1. Skin-to-skin contact
“If mums feel they’re struggling to bond with their babies, they could try spending time with their baby cuddling skin-to skin,” suggests NCT antenatal practitioner Amy Delicate.
“Massaging baby or taking baths together may also help.” And remember that simply stroking your baby can help calm them, which might help if you’re struggling to bond because your baby is so fractious.
2. Talking to your baby
Just because your baby doesn’t understand what you’re saying yet doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk to them.
“As well as being the best way to help infants start to understand language, the sound of a parent’s voice can help soothe baby and give mums an avenue to express their emotions or simply talk about day-to-day activities, and it’s definitely a good way to help mums bond with their baby.
And it doesn’t just have to be talking.
“Another way to feel closer to your baby could be through boosting communication by reading them a storybook, singing songs, or by simply talking to them about what you’re doing as you go about your day,” advises Delicate.
3. Using a sling
The NCT suggests going for a walk with your baby in a sling, and talking to your little one as you walk, describing what you see. As well as the fresh air being good for you both, the physical closeness and communication will help strengthen the bonding process.
4. Don’t compare yourself to other mums
It’s easy to see or talk to other mums and think they have a closer bond with their baby than you have with yours.
But - especially if you’re communicating with mums on social media - remember you really have no idea what’s going on inside their heads. They might be struggling with bonding as much, or more than you. The NCT suggests that if you’re finding social media sites are making you feel inadequate, stop using them as “they never tell the whole story”.
And life coach, parenting expert and TV presenter Anna Williamson says: “Never measure yourself against anyone else - many women worry they don’t fit the Hollywood/Instagram mould of being a doting fully-bonded mother from the moment dot.”
5. Talk to others about your feelings
Remember you’re not alone and that a third of mums don’t bond with their baby immediately. But don’t keep how you feel to yourself, stress the experts.
“Most importantly I’d urge mums who feel like this to talk to other parents, a trusted friend, family member or health professional about how they’re feeling, to get much-needed support,” advises Delicate.
You could also try going to local groups like baby massage or breastfeeding groups, to help open up discussions with other mums.
Williamson adds: “If the feelings persist, it’s absolutely worth speaking to a professional such as your midwife, health visitor or GP to check there’s nothing underlying going on with regards to your mental and emotional health.
“Becoming a parent takes time, and nobody’s born with the same or particular set of skills. Like any love, it often grows as time goes on and as every parent is different, so is every child.”