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HEALTHY MOTHERHOOD: MUM AND BABY SPECIAL BOND

Florence Lefebvre

In the days, weeks and months following the birth of your baby, you will learn to selflessly care for another being whom you carried in your womb and brought into the world. And be warned, you will feel love like you have never experienced it before! For mums suffering from postnatal depression, this deep love might not be immediate but with time and the help of the right prescribed medication for a given period, your hormones will be in a state of balance again and that love will hit you too!

We are wired to love and nurture our child and science tells us how by pointing to the hormone oxytocin, "the love or trust hormone". You would have heard of it before as it also plays a huge part in labour by triggering the uterus to contract.

Oxytocin is a chemical messenger released in the brain mainly in response to social contact. It promotes bonding patterns and creates a desire for further contact with the people triggering it.

You are likely to have been encouraged during your pregnancy to make time for skin-to-skin contact as soon as your baby is born and that is because skin-to-skin contact enhances the release of oxytocin in the mother which can then be passed on to her baby through breastmilk. Babies also produce their own oxytocin in response to nursing hence the notion that breastfeeding helps bonding.

Beyond the scientific explanation, the love of a mother for her child is incredible in its purity. Of course, there will be days when you feel tired and perhaps have less patience for you baby but as a whole, that love is truly selfless and unconditional.

For your newborn, everything is so different from her life in utero - and therefore perhaps a little scary too - ! She already knows your voice and smell but will need reassurance through touch and closeness. As her mother, you will be her main portal to the world for at least the first few months of her life and your perception of it will be passed on to her which is no small responsibility.

Time will fly quickly so enjoy these very precious moments bonding with your baby!
Smell your baby's hair (or head ;-)), massage her little limbs when applying body moisturiser, tickle her toes, blow raspberries on her belly, play music, sing, dance, smile, pull faces, talk to your baby looking into her eyes (and don't feel like you have to baby talk!), describe what you are doing when you have the energy and when it is all too much and you need a rest and a cuddle, nap with your baby (one of my favourites!).

What the general wisdoms holds is true: the love of a mother for her child really knows no bounds!