Are You Struggling to Bond with Your Newborn?

Don't be alarmed if you're struggling to bond with your newborn. This is more common than you may think, and is something you must build as you interact and recognize each other. Continue reading to learn more!
Are You Struggling to Bond with Your Newborn?

Last update: 06 July, 2021

Struggling to bond with your newborn is normal and common, so don’t worry too much if it doesn’t happen immediately after birth. The strong attachment you’ve heard about takes some time to develop.

As you can see, you don’t have to feel guilty about it, especially if you’re a new mother or if the conditions of your pregnancy weren’t ideal. You were probably tired after childbirth, it’s similar to the feeling you get after strenuous exercise. In addition to the hormonal changes, your body is exhausted by the physical effort and your mind’s in a similar condition due to stress.

At the same time, there’s the uncertainty that comes with childbirth and the bewilderment of everything new that motherhood represents. Thus, don’t despair or feel like a bad mother if you just don’t feel a maternal instinct like you expected.

Have patience and trust that it’ll come. In the meantime, read on for some tips on how to strengthen this bond!

Expectations before delivery

Mothers-to-be have certain expectations and ideas about their baby’s birth as the last trimester approaches. Your obstetrician will have discussed the possible scenarios and you may already know whether you can give birth vaginally or plan a C-section.

All this vision beginning to emerge creates certain expectations. You probably visualize yourself starring a romantic scene of a mother in love. This is widespread in our culture through the media. Of course, you never see yourself as an exhausted mother full of questions.

Add these expectations to the well-intentioned advice that, welcomed or not, you’ll often receive from family and friends and you’ll be quite overwhelmed. Especially if you realize that not all children are born in optimal conditions. Well, it seems it isn’t unreasonable to wonder why you’re struggling to bond with your newborn.

The mother-child bond

Some say it begins as soon as you become aware of the new being inside of you. Despite this, you must know that, as in any human relationship, you can build this bond if it doesn’t happen naturally.

No recipe or manual fully explains how to be a mother or how your bond with each other happens. Everything indicates it’ll happen in a special way and at a particular time.

In fact, it begins to manifest in some mothers as soon as they realize they’re pregnant, and from birth, in others. Some bond after the difficult and exhausting first weeks. However, many don’t experience it for a while. Either way, it’ll be fine and you’ll eventually adapt to each other.

A woman holding a toddler.
Mother-child bonding doesn’t happen the same way in all relationships. This is because every person is unique and has their own timing.

Tips to improve your feelings towards your baby if you’re struggling to bond with them

As we said above, there’s no guide for mother and child to bond from the moment they come into contact. However, there are some helpful things you can resort to while it happens naturally.

1. Seek physical contact

Keep the baby on your chest, under your clothes if you like to feel the skin-to-skin contact. Some refer to this as the kangaroo method.

This is particularly good for preemies because it allows them to regulate their temperature. Having the baby so close, feeling their breathing and smell are pleasurable sensations that induce attachment.

2. Look into your baby’s eyes

Take advantage of breastfeeding time to stare into their eyes. They may not focus on you at first, but you will, and you’ll begin to notice your similarities.

This eye contact complements the feeding time and shows them you’re there. Later on, you might want to add a specific song for them to associate with your time together.

3. Co-sleep

Lying down when you breastfeed creates a climate of intimacy that allows you to connect. Let them sleep with you more often if it calms you down.

Stroke them lovingly, massage them. It stimulates their development and strengthens your relationship.

4. Rest is good when you’re struggling to bond with your baby

The arrival of a newborn baby implies a high demand for care, both day and night. Don’t try to take care of your baby on your own because you’ll be quite tired.

As long as it is within your reach, don’t refuse a family member’s offer to help you. Resting will allow you to be in a better mood and disposition to spend time with your baby.

5. Talk about your emotions

You’re struggling to bond with your newborn and it disturbs you and takes away your sleep. Well, it might be a good idea to talk to someone about it. Someone you can speak your mind with without judgment.

You may be surprised by how talking to another mother will lead to them confessing they’ve gone through the same thing. The important thing here is to let out what you feel and get it out of your chest to vent your feelings.

6. Find yourself as a mother

You may wonder why you don’t feel attached to your baby, as everyone said you would, once you’ve hugged and taken them home. This romantic idea of the perfect harmonious motherhood from the moment you meet is a mere social construction about early attachment. It doesn’t always happen.

Doesn’t it make you feel better to know this?

You’re not the only mother who’s had this experience. Thus, don’t blame yourself and get ready to turn into a mother and enjoy all the imperfections and realities that society tends to hide. The French philosopher Simone de Beauvoir stated in 1949 that “motherhood is natural because patriarchal culture naturalized it.”

A woman struggling to bond with her baby.
Cultural ideas about motherhood shouldn’t lead to stress. They’re social constructs and don’t apply to everyone.

7. Give yourself time if you’re struggling to bond with your newborn

Motherhood is a condition, and every woman undertakes her own journey. Be attentive to yours and don’t compare yourself with anyone. In fact, wait if you aren’t ready.

The time will come when you’ll feel good about yourself and your baby. The bond doesn’t have to happen immediately and it doesn’t make you a bad mother.

Enjoy every day, be autonomous. No one but the two of you will be part of that journey. Review literature on how to establish a bond with your newborn if you’re concerned and are interested in learning more about it.

Consult your physician if you’re struggling to bond with your newborn

So…The weeks have gone by and despite your best efforts, you’re still struggling to bond with your child. If so, it might be time to seek professional help, especially if this emotional state is uncomfortable for you and makes you feel inadequate.

It happens more often than you might think, though. Many studies link it to postpartum depression, so it’s important to address it. Try an introspection exercise to review your memory to see if there could have been a triggering element while you are going through this stage.

Finally, cheer up. It’s just a matter of time and awareness that you’re going through your own experience. You’ll see how the powerful bond you build will only grow and become stronger over the years!

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