Contributed by: Lizzie Langston
What do we as mothers want more than anything in the world?A healthy, strong connection to our baby. (Annnnd, possibly sometimes a nap.) ;)
Studies will tell you, a connection is vital for baby and so so helpful for mamma.
And yet, I remember when I had my first, I knew connection was important but I had no idea how to really create it. After spending a lot of time wondering if I was "doing things right", I finally have learned effective tools on how to strengthen connection.
In this article I’m going to show you how to actually create connection with your baby, and actually KNOW that you are creating it. So you can stop worrying about it, and start enjoying that baby more. Rest easy, mamma!
Knowledge is power, let’s walk through this.
First step is by understanding how to feel connection, or connected to baby.
How is Connection Made?
Often we think of “connection” with our baby like some sort of scientific thing… with neurons in the brain, secure attachment. . .
And honestly, there is truth to this. If you’d like, you can research it or check out this article on bonding with baby.
But when it comes to those of you who are postpartum mammas (I was three times), we tend to be nervous about this. Like, it feels so important to the overall outcome of our baby’s health, but it is somehow beyond our control. You either have connection or you don't.
Let's take a moment to simplify things. Here’s how you can think about this:
When it comes down to it, connection is a feeling.
(I know, my mind is blowing up still a little bit about this. Hear me out.)
“I feel connected to my spouse.”
“We’re just so disconnected…” (The person saying this feels disconnected)
Connection is a feeling.
And what creates our feelings?
I’m not a medical professional or a scientific expert. But one thing I’ve learned as a Life Coach and mom of three, is that
Thoughts cause feelings.
Feelings cause actions.
Actions cause results.
It’s that simple!
So in addition to using other important methods of connection such as breastfeeding and/or skin-to-skin time, you can also manage your thoughts to create the connection you desire.
This realization helps us to understand that “connection” with baby isn’t something completely out of our control.
Because connection is an emotion. So ultimately (on a non-scientific level), our thoughts create our sense of connection (or our sense of disconnection) to our baby.
Now, I know you’re like, “Okay, my thoughts create MY sense of connection... But what about my baby? Does he (or she) feel connected to me?”
For baby, vital signs, eating patterns and types of cries are really all we have to understand their connection.
But here’s the BEST secret: If mamma is feeling well connected, she is going to do all the basic things that will create connection for baby. (At the end of the article I’ll show you how to create a feeling of connection)
Permission to worry no longer.
It’s when we are losing our minds with WORRY about connecting with our baby, that we’re actually getting in our own way on that score! (An example of this at the end.)
What about Unexpected Trauma or Health Issues? Connection Then?
So the biggest concern I hear from moms is that their own health issues, or baby’s health issues, have “ruined” their chances of a 100% healthy connection.
Moms worry that because they couldn’t hold their baby as much (due to baby being in NICU, or mom having to undergo postpartum surgery, or postpartum depression symptoms), there isn’t a connection.
Or, I’ve even heard moms express concerns that maybe their attachment to their child isn’t sufficient, because the birth was stressful and baby and/or mom were in distress.
But, connection now is within your control.
Anything that happened to baby or to you in the hospital, or since you’ve come home from the hospital…
Including any tummy issues or surgeries or procedures baby has experiences, any mood swings you have experienced…
Cannot ‘take away’ or ‘mess up’ your connection.
Because, literally, your thoughts about baby, and your thoughts about your connection to baby, are what create your sense of connection to baby. Seriously. (I’ll show at the end.)
The most threatening thing to a mom’s connection with her baby, a mom’s belief that there isn’t a connection, or that there isn’t a good one.
Because what you believe to be true, will be true for you.
And when you truly believe you don’t have a good connection, you will not create one! You’ll be too devastated or sad or worried to do so!
If this is of extreme concern for you and you’re regularly in worry and despair about your connection with your newborn, I invite you to come book a consult with me and we can talk more about how coaching can help you create a solid, strong sense of connection with your baby.
One Last Example
I like to give my readers/followers take-home tools. Tools they can use when they’re not with me/my article, that will help them even more.
Obviously the ultimate awesome option is to have a coach in your back pocket (I offer Voxer mobile coaching and am in touch with my clients DAILY, which is literally like I’m in their back pocket!)
But for those who don’t have that right now, here’s what I want you to takeaway:
Any time you’re feeling like your connection with baby is lacking, or you’re worried about it, there is this tool that is basically like a calculator for our thoughts. Using this tool (The Model, created by Brooke Castillo), you can literally see how your thoughts are either creating or obstructing connection.
This tool is like a formula, you just fill in your own info:
Circumstance (things you can’t control. no opinion or feelings, just facts here -- )
Thoughts (just pick one)
Feeling (just pick the one that goes with the above thought)
Action (as many as you can think of-- what you do, what you don’t do)
Result (YOUR result. Can’t involve another person’s actions. The result on your side of things)
Any time you want to check a thought, put it in here and fill out the effects of the thought, then you can ‘calculate’ whether or not you want to keep it.
I’ll show you some examples of The Model, and how you can use it:
Example 1: A mom fears that she and her baby aren’t going to have a good connection because baby isn’t able to latch.
Circumstance: Baby attempts to latch onto breast, baby is unable to latch onto breast
Thought: “We aren’t going to have a good connection”
Action: don’t want to nurse, don’t want to see baby, have dad hold baby a lot more than I do, try to distract myself with other things, stop nursing, constantly sad when with baby.
Result: I prove this thought true by not doing the things that would foster connection
You can see in this model that the mamma’s thoughts about the circumstance of how well her baby is or isn’t nursing, is making it so that she’s doing things that aren’t leading to connection in other areas. Her thoughts are impacting her sense of connection now and in the future. See how the way you think about connecting with baby plays a role in your connection with baby?
Circumstance: Mom had a C-section. Mom had planned for an unmedicated delivery.
Thought: “We lost the chance to connect at birth because I was under anesthesia during delivery”
Action: mom continues to think about how unfortunate her birth experience was. During moments with baby, instead of engaging with baby she is zoned out replaying the delivery in her mind and feeling sadness.
Result: She is losing chances to connect now.
Important to note: it is not wrong to feel sadness. It’s just interesting to see that when this mamma thinks the thought, “We lost the chance to connect at birth…”, she loses chances to connect now. Our thoughts determine how we do things.
I hope this helps.
Our thoughts are everything. They’re like molecules. Whether we see them or not, they are there, playing out and creating our feelings, actions and results.
Great news is, thoughts are 100% changeable and trainable. Use The Model above to get yourself started on getting the result you want.
My challenge to you: In the next 24 hours, try noticing what your thoughts are. Put a hypothetical ‘microphone’ up in your brain and just start listening! See what thoughts you find up there! Then, take three or four and put them in this Model, see what they’re doing for you.
This is called mental awareness, and it will help you feel more in control over your life and results! (And more connected to your baby. [Ahhh. Sigh of relief.]
It may not always feel like it, but you can change your thoughts, and therefore your feelings. You can improve your connection to your baby, it all starts in your mind.
Happy connecting, mammas.
-Lizzie, The Postpartum Coach
Lizzie Langston is a mom to three kids, wife to a bearded hunk, and an AZ native living in Denver. After struggling twice with postpartum anxiety and depression, and after trying antidepressants, therapy and postpartum support groups, Lizzie found healing through the cognitive-based tools of Life Coaching. In 2018 she became a Certified Life Coach and now offers remote, flexible coaching for moms in postpartum struggle. She’s absolutely passionate about helping moms stay afloat mentally and emotionally postpartum.
*This article was created for informational and educational purposes. The content in the article represents the views and opinions of the author. The information is not intended to replace advice or treatment from your medical professional.