Bonding is the emotional end of the birth. The close contact between mother and child is particularly important for the infant's healthy, emotional development. The mother's heartbeat is a crucial signal that reduces stress in the baby and creates emotional stability.
Bonding is the emotional end of childbirth. The close contact between mother and child is particularly important for the infant's healthy, emotional development.
Bonding is a psychological theory that was developed in the 1940s by child psychiatrist John Bowlby, psychoanalyst James Robertson, and psychologist Mary Ainsworth. The scientists looked at the early mother-child relationship from an emotional perspective, which was not common until then. Today this theory is widely accepted.
It was not until the 1970s that the attachment theory became widespread in Germany and the rest of Europe. It starts from the assumption that people have an innate need to develop close and emotional relationships with others.
When it comes to bonding, being close to the mother has top priority. Because of the knowledge about the importance of the early emotional bond between mother and child, the newborn is placed directly on the mother's stomach after a complication-free birth. Mother and child as well as the father present at the birth are still under the influence of hormone secretions.
The three participants now slow their heart rate and breathing and have less pain perception. These are the moments when the love and attachment hormone oxytocin has its greatest influence.
Because the baby is no longer under the influence of the birth medication after birth, it reacts with a wide range of emotions. The parents communicate with their child immediately, reach a state of serenity intuitively and deal intensively with the newborn.
The baby is interested, happy, surprised, and may also be uncomfortable. The intensely experienced “skin on skin” phase is the actual bonding and should last at least two hours. Time is crucial for the newborn's ability to bond later. Bonding promotes trust between mother, father and child. Therefore, parents should be able to be together undisturbed with their child immediately after the birth and should also demand this.
Babies around the world behave very similarly after birth. You are looking for warmth, protection, affection and security. Since babies cannot take care of themselves, they need to find a caregiver who will look after them as quickly as possible. Usually these are the parents. Now the bonding phase begins, in which the emotional bond between parent and child develops.
About 10 minutes after the birth, the baby opens its eyes, instinctively searches and smells the parents' smell. After about an hour it will start sucking on the chest. The mother also becomes softer and more devoted under the influence of the hormone. At the same time, oxytocin promotes uterine contractions and placenta rejection. The tendency to bleed is also reduced.
Babies rarely cry when they lie on their mother's stomach, chest, or arms for the first two hours. Skin contact between father and baby is equally important and strengthens their relationship. Overall, the entire first year of life is crucial for the baby's emotional stability. During this time, cuddling and friendly eye contact are extremely important.
These early experiences with the child also shape the father's emotional expression, from which the whole family benefits. Metaphorically speaking, bonding works like emotional glue. If it is missing, children later show emotional difficulties.
The baby develops a feeling of security above all from the experience of how the parents react to his needs. The infant expresses his feelings through body language. Parents have to learn to interpret these correctly. The most important thing at first is skin contact. Parents and children impress each other's scent through the skin, and the warmth gives the baby a feeling of security.
The intensity of the relationships depends on the intimacy experienced between parents and child. Physical closeness is important throughout the first year of life and can only be established through constant contact, whereby parents learn to empathize with their child.
People who lack bonding later exhibit behaviors that bonded babies do not. Research showed that children who were not placed on their mother's stomach immediately after birth were more restless. On the other hand, securely bound babies subsequently showed more interest in their environment, were more balanced and were less afraid of new things.
The disruption in the first phase of imprinting can affect the baby's emotional balance and sense of belonging. If possible, separation between parents and the newborn should therefore be avoided, because the baby experiences the separation as violence and has feelings of emotional distress, of abandonment and hopelessness.
The experience of unanswered existential needs can create frustration, low self-esteem, pain, and aggression later in life. This can be expressed in adult life in unhappy relationships, feelings of exclusion, and general dissatisfaction.
Nevertheless, parents should not be unsettled if, for example, they cannot have immediate contact with the baby due to an acute illness. Bonding sets the emotional course, but these are not set in stone. Later, too, there are always opportunities to create a close and emotional relationship with the baby.