As with any relationship, building intimacy with your baby requires taking intentional steps that foster a sense of closeness between you and your little one. Feeling connected to your child is one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences that many new parents can feel. However, parents are often unsure what they can do to build the intimate relationship they want to have with their newborn. In today’s blog, we provide you with three ways to help you create newborn intimacy in the postpartum period.
The act of breastfeeding provides an opportunity for new moms to spend some time close together with their new babies. Over time, many mothers begin to look forward to breastfeeding because of the intimate nature of the act. As a bonus, breastfeeding releases oxytocin which is often referred to as the “love hormone” because it promotes feelings of closeness that boost newborn intimacy. Additionally, the release of oxytocin helps to contract the uterus back to a normal size and aids in postpartum recovery. Feeling more healthy can lead to a greater desire to bond with your baby.
We now know that breastfeeding is a great way to build newborn intimacy but what about non-breastfeeding mothers and new dads? What can they do to feel more connected to their child? Kangaroo Care or, as it is more appropriately known, skin to skin is the act of placing your little one’s bare skin on your bare skin. Once your baby is positioned comfortably, cover them with a blanket to keep their back and extremities warm. Babies love this position because of the warmth they feel from their parent and because they can hear your heartbeat that reminds them of the womb. Many parents claim that holding their baby close in skin to skin position makes them feel close to their new child in a unique way. For a double dose of intimacy, try combining Kangaroo Care with breastfeeding!
For grandparents and other close family members, reading with the baby is an excellent way to help promote newborn intimacy with them. According to Mary Ann Abrams, MD from Reach Out and Read, “Reading a book to your newborn is a one-on-one activity that you can really turn into a special time with your baby.” One of the many reasons reading together develops closeness is because the child gets to hear your voice which can be quite soothing. The more often they hear your voice, the more likely they are to recognize you which builds and strengthens that relationship. In fact, recent studies suggest that parents who read to their babies while they are in the NICU develop the same feelings of intimacy as parents in the first few weeks of bringing their baby home.