Amina had lived with her husband, Mr Mensah, for over 10 years, and they were blessed with three children. During courtship, Mr Mensah would be in the opposite corner of the house and would shout the various special names that he had given to her.
"Darling, are we going to the party today, or Darl when are we going out for shopping." More exciting and appealing names such as "honey", "sweat heart", and "forever" were some of the romantic words that easily flowed from Mr Mensah to the wife about 10 years ago. Today, Mr Mensah has forgotten all these romantic names.
"Is Kpakpo's mother in the house?" Mr Mensah would shout when he wants to talk to the wife as he comes home. Kpakpo is the name of the first child of Amina and Mr Mensah, and now the name "Kpakpo has replaced the special names that Mr Mensah used to call her.
Recalling the birth of Kpakpo!
It is widely accepted that a child is a blessing in a home. Parents are often excited to bring the baby home from hospital. Even though the husband might seem neglected temporarily, he also gets excited in his comer waiting for the outdooring and secretly telling the world that he is also a man.
Amina now recalls the birth of their first born, Kpakpo. He seemed so small and fragile, and Amina was worried that she would hurt the baby if she carried him. Righf after birth, Amina had these secret fears about handling the baby. The baby's cry got her nervous and she wondered how she could change the diapers if she was left alone with the baby.
The first minute she arrived in the house the baby soiled the diaper and Amina did not know what to do. She was getting upset watching the baby cry, and she had the feeling that she was a bad mother. She was not sure whether the baby wanted to suck on something or was just crying. "Could the baby be getting spoilt so soon, or she was making mistakes.” Unfortunately, Amina did not invite her mother to help her and thought the husband was enough to help.
Bonding of Kpakpo to Amina
Mothers easily get bonded to their children and sometimes men feel a bit jealous about this. Men can't breastfeed their babies, but there are many other baby chores that they could perform. If this aspect is not carried out adequately with the help of the woman, the man feels the child is for the woman and hence attaches the name of the child to her. It is, therefore, not surprising that many men in our communities call their wives by linking them to the names of their first children. For example, "Ama's mother", "Kofi's maame" to show that the child belongs to the woman.
What is bonding?
Any time a parent picks up the baby or sings him a song, the two are growing closer to each other. In addition, this helps the child feel safe and knows that the parent is prepared to spend time with him/her. To get closer to the child, parents need to hold the baby most often and cuddle him/her until he/she feels secure. This will not spoil the child, but will get him/her closer and with a feeling of belonging.
You should breastfeed the baby regularly and at any time he/she wants food or on demand. If, for one reason or the other, the mother cannot breastfeed, then hold the baby close to yourself when bottle feeding and look straight into his/her eyes. The man can also do this and this would increase the chances of bonding or togetherness. Babies cry very often and you might not know the reasons, but just go to him/her whenever he/she cries. This shows that you really care. Parents should not distance themselves from the baby, because the baby needs them badly, except that he/she cannot communicate.
One should be in the habit of talking to the baby. Certainly, he/she would not understand the words, but would like hearing your voice. You cannot understand nature because babies have their own ways of appreciating the parents, and the more one interacts with them the more the bonding process increases.
Do men increase their chances of bonding with their babies or this is left to the mothers only?
Authored by:Prof. E. Y. Kwawukume,
Obstetrician, Gynaecologist and Chief Executive of Women's Health Foundation-Ghana.