NEW mums expect to bond instantly with their babies, but it can take up to six months for the “magic” to happen.
Nearly seven out of 10 mums think they are going to bond at birth with their bubs, but more than half find it takes much longer than that, a national survey of 500 women has found.
Lactation consultant Pinky McKay said baby bonding was “a bit like falling in love”.
“Sometimes it’s easy and sometimes it takes ages for the magic to develop,” she said.
Ms McKay, author of Sleeping Like A Baby, said a difficult birth often made it harder for mothers to bond.
“Often mums are exhausted after a scary birth, and with more births involving more intervention these days, there is often less contact with the baby initially,” Ms McKay said.
Research in the current Early Human Development journal shows women who undergo an emergency caesarean birth carry a “heavy psychological load” compared to women with natural births.
Ms McKay urged women not to expect too much too soon. “If you need to, fake it until you make it,” she said.
The national survey was commissioned by WOTBaby, an Australian smartphone app that acts as a personalised midwife for new parents.
WOTBaby founder Jen Hamilton, a mothercraft nurse, said advertising and movies were responsible for the assumption that bonding was automatic.
“Mums are depicted as forming an immediate bond, when in reality it can take much longer,” she said.
She said factors such as labour, health, support systems, relationships, personality and feeding affected bonding.
“In my experience, I generally find on average, mums truly bond with their child at four to five months,” Ms Hamilton said.
Lauren McGloin, of Richmond, said she was lucky she instantly bonded with her daughter Madison, who is now 10 months old.
“She’s been a beautiful baby. We didn’t know the sex before the birth and she was my second child,” she said.
“I was adamant I was going to be a mother of two boys so as soon as she came out it was just straight away — she was brilliant from the start. I held her for ages.”
Ms McGloin said Madison had begun smiling and giggling at about six weeks, which helped bonding. “Shewas just giving back,” she said.
Warragul mother-of-two Olivia White, 27, said her new-mum nerves affected her ability to bond instantly with first daughter, Annabelle, now two.
“I did have that hormonal rush of love but the bonding took a few months to come,” she said.
“It’s hard to bond when you are constantly worrying about everything and sleep-deprived as well.
“People talk about motherhood as if you just look into the baby’s eyes and everything falls away.
“But for me there was too much to worry about for this to happen”.