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Having trouble bonding with your baby? We can help.

06 April 2023

Mental health Perinatal mental health
The important role that bonding plays in the emotional, social and cognitive development of a baby cannot be underestimated, despite not always naturally occurring between parent and child.

Babies undergo huge developmental changes within the first two years of life and rely heavily on establishing a loving bond or attachment relationship with a primary caregiver, usually a parent.

Bonding generally occurs through repeated human contact, such as:

  • touching
  • cuddling
  • talking
  • singing
  • eye contact
  • breastfeeding/bottle-feeding
  • reading
  • playing
  • responding to crying.

These ongoing actions help a newborn baby’s brain release hormones that help their brain grow, enabling the development of memory, thought and language.

But what if you’re having difficulty bonding with your baby?

Most infants and parents are primed for bonding at birth, however there are many factors that can affect this. Fortunately, bonding is a process and not something that has to occur within minutes of birth. Nor is it limited to happening within a certain time following your baby’s arrival.

Factors that may impact bonding

There are a number of reasons why bonding with your baby may be delayed.
  • Birth trauma
  • Separation at birth
  • Premature birth
  • Admission to NICU/SCN
  • A history of loss
  • Hormones are on a rollercoaster
  • Postpartum depression or anxiety
  • Lack of support system

How we can help

If you feel that the ‘baby blues’ are not easing and your mood or anxiety are impacting your ability to bond with your baby, we have the resources to help.

St John of God Langmore Centre’s Parent Infant Unit

An impatient stay in our Parent Infant Unit (commonly known as a mother-baby unit) provides parents with a holistic approach to addressing their physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs. 
Through tailored therapy programs and the ability for partners and babies (up to the age of 18 months who are not yet walking) to room in with patients, parents can benefit from access to clinical support while continuing to learn how to grow together as a family.

Bonding is a complex, personal experience that takes time. While there's no magic formula, our specialists are equipped to support parents in becoming more comfortable with their baby and reading their language (cues).  

The good news is, a baby whose basic needs are being met won't suffer if the bond isn't strong at first. However, working with our qualified mental health practitioners and allied health professionals sooner in the process, parents will gain the confidence and bond needed to raise a happy, well-adjusted little baby.

For more information on our Parent and Infant Unit you can call the St John of God Langmore Centre located in Berwick on (03) 9773 7071 

Nursing caregiver Louise facing the camera
Louise Gawler - Parent and Infant Unit Nurse Unit Manager at St John of God Langmore Centre
Louise Gawler is the Unit Nurse Unit Manager at St John of God Langmore Centre