School of Nursing
Maternal Newborn Bonding Postpartum
Medicine and Health Sciences
Baber, Kristen L., "Promoting Maternal-Newborn Bonding During the Postpartum Period" (2015). Senior Honors Theses. 538.
The bond between a mother and her newborn is one of strength, power, and potential. Several factors take place during the early postpartum period that can have a large influence on the bonding that occurs during this time. Oxytocin plays a vital role in the chemistry aspect of bonding, and its effects can be enhanced by a variety of techniques. Psychological theories such as the John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth’s Theory of Attachment and Erik Erikson’s developmental stage of trust versus mistrust can be applied to the bonding process. The abundant benefits of bonding for both mother and newborn are of extensive importance. Nurses and childbirth educators can promote the maternal-newborn bond through encouraging skin-to-skin contact, breastfeeding, eye contact, and newborn massage during the first postpartum hour. Common hindrances to the maternal-newborn bonding process include a preterm newborn, lack of support, maternal fatigue, a cesarean birth, and emotional stress. Personal testimonies from families who have experienced these barriers can be used to evaluate strategies for overcoming these barriers in a way that promotes bonding. It is recommended for hospital protocols to include an hour of uninterrupted skin-to-skin contact after vaginal and low-risk cesarean births in order to promote optimal maternal-newborn bonding.