There are many reasons for the maternal bond. I'll just start with the following.
In the majority of birds and mammals, the young become heavily attached to their mother. For example ducklings follow the mother duck and primates cling tightly to the mothers belly. In each case, if the mother and child seperates this leads to considerable stress. The young give distress calls, continuously until the mother returns. The biological function of this connection is personal survival. There is little doubt that in our early evolutionary history that a motherless young would have died early- from starving, predation or exposure.
Ok so the biological function for the young is personal survival. But for the mother it is genetic rather than personal, because unless her young don't reproduce later in life, the mother's genes will perish.
Natural selection has equipped the infant with a set of stimulus features that function as releasers of maternal feelings. Such as the cues that define 'babyness' (as stated in the 'what defines cuteness' thread). These characteristics help ensure that adults will react to the infant in a protective and nurturing behaviour.
There is a built-in fear of the unknown and unfamiliar, which drives most young to huddle with a very familiar object, most likely the mother. The mother is not only familiar but she also holds specific stimulus properties that are important for her young. This built in fear is a simple survival trait. If you want to know more about it- its called Bowlby's theory of attachment. This need to cling may occur when the fearful stimulis comes from the parents. Its odd but true. Young who are punished by their parents may become even more clinging and dependent on them.
The mother provides food and warmth. Studies with rhesus monkey's have suggested that the infant loves its mother, not because she feeds it, but because she provides 'comfort'. Teddy bears and cuddly objects serve as the same function- kids will clasp their toy tightly when threatened.
Thats just a start, i'll write some more later, I just didn't want the post to be too long