On Wednesday, I was invited to speak to a group of local doulas, the Mt. Diablo Doula Community, about prevention of Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs), as well as how to recognize the disorders and how to help their clients. I hope the presentation might be helpful for doulas who are wanting more information about these disorders and what role they can play in keeping moms healthy and happy. You can access the Presentation Here. Attachments to the presentation are the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale and an associated Suicide Screening Interview.
People have a physiological reaction to the sound of a baby crying. Our hearts pound, our blood pressure rises, and we start to sweat. This reaction causes most of us to try to stop the crying, regardless of how tired, irritable, or hungry we might be ourselves. And that’s a good thing. It’s how our babies learn to trust that their needs will be met and that the world is a safe place.
But sometimes (often!) new parents wonder what the baby is trying to say? What does the baby need? We run around randomly, trying different remedies: jiggling the baby, rocking the baby, changing her diaper, offering a breast or the bottle, or a pacifier. And sometimes the baby still cries. We desperately want to eliminate the cause of the crying, and we become frustrated, angry or guilty when we fail.
Why Bonding with Your Baby Matters So Much
By Meri Levy, MFT
Attachment to one or more caring adults is the most important developmental task your baby will complete during the first three years of life. If this attachment is not achieved, a child will likely have lifelong problems in forming relationships.
Luckily, babies are very good at teaching us how to help them become attached. Their cries, their coos and smiles, and later separation anxiety help us to see how much our children want to be attached to us. Meeting a baby’s early attachment needs is what allows him to venture forth into the world and learn to be a separate human being, secure in the knowledge that he is loved and cared for.
Our attachment to our children is what causes the anxiety and worry about being a good parent and the drive to maintain our baby’s well-being. If a couple is arguing about the best way to care for their baby, it is a sure sign that they both are firmly attached to their baby, which is a good thing.
Attachment with your baby can bring up different feelings in different people. It can feel stifling or overwhelming, or is may be blissful and heart-warming, depending upon your own feelings about attachment. It’s helpful to be aware of these feelings and to recognize that by staying connected in a responsive way to your baby, you help him or her develop the ability to love others and nurture their own children when they grow up.
Our attachments to loved ones, including family, spouses and friends, are the fuel that helps us nurture our children. Make sure you don’t neglect your own attachment needs now that you’re a parent. If you are having difficulties in your adult relationships, focus more attention on those connections. Making your relationships with loved ones strong, and getting coaching or counseling if needed, can help maintain your own mental health and well-being as well as the well-being of your children as they grow.