You’ve probably heard about how important it is to develop a bond with your babies. But you might be confused by the finer points of bonding with multiples. Is it possible for a parent to bond with two babies at once? What happens if you start feeling a bond with one baby, but not with another? Well, don’t worry – all of these questions are normal for parents of multiples.
Postpartum depression and bonding
Before we get into bonding with multiples, it’s important to mention the relationship between postpartum depression and bonding problems between a mother and baby. Nearly 1 in 7 mothers in the US develop postpartum depression. And having multiples actually increases a woman’s risk for the condition, as mothers expecting more than one baby are actually more likely to experience postpartum depression. The condition can affect attachment between mothers and babies. It’s best for new mothers to remain aware of the risk factors and symptoms of this condition, so that they can start treating the condition right away if it starts to develop.
Many new mothers feel anxiety, loneliness, or sadness after they’ve given birth, and it’s not uncommon to need time to develop a bond with your babies. Most women who experience these things don’t have postpartum depression. But if you think that postpartum depression could be a factor, make sure to talk to your healthcare provider about this so that you can start treating the condition and forming healthy attachments with your multiples.
What is bonding, and why does it matter?
A strong bond between you and your multiples helps them learn to trust you, and helps them feel secure. Attachments happen differently for each baby and for many people, they don’t happen right away.
Forming a strong bond with the babies doesn’t mean that you are always with them, or that you drop whatever you are doing and respond to them immediately. It means that you learn how each one communicates, that you let them know you heard their cries even if you can’t help right away, and that both you and your partner spend some time alone with each baby nearly every day.
Is bonding with multiples different?
Bonding with your multiples isn’t that different from bonding with a single baby, but parents of multiples might have a slightly different experience with bonding since there are more children to divide their attention between, ans starting at the same time! Fully forming your attachments with your multiples might take you and your partner a little extra time and effort.
How can two parents bond with their multiples simultaneously?
The answer to this depends on the family in question – some methods might not work best for some families, and vice versa. But in general, there are some things that you and your partner can do to split bonding time with each baby.
- Split up tasks: If you’re usually the one who changes diapers, burps, and feeds the babies, start delegating some of those jobs to your partner. It’s hard not to feel close to a baby who’s gazing deep into your eyes during a bottle feeding!
- Schedule one-on-one time: It’s all too easy to get caught up in the daily routine of multiples, without remembering that they need alone time with you and your partner. So make it a habit to really find time to be alone with each baby.
- Stagger bedtimes: Some parents choose to stagger their babies’ bedtimes for this very reason, sending one baby to sleep a half hour after the first (and so on), so that one or both parents get some time alone with each multiple before it’s time for them to sleep.
What if one parent feels less close than the other does to the babies?
Many parents report that one partner has more success bonding right away than another, or that they’re worried about whether or not they’ll bond “right.” But the good news is that people bond with their children at different speeds and in different ways. And in time things do fall into place.
The solution to this problem is time. More time with the babies, that is. Maybe try letting the more involved-feeling partner take a ‘break,’ so they can relax while the other partner gets some time alone with the babies.
What if a parent feels more connected to one child and not the others?
It’s impossible to make things perfectly equal, so don’t hold yourselves to any unrealistic standards. Things are bound to be a little imbalanced. Just make sure that each parent has regular one-on-one time with the each of the babies. Soon you’ll get to know the babies and their needs as individuals.
Forming a healthy attachment with your multiples can take more time and energy than forming an attachment with a single baby. It can be stressful in the beginning, too. But what’s most important is that you set realistic expectations of how much you can do, while acknowledging that at this young age, your babies are relying on you to be heard and understood.
- “What is postpartum depression & anxiety?” American Psychological Association. American Psychological Association. 2017. Web.
- “Bonding With Your Baby.” KidsHealth. The Nemours Foundation. June 2015. Web.