After carrying your baby for nine months, it’s no surprise you love them more than you could ever imagine. There are millions of reasons you’re head over heels for your baby. From the bonding you felt during pregnancy to finally looking into their perfect eyes (not to mention those little toes, that chubby belly, and impossibly soft hair)! But did you know that hormones play a huge role in the deep connection the two of you feel for each other?
Oxytocin – The Love Hormone
Giving birth actually changes a mom’s brain chemistry, increasing the desire to nurture. During labor, birth, and the minutes and hours afterward, your brain releases high levels of the powerful hormone oxytocin – also called the “love hormone” because it is responsible for bonding patterns and intimacy.
This surge of hormones creates a feeling of euphoria and helps further develop a strong bond with baby. In short, oxytocin helps makes you a mom!
The Golden Hour
Several things are happening during this magical time. Elevated oxytocin levels cause a mother’s senses to become intensified, allowing you to connect with the smell and feel of your baby. In fact, you will prefer the smell of your baby over all other babies. Likewise, your child becomes attracted to your scent and begins to associate the feelings of calmness and pain reduction with being close to you.
This is a key time to begin breastfeeding. Not only are babies attracted to their mom’s breasts, but your intense hormone surge will also help stimulate milk production. Skin-to-skin contact and your baby’s suckling also release hormones that help the uterus contract following birth.
In the past, this “golden hour” of bonding time often took a backseat to medical procedures like weighing, measuring, and immunizations. But more and more, health care providers are beginning to recognize the benefits of allowing this special time to be spent between mom and baby. Be sure to ask your doctors and nurses in advance about your wishes to hold your baby and begin breastfeeding right away.
What If I Miss the Golden Hour?
Sometimes, the extreme stress of childbirth can leave a mother feeling exhausted and the initial connectedness may not set in until the stress subsides. It’s ok! Bonding does not have a time limit. Over time, you will learn how to soothe and enjoy your baby, and your feelings will deepen. Every relationship is different, so have faith that you’ll develop one that fits you and your baby just right.
Additionally, if you delivered via C-section and are sedated during the delivery, or if your baby needs immediate medical attention, don’t worry. Often your baby can be moved to your chest shortly after you and/or your baby are stabilized. If this is impossible, remember your relationship will still thrive even if you didn’t have an opportunity to bond immediately. You’ll quickly be spending an incredible amount of time together and before you know it you’ll begin feeling the intrinsic joy and devotion you have for your little one.
We love hearing stories about how you and your baby formed a special bond after birth! Share your unique bonding experiences in the comments section below.