When I just found out I was pregnant, one of the first thing that popped to my mind was about bonding with my unborn child. But the thought of how to really do it felt very surreal to me. During the early stages of my pregnancy journey, I just felt that my tummy is getting bigger or I just felt really sick.
Every pregnancy and every pregnant woman is unique. While some women may feel an instant connection to their unborn child from the moment they pee on the pregnancy test kit, for others it can take until the birth (or even after the birth) for that connection to truly take hold. For me, I guess it was only at about the 20th week mark when I start to feel those little jabs and movements. I remembered thinking “Oh my, it’s like there’s actually something, there’s a baby!”. I think the feeling helped. I realised that making a connection with my unborn child could strengthen the bond we share, make us feel closer, and enrich mine and my baby’s lives.
Another thing that I did during my pregnancy was pre-natal yoga, which I think helped a lot to bond with myself and baby. For example during the session, the yoga teacher always asked us to try to hold our belly and breathe in such a way that we could connect with our baby’s heartbeat. Every single movement helped me ease certain tensions, as well as the pain from childbirth eventually. So, I guess yoga helped as well.
Now that I have given birth, it’s another form of bonding with my baby in these ways.
I’m an advocate of breastfeeding not just because of the nutrients and antibodies that the baby gets from latching and drinking the mother’s milk, but also the bond a mother develops with her baby. Especially during the first month as a new mom, it just felt so surreal to me and I couldn’t yet quite be conceived that I’m already a mom. When I latched Baby M, it did help to develop this bond between myself and him as mother and son.
Through breastfeeding, I also learn about my baby’s cues, like when he is hungry, or just being fussy, or even if he’s sleepy. It’s a great way for me to learn how to read his cries and cues. Especially when he wasn’t feeling well, I realised that at times he just wanted to latch for comfort and cuddle. Though I don’t comfort latch him to sleep on a daily basis, whenever he is sick, and he needs comfort and it soothes him, I do so.
2. Quality time
I was in a dilemma and feeling somewhat frustrated when I first started heading back to work at 40 days post-partum. I wanted to spend all my time with Baby M and was rather upset that I had to be away from him for long periods in the day. However, I managed to sort it out and came to realize that quality time is more effective than quantity. Of course, if I had the luxury of time and be with him always, to have both quantity and quality, that’ll be great! But in real life, working moms might not have that luxury.
Now, whenever I’m with him, I fully concentrate on playing with him, reading to him, putting him down for his nap, taking him out on weekends. On the other hand, when I work I concentrate 100% at work and not let my mind drift and worry about him. The challenge is that if others take 10 hours to complete whatever they have for work, I must finish the same in 6 hours so that once I’m home, my full attention is on him.
It’s really not easy. I usually sacrifice my sleep such that I get up by 730 am in the morning. When Baby M wakes up and sees me, I’ll play with him for a bit, pump milk, and then get ready for work. I usually try to be home by 5 pm these days or head back home first to see him and then back out to work, leaving me with about 2 hours with him in the afternoon before he goes off to bed at 7 pm. I will continue my work after that, or go for dinners or even movie dates with my husband. Usually, I will take over 3-4 night shifts a week while my helper helps me out with the other nights.
Roy and I talk to our baby and share our day, as though he understands us. Instead of baby talk, we talk to him about what’s happening. Sometimes when I have meetings at home, I’ll let him sit in, and now at 3 months, I do see that sometimes during these meetings, he seems to be listening and as if he understands. The cutest thing is, sometimes he even makes cooing sounds like he wants to chat too!
4. Eat-wake-sleep routine
I’m a huge believer of a routine too. I realised that putting a baby on a routine, is definitely crucial in understanding him. When Baby M is on a 3-hour cycle, where he eat-play-sleep within a 3 hour time frame (I give a ½ hour plus minus), I’m aware when he is in his best mood. And when I can catch that, playing with him is the most enjoyable for both him and I, instead of a sleepy cranky baby.
Bonding with your baby is probably one of the most pleasurable aspects of caring for him. Enjoy the process like how much I’m enjoying now!