Bonding with Baby Through Breastfeeding
Now that you’ve worked through the speed bumps of breastfeeding in the early days, nursing your baby has become enjoyable. Your baby and you will now become a unit that will speak a language of love that is unique to the two of you!
You will learn to understand your baby’s feeding cues and needs without having to guess what it is the baby wants. Each cry will take on its own meaning. Each coo will also mean something different based on its intonation. Sometimes, the baby’s father will become envious of the bond you and the baby share and will become frustrated because he does not understand the baby as you do. Be patient with Dad! He, too, will learn baby’s cues over time. Help teach him what each cue means.
While breastfeeding, you’ll also have the satisfaction of knowing that you are providing everything your baby needs to grow healthy and strong! Your immunities keep protecting your baby as long as you keep breastfeeding, and beyond. Your body recognizes the germs in your baby’s environment, and, through your own immunities, will provide the antibodies your baby needs to remain illness free. If you become sick with a cold or flu, the best thing for you to do for your baby is to continue to breastfeed him/her rather than isolating yourself from baby. Chances are, your little bundle was already exposed to those germs before you even displayed symptoms of the illness. As baby gets heavier, and longer, you’ll also feel accomplished at how you were able to feed your baby and help him/her grow. It’s quite an empowering knowledge!
As the baby grows, becomes more aware and alert, the loving gazes and glances that are interchanged between the pair of you are irreplaceable. Often, baby will look up at you to smile while nursing. It will melt your heart every time, without fail. Games of smiles and laughter may also take place while baby is at breast. And, while mom is nursing her baby, there will be many opportunities for mom to hold baby’s hand, bring it up to her lips, and give those chubby little fingers a kiss.
These are the times when baby learns to become a social creature. Interactions with baby while at breast are extremely important for his/her emotional and intellectual development. The greatest amount of brain growth outside of the womb is the first six weeks of your baby’s life. Talking, singing, and reading to your baby while you’re feeding him/her can help to awaken the love of learning and quick development of language skills. Stroking your baby’s skin while nursing helps to build and develop neurons in the baby’s brain that allow baby to cope with emotional stress. Suckling itself is also a mechanism that allows baby to cope with emotional stresses.
The bottom line is that unlike generations past, we now know that it is good to hold your baby. The arms won’t spoil them! It is good to love and kiss your baby- again- it won’t spoil them! And more than ever, we now know that breastfeeding is the best food for your baby! Your bond will be strong for years to come because as you both work as a unit with breastfeeding, he/she will come to understand that you are his/her best ally! Your baby will learn how to trust by knowing that you’re always there for him/her. Of course all mother’s love their babies, but the bonding, feel-good hormones exuded from breastfeeding (oxytocin and prolactin) will help you to love your baby in a way you never knew you could love. This bond lasts a lifetime!
Written for Nursing Bra Express by Veronica Tingzon, IBCLC