As a new family, you are likely still learning how to take care of your newborn and taking the time to support his or her basic needs. Deciphering between the hungry cry and the over-tired cry may still be a challenge at this point, but don’t worry too much; you will begin to learn what your baby wants in no time. As new parents, it is important to take the time to bond with your newborn and build an attachment or sense of closeness with your child. Many doctors and psychologists acknowledge the importance of forming a strong bond between parent and child early on in development. Establishing a bond helps the baby to feel safe and loved and learns to trust and develop positive self-esteem. For some adoptive parents, building a bond may be a slow process and for other families a strong bond may form instantly. Every family is different. There are many ways to bond with your young infant to bring your family closer together.
Skin to Skin
The first few weeks and months of your baby’s life mark the beginning of the parent-child relationship. Start your lifelong bonding experience by placing your baby on your chest and cuddling with him or her skin to skin. Your child will love the sensation of your touch and hearing your soothing voice. Spend time with your infant by playing, making eye contact, singing, cuddling, and laughing. Your baby will love the constant attention and will feel safe and secure being with you.
Breastfeeding is a profound bonding moment for mother and baby. You get to be close to your child while fulfilling his or her most basic need. Breastfeeding also teaches you to read your baby’s facial expressions and movements.
Adoptive breastfeeding is a personal choice and provides an opportunity for you to bond with your baby and provide the most basic needs for your child. Regardless if you are currently a nursing mother with an established milk supply, or if you are interested in induced lactation (for mothers who did not give birth to their baby), we hope you find these tips and resources to support your breastfeeding journey.
Regardless of where your journey is beginning, set up an appointment with your local lactation consultant to discuss what your goals are. You can source lactation professionals through your local hospitals, pediatric offices, La Leche League International, and other local support groups. If you are specifically looking to induce lactation, ask your lactation professional group if their is a consultant that has experience helping other mothers with induced lactation.
Developing your milk supply requires nipple stimulation and milk removal; a supply and demand process. This can be done through nursing at the breast, hand expression, pumping, or all three. If your baby is willing to nurse often, be sure to keep them at the breast as much as possible (every 2-3 hours at least, more if necessary). If you are trying to induce lactation, patience will be your greatest attribute, as the baby may not be getting milk at first; but remember, nipple stimulation will tell your body to make milk, so keep at it. If you find your baby having difficulty latching, a breast pump can allow you to try to establish your supply, while you attempt to teach your baby to latch. If your milk is not coming in and/or your baby is having a difficult time latching, work closely with your lactation professional to meet your circumstantial needs. If you are at all concerned that your baby is not getting sufficient calories or gaining proper weight, do not hesitate to contact your pediatrician and lactation professional for advisement on formula supplementation while you work on breastfeeding.
Many women use pure essential oils and herbal supplements to stimulate milk production, with success. Fennel and basil essential oil massaged onto to the breast tissue (avoiding the nipple region) has been successful for many women. We only recommend using Young Living essential oil because they are 100% pure and therapeutic grade. You can learn more about the essential oils we recommend by visiting the Family Health Resources section. Herbal supplements such as fenugreek, blessed thistle, fennel seed, red raspberry leaf, and borage seed oil can also stimulate milk production for many mothers. These can be found at local health food stores or herb shops. Using essential oil and herbal aids, are best done in combination with active breastfeeding and pumping, for best results. If you take any prescription medications, please consult your health care practitioner for discussion of any potential contraindications.
Your experience is sure to be unique, as breastfeeding and induced lactation are not always a predictable experience. Breastfeeding provides more than nourishment for your baby; but also safety and security. Many mothers take the opportunity to comfort nurse throughout a difficult breastfeeding journey. Rest, assured, we encourage you to celebrate whatever happens with you and your child!
For more great resources on understanding adoptive breastfeeding and induced lactation, check out our list of resources.
La Leche League, Int’l.http://www.llli.org/
Kelly Mom www.kellymom.com
Young Living Essential Oils
Mother and Child Health
International Lactation Consultant Association http://www.ilca.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3337
If breastfeeding does not work for your family, you can still share in this intimate moment while you bottle-feed your child and you will learn to communicate and read each other’s body language. Bottle-feeding also gives dad the opportunity to bond with baby in a loving and caring manner.
Baby wearing allows you to be close to your infant while your doing chores around the house and also helps you and your baby bond, building that physical connection as well as helping baby become in tune to his surroundings. Baby wearing is an excellent bonding moment that benefits both mom and dad.
Massaging your baby has many benefits such as:
- Promoting communication between parent and baby
- Helps your infant feel calm and relaxed
- Promotes sleep
- Positively impacts your baby’s hormones to reduce stress
- Decreases crying
If you decide to try baby massage make sure you wait at least 45 minutes after a feeding when your child is most comfortable and content. A few important factors to keep in mind when performing a baby massage are:
- Creating a peaceful environment. If possible, perform the massage in a warm place and make sure to remove all of your jewelry. Place your baby on a soft blanket on his back so you can maintain eye contact while you undress your child.
- Keep a gentle touch. If you are new to baby massage, it is important to begin with a soft, gentle touch so you can learn what your baby likes and doesn’t like.
- Gradually caress and massage each part of your child’s body. You may want to begin by spending a minute massaging different areas such as your baby’s head, neck, shoulders, back, waist, thighs, hands, and feet. If your baby becomes fussy or uncomfortable he may not be ready for a baby massage.
- Speak to baby in a calm and soothing voice. Speak to your baby during the massage by telling him a story or singing him a song.
Some parents prefer to use oil such as olive oil, coconut oil, or grape seed oil, during a baby massage, but it is not a requirement. If your child has allergies or sensitive skin you may apply a small drop to an area of his skin and watch for a reaction. Also if your child has health issues, speak with your baby’s doctor before performing a baby massage. Once your baby is past the age of 6 months, you can begin to explore adding some pure essential oils to your baby massage routine. Children six months and up generally respond well to essential oils. Purity and integrity are important to us, so check out what essential oils we recommend for your family located under Family Health Resources. Generally, dilution is always required when applying essential oils on children. One or two drops of essential oil diluted in a carrier oil can be applied to the bottom of the child’s feet or back. Be sure to avoid the baby’s eyes and ear canals and any area where the baby would easily touch with their hands.