Last week I started a series on the “Myths of Motherhood”. We continue the series this week with myth #2
Myth #2: Bonding with a baby is instantaneous
Before I start first I want to ask you to Google the word “mother” and look up the images. What do you see? The majority of the images show beautiful, smiling, women, who are well dressed with their make-up on holding their newborn babies. Talk to just about any mother and they’ll tell you that the day their baby was born was the happiest day of their life and they felt instant love. I’m here to call “BS” on both!
The messages we receive communicate to us that these first days of motherhood should be blissful, and that as our babies are born the heavens part and angels descend showering us with a love greater than any other we’ve experienced. But the truth is, it’s very common and perfectly normal to feel the exact opposite, but many women are afraid to share their real feelings for fear of judgment from others.
The reality is that even though this baby is of you and your partner, they are still a complete STRANGER to you (and you to them!) It’s going to take time for you both to figure these new roles out. Not to mention the fact that you are doing it while you are bleeding, leaking, sore and sleep deprived. Especially with young infants, the relationship is very one-sided with parents giving, giving, giving and getting very little in return, it can be very difficult to feel connected.
So what do you do when you have a baby and you just aren’t quite feeling the love yet? The first thing is to give it time. Don’t put pressure on yourself to feel a certain way and just let it develop naturally. If however in additional to the lack of bonding you are noticing other things happening like excessive crying, sadness, irritability, sleep or appetite changes, a lack of interest or pleasure in things, or just plain not feeling like yourself you may be experiencing a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder like postpartum depression. This requires additional support and attention from a medical or counseling professional (or both!). If you or someone you know are experiencing these symptoms it is important to reach out. Feel free to connect with me if you have any additional questions or comments related to this topic, and stay tuned for Myth #3 next week!