Breastfeeding is so much more than just providing your baby with nourishment, it is also great for promoting bonding between mother and baby.
Breastfeeding gives you an amazing opportunity to have a really close bond with your baby, to offer comfort in a unique way to anyone else and to nurture your baby.
While you may very well face some difficulties with breastfeeding, and let’s face it breastfeeding is not always easy, it will certainly be well worth the all effort of overcoming these challenges by researching and finding good breastfeeding tips and support.
Here are 5 ways that breastfeeding promotes bonding between a mother and her baby:
Nursing promotes bonding – it’s not just milk
A breastfed baby will happily nurse for long periods of time. Your baby can hear your heartbeat and smell your familiar scent, which is soothing and comforting. Your baby will be cuddled up to you, warm and comfortable. Your baby will be reassured by your physical presence.
While breastfeeding he, or she, will be able to see your face at this distance even as a newborn baby and be able to hear your voice. Since your baby will spend a lot of time nursing and looking at your face a deeper attachment will form. Watching your facial expressions and hearing you speak will also encourage verbal, emotional and social learning.
Nursing your baby also means that your body will release hormones that promote mothering behaviours, as well as bonding between mother and child.
Breastfeeding is an amazing way to soothe your baby, so if your baby is feeling a little distressed or upset there is no better way to calm him that to put him to your breast.
It is not just the closeness of mommy that comforts your baby, it is also that breastfeeding is well known to also relieve pain. So remember to nurse your baby when it is time for vaccinations, it will make the whole experience much less traumatic and easier for your baby, and in turn for you too.
When your baby is ill holding your baby close and nursing can help your baby recover quicker by relieving symptoms.
If a nursing mother gets ill chances are her baby has also been exposed to the illness, but the mother’s body will produce antibodies which will be passed to her baby during breastfeeding.
So if mommy gets ill don’t stop breastfeeding in fear that your baby will get ill, in fact do the opposite. Cuddle up in bed and let your baby nurse as often as possible while you rest and recover.
Breastfeeding Promotes Sleep
When breastfeeding occurs comforting hormones are released in the mother’s body and passed through the milk to the baby too. This makes both mommy and baby sleepy.
Babies also release their own calming hormones when in close contact with mommy, especially while suckling.
Many mothers choose to co-sleep with their babies because it makes breastfeeding during the night so much easier than getting up all the time. It makes feeding on demand hassle free and mommy can even sleep while feeding.
This creates a great sleep environment for mother and child which promotes a close bonding relationship.
Skin to Skin Contact
Breastfeeding promotes lots of skin to skin contact which increases oxytocin levels in mother and baby. Higher levels of oxytocin that are created through frequent skin to skin contact increases other positive hormonal interactions too.
Premie babies that have regular Kangaroo Care (skin to skin) show a marked improvement and much better weight gain on average per day than babies that kept in an incubator.
Babies that have lots of skin to skin time with their mother and father are, in general, known to be calmer, more happy, have a more normal and stable temperature, have blood sugar that is more elevated and have a more stable and normal heart rate and breathing rate.
Mothers that hold their babies skin to skin immediately after birth are known to have increased maternal behaviours.
Babies that are put skin to skin immediately after birth often latch themselves to the mother’s breast without any assistance since they are born with the instinctive skill and motivation necessary for this task.
Watch this video to see just how incredible this is!
Holding and Cuddling while Breastfeeding
Breastfed babies feed frequently day and night, which means they are constantly being held, rocked and cuddled. Mothers that breastfeed on demand are constantly giving their babies nurturing and loving attention.
So as you can see breastfeeding on demand and allowing your baby to suckle for comfort will promote an amazing bonding experience for mother and child.
Of course bottle fed babies can also be held, rocked and nurtured just as much and by both parents so daddy can be included more too.
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Also published on Medium.