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  • Writer's pictureMummy's Star

Bonding with your baby

Building a connection with your baby is vital but can be difficult while undergoing or following cancer treatment. Our Team has some tips to support you in building and maintaining your bond with your little one...

Sara says: "It's normal but not forever."

The practical and psychological effects of a cancer diagnosis, in pregnancy or shortly after giving birth, can disrupt plans and expectations, which in turn may affect the bond between you and your newborn.

Feeling that you aren’t bonding with your baby can be incredibly painful but is also totally understandable when you are also worrying about your own health. Other things that may affect how easy you find bonding with your baby include:

  • anxiety and worries over their health

  • appointments and hospital stays

  • isolation away from baby due to treatment

  • missing out on milestones or caregiving tasks

  • being physically unable to perform caregiving tasks

  • not being able to hold your baby (due to treatment/health)

Many of our mums and parents experience extreme guilt about the impact their cancer diagnosis may have had on their bond with their baby. We want to reassure you that, while this is normal, it also doesn't have to be forever. While some changes to your practical parenting may be inevitable, there is still lots you can do to build a strong and loving attachment, whilst taking care of your own health.

Fiona says "Prioritise your relationship."

There are simple things you can do at home, for low or no financial nor energetic cost that will help you to deepen the bond with your baby when you are home from treatments and feeling well enough:

  • If it's comfortable for you and your little one, make regular eye to eye contact while you are together; this can form a bond without the need for words or actions.

  • Talk, sign, smile and play with your baby as often as you can. A little something for a short time is far more impactful than doing nothing because you feel you can't give enough.

  • Make time and space for skin-to-skin contact. It has huge benefits for you and your little one, both immediately after birth and throughout the first year.

  • Delegate household tasks to friends/family/professionals to maximise time you can spend with your baby and prioritise your relationship.

Jenny says "Scent and sound are powerful tools!"

There are also things you can do whilst in hospital for treatments, to help maintain and grow your bond despite when you can't be with your baby:

  • Speak to your oncology team about the possibility of bringing baby onto the ward while you are having treatments, such as chemotherapy.

  • Use a tablet or smart phone to share video calls, even if your baby is very small; they will hear your voice which is recognisable to them from birth.

  • Leave a stuffed toy or pillow with your baby that has a small voice recorder inside, one on which you can record your own voice. This is also helpful in maintaining bonds with older children.

  • Leave a t-shirt or blanket that has been on your body for some time with your baby and, if possible, swap it for a 'new' one regularly so the scent stays strong. Your child will recognise your scent and be comforted by it.

  • Baby massage classes or baby swimming lessons may help strengthwn the bond between you once you are feeling stronger.

Mummy's Star can offer assistance with some of these options (such as providing voice recorders and potentially a grant towards a smart device or baby classes) A Mummy's Star Support Worker can offer you knitted bonding squares and can advise on unique ways to help you and your baby feel connected throughout your cancer journey.

Important note...

If you continue to find bonding with your baby difficult or painful for an extended period of time, please speak to your GP or any healthcare professional. You may be experiencing Post Natal Depression (PND) or some other psychological difficulty that is impacting your ability to bond. This is not unusual or anything to be ashamed of, it simply requires professional support to navigate.

To speak to your Information and Support Worker or to self refer for our support email


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