In this blog-post, we will answer the question ‘Why am I so attached to my baby?’. We will try to deepen our understanding of postpartum bonding with a baby and how babies develop attachment styles. We will also look at some ways in which you can keep yourself in check and develop a healthy attachment with your newborn child.
Why am I so attached to my baby?
New parents are often found to be in a certain state of doubt and confusion if they are doing everything as per the book and their child is being given the best of all worlds. These doubts are about a variety of things- right from feeding schedule, products used on the child and for the child, medical visits, and vaccinations to the child achieving all developmental milestones in the right time and when the child should begin formal education parents tend to think and overthink about everything.
Amidst all this they also want their child to develop a healthy loving relationship with their infant. While they are so engrossed about everything to do with their child, often a question pops up in their mind: ‘Why am I too attached to my baby’ or ‘Am I too attached to my baby?’. Here are some answers to answer that question:
- You are not too attached
- Spending a lot of time together does lead to strong attachments
- Changes in the brain that explain why are you so attached
You are not too attached
There is nothing called as being “too attached” to your baby. Feelings of deep emotional attachment with your child are natural.
Very often elders and probably just anybody might come up to you and give you advice that you are too attached to your baby and it is unhealthy. They might say that you do not have to rush to the baby every time he/she cries, or you are holding your baby too much, etc. know that it is not abnormal to do so. It is in fact a good way to develop a healthy trusting emotional attachment with your baby.
A child needs to know that they are loved, appreciated and will be taken care of whenever they need. But also know, that the child needs to develop that trusting bond with others too. So do not prohibit interactions with the other parent, other caregivers, or close family and friends.
Spending a lot of time together does lead to attachment
When you spend a lot of time with anybody, it often leads to an emotional attachment. It could be with anybody, your parents, your friends, your spouse, etc. it is only natural to develop a strong attachment to your baby with whom you spend so much time living up to all the caregiving responsibilities plus have a lot of fun time with.
Changes in the brain that explain why you are so attached
A new mother’s brain goes through a lot of changes. The centers in the brain responsible for emotional regulation and empathy grow in size. The mother has an increased drive and motivation to do things for her baby.
Plus, there are increased receptors in the brain for neurotransmitters like oxytocin. The trigger of oxytocin leads to the release of breast milk which is meant for the child. So your brain connects the dots and needs you to go to your child every time the breasts are full.
Postpartum Bonding with baby: Things to keep in mind
Remember there is a learning curve to becoming a mother too. As your child is learning their best to adapt to the new environment out of your womb, know that you yourself are learning how to be the best possible version of yourself to this tiny human.
Don’t beat yourself up for not knowing how to be better, how to comfort your crying child, how to understand their signals, or what makes them gleam with joy.
Remember to respond to the child’s needs not to what your thoughts about what the child needs
Do you understand the difference between the two? A child that is born is an individual. Even though they cannot express verbally what they need and do not need, they have tools to express it in other meaningful ways.
When a child is uncomfortable with a wet nappy, they cry to let you know that it is uncomfortable. When a child is hungry they cry to let you know that they need food. When they are full and you still continue to feed them, they vomit or spit it out to let you know they have had enough food.
It takes time for the parents and primary caregivers to understand their child’s way of expression but it is not that difficult. Once you learn it, do not try to impose your understanding onto the child. It is okay to read the books but go by what your child needs. But as the child grows the needs change too. So, learn to adapt to the child’s needs.
What does the Attachment theory say?
Attachment theory explains how a bond develops between a caregiver (usually the primary caregivers that is the mother and the father of the child) and a growing child. It is a vast topic by itself, we will cover the core essence of it in this section.
Traditionally, psychologists believed that as long as the basic needs of the infant were met, that includes feeding and cleanliness, the child would thrive. Contemporary theorists believe that it is more about the emotional bond developed between the caregiver and the child that helps the child thrive.
It is through the acts of feeding, comforting, and cleaning that this bond develops. But during these “tasks” the kind of interaction the caregiver has with the child plays a huge role in the development. Babies can sense when their parent is being grumpy and when they are loving. Babies learn how to trust their parents and develop a sense of safety and security with them when they are taken care of very well.
Attachment theory understands that mothers are not and cannot be perfect. Though early on it is important that the child be catered to in every cry for help for the development of trust, the theory explains how the mother cannot go on doing so for an indefinite amount of time.
Whenever the mother (or the caregiver) slips even a little, it gives a chance for the infant to deal with the stressor. The child learns how to cope and adapt to not receiving immediate gratification. This makes the child become independent slowly and gradually. They learn that their needs may not be met immediately but they will soon be attended to. Children who have deep-seated trust in their caregiver learn how to accept guidance and discipline from you as an adult.
Attachment theory talks about responding to a need, not predicting a need, or ensuring that the need never arises. When the child feels secure with their caregiver’s way of caregiving they learn how to explore by themselves because they know that there is support available whenever they need it.
How can you help yourself?
If you find yourself becoming too attached to your baby, keep in mind the following things:
Educating yourself about what kind of attachment style is healthy can be beneficial. This blog itself is an example of how you can become more knowledgeable about facts about postpartum bonding, development of attachment with an infant.
Gathering facts also helps alleviate the stress caused because of confusion and doubt.
Being self-aware is always a rewarding experience. It is a deeply personal journey and requires a lot of patience, self-reflection, self-questioning, faith in oneself, and belief in one’s own ability to do better.
Give ample amount of care to yourself
Very often people complain about not getting enough help from people around them with caregiving duties which causes them to reach burnout. When I say ‘self-care’, how does it resonate with you?
Self-care means unwinding yourself when you are stressed or overworked, it means rewinding yourself when you feel ready to do more. It means honoring your needs, validating your experience, and being patient in the journey of life where there are lessons to be learned and joys to be experienced.
So do whatever it takes for you to be content. Give yourself a break from caregiving duties. Take a long nap, go for a massage or give yourself a massage, eat healthily, and exercise regularly. There is no limit to the number of things you can do to calm down yourself and at the same time motivate yourself.
In this blog-post, we answered the question ‘Why am I so attached to my baby?’. We tried to deepen our understanding of postpartum bonding with a baby and how babies develop attachment styles. We also looked at some ways in which you can keep yourself in check and develop a healthy attachment with your newborn child.
Frequently Asked Questions: Why am I so attached to my baby?
Do babies automatically love their mothers?
Yes, it would not be incorrect to believe so. Baby develop an emotional attachment with their mothers right from the time they are in the mother’s womb. When a pregnant mother takes good care of herself, talks to the baby, and is generally happy, the baby rejoices. An infant in the womb can sense stress and tension. Being taken care of well after being born drives the child to develop a sense of trust that the mother/parent is someone who they can rely on. When there is a change in the environment and the mother is not around the child for long, the child gets uncomfortable and upset because that reassuring affection is missing. This trust and affection can be termed as love.
Why my baby forget me if I leave him/her for a month?
No. Your baby will not forget you when you leave him/her alone for a while. When a trusting bond has developed with a caregiver, it is natural that the child learns to turn to that caregiver for their needs. It is important that the baby relies on more than one person so that they develop such trusting relationships with others too. Also, even if you do not leave them alone they will eventually grow and build relationships with others, which is important and healthy.
If you feel that the child is not responsive to you when you are back home after being away for a while, do not feel personally attacked. A baby has different moods and interests which influences their behavior. You can always go back to doing what you used to do with the child and be a part of their play circle again in no time.
What we recommend for Relationship & LGBTQ issues
- If you are having relationship issues or maybe you are in an abusive relationship then relationship counselling could be your first point of call. Relationship counselling could be undertaken by just you, it does not require more than one person.
If you are dealing with LGBTQ issues then LGBTQ counselling may be a great option for you. Maybe you are confused as to your role and identity or simply need someone to speak to. LGBTQ counsellors are specially trained to assist you in this regard.