Bonding with your newborn baby is critical for infant neurodevelopment and emotional wellbeing, and there are many ways to do so.

Skin to skin contact is a natural and innate way to create that first bond when your baby is born. The majority of hospitals allow immediate skin to skin with a well-baby and mother immediately after birth for both vaginal births and caesarean deliveries. Skin to skin is a sacred bonding experience and should be honoured and respected by all health professionals as a critical bonding time and protected where possible for as long as possible post birth for mothers and fathers and their newborns. Having at least one-hour initial skin to skin time with your newborn encourages the release of essential hormones within the mother, necessary for successful breastfeeding establishment and also releases the well-known ‘love hormone’ oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone that works in the opposite way to human stress responses; it is a calming connection that blocks the stress response and decreases the circulation of stress hormones throughout the body. It provides a natural high and loving connection between mother and newborn baby, encouraging that first life-long bonding experience.

Immediate skin to skin contact is not the only way to bond with your baby postpartum. Spending time with your baby; communicating through song, play, touch, speech, facial expression and eye contact are all important contributors in creating a strong bonding experience. Another way to encourage bonding is to keep your baby in close proximity as often as possible in the first few weeks and months post birth. This can be achieved via the use of aids such as baby carriers and wraps as well as having your baby sleep in a separate bed, in the same room as you. This not only encourages bonding, but it also allows new parents to become familiar with their baby’s signals and enables the mother and father to respond accordingly to their needs.

Bonding with your baby is a life-long process that begins at birth and remains infinite. If you feel that you are not bonding with your baby as well as you would like, or you would like to know more strategies that may help you bond with your newborn; there are support services available within the community that can offer further advice and strategies to improve this process
for yourself and your partner.

Support services are available through:

•• Your GP or specialist doctor.

•• Child, Youth and Family Health Services are located in Cairns North, Edmonton, Smithfield and Kuranda. This service offers a variety of different programs via midwives and child health nurses. Contact their Main Hub on 4226 4315.

•• The Cairns Private Hospital’s new Early Parenting Centre offers post-natal support and inpatient support programs. Contact their Women’s Unit on 4052 5253.

•• Our PakMag Expert, Dr Elizabeth Jackson and her team, phone 4041 5081.

•• Healthy Families Beyond Blue Organisation offer online support via