Bonding with a newborn baby after giving birth is one of the most pleasurable parts of infant care. Labor may have been painful or even riddled with complications, but for most moms, all the agony is instantly forgotten once she gets to hold her baby.
It’s instinctual for the mother, father and other caregivers to want to cuddle, comfort and nurture a newborn baby.
WakeMed Cary Hospital Family Bonding Time
To support this early bond after childbirth and delivery, Leslie Canale, a WakeMed RN and international board-certified lactation consultant (IBCLC) launched a three-month pilot Family Bonding Time initiative at the WakeMed Cary Hospital Women’s Pavilion and Birthing Center. This designated bonding time will offer many benefits to new families:
- Facilitate uninterrupted bonding time with new parents and their newborns
- Encourage rest for new moms recovering after delivery
- Improve patient and family satisfaction related to their WakeMed hospital experience
During this time, WakeMed staff will dim lights and decrease noise daily between 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. in the Women’s Pavilion. They will also decrease interruptions from staff unless new mothers request help or assistance. Post COVID-19 visitor restrictions, visitors will be asked to wait in the waiting room unless the new mother is expecting them.
Canale says, “Families need uninterrupted time together and to rest and recover quietly.”
Babies Depend on Caregivers to Know What Their Crying is All About
At WakeMed, we also encourage rooming-in together, which keeps families in the same room with their newborn. This is another example of best newborn and maternity care practices because rooming-in is beneficial to the health and development of newborns.
Getting to know your baby through uninterrupted Family Bonding Time allows families time to recognize and learn their baby’s cues and signals. Babies signal and communicate their needs to parents in a variety of ways. For example, quiet, alert states indicate the baby’s readiness for social interaction with their caregivers. Feeding cues indicate baby’s hunger and need to be fed. Cries may indicate a need to have a diaper change;,frustration in trying to figure out how to feed effectively or feeling alone and scared and in need of skin-to-skin care after the transition from the womb to the world.
Parents are able to gain confidence in caring for and meeting the needs of their newborn through rooming-in during uninterrupted Family Bonding Time.
Babies who receive skin-to-skin care cry less often, in general, than those who are cared for in another way after delivery. Canale says, “It helps a baby regulate breathing, heart rate, temperature and blood sugar levels.”
These babies also demonstrate better ability to regulate their behavioral states, and this ability persists well beyond the newborn period. According to Canale, “Basically, skin-to-skin care hardwires baby’s neurological system in a positive way.”
Skin-to-Skin Beneftis to Babies and Caregivers
Skin-to-skin is also important for the baby’s caregivers and should be encouraged because it enhances bonding in addition to the other physiologic benefits mentioned above.
If a mother is unable to physically or safely care for her newborn after delivery, then other caregivers should be encouraged to provide skin-to-skin care. A recent study found, “Babies who enjoyed skin-to-skin care with fathers after delivery had higher mean heart rates and increased wakefulness. A follow up study from this same cohort sample showed fathers developed a better understanding of their infant’s first moments of life and became more engaged with them as a result.”
Securely Attached Babies Grow into Healthier Adults
Babies that bond with their caregivers early on experience overall better outcomes. When babies receive consistent and appropriate responses to a range of emotions — from cries to coos — they are more likely to grow into healthy children whose brain connections are wired for optimal learning, whose bodies grow big and strong and whose emotions are more stable.
Securely attached babies feel more protected and understood. They suffer less anxiety and depression as they mature into adults because from early on, their nervous systems received the calm assurance needed for optimal development. They enjoy more healthy relationships as they age and have the self-esteem necessary to avoid or leave toxic relationships.
WakeMed Encourages Early Bonding and Secure Attachment
The bond between a baby and caregiver is the most precious of all. With impacts for a lifetime, at WakeMed, we want to do what we can to encourage a healthy, secure attachment from the very start.