Love at first sight???
I’m going to give you something to think about that challenges what society says we should feel about becoming a parent. Meeting your baby for your first time isn’t always love at first sight. Shock, horror!
And, not loving your baby at first sight is quite common. When you think about it you may have been through a long labour, you may have had a difficult birth or have been going through a generally stressful time in your day to day life. Give yourself a break and don’t feel a failure because you think this is the norm.
You’re doing great…Like the advert says?
Many first time mum’s first experience of holding a baby comes when they have their own baby. Quite a stark fact don’t you think? Even less of us have probably seen a real life baby being breastfed. Is it any wonder lots of mums struggle with breastfeeding when they have seen nobody else do this? Think about it this way, you are about to sign up-to a job with a minimum 18 year contract but you have limited experience for the role. The only experience you have is as a “consumer” (your experience of being parented)! And we all know parenting styles were very different in the 1970’s/1980’s in the UK.
So what does this mean?
Well, in the western world we’re great at meeting our babies physical care needs for hunger and warmth but the higher needs for bonding and attachment can be a bit trickier. Often when we are about to become new parents we don’t think about this at all. We spend ages looking at whether to get a Bugaboo or a Baby Jogger but not a lot of time thinking about what our relationship with our baby will look like once they are born. Sometimes, like anything you can take to a new role like a duck to water and other times you need to work hard at it. Just because that bond isn’t there at the beginning it doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong, it doesn’t mean you’re not a good mum and you’ve not harmed your baby in anyway.
Wondering what to do?
Talk to someone you trust. I know this is easier said than done because you are worried people may judge but if you have a good relationship with your GP or Health Visitor they would be ideal. Peer support from any “mum friends” you feel safe to talk to would be ideal. Simple practical steps to take with your baby would be trying some skin to skin contact after bath-time in a room with low lights, watching your baby and just copying any sounds your baby is making whilst trying to get their eye contact will help you build up that bond.
Try not to rush out and sign up to as many baby groups/activities as you can fit in! Take it slow, build up your confidence at home and when you feel ready maybe look to expand your horizons a little and look for a gentle baby class with lots of opportunity for eye contact with you, where your baby can hear your voice and feel your touch that you can enjoy together.
Think of all the relationships in your life, do you love your partner in the same way you loved them the first time you saw them? Or just as it will with your baby has your relationship grown into something different?
I’d love to hear any of your thoughts. You can comment below this blog.