Ideally after a baby is born, it will spend at least the first hour bonding with mother, being laid on her chest and having eye to eye and skin to skin contact with her. Being fully present in this way allows a mother to form a bond and connection with her baby daughter. To a daughter the mother is her entire universe and when the opportunity for further bonding in early years is not available, it can seem like the daughter’s world has fallen apart. A baby cannot rationalise why her mother is not around to hear her cries and attend to her needs, this in itself is traumatic.
Following birth, the baby’s familiar environment changes from the comforting, warm womb and a sense of safety to a world of external stimuli. If the baby is taken away at birth without the opportunity to bond, it may result in the experience of separation anxiety which can play out again later on in life. The baby may also experience the very opposite of positive mother bonding i.e. the trauma of being touched by others in those first few minutes of birth, or indeed being touched by machines and aids used in childbirth. Birth separation is magnified when mother and daughter are not able to bond at birth. Many of these early birth experiences impact how we will relate to our mothers, other people and the world around us.
As infants, we never question the bond between ourselves and our mothers, it’s simply accepted. Intuitively, a child will be aware of conditional love and fear losing the bond if they do not comply with a mother’s guidance and direction. The bond can be both positive and negative and may be interchangeable as a child develops and both mother and daughter find themselves moving through periods of change in their relationship.
Some mothers, for a variety of reasons, are not able to bond with their daughters and from an early age the child may be passed to another mother figure or care giver. As a daughter matures, if the bonding process has still not formed, mothers may banish their daughters and expect them to be as independent as possible in caring for their own needs. Many daughters have shared how they were told not to cry, show feelings or ask for needs to be met. They have been embarrassed, shamed or made to feel guilty for wanting nurturance, affection and connection.
There is much pain shared amongst adult daughters, when their early search for love and affection was shunned. Unless healing takes place, the daughter may approach future relationships in the expectation that she will meet with rejection. Such a limiting belief could perpetuate the daughter’s ability to thrive in relationships.
She may go on to choose emotionally unavailable partners who unconsciously or consciously remind her of her mother. This becomes her comfort zone. It’s not always a happy place to be, but the emotional disconnect seems so familiar, this is the pattern her relationships follow. We can go through our whole lives trying to find a way to fulfil the unmet needs of childhood and even go to our graves believing we are unlovable.
Stay with me on this journey of understanding your mother and, you will transform the limiting beliefs you have about yourself. The series of blog posts shared as well as the content of Mothers and Daughters will aid you on your healing journey.