Bonding & Beyond
What can Disrupt Bonding?
- Separated from Baby at birth
A baby needing to be in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit can sometimes cause parents to feel isolated from their newborn. While this may be distressing, some comfort comes from the fact that babies, while in utero, become familiar with the sound of their mum's voice. So as soon as a baby hears her mother's voice (both speech and singing) she feels reassured. Where possible Neonatal Intensive Care Units also implement therapies that have been proven to be beneficial for babies' health and parents' bonding such as Kangaroo Care (baby and parent having skin-to-skin contact) and singing to Baby.
- Stress, anxiety and depression
The early period of parenting can be exhausting. You are trying to adapt to your new life and the constancy of caring for Baby can raise feelings of anxiety and stress. Babies sense parents' stress/anxiety during interactions which is communicated through parents' voice tone and facial expression and through the tension in their bodies. Baby's desire to reciprocate feelings of joy with Mum/Dad cannot be fulfilled. So the parent-baby relationship becomes stressed. Similarly postnatal depression also causes disruption to the parent-baby relationship (as discussed in Postnatal Depression).
- Infant temperament
Some babies are more reactive to their environment and more difficult to soothe than others. Their stress and irritability can begin to affect the developing parent-baby relationship and the bonding, as parents also become distressed and feel less adequate/competent with their parenting skills (as discussed next).