unconditional love

Mother & Infant Relationship

The mother-infant relationship is a key psychological element in the healthy development of a newborn and the foundation of unconditional love.

Many women do not develop an immediate bond with their newborn infant. Rather, they experience a gradual increase in maternal love for their baby over the first few weeks.

It is quite common to feel a disappointing lack of emotion, sometimes accompanied by a feeling of estrangement. It usually isn’t something to be concerned about as it is temporary. However, some mothers develop a persistent aversion to their children.

A mother’s relationship with her own caregiver is reflected in this new relationship with her baby. As the mother and her baby build their bond, both the past experience of the mother and the baby’s present experience influence their interactions.

A psychotherapist can help a mother understand where her beliefs, stories, and thinking patterns affect her relationship with her child.

When these are negative, they can create a negative environment where sleeping, feeding, playing or stimulation become difficult experiences for both of them.

Mother & Infant Relationship

Mother & Infant Relationship FAQ

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) can result in 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 fatasizing of ways to escape the situation (expl. fostering, adoption).
  • Secret wish for the infant’s disappearance (expl. stolen, dead).
  • Excessive irritation with the infant’s demands leading to shouting, cursing or screaming, aggressive impulses, and even rough treatment.
  • Being constantly anxious about the baby, although nothing seems wrong with it.
  • The infant excessively tries to elicit positive interactions from a mother who isn’t mentally available.

A baby’s behavior is partially due to its environment and how it feels. Some signs that an infant is lacking a feeling of well-being and bonding with its mother or parents include:

  • Issues sleeping, waking up too frequently, or not enough.
  • Rejecting the breast or refusing to let go of it.
  • Appearing sad, withdrawn, anxious, or restless.
  • Constantly clinging to their mother or caregiver.
  • Avoiding eye contact with their mother or caregiver.
  • Excessively seeking attention or trying to elicit positive interactions from their mother or caregiver.

Yes. The mother, father, or both parents together can benefit if their relationship with their newborn isn’t a happy positive one. As the baby comes into the world, both the father and mother are born as parents.

Parent-infant psychotherapy is a type of supportive therapy. The goal is to help the parent and child feel good and benevolent about themselves and their interactions.

Assessment and clinical interviews can help detect early bonding difficulties and deploy Interaction Guidance technics. A lot of clues will come from the way mother and father describe their interactions and beliefs about their baby and their relationship.

Video observation of mother-infant interactions is also important to explore the mother’s emotional responses and behaviors to the newborn. The mother can film her exchanges with her child, for example when putting her baby to sleep or during feeding time.

These videos are then reviewed by the therapist and the mother so she may see and understand how some of her own behaviors can cause discomfort or malaise to her infant. Then with the support of her therapist, she can explore the underlying issues, thoughts, and beliefs that lead to these problematic behaviors to fix them.

In addition, when mother and child are calm and feeling relaxed, it’s important to create positive interactions. The mother is encouraged to cuddle, talk, and play with her baby and make it smile and laugh.

The guidance and reassurance from her psychologist empower the mother to become more responsive and attentive as a caregiver. The Interaction Guidance technic enables the mother-infant bond to grow through shared pleasure.

Have more questions?

For more information or questions contact us.

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