The maternal bond is, without a doubt, the purest and most powerful connections among humans. It makes parenthood easier and provides long-term developmental benefits for the baby. However, after giving birth, what if you don’t feel the joy that you’re expecting when your baby arrived?
What Postpartum Emotions to Expect?
There is no strict emotion checklist that every mother should tick after giving birth. But sometimes, you can’t help but compare what you’re feeling to what you typically observe among other mothers. And if the emotions seem opposite than theirs, understandably, you will feel bad and worried.
But don’t worry because some emotions are valid. For example, some new mothers might feel overwhelmed or underwhelmed once their baby arrives. Overwhelmed because of the thought that you have another human depending on you. And some might feel underwhelmed when they’ve set some expectations beforehand.
However, every mom will vary from each other, and factors such as hormonal changes can affect postpartum emotions. You might respond to these hormonal changes differently, so the term “normal” is too vast to keep it in a boxed definition.
What is Baby Blues?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, baby blues is when mothers experience mood swings, have trouble sleeping, lose their appetite, feel sad, or have crying spells. This condition usually happens to 80% of mothers and subsides after a few days. Baby blues is also manageable, especially with support from family and friends.
What is Postpartum Depression?
A more serious condition is postpartum depression. It shares some similarities with baby blues, which is why some mothers fail to distinguish if what they’re feeling is normal. Severe symptoms such as longlasting suicidal thoughts and inability to take care of your baby are telltale signs of postpartum depression.
There is no harm in contacting your doctor if you’re feeling this way. You should also not be ashamed if you find yourself relating to the symptoms of postpartum depression. Remember that you can only take care of your child better if you’re taking care of yourself too.
Is it Normal to Not Bond with Your Baby Right Away?
Other than the emotions stated above, it is also worth noting that it’s normal if you have difficulty bonding with your baby. When you haven’t given birth yet, you might have thought of what you will feel once your baby arrives. You’ve talked with other mothers, read different books and articles, so you know what to expect.
However, once your baby arrives, you might feel completely different from what you expected. Some mothers may not have the immediate, intense connection with their baby like those from movie scenes. The difficulty of carrying your baby for 9 months, the pain of labor, the physiological changes, and other factors all combine to affect what you’re going to feel.
And when you realize yourself not feeling what you’re supposed to feel, you might start hating yourself for it. How come it feels like you didn’t love your child? How come you’re lying when your family visits and ask about how you feel being a mother?
But before you fall into a spiral, have this etched into your mind; It’s normal to take some time to form a bond with your baby.
Why Can’t I Bond with My Baby?
Baby blues and postpartum depression are common reasons why it can be difficult to bond with your baby. Sometimes, even the fear of being a new mom can get you overwhelmed. You might think that you will make a mistake or that you’ll fail to become a good mother. These things can get in the way of bonding with your baby.
Other than feeling overwhelmed, some moms might feel like they have no shoulder to lean onto. Understand that it’s okay to need help and that it’s not a sign of weakness if you need support. It might also be difficult to bond if your baby has to spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit or if you are recovering from C-Section. The point is, you have to stop beating yourself up if you don’t feel as excited or happy as you expected.
Difference Between Passive Bonding and Active Bonding
Some mothers are able to bond with their baby passively. This means that the typical moments such as rocking their baby to sleep, nursing, or even diaper changing help them to form a bond. Active bonding, on the other hand, includes those instances where you are “actively” making an effort to create a bond. Some moms love talking or singing to their baby to encourage bonding actively.
Ways to Help You Bond with Your Baby
There is no exact way that will magically help you bond with your baby in a snap. Every mother will vary on what’s effective on them, and this is also true on how long it will take to happen. But don’t worry because bonding will eventually happen, whether it’s from active or passive instances.
You can take advantage of nursing sessions, whether you’re bottle feeding or breastfeeding. During this time, interact with your baby more by touching his/her hands or toes or make eye contact, etc. But other than nursing sessions, you can simply dedicate a time of your day just to interact and observe your little one. You can talk to him/her or sing him/her your favorite song. Some parents even love introducing their babies to their favorite shows.
You can also sleep in the same room as your baby. Remember that skin-to-skin contact is one of the most effective ways to establish a bond. Skin-to-skin contact does not have to be limited in the delivery room where your baby is placed on your chest.
And to make the room more enticing and homey, try adding a baby humidifier. During night time, it’s important to remain in a relaxed, comfortable state, so your baby feels the same way. This way, you can both enjoy a calmer bonding session in contrast with the daytime ones. You can also gently massage your baby and listen to his/her breathing and heartbeat.