Kim Barlow-Miles Counselling

Mother and child separation - a cause for anxiety?

On Friday 1st April, I took part in a debate on Radio Nottingham’s Morning Show about the significance of mothers returning to work after baby is born, leaving fathers to do the nurturing.

My guiding text on this is Sue Gerhardt’s ‘Why Love Matters’ which explains how babies’ brains develop through the bonding with the primary caregiver, usually mother. The key to this is the emotional availability of the parent, expressed through caring touch, holding, eye contact and also verbally. The parent provides soothing for the infant, and he/she starts to internalise a model of how to do this, which becomes a template for life.

I do not feel that only the mother can provide this. Indeed if mother experiences severe post-natal depression, which in rare cases can lead to hospitalisation and thus seperation from baby, it is really important that the other parent, or another consistent person fills this gap.

Instinctively I feel that mother and baby are the ideal unit, especially given the researched benefits of breast feeding. However, if necessary, the other parent can offer the conditions vital for healthy emotional development. The key point is that the parent(s) are content in themselves because this seems to be communicated (absorbed) by the baby.

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