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   . bonding .

Bonding



Bonding is Innate

We are designed to bond with our babies at birth and the process begins long before then. The capacity to attach strongly is in our DNA. The mesmerizing experience of "falling in love" is what draws us to our babies, makes us want to hold, talk to, cuddle and simply be with them. It also makes us want to protect them with all of our being.

Bonding Disruptions

Sometimes, the natural process of bonding gets interrupted. Accidental or unintentional events occur outside of a mother or baby's control that involve significant emotional or physical separation. A mother may feel that she somehow did something wrong, but the feelings of despair, longing or frustration that occur actually relate to the loss of the bond that her heart and body were primed to experience and that was "supposed" to happen.

Interruptions may include a miscarriage or other loss in the 2 years prior to conceiving her child, illness in mom or the baby, time in the nursery or intensive care unit, loss of a loved one during pregnancy or in the first few years of her child's life, or departure of the father; they may occur following a cesarean section, or the use of anesthesia during labor, to name a few (see assessment tools for a more comprehensive list of events than can disrupt bonding).

When a disruption has occurred in bonding, mothers notice a difference in their relationship with their child. It is as if there is something missing or "wrong." Breastfeeding may be difficult. They may not feel as close, or may have ongoing daily (or hourly) power struggles with their child. Their child may be difficult to soothe, or may not like to cuddle. This experience sometimes begins from the moment of birth with a sense that this child is difficult to 'attach' to.

This kind of relationship experience may actually reflect a disruption in bonding rather than a problem with mom or with her infant or child. Indeed, although frequently unrecognized, it is not uncommon for a mother to feel detached from her baby or child following a difficult event in pregnancy, during labor or delivery, or during her child's first few years.


Bonding Repair

The impulse to bond may get interrupted, but it does not go away. It sits and waits for any opportunity to attach, and when disruptions are addressed, removed or repaired, the underlying blueprint simply does what it was always designed to do: to fall in love with our little ones.


See the page on asthma for more information about how bonding repairs can be made and how they can help children with asthma.


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