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Delayed Attachment

Self-attachment in the first hour of life does not always happen. Delayed attachment refers to similar maneuvers that occur after the first hour but within the first two weeks of life. Here are four ways to foster delayed attachment.

Benefits of Skin to Skin Attachment

Research has indicated the value of skin to skin contact for the first hour of life, producing enhanced maternal infant bonding, decrease in infant crying several months later, and increase in duration of breastfeeding. However, there is no reason to become fatalistic and feel that the relationship is doomed if self-attachment fails to take place in the first hour.

Granted, the first hour is the optimal time considering the heightened awareness of the infant at that time. However, an adaptive response if that period was missed is to use delayed attachment. Delayed attachment fosters that relationship through skin to skin contact between mother and infant in the first weeks of life.

The breast crawl of the neonate lasts for several weeks. As soon as possible, the mother should try to reconnect with her baby by promoting attachment with skin to skin contact, gentle fingertip stroking, gazing, and gentle talk. There should be no clock, and no hurry. Eliminate unpleasant noises and unsupportive individuals.

Methods to Promote Delayed Attachment

Lie Skin to Skin

The first method promoting self-attachment after the first day of life is simply to lie skin to skin with the infant, just as they might have immediately after the birth had that scenario unfolded. The infant will rest comfortably on the mother. Skin to skin contact stimulates the baby's hunger just as smell stimulates an adults hunger. He or she will begin to move toward the breast when ready.

This promotes bonding, breastfeeding, and comfort for the baby.

Kangaroo Wrap

Another method is to promote attachment is to use the Kangaroo Wrap. It was first designed for use with preterm infants.

In this case, the baby wears only a diaper and is placed skin to skin on Mommy’s tummy with her head between the breasts. A sheet or rebozo is wrapped around them both, with the top edge at the level of the babies ears, holding the two together.

The mother can wear a shirt or gown that opens in the front, that can cover her breasts but leave the baby’s head outside of her shirt. Mothers may walk around, sit up, or recline at a 45 degree angle.

Nesting Place

Mothers may also just sit skin to skin in their nesting place, allowing the infant to enjoy the surroundings and begin the latch when he is ready. Use the personal nesting items chosen, whether they are textiles, scents, or music.

The environmental nest should be conducive to a relaxed, enjoyable meal for the infant. In addition, it should be a calm place where the mother can enjoy sitting skin to skin with her baby.


Finally, another environment for skin to skin attachment is a warm tub. The mother holds the baby at breast level, with the body submerged but the face out of the water.

It is essential that she have another person on hand to take the baby when the two have completed their time together. Perhaps she may enjoy a luxurious solo bath after that.

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By Karen Newell Copyright 2003 - 2012 Better Childbirth Outcomes - All Rights Reserved
Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, USA