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Written by Psychologist, Nikolina Miljus
Should you worry if you don’t feel immediately overwhelmed by motherly feelings as soon as you find out you’re pregnant?
The answer is straight and simple: no.
Please be reassured that many moms-to-be feel the same way.
The reasons why you might not be feeling connected to the baby can be due to so many things and none of them is related to how “good” or “bad” mom you’ll be.
It certainly doesn’t mean you don’t or won’t love your baby either.
Every woman and every pregnancy is different so don’t worry that you are somehow lacking because you’re in that surreal – “is it real?” phase.
From abstract, surreal feelings to a weird sense of disconnection, we share some real mom-to-be experiences below.
Why don’t I feel connected with my baby?
The psychology behind your emotions in pregnancy is usually pretty complex.
That makes the why hard to work out sometimes.
Your body changes dramatically as do your closest relationships and the way you perceive yourself.
Those can be part of the why.
Your partner and close family members react to pregnancy in their own ways because they have a different roles and relationships with the baby.
Their reactions are their own, just as your experience is your own.
There’s no need to compare your feelings with other peoples.
You don’t all have to be feeling the same.
That’s just not how life works.
For many moms-to-be pregnancy doesn’t feel much different from normal and because of this many don’t feel an immediate connection with their baby.
If you are a first-time mom there’s the whole strangeness around feeling you’re entering unknown territory.
There is a strange being who seems to be taking over your body and your life.
Everyone around you seems to be more excited than you while the most you can feel right now is sick, tired and with a monster of a headache.
You may also be wondering what the hell you’ve let yourself in for!
These are all common whys.
Moms Experiences of Connection or Disconnection
As you’ll see from the experiences moms in our community have shared, you’re definitely not alone in feeling not connected to your baby – while it’ still in your uterus at least.
In fact not having any particularly “motherly” feelings during pregnancy is pretty common.
In the very early stages of pregnancy it’s completely understandable that you don’t feel strong emotions for someone you haven’t even met or who you can’t physically sense.
One mom-to-be expressed it this way.
“I feel bad saying this, but I am 13 weeks and still don’t really feel a connection. I never got any symptoms, so I never had that change of feeling or anybody changes because I feel the same now as I always have.”
Pregnancy is something uniquely personal for each woman but society tends to hold up a particular image of how pregnancy should be.
When it turns out that the reality is different it’s natural to start to wonder if there’s something wrong with us or whether we’ll be a good mom.
Even when it is felt, the connection between a mother and her unborn baby can be hard to describe in words:
“I felt a connection before I knew I was pregnant, maybe even before I conceived but I don’t feel it as a connection like I have with people I know in this world. Like it’s just so different. I also love it but don’t love it like people love their children who have been born. It feels very dreamlike.”
Many of our expectations around pregnancy and motherhood are ingrained into our minds from early childhood.
We internalize ideas about pregnancy and how it should be from our environment, and these expectations become our own.
Like Ashley says:
“I’ve got two pregnant friends right now and they’re both beyond excited. Also, my family and the boyfriend and his family are all excited about it, I feel like I should be excited too, but I can’t relate just yet.”
How do women feel during pregnancy?
The reality is that some women feel a special connection with their baby immediately while others don’t.
There is no “right” or “wrong” way to connect with your baby in pregnancy.
Feelings for your baby can be different or similar with each new pregnancy.
“No I didn’t feel a huge connection with my daughter until birth when I first held her. So far in this pregnancy, it’s the same. Feels surreal and scary (I have very high-risk pregnancies because of a metabolic disorder and bleeding disorder.)”
But there’s also Anne who feels…
“a connection of sorts, but it’s still surreal and abstract at the same time. I don’t imagine it’s anywhere near the connection I’ll eventually feel.”
Meg on the opposite end is clear.
“Yes. I loved this little one straight away.”
Some women start to feel a connection after seeing their baby (or babies!) for the first time on the ultrasound.
“It took the first trimester (to start feeling the connection). After feeling them flutter and seeing them on the last sonogram, I am just now starting to wrap my brain around it. These are miracle babies.”
For other women the moment they felt the connection with their baby was when they felt the first movements or found out the baby’s gender.
“The anatomy ultrasound really made the connection happen for me when I saw her move and her face on 4d.”
How to deal with negative emotions about my pregnancy
Sometimes you don’t feel connected to your baby because there are deeper issues or your mental health is being affected.
Pregnancy is an intensely emotional time and your pregnancy hormones are adding fuel to the fire.
Feelings like anxiety, sadness and anger are as common in pregnancy as happiness and joy are.
Feeling angry that you’ve got an unplanned pregnancy to deal with is natural and understandable.
Emotions like these in no way make you a bad or undeserving mother.
Instead, they just signal the need to recognize and accept the feelings for what they are and continue on a different path in life, as Janice did:
“I was depressed really bad after finding out because two weeks prior I had just opened up my own hair salon and was working great. It took me losing my shop, a bad car wreck and almost having a nervous breakdown to realize it was God plan for me to be pregnant at this time.”
The fear of labor or worrying about how you’ll cope in your role as a mother can overwhelm too. Even more so if you’re struggling with prior depression, anxiety, or panic issues.
Antenatal depression is a real issue and if you consistently feel overwhelmingly sad, stressed, angry or hopeless it’s time to share how you feel with your partner and talk with a professional.
Don’t let the guilt, shame or worry about what other people might think prevent you from getting help.
Will I bond with my newborn?
Almost all the women we talked to definitely feel “the right type of connection” when their baby is born.
Even moms who didn’t feel any particular connection with the baby throughout nine whole months of pregnancy.
“Pregnancy always felt a bit surreal to me in the first half. Later on, when the baby was moving around a lot, I felt more connected, but the real connection came for me at birth.”
Bonding with your baby is not a singular event but a process.
For many the bond grows along with your growing bump. For others the real connection comes at birth and in the days, weeks and months afterwards.
When your body recovers and you get to know your little one better, doubts and confusion tend to disappear and love takes their place. As it was for Kim:
“When I saw my boy for the first time, My first words were “You’re worth it. All the pain and suffering I’ve dealt with for months and birth. You’re worth it.”
If you’re not feeling connected to your baby right now then it’s almost guaranteed that in time you will feel a connection.
And it will be a connection so strong as to be unbreakable.
Note: names of our readers were changed