Let’s get one thing straight: pregnancy is a terrifying and anxious experience, no matter your situation. Suddenly we have a zillion worries and concerns that never entered our heads before. And for some women one of these worries is that they don’t feel love for their growing baby.
If this is your concern, please be reassured that many, many women don’t bond with their baby until he or she has been born.
The relationship you have with your baby can feel kind of abstract when you’re pregnant. This is in the normal range of pregnancy experiences and usually nothing to be overly worried about.
We’re bombarded with images of glowing pregnant couples, ecstatically happy and excited beyond measure and we think we should feel the same. But the reality of pregnancy is usually quite different. Months of nausea and exhaustion can take its toll. Anxieties about miscarriage and whether baby is going to be ok can be wearing. Relationship problems and arguments are common.
These are all normal pregnancy experiences that can make us feel that we’re not having the pregnancy we think we should be having and not feeling how we imagined we would.
Is there something going on underneath?
Sometimes, if you’re feeling as though you don’t love the baby it may be down to a different kind of experience than the one outlined above.
Maybe you just have too much to deal with personally or in your relationship and you don’t have the head-space to build a relationship with your baby just yet. Maybe you need sort your feelings out first and ensure they’re directed appropriately.
- Is it that you truly don’t love the baby, or maybe it’s that your situation isn’t the one you envisioned yourself in?
- Are you harboring anger towards the child’s father?
- Was your pregnancy unplanned and you’re struggling to accept the pregnancy?
- Are you unprepared to sacrifice the life you had pre-pregnancy?
- Were you maybe unaware of how much stress you’d encounter?
- Did you possibly not consider what previously insignificant matters in your life would suddenly become legitimate concerns?
Whatever the case, try not to confuse your feelings or anxiety for the situation with the potential love you could feel for your baby.
Chances are, what you truly don’t love is your overall situation.
Don’t mistake that for a lack of love for your baby.
As noted, ensure that you’re picturing the child itself, not the situation, and certainly not the child’s father. Perhaps your romantic relationship isn’t going to work out. Perhaps your significant other is involved with someone else. Perhaps your partner is planning to leave you now that you’re pregnant.
If you’re harboring bitterness towards the child’s father, you may mistakenly be projecting this frustration onto your child. You know in your heart that’s not fair so be kind to yourself and give yourself time to sort out your feelings.
Anxiety over finances, body changes, marriage issues, stress, raging hormones, etc. can also overshadow or numb feelings you have for your unborn child, so be cautious of that.
You being pregnant unexpectedly, or going through a break-up, or growing up sooner than you thought you would, is hard to accept and you may be in shock.
Whether you intended to get pregnant or not at the time is irrelevant. You cannot dwell on the past, nor can you predict the future. You can only ever deal with what is immediately in front of you.
Maybe you even completely planned and anticipated your pregnancy, only to find yourself now struggling with formulating a bond between you and your growing baby.
Those Damn Hormones!
You can also blame the pregnancy hormones. They’re raging and changing all the time and are so unpredictable! How you feel from one day to the next changes constantly.
You’re not alone, and what you’re going through is completely normal. If this is your first pregnancy your body is enduring changes that it never has before. There’s no reason why you should feel fully prepared to handle it. Your changing hormones are very powerful and they can bring about extreme emotions that you may not actually even be feeling.
It’s okay to admit that you’re not completely comfortable with all the changes going on. As already mentioned you may not even feel a bond with your child until later in your pregnancy, like when you find out the gender, or maybe not until you hold your little one for the first time.
Ensuring that you have a reliable support system in place is necessary. Open communication with your spouse could help alleviate some of your concerns. Perhaps he or she feels the same. Perhaps he or she views things from another perspective, one that will make you feel better, or one that will provide you one less thing to worry about.
Tell close friends and family if you need support. Be upfront about your feelings and work on communication before your depression goes too deeply. Post-partum depression is awful and dangerous for both you and your child, so you may as well line up a reliable support system now in case you need it again down the line.
To reiterate, anxiety and depression during pregnancy is normal but not pleasant. If you feel the lack of a bond with your baby is down to antenatal depression do seek help. The last thing you should feel right now is alone!
Bonding is Different for Everyone
When you first see your innocent baby instinctually rely upon you for comfort and warmth, and you immediately notice your automatic ability to provide it, you may find that the love comes naturally. When we’re in labor we produce high levels of the hormone oxytocin and this is the falling in love hormone so that’s why so many mother’s have that falling in love feeling with their baby when they’re born.
Know that some mothers bond with their children immediately upon becoming pregnant, while others need to gaze into their baby’s eyes or physically hold the child before a bond begins. And still others don’t feel that deep love until they’ve really had the chance to get to know their child.
All of these scenarios are quite normal. Just because you don’t feel like you love your baby right now it certainly doesn’t mean that you won’t in the future.