Bonding with Baby
From Megan Lobsinger, our Licensed Professional Counselor
Remember, bonding with your baby is a process, and it happens differently for everyone. Be gentle with yourself and try not to feel pressured into feeling anything more than what comes naturally for you. You, your baby, and your family will continue to grow and change for many years to come.
Here are four common myths that many new moms have and how we busted them!
Myth #1: Normal women bond with their babies immediately.
Many women do not feel an immediate bond with their newborns. Newborns take a lot out of a new parent, and they don’t give much in return—not at first. Bonding happens in its own time, and every relationship is different. As long as you are caring for your baby’s basic needs—holding her, changing her, feeding her—you are doing everything you need to do.
Myth #2: If you have negative thoughts about your baby, you are not a good parent.
Having negative or ambivalent thoughts about your baby (or toddler, or teen) is a very normal part of the parenting experience. Many new parents even express having dark or disturbing thoughts about their newborn—thoughts of throwing their newborn off a bridge or running away and never coming back. Though most women feel tremendous guilt and shame admitting these feelings, they are common, and generally are no cause for concern.
However, if you start to feel these dark thoughts are interfering with your ability to function, or if you start to feel concerned that you might act on them, they could be indicative of a more serious condition, like Postpartum Depression or Anxiety. Seek help, and if you feel unsafe, please call 911 or head to the emergency room immediately.
Myth #3: No matter how hard labor is, all of your pain and struggle will melt away as soon as you hold your baby.
A physically or emotionally traumatic labor may leave you feeling exhausted, vulnerable, sore, confused, and frightened. You will need extra time to heal, both emotionally and physically. When things don’t go as expected or hoped, women can experience feelings of failure and low self-esteem. A difficult labor can certainly impact bonding, making a new mom feel distant and detached from baby. It is important to be gentle with oneself, and to allow space for healing.
Myth #4: New moms and new dads have a similar bonding experience.
While sometimes both parents feel bonded to a new baby simultaneously, this is often not the case. If one parent is struggling to bond, this can open up space for the other parent to connect more deeply. In some cases, mom will bond immediately, and dad might feel left out or even resentful of the new baby. Other times, dad may feel an immediate bond, while mom struggles to recover from labor and the loss of some of her pre-baby identity. Whatever the case, both parents will develop their own relationship with their children, in their own time.