Dr. Fran Answers Your Questions—On Bonding With A Newborn And Much More…
Posted: Monday, December 7, 2015 – 12:29 PM
Q. Dear Dr. Fran: My wife and I are expecting our first baby. What are some of the different ways to bond with your newborn infant? Jules S.
A. Dear Jules: Bonding and attachment occurs with newborns primary during feeding. Most often it’s the mother who feeds by breast or bottle. During feeding the eye-to-eye sustained, warm, adoring gaze builds attachment between mommy and baby.
Many new parents ask who is better at bonding and baby talk—moms or dads? The real underlying issue beneath your question “Are moms better at baby talk than dads?” is which of the two sexes is more comfortable allowing themselves to be more open and vulnerable publicly.
Generally, it is moms because they are of the female gender. That said, this issue is really individual specific. There are many sensitive, intuitive, empathic and emotionally vulnerable dads who are comfortable making a fool of themselves in public by talking baby talk with their young children. And, there are just as many cool to cold moms who would rather their husband talk baby talk than they personally expose themselves to possible public humiliation.
Baby talk originated as a fundamental way of mirroring the non-fluent or non-verbal infant and toddler to demonstrate that a warm, caring caregiver loves them and is trying to understand their experience, needs and wants.
Q. Dear Dr. Fran: Is it true that love is good for your heart? Thanks, Selwyn L.
A. Dear Selwyn: Loving and being loved lowers one’s blood pressure which benefits your heart health. Your heart gets good exercise when it goes “pitter-patter; and love has the power to reduce stress hormones.
Laughter makes blood flow more freely. Research done at the University of Maryland School of Medicine presented at the 2011 European Society of Cardiology conference found a link between mental stress and the narrowing of blood vessels, which can lead to atherosclerosis. Laughter and relaxation are excellent antidotes.
Holding hands with your beloved calms nerves and has a calmed effect on the heart and body. A positive attitude that comes with love is good for your heart.
Q. Dear Dr. Fran: Can you tell me some scientifically proven ways to stop worrying? I come from a family of worriers and I just can’t stop. Help! Jeannine C.
A. Dear Jeannine: To start with, here are my actionable tips:
• Avoid Negative People. While trying to keep a positive attitude, you must avoid people who thrive on negativity.
• Pay it Forward. When you feel overwhelmed, reach out and do something nice for someone else. Being generous in words and actions creates positive feelings for the doer and gets your endorphins flowing.
• Serious Self Care. Taking seriously good care of yourself is crucial to your happiness. This includes what you eat drink, think, how much you move your body, and how much you rest.
• Become an Observing Detective. When news is stressful, instead of reacting, panicking, or future tripping about what “could” happen, try to step out of the storm long enough to become an observer. Being an observer keeps you in a calm, slightly detached place, which helps you become more solution-oriented.
• Affirm what you want in your life. Take responsibility for what you hold in your mind. “Thoughts become things…choose the good ones!” (Guru, Mike Dooley) Keeping a positive attitude and seeing the glass half full is a habit.
Try a behavioral approach. Get a rubber band and place it on your wrist. Whenever you recognize a negative thought or reactive fear, snap the rubber band. This moment of discomfort will take your focus off of the fear and bring it to your wrist. This gives you the option to focus on your fear (what may happen) or replace it with a more optimistic view (what you want to happen).
Behavior Modification Therapy Groups are available (usually the best ones are found at teaching/research universities). You will meet others just like you and learn to apply the bullet-point listed above, as well as other useful techniques for intervention.
Second—the “Medication” issue. Many people can be helped by implementing the behavioral strategies. However, there are also many people who can’t do it alone. They need the kickstart of a low-dose of carefully prescribed anti-anxiety medication. All psychotropic medications should be prescribed by a well-trained experienced psychiatrist.
Every human-being is born with a neuro-biological constitution and predisposition. Some people can handle more stress while others simply can’t because they were born with an anxious temperament.
All this is to say that we are each unique and what works for one does not necessarily work for the other. Respect yourself. Be kind to yourself. If you need the help of medication have no shame. No one is perfect. The goal is to acknowledge, validate, and accept ourselves—flaws and all.
Fran Walfish is the author of The Self Aware Parent at www.Dr.FranWalfish.com. Send questions to Franwalfish@gmail.com