Breastfeeding Beyond Nutrition – The Psychological Impact of Bond

By      02-Aug 2020       Reading Time: 8 Mins

Breastfeeding Beyond Nutrition – The Psychological Impact of Bond

One of the best ways to promote your new bond with your baby is through breastfeeding. Breastfeeding, while providing unbeatable nourishment to your infant in those first few months, is by far the best way to start bonding between a mother and her baby. Your physical presence provides the comfort of skin-to-skin contact while showing your baby that you are there to care for them, no matter what. Breastfeeding reduces the likelihood of mental health problems and addictive behaviours later in life.

How Does Breastfeeding Promote Bonding?
Breastfeeding releases several different hormones—from mom and baby—that promote mothering behaviour and the formation of a strong bond between the two.

It’s not just the act of feeding, or just the milk itself, that helps build a bond. The overall closeness that is needed to breastfeed increases happiness and gives reassurance of their dependency on you.

Skin-to-Skin Contact
One of the main reasons why breastfeeding promotes bonding is because of the large amount of skin-to-skin contact that is involved. Skin-to-skin contact increases the levels of oxytocin in both mom and baby, which in turn increases positive hormonal interactions.

The main effect of immediate skin-to-skin contact revolves around the production of hormones. When it occurs within an hour of birth, it helps your baby produce the natural reflexes needed to find your nipple and begin breastfeeding.

Oxytocin is a hormone that helps to enhance your overall mothering behaviors and instincts. This means that you’ll be more conscious to your baby’s needs and you’ll learn to respond faster and more efficiently to their behaviors. Oxytocin also has an anti-anxiety effect that helps promote comfort and proximity.

Skin-to-skin contact is good as it decreases anxiety, promotes a sense of calming, increases overall happiness, maintains body temperature, heart rate, and even breathing. All of these advantages provide a sense of trust and nourishment, which are building blocks to a strong bond.

  • Improves Sleep
    The calming hormones produced in mom and baby during breastfeeding help illicit a sense of deep sleep. This sense of calming that comes from the hormones being released builds trust and increases the comforting bond between a mother and her baby.
  • Comfort breastfeeding
    When your baby gets upset, breastfeeding provides comfort and calms them down. This builds a strong bond and further encourages a closeness that only arises from breastfeeding. The soothing act of breastfeeding reduces pain and promotes healing.
  • Scent and Voice Recognition
    Since breastfeeding occurs in such close proximity, your baby will soon start to learn and recognize your unique scent. Speaking softly while breastfeeding also strengthens the voice bond that you’ve built while your baby. Over a period of time, your baby will be able to easily differentiate your smell and will find comfort in the familiarity of it.

The ABC of Breastfeeding
There are three things that will help you master the art of breastfeeding and they are awareness, being patient, and comfort.

  • Awareness
  • Awareness includes understanding the signs that your baby shows when he or she is hungry. Babies require a lot of nurturing in the first few weeks and will need to be fed almost constantly. While this will be intimidating at first, you’ll begin to learn your baby’s hunger cues, making it easier to tell when it’s time for a feeding.
    Some common cues are when infants move their hands toward their mouths, make suckling noises, move their mouths, or move towards your breast. Try and catch these cues before they begin crying, which is mostly an indication of extreme hunger.

  • Being Patient
  • Let your infant tell you when they’re done nursing and stay calm if it takes a while for them to latch in the beginning. Soon, it will become natural to both of you. Generally infants are nursed for roughly 10 to 20 minutes on each breast during each feeding.

  • Comfort
  • Finally, don’t forget to give yourself a break. Think of breastfeeding with comfort in mind and relax. Doing so will help your feedings flow well and give you a little break from the fast-paced life that a baby brings.

Advantages of Breastfeeding
In addition to the bonding that accompanies breastfeeding, there are a number of benefits for both mom and baby. Breastfeeding is an inexpensive way to feed your baby that boosts its health for a lifetime. Breastfeeding is a perfect way to establish a strong and healthy connection for your baby.

  • Since, breast milk contains a number of antibodies, anti-viruses; anti-allergens, and anti-parasites, breastfeeding builds your baby’s immune system to be stronger and more resistant against a number of infections, obesity, chronic illnesses, and diseases.
  • Breastfeeding lowers the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by about half.
  • Improved intelligence levels and cognitive development have been known to develop in breastfed babies as they grow.

Over to you
There are a number of benefits that accompany breastfeeding, but the eternal bond that forms is something that will last a lifetime. It’s a psychological comfort that helps show your baby the safety that your arms provide. Breastfeeding encourages healthy emotions like understanding, love, protection, and emotional closeness that will help them for years to come. If you are having difficulty with breastfeeding, consult a doctor before giving up.

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"At Nmami Life, the meaning of good health is a combination of nutrition and fitness, which are essential to your well-being."
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Nmami Agarwal

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