Looking Back: What Bonding Really Means

Bernadette Schaner, Ohio

Editor’s Note: “What Bonding Really Means” was originally published in the January-February 1990 issue of New Beginnings.

Baby looking in mother’s eyes while nursing People are instinctively drawn to a baby’s cute facial expressions and physical features. Proud parents and observers beam when they are able to elicit a smile on the baby’s face. As much as parents like to “show off” their precious baby, there are some emotions and responses a parent experiences that can never be duplicated for an audience.

Being a first-time mother and hearing the frequent hunger cries of my little son, I was surprised I didn’t feel the bond that I had read about so often in articles about breastfeeding. I felt that to my newborn I was just his food and little else. I felt I had to respond to his constant demands without an ounce of appreciation. But I’m so glad I did not give up. My sincere desire to give my son the best nourishment led me to continue breastfeeding. I’m glad I found La Leche League to get the support and information I needed to continue.

I soon learned that there was much more to breastfeeding than nutrition. One day I was nursing my three-month-old son when he stopped to reach out his hand and touch my face. He smiled and made a few gurgling sounds. His look was of wonder, awe, and pleasure. I just melted as tears ran down my cheek. This was the “bond” that I was beginning to doubt I would ever experience. Suddenly I began to realize many more advantages of breastfeeding.

At five months, the bond between Jason and me grew stronger and more varied each day. I could truly sense the verbal and non-verbal communication we had with each other. Jason would almost always hold my hand tightly while he nursed or else he would cling to my shirt. I would rub lotion on his skin or stroke his head while he nursed. Jason would stop nursing to look at my face and I would laugh at his expression. Other times Jason would look up, smile, and then “hide” by burying his face in my chest, almost like playing “peek-a-boo.” On some early mornings, Jason would fall asleep on top of me after he nursed. Now Jason is nine months old and we continue to grow and develop our special nursing relationship.

I look forward to the many new experiences I will share with my son. I am grateful for the support I have gotten from La Leche League and thankful that breastfeeding has helped me appreciate the wonderful bonding relationship.


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