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Bonding at birth ≠ Secure Attachment

Some mothers describe an overwhelming sense of love & connection with their baby immediately after birth. Others don’t, I sure didn’t. and yet, I have a great (& securely attached) relationship with my child.

The first hour/s after birth are sometimes called the “golden hour”. A key feature of the golden hour is Skin-to-Skin Contact which has been linked with some pretty wonderful benefits, including:

  • Regulate baby's temperature

  • Stabilise baby’s heart rate

  • Helps with breastfeeding

  • Improves baby’s breathing

  • Faster weight gain for baby

If you weren’t able to experience the “golden hour” for medical (or any other) reasons – it will not affect your bond with your baby. No one would dream of telling the mother of an adopted 10 year old child that they’re not attached to their child because they weren’t present for their birth! Your bond with your child is about SO MUCH MORE than what happened in the hours after their birth.

American paediatrician William Sears stated that these 5 activities form the basis of Attachment Parenting: Bonding at Birth, Breastfeeding, Babywearing, Bed Sharing & Being Responsive. Where I struggle with the 5 Bs of attachment parenting is when the nuance leaves the building & they become dogma instead of information/suggestion. Some have taken these too far by saying that if you simply follow these principles, you & your child would form a happy & secure attachment.

Alan Sroufe, developmental psychologist & attachment researcher for over 40 years, says it best: “Attachment is not a set of tricks”. Instead it’s a relationship in the service of a baby’s emotion regulation & exploration. It is the deep, abiding confidence a baby has in the availability & responsiveness of the caregiver.

The principles of Attachment Parenting are great, but they’re not essential. There’s no evidence that they predict a secure attachment. The only one of the of the 5 Bs that has been shown to predict a secure attachment is being responsive.

What were the first few hours after birth like for you?

References: Anderson et al 2003; Divecha 2017; Bigelow 2020

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