Mental Health Motherhood & Baby

Q&A: Do you feel bonded to your baby yet?

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.

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    May 10, 2019 at 12:08 pm

    With my oldest I didn’t feel bonded at all. Even towards the end of the pregnancy, when he was real and I was talking to him, I was still just pleading with a stranger (I do not have pleasant pregnancies). But then he was born. That’s definitely the origin of the love at first sight phenomenon. I don’t believe it happens with grown people, but with your babe, it’s legit. Even if you love them before they’re out, the magnitude gets turned up to 11 and you instantly love them so much it leaves you literally breathless, gasping for air because even your lungs have filled up with love and devotion and infatuation.

    I don’t know sometimes it takes the birth to trigger the love. If it’s because he was my first and I didn’t really understand what was gonna happen, or because I was only 23 and my brain wasn’t done cooking. Whatever it was though. It ultimately didn’t have any effect in the long run.

    Of course, this was how it played out for me, and not a guarantee that it’s how it’ll go for you. So to the mama who’s reading this with fear and anxiety because you don’t love your baby yet, whether he’s still cooking or fresh out of the oven, that’s okay. You’ll get there. Even if you have to meet him and get to know him, and fall in love the slow way. There’s nothing wrong with taking your time and savoring the buildup. And finally, perhaps you’ve heard this already, but maybe not, or maybe you need to hear it again. The fact that you’re worried about being a good mom means that you ARE a good mom. Scientific fact. *hug*

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      Erin Motz

      May 10, 2019 at 1:52 pm

      Thank you so much for sharing your story! I think a lot of women feel similarly in that they don’t feel it FOR REAL until birth… or well after! Glad others are giving a voice to those feelings too <3

  2. Megan Reddix

    Megan Reddix

    May 10, 2019 at 12:59 pm

    I love this! With both of my girls I felt an instant responsibility and deep love for them, but love and bond are so different. With my first, I was terrified. I wanted to do everything right for her and although I loved my “miracle baby” immensely, I didn’t feel bonded to her until several hours after her birth when I finally got to hold her. My second (33 weeks now!) I was ecstatic and never felt the gripping fear I experienced in my first pregnancy. I felt her move for the first time at an astoundingly early time (10 weeks!) and that’s when my love turned into something more of a bond. At first, this made me feel really guilty. Why didn’t I bond with Kennedy while I was pregnant? Did I love her the same as I love her sister? The most honest answer I can give is, no. I love my girls very differently. Kennedy was a miracle to me. She was everything I ever dreamed of and I wanted so badly to do everything “right.” My love for her has been overwhelming, almost alarming. This pregnancy was meticulously planned and prayed for. I wanted a sibling for my sweet daughter so badly, and once I found out I was pregnant, I was so relieved! While Kennedy was my miracle, my dream come true; this baby is the result of hard work and planning. So do I love my girls the same, no. But do I love them both with every ounce of my soul, yes. Is my bond with Kennedy weaker than the bond I will have with her sister, no. The mutual bond and need for one another that Kennedy and I have now may have been somewhat delayed, but it is STRONG. Over the past few months my guilt has softened to a peaceful acceptance that sometimes that bond starts at different times and intensifies at different rates.
    As for my husband, it was the opposite. Although Zach did not carry her in his womb, he felt bonded to Kennedy the instant we had a positive pregnancy test. With this pregnancy, he has admitted that it hasn’t even quite hit him that there will be a new baby here next month!

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      Erin Motz

      May 10, 2019 at 1:50 pm

      Love all of this! Thank you so much for sharing honestly! It’s true that I think “love” & “bond” are different. Love can be automatic whereas a bond requires a bit more effort. Super interesting!

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    Kimberly Smith

    May 10, 2019 at 1:58 pm

    Oh my gosh!!! Thank you so much for this post. I’m 10 weeks now and struggling with not feeling completely bonded yet. I just got to hear baby’s heartbeat and see baby wiggle in my belly and that was amazing. Made it seem more real. Still learning to be ok with my feelings.

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    May 13, 2019 at 4:38 am

    When I was pregnant with my first child, I remember feeling gradually more bonded to the baby during the pregnancy. Still, when he was born the feeling I remember most is that of being overwhelmed. I felt that it was sort of surreal that all of a sudden I had a baby to take care of- even though he had been growing inside me for eight months and making his presence more and more noticable. The feeling of love was more of a gradual thing for me.

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