Happy valentines week everyone! Let's talk bonding with your baby. This was always one of my favorite things to do with my kids. I could not get enough snuggles when my children were first born! I absolutely LOVE it when they try to snuggle me now, but it will never be the same as when they were too little to do anything but sleep, eat or poop.
I know everyone talks about sleep training your baby now a days, but (in my opinion) let the little ones sleep on you! In the beginning, you cannot over comfort a baby, you cannot spoil them. They will eventually learn to sleep on their own when both of you are ready to work at it. But from day one, they need your love, warmth, and smell. Bonding with your baby will only enhance your breastfeeding journey.
Have you every heard of Skin-To-Skin? This is when you hold your baby, their skin to your skin. (See the photo above? That is me doing skin to skin with my youngest. She is only wearing a diaper and I am not wearing a bra in this photo. But by having her in my shirt, I am able to do skin to skin and keep her warm (which is especially important in the winter months, which was when this photo was taken)). By having your baby, their skin to your skin, this allows for comfort by touch, smell, sensation, familiarity, and love. And medically speaking, this comfort helps your baby regulate their own body temperature, allows their stress hormones to regulate more efficiently, and allows them to easily find and access food when they need it on their terms.
Which then brings us to On-Demand Feeding. On-demand feeding means you initiate a feeding whenever the baby is hungry. But how do you know when your baby is hungry?? As the parent you are watching and learning your baby. You end up doing this in all aspects of your baby's life, but in regards to feeding, you are watching specifically for feeding cues. This is very difficult in the first few weeks since your baby does not know they are even giving you cues. They are still learning themselves what it even means to breathe, eat, poop and even sleep, let alone communicate with you that they are hungry! But hopefully by week 2 or so when your baby starts to display these cues more noticeably, hopefully you have learned to recognize them and will initiate a feeding while baby is still alert and calm. By doing this, you allow your baby to regulate their own nutritional intake. When they were in your body, they were getting nutrition constantly. Now, they are on their own trying to figure out how to sustain themselves, the only way they learn how to do this, is with these cues.
So now lets jump back to my opinion on bonding and snuggling your little one. I believe in the beginning, it is best to snuggle your baby skin to skin as often as possible during the daytime. You want them close to you for all the physical and mental benefits, but you also want them close so you can learn their cues more easily. When they are right there with you, it is hard to miss.
This will allow you to be quickly at the ready to feed your baby whenever they need. Which will in turn, help establish trust with your baby that you are there for them and help establish a solid milk supply (since this can only happen by your milk being removed from your breasts). And, by taking the time to bond with your baby in this way, you are actively taking the time to rest your body and allow it to heal during this crazy postpartum 4th trimester.
So embrace the rest and snuggles! Learn your baby! Help your body heal! Allow your body to transform and nourish your baby! You and your baby are both on a brand new journey. Live in the here and now for the time being. Trust that your body knows what to do. But also know that you are not alone in this. If you ever need help or support, I am here for you! You got this mamas!!