How To Bond With Your Baby When Maternal Instinct Has Yet To Kick In
Having a baby changes your whole life in an instant. Even before your little one is born, the anticipation and excitement leading up to it can be a wonderful feeling.
However, if you felt somewhat anxious, nervous, or even unready during your pregnancy, that anticipation might not have been as joyous as you wanted it to be. Perhaps you didn't lock eyes with your little one and feel instant hoy because you had an unexpectedly hard delivery. Regardless of the reason, not all moms feel an instant connect to their child.
Now that your baby is here, maybe you haven’t bonded with them in the way you think you “should.” Does it feel like your maternal instinct hasn’t kicked in yet?
If so, don’t worry.
It doesn’t make you a bad mother, and it doesn’t mean you don’t love your baby. Many factors can play into why your maternal instinct doesn’t set in right away. More importantly, there are ways you can bond with your baby, despite those feelings.
Why Do You Feel This Way?
Again, there’s a lot of anticipation surrounding the birth of a child. That can make some new mothers anxious.
Maybe you spent much of your pregnancy worried about the “what ifs.” What if something goes wrong? What should you do if there’s an emergency? How will you handle taking care of this little one on your own if you’re a single parent?
Those fears and uncertainties can carry over after your child is born.
You might even be dealing with Postpartum Depression or the baby blues. While they are two different things, they can cause you to feel disconnected from your child. It’s not your fault, and the good news is they don’t last forever.
But, what can you do in the meantime to feel more bonded with your baby?
Spend More Time With Them
You might already feel like you’re spending just about every second with your baby but choose to spend intentional, close time with them. Carry them around. Wear them in a sling. Have them next to you while relaxing or even reading or watching TV. Lay them on your chest when you’re resting.
That kind of physical closeness can cause help activate your maternal instinct. Things like rocking them, reading to them, or softly singing songs can also provide a lot of comfort for both of you, helping you feel closer.
Try a Gentle Massage
It might seem simple, but research has shown that a gentle massage can improve the bond between a mother and baby. It relieves stress for both of you and can help with the symptoms of PPD.
Obviously, giving your little one a massage is different than offering one to an adult. Do your research on how to safely rub your baby’s back, tummy, or legs before trying it for yourself.
While it’s important to spend a lot of time with your newborn, don’t forget to take time for yourself.
You can’t pour from an empty cup. By prioritizing your well-being, you’ll be able to take better care of your baby, you won’t feel so burnt out, and you can take some of the pressure off if you’re feeling anxious about bonding.
If you feel like your maternal instinct hasn’t kicked in, don’t let it get you down about motherhood. It can take time to bond with your little one, but you’ll get there. If you’re dealing with something like PPD, symptoms will usually subside on their own after a few weeks or months.
If you’re worried about how long it might be taking or that there might be something more serious going on, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. It’s important to understand that you’re not alone. Feel free to contact me for more information or to set up an appointment.
Jennifer Perera is a mom of two boys, a spouse and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She is also Certified as a Perinatal Mental Health Professional by Postpartum Support International. She has a private practice in Springfield, New Jersey and also sees clients throughout New Jersey via telehealth. Her passion is helping new moms and dads find their joy again in parenthood through individual and couples counseling. She also runs workshops for new parents, teaching them techniques and strategies to help them have a stronger relationship - built to thrive during the parenthood years. Jennifer specializes in working with parents during the prenatal and postpartum
periods and those coping with grief or loss issues surrounding pregnancy.