The Science Behind The Mother-Child Bond

New research shows that the emotional connect or attachment between the mother and the baby can help prevent diseases, boost immunity, and enhance the baby’s IQ later in life.

Mothers take excess careof their babies, keeping them away from any injuries or illness. You may take your baby to the pediatrician for regular checkups, get her vaccines on time and make sure she stays healthy. However, this new research claims that the stronger the emotional bond between you and your baby, the healthier your baby will be. Research says this strong bond can prevent diseases and can also enhance your child’s IQ.

“Those hugs and kisses are a force of nature more powerful than ever thought,” said Deepak Chopra, M.D., an endocrinologist. “Mother-child bonding has evolved to become a complex physiological process that enlists not just our hearts, but our brains, hormones, nerves, and almost every part of our bodies,” he added.

Cuddling

Cuddling your newborn helps to develop the connection and is a way of showing your love for your baby. At Ohio State University, a study was conducted where rabbits were cuddled

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by researchers. The findings showed that these rabbits were protected against the artery-clogging effects of a high-cholesterol diet. Researchers say that the love and affection affected the rabbits’ hormones thereby helping them withstand any heart disease. Another research at McGill University in Montreal found that some female rats took more time to lick their infant pups. The pups who were licked frequently were less stressed and more adventurous as they grew up. Also, another study published in Pediatrics found that premature babies who were stroked gained almost 50% more weight than those babies who weren’t stroked.

Scent And Smiles

It is scientifically proven that we are wired to connect with our kids emotionally. Our bodies produce chemicals to attract a partner or babies so that we are smitten with them and they with us. a particular study shows that 90% of moms were able to identify their babies just by the scent even just 10 minutes after delivery. Similarly, a baby recognizes his mother’s scent too. A research held in Japan showed that babies who smelled their own mother;s milk were calmer

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than babies who were exposed to some other mother’s milk or formula.

Studies show that the mere scent of the mother’s breastmilk calms the baby down and makes them feel safe and secure.

Nature Vs. Nurture

Nature or environmental factors too play a major role in a child’s physical and emotional development. What we eat, drink or are exposed to can alter our genes causing them to go ‘on’ or ‘off’. The amount of physical and emotional comfort and affection a child receives is one of the environmental factors to consider. Newborns are clueless and are a bundle of puzzled nerves. They have no idea what to do with themselves and also, they’re extremely sensitive to everything. A slight change in temperature, hunger, or any change in light can cause discomfort to them. Newborns feel safe and secure when close to their mother. Newborns need to be held close and mothers need to help them regulate and understand all the new sensations. “Immune cells have a memory of experiences,” says Dr. Chopra.

If your baby is stressed continuously or for long hours, this can

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affect your newborn’s immunity permanently.

How To Nurture Your Baby?

While it is important to develop an emotional connect with your baby, it does not come naturally always. There are many mothers who are too sore, tired or exhausted to feel that splurge of pleasure when they hold their newborn. There are women who suffer from postpartum depression too. Also, there are babies who don’t turn docile after the mother’s repeated attempts to calm them down. women who adopt find it a challenge to develop an emotional connect in the initial stage when the child is still a newborn. Just remember, it is okay if you don’t or can’t fall in love with your baby at the first sight of him/her. Give it some time and do your best to nurse your baby well. “Bonding is not an instant glue — it develops over time and every family is different,” said pediatrician William Sears, M.D., author of The Baby Book and a father of eight.

“Bonding is not an instant glue — it develops over time and every family is different,” said pediatrician William

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Sears, M.D., author of The Baby Book and a father of eight. “Just because you didn’t hold your baby the first hour after she was born, or you didn’t breastfeed, doesn’t mean it’s all over,” he added.

It is important to be available for your baby at all times and keep your newborn close to you. Your newborn is still trying to get used to the world and its whims. Your newborn’s vision and senses too are still developing leaving him/her utterly helpless. Try and stay close to your baby at all times and cater to his/her needs. Your newborn is not aware of how to communicate if she/he is feeling uncomfortable or hungry. The only way of communication is to cry for your baby. Therefore, keep a close check and try to understand if your newborn is hungry or feeling uncomfortable. Moreover, society too has a part in this. “As a society, we frequently fail to give mothers the support they need, which also muddies the bonding process,” said Dr. Chopra. “How can a woman be expected to establish a

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deep bond when she doesn’t have paid maternity leave and must return to work too soon after giving birth? In fact, the U.S. is one of the few developed countries that doesn’t mandate any paid maternity leave. The responsibility is not just the mothers. Her partner, family, neighbors, and co-workers all need to help ease her transition into motherhood. A mom needs time to herself to recharge; otherwise, she won’t be able to give her baby the quality of attention he needs,” he noted.

Therefore, there is no right or wrong way to bond with your child. Try and keep your newborn close to you and lower your stress levels. Studies have shown stress in mothers can affect the newborn too. Hence, take your mind off things and make some extra time if necessary for your baby. Prioritize bonding with your baby above everything else for a while. Show your baby colors and say sweet nothings to him/her. Though your baby cannot reciprocate, he/she can feel the love and affection.