As you may know by now, May is Mental Health Awareness month.
Obviously, mental health is super important, but an added layer I think we should hear more about is the around maternal mental health. The conversation has definitely gotten louder in recent years with all the talk about postpartum anxiety and depression, but I think mental health during pregnancy is super important, too.
I got a great question on Instagram the other day, and I loved it so much I thought it deserved a longer answer than what IG can accommodate. Here goes…
Question: “Do you feel bonded to your baby yet? If so, what week did it happen for you?”
I have no idea about the place from which this question is coming, but in case it’s coming from someone who doesn’t yet feel bonded to their unborn baby, OR from someone who’s afraid they won’t bond right away, I wanted to share my experience.
Answer: I feel like HE is attached & bonded to ME which makes me instinctively attached & bonded to him too. You know how maybe you’re not a cat person, but if a cat walked up to you purring, following you, and being super clingy and lovey, you wouldn’t be able to help but feel attached, right? That’s kind of how this feels to me! 🤣 I can’t NOT find it completely endearing and adorable that this little soul (1) chose us, and (2) is already accustomed to my voice and my presence, so much so that he really NEEDS it to survive. I know that can sound stressful to some women, but for me it doesn’t feel like a burden, it feels like a blessing.
But this feeling has been a very gradual progression & I am not ashamed to say I felt zero attachment at the start 😅 I mean, I wanted a healthy baby & pregnancy, but that’s obvious. When I first found out I was pregnant and the couple months right after, I felt like I was just hosting a stranger inside my body. I thought, “okay, I mean you’re welcome to set up shop here but I don’t know you so… 🤷🏼♀️… enjoy yourself, I guess!” 😆 It felt like inviting a friend of a friend into your home to stay indefinitely on the recommendation that this person is AWESOME, but what do you know? They’re just a stranger to you, right?! I thought, “I’m sure we’ll get along (at least I hope we do), but ya know… until we meet for real, here’s your space and lemme know if you need anything!”
Every woman is different, and my experience is exactly that: MINE. For example, I can’t say I have a natural maternal instinct, so this part of me feels like it’s in gestation too. I loved this quote I read that said, “when the child is born, the mother is born,” and that’s the most beautiful, logical thing I’ve ever heard. I think for me, this feeling of “love” & attachment will be something that continues to grow as time goes on since it didn’t just happen magically from day 1.
I can’t say I have a natural maternal instinct, so this part of me feels like it’s in gestation too.
As of this moment at 26 weeks pregnant (6.5 months!), I feel bonded to my son because we’ve been together long enough that he’s not as much of a stranger. But it’s definitely taken time to get to this point & I expect it to take some time once he’s here too. It’ll be a journey of getting to know this new person & may take time to truly fall in love. That could also happen the moment he’s born, but I’m open to it being an evolution if that’s how it works out.
I started to truly feel bonded about a month ago (22/23 weeks pregnant) when his movements became more obvious and predictable. Now he “responds” to certain things which helps me feel like we know each other better. So I know if I lie down a certain way, he’ll wake up and move around. I know if I give my belly a little press and poke, he’ll kick back. So I think the more they grow, the physicality of pregnancy really helps solidify that bond.
Overall, try to remember this: maybe there’s a reason babies need 9 months to grow. Not only is it for their own physical development, but it’s for mom’s emotional development & readiness, too. There’s a brand new side of us getting ready to be born, and it’s as complex and intricate of a formation as the growth of the new life within you. Let’s take an exhale and remember that it’s okay if your initial reaction to that positive pregnancy test is neither hostility nor love, but indifference.
There’s a brand new side of us getting ready to be born, and it’s as complex and intricate of a formation as the growth of the new life within you.
Mine started as fear, evolved into indifference, and is now a regular mix of excitement, readiness, love, and yeah okay, a little fear too 😉
You are exactly the right person to mother your child whether you feel that way from day 1 or not. You are enough. Trust the process.