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Mother Baby Bonding, Mother Fetus Bonding

                                                      The Bonding Edition


What is a mother? Some definitions include:

  • The female parent
  • To mother is to bring up a child with care and affection
  • “a mother understands what a child does not say”
  • “Motherhood has the greatest potential influence in human life”
  • “a beetle is a beauty in the eyes of his mother” J

What is bonding?

  • Must be attached first to bring up a child with care and affection.
  • Bonding is the formation of a close human relationship
  • Emotional and physical attachment between mother and offspring

There are two important bonding types to consider:

  • The first is maternal-fetal bonding or when a women is pregnant with the developing baby
  • The second is mother-baby bonding or bonding with baby after delivery


Maternal fetal bonding spans three semesters:

  • The first trimester includes adjusting to the idea of pregnancy
  • Most report ambivalence
  • May experience nausea, vomiting, fatigue and this may amplify anxiety
  • During the Second trimester the baby’s movement is felt
  • You may start thinking about who this person could be
  • You start thinking about the baby as separate from self
  • The Third trimester includes getting ready for baby’s arrival
  • Prepping for labor or surgery
  • Most experience fatigue

Mother-Baby Bonding
-acceptance of baby as a whole and no longer just an idea
-may be some attachment concerns with difficult deliveries (PTSD)
-or if delivery did not go as planned, like planned water birth and ended up with forceps delivery - or epidural during labor or c/s etc
- or if baby ended up in NICU
-or if preterm delivery

Mother-Baby Bonding

- perinatal time is one of identity shift
- from own entity or person to mother of 1
- Identity is fluid, could be shift from mother of 1 to now mother of 2
- Bonding impacted by historical family relationships (mother was idolized or not?)

Why do we care about bonding?

- early attachment relationships between mom and baby improve baby’s psychological, cognitive, and social development
- attachment styles impact how the baby interacts with humanity in the future
- A mother who is bonded with her baby will try to know, protect, interact with, and meet the needs of her baby

What impacts bonding?

Social Support:

  • Protective against stress & challenges
  • Help with planning for baby’s future
  • Allows for better adjustment to motherhood
  • Could be partner, family of origin, close friends

Self Esteem:

  • Optimistic beliefs improve bonding
  • Happy with appearance or self image improves bonding
  • High sense of wellbeing
  • Prepared for baby

Mental Health:

Depression decreases bonding (inverse relationship)

Some studies anxiety decreased bonding

Hollywood Bonding Versus Bonding in Reality

  • I had Hollywood bonding with my second
  • Maybe wisdom from having first
  • Knew what to expect
  • Knew that systems could be built to organize care


  • With my first baby I was isolated
  • It felt harder to bond
  • It was comforting to know that Good to know bonding is a lifelong process
  • Not a “one moment” or one time event
  • Also, first pregnancy related to increased pregnancy stress


Pro Tips

  • Never walk alone, social support protective
  • If history of depression or anxiety stay on treatment or get treatment
  • If you notice difficulty in bonding postpartum TELL PROVIDER
  • The good news is that there is HELP
  • Thank you so much for your time and wisdom.
  • I believe you are joining us for a show on how to choose a great therapist
  • Thank you for listening
  • Your host Judith Wafe of The Fourth Trimester NP


Lydia’s Book Recommendations :-

  1. Parenting with PTSD by
  2. A Nation of Wimps by


Anxiety scale. Discuss score with healthcare provider.

GAD-7 (General Anxiety Disorder-7) - MDCalc

Depression Scale. Discuss score with healthcare provider.

PHQ-9 (Patient Health Questionnaire-9) - MDCalc


                                                                        Guest Bio

Lydia Moore Allen is the Founder and CEO of Se-ReNew Therapy & Consulting Services LLC.

She has been in the mental health field for almost 20 years. Lydia is a Licensed Clinical Social

Worker, Certified Master's Level Addiction Professional, Certified Parenting Instructor and

Qualified Supervisor. Lydia provides counseling for individuals, couples, families and

supervision for registered MSW Interns. She also offers comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluations

for Immigration Court for Hardships, Violence against Women (VAWA), U-VISA (for

immigrants who were victims or witnesses to a crime in the U.S) and T-VISA (for victims involved in human trafficking. Lydia has dedicated her years working with individuals, couples and families facing life changing challenges, including addiction, marital/relationship conflict, mental health imbalance and parenting hurdles. She has experience working in residential and partial-hospitalization settings with clients of varying cultural, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Lydia is transparent and compassionate while collaborating with her clients to achieve their

goals. Furthermore, she dedicates time as a Board Member for Phoebe’s Fortress Non-profit

Organization in Miami, Florida. Her commitment to Phoebe’s Fortress is geared towards

supporting and equipping young ladies aging out of the foster care system with skills to advance

into adulthood.



McNamara, J., Townsend, M. L., & Herbert, J. S. (2019). A systemic review of maternal wellbeing and its relationship with maternal fetal attachment and early postpartum bonding. PloS one14(7), e0220032


Smith, K. (2021). How to choose a therapist? Retrieved from How to choose a therapist | Psyche Guides


Symes, E. (2017). The transition to motherhood. Psychological factors associated with pregnancy, labour and birth. Retrieved from The transition to motherhood: Psychological factors associated with pregnancy, labour and birth | APS (




Disclaimer: The primary purpose of this podcast is for private, non-commercial use. It does not constitute medical or professional advice.