You know the mothers. The ones who are teary eyed at every ultrasound photo, talk about the amazing bond with their bump and had a magical moment of pure love straight after birth.
Wasn’t you? That doesn’t make you a bad parent – it just places you squarely somewhere on the wide gauge of completely normal.
Just like every medical, physical, emotional and mental aspect of pregnancy, bonding doesn’t happen the same for every mother.
Having a child is just like any other relationship; how you approach it will be based on your own life, what type of person you are and your own way of expressing and feeling emotions. In adult relationships, some people fall in love at first sight, others in a few days and others take longer. Much the same can be said for having a baby.
Sure, sometimes there are other reasons that bonding and attachment doesn’t happen when you expect it to. Common reasons for not bonding include:
- In a first pregnancy especially, it can be hard to equate the wiggles in your belly with a real human life.
- If you’ve experienced previous miscarriages or had a traumatic birth such as a long labor and c/section.
- If your baby has been away from you for a long period of time, due to health reasons.
- If you’ve suffered from depression, this can also impact on bonding.
- You may simply be a late bonder. Even without any of the above reasons, some mothers simply need to build a relationship with this new little stranger in their lives.
One mother describes her late bonding experience:
The first time I saw my baby I thought she was cute. Red, messy, a stranger. But cute, like a friend’s baby I was meeting for the first time. There was no magical bond or fireworks. I wanted to hold her, but only because I thought she looked fragile and needed me. Well, I knew she needed me, I was her mother. But I didn’t feel it yet. I had no medical reason not to bond – it was a relatively good labor and she spent the first few hours on my chest. It wasn’t till we got home from hospital, during those first few weeks of seeing that she was a real person with character and personality, that I started to bond with her and build this awesome relationship with her.
Remember: motherhood is a relationship. No relationship is built at the same rate, or with the same actions. Don’t rely on what other people’s interpretation of ‘normal’ is for your feelings about your child.