How did you imagine life with your baby before they were born? Did you expect an instant rush of love? Something similar to seeing that 1st scan, but even better? How about life with your newborn? Were you looking forward to the time off work. Time to relax, read, spend some time on your favourite hobby. Perhaps you pictured yourself heading into town and sitting outside a cafe in the sunshine, flicking through a magazine or chatting to friends as your baby slept in their pram.
Despite it being well over 10 years ago, I can still clearly remember the expectations I had before my first son was born. Pregnancy, it seemed, took forever. The anticipation of life with my baby was almost too much to bear at times – I’ve never been very good at waiting! I painstakingly researched and then bought the buggy, sling and nappies. I decorated the nursery and washed, folded and packed away all the pre-loved clothes I’d been given. I was DESPERATE for my baby to arrive and couldn’t wait to be a Mum.
And oh did I love my little boy when he first arrived, in a pool, in our front room. But I’d be lying if I felt exactly as I thought I would. Despite having an amazing birth, I felt a numbness, almost removed from everything. I was expecting stronger feelings than I was actually feeling. I kept this very much to myself and went through the motions of caring for him and keeping him close. And as the days went on the bond grew and the numbness faded. I was so relieved that I was feeling connected to my baby in the way I had hoped when pregnant.
Once I felt able to admit these feeling I found that it was something experienced by lots of women. That there is a range of feelings and emotions towards our little ones when they’re born that change and develop and that they are all quite normal. And I also learnt, when my other children were born, that it’s not always like this and for some the intense rush of love is instant and very very strong.
But one thing is for sure. When you have your baby, everything is not how you expected it to be. For many, worry and fear creeps in. Are we getting it right? Why is she crying? Am I feeding him enough? How am I supposed to know what to do? And with that, a sense of overwhelm can also be present and a feeling of lack of control when we think we don’t know what we’re doing. Babies can seem unpredictable and confusing!
But what I share with parents is that they DO have the answers and they can be their own guide. With a little time and practice, by connecting with their baby, they will grow that bond and in turn start to feel their own inner guide. By relaxing and being close to our baby, the answers do come. When we’re calm and not constantly responding to stress, our gut instincts, our inner guide, our parenting wisdom is easier to find. When we hold our babies and really relax deeply, it can be as if they give us the answer.
With all the information and opinions that we are bombarded with from the internet, books, family and friends, it can be really easy to ignore our very own in-built guidance system. It can be easy for us not to listen to our babies or ourselves. We can feel pressure from all angles and it stops us trusting our instincts and our bodies. So have a go. Take some time out each day to really connect with your baby and yourself.
My Top 5 ways to slow down and connect with your baby (and yourself!)
- Take a bath together. Being in that warm water and hearing your heart beat and feeling your body can deeply relax babies.
- Head to a baby massage class. Or even just do it yourself at home with whatever oil you have to hand (vegetable is fine, you can always do a little test on their hand first)
- Spend some time skin-to-skin. This can be done anytime. It’s not just for after the birth. It can work wonders for calming things down.
- Rock your baby whilst singing sweet songs in her ear. Babies love the sound of your voice and singing can make us feel pretty good too.
- Sit and tell them some stories about your childhood. Find somewhere quiet and relaxed and let your gentle voice relax your baby.
And if your feelings towards your baby worry you at all then seek support. Talk to others. Don’t keep it to yourself.