Before every parent holds their baby for the very first time, there are a million questions that run through their minds. Can I really do this? Am I the right person to raise this child? Will this baby even like me? What if I am terrible at this? Adoptive parents have even more questions in addition to the ones that biological parents do. It may feel like your adopted newborn can’t bond with you the same way that another newborn might bond with their biological parent. After all, how can you replace all of the connections Mother Nature creates between a mother and the life growing inside of her?
Remember, birth mothers put a lot of thought into choosing adoptive families for their child. Your birth mother chose you for a reason—because she had faith that you would be able to love, teach, and provide for her child. She believed in you and trusted you. You need to believe and trust in yourself, too!
The idea that an adoptive parent can’t bond with their newborn is simply not true. The love that you feel for your new baby is just as strong as your love would be if they came from you. Newborns come into this world needing to be fed, needing to sleep, and needing a connection. That connection is formed with time and patience, and even for biological parents that bond does not always happen immediately. Here are some strategies to use when bonding with your baby that all parents can benefit from.
Child care experts, doctors, and doulas agree that one of the best ways to bond with a newborn is through skin-to-skin contact. In practice, it is the act of holding your baby against your skin while they are wearing only a diaper. Many hospitals initiate skin-to-skin contact with the mother moments after birth to help regulate breathing and vital signs.
Newborns go from an environment of warmth, food and protection inside their mother’s body to suddenly being out in the open, where they would naturally feel more vulnerable. Skin-to-skin care (or “kangaroo care”) is helping them feel that same security outside of the womb and will naturally help you form that solid bond that will last a lifetime.
While this is one of the more direct, physical strategies for bonding with your baby, you can further strengthen the bond by creating routines for the day-to-day. This helps them feel secure and create strong, positive memories. Restricting visitors for a time will also help your baby connect with you and your immediate family, although a new baby can always mean lots of excited visitors. It is important to remember that the time your baby spends with you is the most important and formative.
Most women in pregnancy see one care and support provider, and in America that is usually an obstetrician. They attend their prenatal appointments, stay away from sushi and blue cheese and call it good. Unbeknownst to them, there is a whole world of additional care support available to women that they often times don’t even know about! They can see an OB, a Midwife or a Family Practitioner for their primary prenatal care. In addition, pregnant women can benefit from the services of a chiropractor, a prenatal massage therapist, a nutritionist, an acupuncturist, a naturopath, a monitrice, a doula or a prenatal yoga class. All specialists have something unique and valuable to offer women in their pregnancy.
Obstetrician. Obstetrics is a surgical specialty of medicine. OB’s specialize in high risk, abnormal, and pathological pregnancy and birth. They are perfect care providers for women with preeclampsia, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, cancers or other complications.
Midwife. A midwife is an expert in normal pregnancy and birth. The World Health Organization recommends that all women who are experiencing a low-risk pregnancy seek the care of a midwife. This is because low-risk birth with a midwife is known to be safer and less complicated. It also frees up obstetricians to focus more energy on the high risk and complicated cases that they are specialists for. Midwives are known for developing relationships with their clients and for providing personalized care rather than standard care. There are options for midwives; Certified Nurse Midwives who work within hospital settings and Certified Professional Midwives who support families in home birth.
Family Practitioner. Many women will choose a family practitioner for their primary pregnancy care. FP’s who care for pregnancy will generally have rights at a hospital. The care they give will be similar to that of a midwife. They do not generally do surgery, but they can manage all other aspects of pregnancy and birth.
Chiropractor. Chiropractors are a must for pregnancy. Many people mistakenly believe that chiropractors only work on the back, when in reality chiropractors are specialists in the skeletal balance of all kinds. When the relaxin is flowing during pregnancy, it doesn’t take much for joints to become out of balance. This can lead to all sorts of discomfort, especially in the hips. A chiropractor can be a tremendous help in keeping women comfortable. Chiropractic care is safe through all of the pregnancy.
Prenatal Massage. A compliment to chiropractic, prenatal massage can help keep pregnancy comfortable. As joints stretch, muscles stretch and discomfort increases, prenatal massage can help loosen and balance all the growing parts of a woman’s body. When combined with chiropractic care, prenatal massage can really help women feel as normal as possible as they progress in pregnancy.
Nutritionist. A woman’s body is growing a human! It makes sense that the building blocks to accomplish this feat could use some gentle guidance. Proper pregnancy nutrition can help prevent a myriad of pregnancy related complications. Your body needs ongoing nourishment for itself as well as your baby! Furthermore, a pregnant woman’s physiology is different than that of a non-pregnant body. A nutritionist who is trained in pregnancy can help your pregnancy to be as healthy and uncomplicated as possible.
Acupuncturist. Acupuncture is a branch of eastern medicine that is not widely understood in the western world. Nonetheless, its effectiveness cannot be argued. Acupuncture is based on the theory that your Qi (pronounced chee) must be balanced for optimal health. We now understand Qi to be electromagnetic energy in a body, so it’s not all fantasy. Many health problems are thought to be the result of unbalanced Qi. Acupuncture is safe in pregnancy. At the end of pregnancy, it is a very effective form of natural induction.
Naturopath. A naturopath is a practitioner that uses many natural types of healing and nutrition to bring balance to the body. Their healing approach is generally holistic – seeing the body as one whole functioning organism where all parts are connected. Some naturopaths specialize in varying types of natural health. Some may include nutrition counseling, homeopathic remedies, herbal remedies, etc.
Doula. A birth doula is a specialist in pregnancy and birth support. A doula is an expert in connecting a pregnant woman with all the resources she may need in her pregnancy to be fully informed. During labor, a birth doula will stay with a laboring couple throughout the course of labor to provide physical and emotional support throughout the birth. A doula is not a medical care provider, so she does not use clinical skills that nurses, midwives, and OB’s employ.
Montrice. A monitrice is similar to a doula in the way she works to offer prenatal education, support, and physical comfort, but is also trained to perform a limited amount of clinical skills such as maternal blood pressure, fetal heart tones, cervical exams for dilation, and abdominal palpation to assess the position of your baby. A monitrice will offer these services while laboring at home, but once she accompanies you to the hospital, her role becomes strictly non-medical by offering doula support.
Prenatal Yoga. One of the best and most effective ways to prepare for labor is through prenatal yoga. While most forms of exercise tend to be safe throughout all of the pregnancy, yoga is particularly good for pregnancy because it combines deep focused concentration, relaxation, and physical exertion. A prenatal yoga instructor will usually do a mental and physical exercise as a practice for labor during their class. This practice is of tremendous benefit as a woman prepares for labor.
A pregnant woman has many options for pregnancy specialized care. Making use of the many available options can bring balance, comfort, health, and support to a pregnancy and birth.