at birth and will seek comfort when they hear it. Some parents might feel overwhelmed by becoming a parent, or had a difficult pregnancy or birth. Unwanted pregnancies might cause a woman to reject the baby and bonding can’t happen while in the womb. 

Natural birth also helps you bond with your baby. Women who have had C-sections struggle more to do that with their baby so they keep them close to their chest for skin-to-skin contact to help with the bonding process. This often helps mothers or fathers who have adopted a child or had a surrogate mother. It is difficult to bond with premature babies, because they are usually in hospital for a while and can have little contact with their parents. If bonding started when your baby was in your womb, then you can still sing, read or talk as your voice will be comforting. If you have not bonded yet, then you can perhaps bring a blanket from home that has your scent and leave that with your baby. This can help your scent be recognised and help your baby relax. 

Whether or not bonding has taken place while pregnant or thereafter, a good way to bond is through a baby massage. This will definitely help your baby relax and trust you. It is also something a father can do. It is important for the father to bond with the baby, so that you can share the duties and get some rest. Bonding for fathers can also happen at any time, by feeling the baby kick, being present at birth or giving the baby a bottle is a good way for a father to bond with your baby. 

Many parents take a while to bond with their babies. It does not make you a bad parent if bonding doesn’t happen immediately. Everyone’s situations are different. Having a child can be a big responsibility and a bit overwhelming. Once your child’s personality starts to show, it makes bonding easier. However, if you do not feel a bond within a couple of weeks or a few months, it is important to see a doctor or counsellor to talk about why you are struggling to bond with your baby. Depression or a lack of support could be the big causes on why bonding can’t take place. If bonding doesn’t happen straight away, there are many things you can do to start it – loving and holding your baby is a good step to take.