How to Bond With Your Baby After a Traumatic Birth 

There is an assumption that there is an automatic and magical bond between every mother and her baby, but bonding issues are more common than we realize. This does not mean that the mother does not love their child or wish to do everything possible to care for them. We are all unique individuals and every birth is different, so it’s unrealistic to presume that all mother-baby relationships will be the same. It’s particularly common for mothers to feel disconnected from their babies after a traumatic birth, but there are ways to nurture a connection and to recover from the trauma you have suffered.  

Talk about your experience  

One of the most important parts of recovering from a traumatic birth is to talk about what you went through and how it made you feel. It is not a sign of weakness or selfishness to want to process what you went through. Holding it inside will only intensify your feelings and can make the recovery process significantly longer while impacting negatively on many other aspects of life. Try talking to friends and family at first but you may decide you need a professional counselor with expertise in traumatic birth experiences. If you or your baby suffered child birth injuriesyou may be entitled to compensation to support you in your recovery. 

Recreate your birth story 

Many women write about their birth stories when they have had a positive experience, but it is an incredibly important step for women who have suffered trauma. It can be helpful to work through the experience in words, even if it’s a painful process. Nobody else needs to see it and you can destroy the paper when you’re finished, but you may be able to purge some of the anger and frustration out onto the pages. Some women even recreate a birthing experience where they act out a calm and safe birth with positive memories they can keep forever. 

Get close to your baby as much as possible 

After a traumatic birth, many mothers are separated from their babies as medical attention is required, but this means they are not able to experience the initial bonding experience of skin to skin contact. Make time to hold your baby close with their skin on yours such as when co-bathing or co-sleeping. Breastfeeding is another wonderful bonding exercise but even mothers who bottlefeed can hold their baby against their skin and breast while the baby feeds.  

Avoid using scented toiletries 

Mammals use natural scent to recognize and bond with their young, but in the modern world, we are encouraged to use scented baby wash, shampoo, powder and moisturizer which removes the baby’s natural scent. Try to minimize the amount of product you use when you bathe your baby and use pure water whenever possible. 

Don’t rush the healing process 

It’s a cliché, but time can be a great healer and there is no time limit on recovery from trauma. You cannot force yourself to be okay but simply by accepting that you are struggling to bond with your child shows what a fantastic mother you are. Accept that you are grieving for the loss of what should have been a joyous experience between mother and child, but know that it does not need to impact your future relationship. 

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