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Baby bonding difficulties affect a third of mothers

Baby bonding difficulties affect a third of mothers

Around a third of U.K. mothers experience difficulties bonding with their new baby, research finds.

Parenting organisation National Childbirth Trust (NCT) conducted a survey between March and April 2016 involving over 1500 women. The results showed that 32 per cent of the women noted bonding problems while another 12 per cent also admitted to being too embarrassed to speak to a midwife, GP or healthcare professional about their concerns.

The statistics were released to coincide with the U.K.’s first Infant Mental Health Awareness Week, which takes place from 6 -10 June (16).

Bonding with a baby describes the emotional connection with a parent - and this is important for how the baby reacts to stress, learning and social skills. Factors such as postnatal depression and anxiety can often interfere with the bonding process between mother and baby.

In a statement, NCT senior policy advisor Elizabeth Duff said: "The bond a baby has with its parents acts as a template that shapes the child’s emotions and relationships later in life so it’s a crucial process.

"Parents who don’t feel an instant connection with their new baby often experience strong feelings of guilt, shame and inadequacy. We hope our research reassures new parents that they are not alone if they don’t instantly bond with their baby and that this can often take time."

Reacting to the figures, Royal College of Midwives director for midwifery Louise Silverton said they were worrying.

"Pregnancy, birth and the postnatal period is a time of major psychological and social change for women as they negotiate their new roles as mothers," she explained. "This research adds to an existing body of evidence of the importance of building a bond with baby and the impact that can have on early brain development and the emotional wellbeing of an infant."

NCT experts said the good news is that it is often easy for new parents to build or re-establish a relationship with their baby if they are experiencing difficulties bonding.

Baby bonding tips:

NCT issued these tips to help parents bond with their baby:

- Get support and friendship from socialising with other parents who may be going through similar problems.

- Encourage physical closeness such as skin-to-skin contact or gentle baby massage.

- Interact with baby by talking, reading or singing.

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