Studies show that separating babies from mothers after birth doubles babies’ stress levels and impacts ability to feel empathy later. Read about the stress level study here and empathy study here.
P ost-birth separation is still pretty common in most Western countries, which is really interesting because our most fundamental ‘relationship rules’ – at least for when we’re adults – centre around making some kind of contact when meeting up with someone we care about. Thus we shake hands, hug, kiss, stand closer together than we would with a stranger, and so on. And when we fall in love, we want even greater physical contact.
So why is it that when we meet our children for the very first time, which is a type of falling in love, we are still expected to disengage from them?
Our children are are among the people we love the most, and probably the only people we will love unconditionally, and they will be a part of our lives for longer than most others, yet many mothers and fathers are not encouraged to embrace and be in close physical contact with their newborn child.
It would have broken my heart to not be able to hold and be close to my own babies after giving birth to them. And now we know such separation is stressful for the child (we’ve already known this for a very long time, but it’s nice to have scientific validation!).
We also know without a doubt (there are many studies you can look up) that the infant/parent bond, which needs to be nurtured and nourished and which involves prolonged physical contact, is critical for a child’s development in so many ways. Not only does physical contact and bonding (connection) affect physical (particularly brain), emotional and intellectual development, the bonding process also teaches the infant about how to relate with others, which will strongly affect the child’s future relationship experiences and the type of contact they are able (or not) to make with others (for instance, warm and personal, cool and impersonal).
The quality of the bond established and whether a child feels safe and cared for also affects its future ability to take care of its own vulnerablity, which has repercussions for feelings of security, happiness and even the ability to find fulfilment in life. And it affects how that person will take care of others.
Maybe as further studies are done, human beings will finally find it acceptable to nurture their young wholeheartedly and the world will become a better place.
See my book Enlightenment Through Motherhood for a light-hearted, entertaining and inspiring read on how our children can teach us so much about life, the universe and ourselves.
Learn about how connection works and why it is such a fundamental part of relationship.
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