With a pregnancy, everything changes in a heartbeat. Two suddenly become three or four or more and a couple will need a little time to adjust to this. Even if a relationship has lasted for years, the new circumstances will take some time to get used to.
This adjustment does not always run entirely smoothly. To keep talking to each other and being understandable to each other’s situation is most important during this time.
Many expectant parents are worried about what kind of mother or father they will be. What to do if the baby cries non-stop or won’t go to sleep? How to prevent to unconsciously pass own behaviours to the children or allowing (traumatic) childhood experiences to have an impact on them? These days, parents are overwhelmed by the vast array of books, TV programmes and information on the web about parenting, in addition to the conflicting opinions offered by friends, relatives and strangers. Unfortunately, this flood of information is often more of a hindrance than a help.
The most important thing is to form a secure bond with the baby. Bonding refers to the emotional connection that is established between two people and endures over time and space. The baby is born with the desire to form a secure attachment and, when given the opportunity, will seek to form a bond with the person who provides protection, care, support and a sense of security. Parents begin the bonding process with their baby during pregnancy. While in the womb, the baby becomes familiar with the mother’s voice, tone and manner of speaking, and with her unique taste and smell. The baby will also recognize the father’s voice. The bonding process continues as expectant parents begin to imagine what their baby will be like and the place it will occupy in the family.
Today, experts know that, in terms of emotional development, forming secure attachments in infancy gives babies the best start in life. They provide the ideal basis for the health of the child’s physical, emotional, intellectual and social development. Bonding is the springboard for the baby to begin exploring the world with uninhibited curiosity.
We know bonding is even more important than education. Children who have formed secure emotional attachments display more sociable and less aggressive behaviours, have a greater capacity for empathy, and therefore form more and deeper friendships. They are more creative and show more perseverance in completing difficult tasks. They demonstrate a greater capacity for learning, and can deal better with difficult situations than children with less secure attachments.
Bonding and preterm birth
When a baby is born preterm, bonding between parents and their baby can be more difficult. The child lying in an incubator, it is not possible to hold the preterm baby whenever the parents would like to. Health complications of the little babies put the parents in fear for their lives and make it even more difficult to attach to their child.
If the mother has health complications, too, it might even be impossible to see the baby in the beginning. Bonding, however, plays an important role for both the parents and the baby in a longterm perspective with regards to their relationship, their health and physical and mental wellbeing.