Bonding with Your Baby

The Breast Choice

2. Consider the breast choice. "Providing food for another person is a fundamental way of showing love and affection," says Molly Kimball, RD, a nutritionist at Ochsner Clinic's Elmwood Fitness Center, in New Orleans, Louisiana. According to a recent Canadian study, breastfeeding enhances bonding between mother and infant. It is an opportunity for the two of you to sit quietly together, touching and snuggling for 20 minutes 8 to 12 times a day. "I found breastfeeding helped me with bonding," says Kathryn Kelleher, of Washingtonville, New York, mother to Ryan, 2. "I had the ability to nourish and soothe my baby, and that gave me confidence and a connection to him that no one else had."

The practice helps with bonding on a physiological level too. "Breastfeeding stimulates hormones in the mother that facilitate that love affair or bond," says Dr. Brown. Oxytocin, known as the "bonding hormone" or "mothering hormone," together with prolactin, help create a feeling of calmness and an intense need to be with the baby in nursing mothers. "The presence of these hormones is higher in moms who breastfeed exclusively," says Austin, Texas-based lactation consultant Linda Hill, RN. But if breastfeeding doesn't work for you, rest easy: "Newborns bond with adults who they can trust to take care of them," says Dr. Brown.

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