Love and Bonding Through Nursing: Oxytocin and Connection

Baby nursingBreastfeeding is an excellent way to help new parents bond with their babies. Recently on the New Beginnings Facebook page, we asked followers to share how breastfeeding helped them to love and connect with their babies. We’ve put together some excerpts from that discussion in this week’s story. You can join in on future discussions and follow along here.

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding (8th Edition), the legendary La Leche League guide to breastfeeding, offers insight into bonding and the hormones produced in lactation:

“You probably heard plenty about the nutrition and immunities in human milk. But if you talk to most experienced breastfeeding mothers, they’re more likely to focus on the way breastfeeding helps you and your baby feel connected and attached to each other, weaving an emotional cord to replace the umbilical cord. It’s all part of the way Nature encourages us to take care of our babies and transition from birth. There’s a surge of hormones in your body every single time you breastfeed that makes you feel loving and nurturing. These hormones, prolactin (pro-LAK-tin) and oxytocin (ox-ih-TOE-sin), not only foster a connection with your baby, they also help you recover from the emotional and physical stress of birth. Without these hormones, mothers tend to talk to their babies less, interact less, touch less.”

In our Facebook discussion, Gail A. commented: “Breastfeeding gave me the hormonal advantage of oxytocin. I had always planned to return to my demanding career as a clinical laboratory scientist. I loved breastfeeding so much and felt so strongly connected that I decided to quit my career to be with my baby ALL the time.”

The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding also discusses the importance of breastfeeding as more than just a way to meet your baby’s nutritional needs. Nursing helps to foster a bond that lasts a lifetime.

“Breastfeeding is a connection as well as a food source, a baby’s first human relationship, designed to gentle him into the world with far more than just immune factors and good nutrition. It’s a way of mothering your baby—a relationship that develops feeding by feeding, building trust, closeness, knowledge of each other, and a deeply connected attachment that lasts long after weaning.”

Roberta N. shared her story of connecting with her first baby. She said, “I was adopted. When I had my first child, this was the first human being that I was biologically connected to and I marveled in that. Breastfeeding made us much more closely connected.” You can read her complete story in the linked resources below.

Many parents shared how nurturing their baby by nursing promoted attachment through the gazes and smiles of their nursling. For many parents, this connection offers a way to understand and meet baby’s needs.

Marisa F. described the way that she found nursing helped her learn to respond to her baby. “I loved that breastfeeding was the answer to every ‘What’s the matter?’ Is she hungry, thirsty, tired, sick, needing to poop? No need to worry or wonder! Breastfeeding meets many of these needs! I honestly don’t know how I would’ve survived the early years without breastfeeding.”

Jamie C. breastfed twins and explained how the three of them connected through nursing. “I breastfed my twin girls simultaneously. I loved looking at both of them, watching them look at each other, touching each other’s hands. Four big, blue, trusting eyes looking into mine. So much love.”

Does breastfeeding help you feel connected to your baby? We’d love to hear from you! Share your stories with Kylie at [email protected]

More stories about bonding here:

Supporting Breastfeeding Families–Today, Tomorrow, Always

Donate now hart

Please consider donating to La Leche League USA.
Your gift helps support this blog and the website!

Donations of any amount are gratefully accepted. Thank you!

Follow us on: