#MentalHealthMonday Pregnancy and Postpartum
Charlie Bull  

Bonding With Baby – Mum Guilt

When you’re pregnant, people try to prepare you for the birth. They tell you about their birth stories, some of which may be more like horror stories to a first time pregnant mum! They ask you your birthing plan. Some even tell you that you won’t sleep properly again, or at least for 18 years…

But no one prepares you for what I found a real struggle
…the bonding.

You spend your 9 months of pregnancy preparing. You buy all the bits you’re going to need, you stock up on what feels like, (but never is), more than enough nappies and baby wipes. Plan and sort out a welcoming nursery. You prepare the hospital bag and write your plan with the midwife. You get excited! This little baby is going to complete you!

But what if no matter how much you want this baby, no matter how much you have planned and no matter how much you want to love this baby…

What if when they’re born you don’t feel anything?

I hope that by talking about it I can encourage mothers and fathers to be more open about their feelings and to not feel ashamed if they found the bonding process hard and not immediate. I truly believe that this affects more people than they’re willing to admit. After all, who wants to admit that they don’t love their baby? No one!  I want to show others that they shouldn’t feel guilt and shame, it will come in time even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.

Giving birth to a baby, as everyone says, very rarely goes to plan. But even if you are fairly relaxed on what you want during your birth, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be left thinking about it afterwards. Births can be traumatic and they can leave mums feeling as though they didn’t do things properly. Perhaps they had a C-section, rather than the vaginal birth they had hoped for. Maybe they needed plenty of rest following the birth so weren’t able to be as active and do as much of the feeding in the early days. Perhaps they had trouble breast feeding their baby. Perhaps the baby had colic and wasn’t able to sleep comfortably very easily. These can really affect a mum’s and dad’s ability to bond, even though these are things completely out of their control!

What they don’t always tell you about bonding with baby…

What you’re not told is that the bonding process can take a few days, a few weeks or even months and if you’re one of those people who it takes time for, it can fill you with feelings of guilt; this is what I felt, I felt like an awful parent. It may seem that every other parent has this instant bond with their child but in all honesty I don’t think that is the case for a lot of people and I think that parents feel uncomfortable to admit to it because they worry that others will think they don’t care about their baby. This couldn’t be further from the truth!

The health visitors will suggest ways to help start bonding with baby… skin to skin, which is lovely, but if you’re unable to pick up your baby because you’re in pain or if you are having trouble because the desire to do so isn’t there, then that can be hard.

Breastfeeding is not the only solution…

They will most likely suggest breastfeeding which is viewed by many as a good bonding method. However, I feel that if you’ve been unable to breastfeed for a number of reasons, (you can read our breastfeeding stories), then it can be unhelpful for the health visitors to push this suggestion because it may increase the mother’s feelings of guilt.

I think that in those early days that it’s made harder because of the broken sleep. The fact you are doing all these things for your baby and not getting much in return can make it difficult. It may sound daft but once you are recognised by your baby and you get reactions from them, which could be something as little as a smile, it makes the bonding so much easier. Even without these reactions, your baby knows you from your smell, your heartbeat and your voice, they’re just working out ways they can communicate with you.

These are some things I tried that you might like to try too:

  • Singing to your baby.
  • Talking to your baby.
  • Reading to your baby so they get to recognise your voice.
  • Lying next to your baby.
  • Wearing your baby in a sling.
  • Baby massage.
  • If possible, holding your baby against your chest.

Please remember that you are doing your best. It may seem like every other parent is finding parenting a walk in the park but I can assure you they’re most probably not! If you’re finding the process of bonding with baby hard it is not a reflection on you as a parent. Your body and mind have been through a huge change! The birth and early days may not have gone exactly as you’d planned as well and this is not your fault!

Take time to forgive yourself if you have struggled bonding with baby

It is so important to forgive yourself for these feelings and to seek help if you feel you need it, there really is no shame in talking about this. You are an amazing parent and you will get through this difficult time, it might take a few months, but that’s not something you should feel ashamed about. Other parents you know got there earlier, that is their parenting journey. You will get the close bond with your baby that you have looked forward to throughout your pregnancy and it will be worth the wait.

Some things you can plan for during the pregnancy, unfortunately this is one of those things you can’t and you don’t expect it to happen to you. I hope that by talking about this that other parents won’t feel alone like I did in those early months. When I look back on those times I don’t associate it with those bad feelings anymore, I only remember the good.

Writing this has made me feel quite emotional because I now have such an inseparable bond with my daughter and we are so happy. I hope my daughter knows how much she means to me everyday and I hope she never doubts my love for her. it felt a million miles away, so I never saw myself getting here but once I did it made me feel like the richest woman alive. I have no doubt that you will get there too. 

If you liked this, check out…

7 Actual Important Things all Pregnant Women Need to Know…

I didn’t fall in love with my baby right away

8 things I wish I knew would happen postpartum

11 thoughts on “Bonding With Baby – Mum Guilt

  1. Kids, Cuddles and Muddy Puddles

    So nice to read such an honest post on something many parents will have experience of. I remember asking my mum, after the birth of my 2nd, \”Is it OK that I didn't cry when she was first born?\” I felt so guilty that I didn't feel this instant rush of love that I questioned whether I was a good mum! I am I know, and eventually I did feel it but it took a while! I think your body and emotions go through so much during pregnancy and the birth, I think my whole being was just a bit shell-shocked! I absolutely love my kids to death, they are and always will be my whole world! #ItsOk

  2. Charlotte Bull

    Thank you so much for your kind words. I was a bit hesitant about writing this at first but I'm so glad I did!

  3. Noleen Miller

    Not everyone goes through the same experience of bonding immediately. With my first born, I couldn't really bond as she was born prematurely and was in hospital for 3 weeks. My husband and I could only really bond with her once she came out of hospital. We did the kangaroo care bonding which was amazing. Thanks for such an honest post and as you said some find it a walk in the park and for others it is really difficult #itsok

  4. Emma T

    Glad you got there in the end. One of my friends was the other way round. She wasn't fussed all pregnancy (it was planned but they didn't expect to get pregnant so quickly), so was worried she wouldn't bond but then did. I do think that pregnant women should be told the things that aren't expected like what to do if you feel like you're not bonding ahead of having the baby so it's less of a shock if it happens #thelistlinky

  5. magicalmamablog.com

    That first 24 hours is an absolute whirlwind! Hormones, huge life changes, your body freaking out, things not going to plan. A few hours after our baby was born, she woke up in the middle of the night and started crying, which sent me into a crying fit I had no control over, my husband woke up to us both crying and I couldn't even pick her up. That was a rough time! Fortunately, once we got out of the hospital, all fell into place, but I know so many mommies who have a hard time bonding. It's different for everyone and it's never like the movies! Mom guilt is an unfortunate part of every mommy's journey. Cheers to all you warriors!#TheListLinky

  6. Charlotte Bull

    Thank you for your support! Kangaroo care bonding sounds like a good idea, I'll look it up. X

  7. Charlotte Bull

    I'm glad things were okay for your friend. It's definitely something parents should be encouraged to talk about. Thanks so much for the support! X

  8. Charlotte Bull

    Thanks so much for the support! X

  9. Lucy At Home Blog

    It's so great that you're written about this. My first baby was unexpected and a very difficult pregnancy, and yet I bonded immediately she was born. My second baby was planned and and easy pregnancy and I was so excited to be a mum again… and yet I struggled to bond with her. It took several weeks and I felt like the worst mum in that time. In the end, I spoke to my mum and she said it was okay and normal, and that I just needed to spend time with my baby and consciously drink in everything about her. There was no Eureka moment but one day I noticed that I was besotted with her and somehow the bonding had taken place without my noticing.Someone loved this post so much, they added it to the BlogCrush linky! Congratulations! Feel free to collect your \”I've been featured\” blog badge 🙂 #blogcrush

  10. Sarah Barber

    It's funny how it's not always automatic isn't it? You expect everything to be perfect and magical and it both is and isn't all at the same time!Oh wow! That's amazing! Thank you Lucy 🙂

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