Mother & Infant Relationship

The growth of the mother-infant relationship is the key psychological process in caring for a newborn. Many women do not develop an immediate bond with their newborn infants, but experience a gradual increase in maternal love over the first few weeks. A disappointing lack of emotion, sometimes accompanied by a feeling of estrangement, is quite common and is not of great concern as it is almost always brief. However, some mothers develop a persistent aversion to the child.

New mothers can benefit from a psychologist’s support to help them bond with their infant if they encounter one of the following signs:

– Aversion for the infant (dislike, hostility, even hatred) which can result into negative associations around the child (he can be seen as bad, mean, or hateful)

-Avoidance of interaction with the infant: looking, talking, cuddling, playing, etc.

-Regret of giving birth, feeling of being trapped and burdened by infant care, and consideration of way to escape the situation (fostering, adoption)

-Secret wish for the infant disappearance (stolen, dead)

-Excessive irritation with the infant’s demands which leads to shouting, cursing or screaming, aggressive impulses and even rough treatment.

Assessment and clinical interview can help detect early bonding difficulty. Direct observation of mother-infant interactions are also required to explore the mother’s emotional responses and behaviors. Those sequences are filmed and reviewed with the mother to help her see them, understand what creates the problem and find ways to improve them. When mother and baby are calm, she is encouraged and helped to interact with him—to cuddle, talk, play, and bring out his smile and laughter. The guidance and reassurance of the psychologists’ support empower her to increase her responsiveness and sensitivity as a caregiver. The Interaction Guidance technic has a favorable outcome as the relation mother-infant grows through shared pleasure.

Dr. Elefant-Yanni
Senior Psychotherapist

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