Gestational carrying is rare. Between 1993 and 2013, only 18,400 infants were born with the assistance of a gestational carrier.
Because it doesn’t happen every day, it can be difficult for parents who had their baby with a gestational carrier to find information about bonding. This can make new parents feel isolated, alienated, and concerned about their relationship with their newborn.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to bond with your newborn whether you carried them personally or not! No matter how your baby was brought into this world, they are still your baby and you are still their parent.
Read on for 8 great ways that you can bond with the newborn that was carried gestationally.
- Make Eye Contact During Feeding
Some new mothers worry that bottle-feeding will not create the deep bond they want to build with their newborn. The truth is, feeding is a great time to bond whether you’re breastfeeding or using a bottle. Feeding time is an important routine that shows your newborn that you are there to protect and nourish them.
To increase that bonding feeling, gaze into your newborn’s eyes. Don’t feel discouraged if they don’t immediately return the eye contact. Just continue to make sure that the option is there if they do look up at your smiling face.
- Co-Sleep the Safe Way
Co-sleeping is often confused with bed-sharing, something that many baby experts do not recommend. Bed-sharing is not always safe, especially if you or your partner fall into a deep sleep and become unaware of your surroundings. Safe co-sleeping, on the other hand, is a great option for parents who used a gestational carrier.
To co-sleep, place your newborn’s crib or bassinet next to your own bed. When it is time for baby to sleep, you may want to get some shut-eye, too. Allowing your newborn to sleep nearby, where they can hear your breathing and feel your presence, will create a wonderful bond.
- Use a Baby Carrier
Just because you did not carry your newborn for nine months does not mean that you can’t experience that physical contact and intimacy. In the early months, consider using a baby carrier rather than a stroller.
These baby carriers keep your newborn close to your chest, where they can feel both your heartbeat and the rhythm of your breath. This is not unlike the sensation they would experience in the womb!
- Respond to Crying
Some new parents worry that responding to every cry will “spoil” their baby or create too much dependence. In the early months, however, this isn’t something you need to worry about.
Instead, try to respond quickly when you hear your newborn crying. You may not always guess what they need from the moment you pick them up and that’s okay. Checking for things like a dirty diaper, hunger, and overheating will create feelings of trust that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives.
- Make Use of Your Rocker or Glider
Once again, holding your baby close to your chest is a wonderful bonding mechanism. Skin to skin contact creates the comfort they need as they get used to life out in the world.
Before a nap or bedtime, rock your baby as often as you can. It may take some practice to get them smoothly from your chest to the bassinet, but you’ll become a pro in no time.
- Learn Your Baby’s Language
Some new mothers claim that they understand every cry, squeal, and facial expression from the moment their baby is born. Don’t let that intimidate you–chances are, those first few weeks are filled with lucky guesses.
That being said, if you pay close attention, you’ll probably start to pick up on patterns. Recognizing the different signs of discomfort and what they mean will help you to address your newborn’s needs with speed. Recognizing signs of joy will help you learn what makes your baby smile and coo, which means that you can produce those happy responses more often!
- Talk and Laugh
Babies love human faces, especially the faces of their caretakers. They also love human voices, and the more they hear them, the better they become at vocal recognition and even mimicry!
When you’re with your newborn, don’t be afraid to talk in complete sentences. If you’re taking a walk through the park, tell them about the trees and clouds and bumblebees buzzing in the flowers. Point out dogs and cars and other eye-catching objects.
When your baby does something funny, laugh! Babies adore the sound of laughter and often start to giggle at the sound of it.
- Remind Yourself That Using a Gestational Carrier Is Not Stunting
The most important thing to remember during this bonding process is that it’s going to happen. Avoid taking little things as signs that your baby doesn’t feel connected to you. Whether you carry them, yourself, or use a gestational carrier, there will be times that you cry when you pick them up or use their little arms to push away–and it’s nothing personal.
If you begin to feel doubt, reach out to your partner and other members of your support system. There is no shame in asking for reassurance. When you focus on your own confidence in your ability to bond, the rest will come naturally.
Enjoy Quality Time with Your New Baby
The key to all of our tips is quality time! Using a gestational carrier was a wonderful and brave thing that you did in order to bring your baby into this world. Now, it’s time to get to know your baby just like any other mother!
Do you have more questions about motherhood? We’ve got answers! Take a look around at our other posts and let us know what you think!