Bonding With Your Newborn Doesn’t Always Come Naturally

May 10, 2022  |  Published by


I have been fortunate to have many friends and family members who have experienced pregnancy. And, inevitably, in the conversation leading up to their expected due date, I ask if I may share a piece of advice.

That advice is this: It's okay to not love your baby right away.

I always get a blank look, coupled with a brief moment of silence, followed by sentiments similar to "nobody has told me that yet."

But think through what we're subconsciously taught about the birthing experience through movies, television, the news, and social media. Right after a baby is born, the doctor or midwife hands the newborn over to the birthing individual who nestles their baby into their arms. Their face is awash with a certain glow of undeniable and immeasurable love. The bond is instant and intense. Think about the birthing scenes from Look Who's Talking or Knocked Up. Think about the pictures that your friends and family (maybe even yourself) post right after a birth. Everywhere we go, we're led to believe that the bond between birthing individual and baby is immediate and infinite.

For some, that is the case. That first moment when their newborn is laid on their chest or in their arms mimics the story portrayed to use in movies. However, for some new parents, the love and bond between parent and child, like any new relationship, takes time.

My own journey was similar. After three long years of struggling with fertility challenges, I was ready to welcome our first son onto my chest, skin-to-skin, and look longingly into his little eyes. I mistakenly thought that our first moment would be my Kirstie Alley moment.

So what happened in reality? I was scared out of my mind. I looked at this tiny human that had wondrously made it to 37 weeks in my belly and thought to myself, "Oh my, things are about to get real."

Kavita and her two sons
Kavita and her two sons

Then I waited. I waited to feel the depth of love pour into my heart, but it just didn't happen. I just stared down at this wide-eyed baby staring right back at me. I felt nothing else than being overwhelmed and to be honest, a little numb. I wondered when the bond would happen, somehow thinking that if only I could reach the switch, I could just turn it on.

I was wrong. There was no switch and no lightning moment that I suddenly felt that bond. Like most other relationships in my life, it simply took time. Undeniably, with time and patience, our love and bond grew.

So, is this uncommon? To be honest, I have no idea. All I know is that my experience, along with many others, is normal yet generally not spoken of.

If you are reading this and feeling like it describes you, this message is for you: There is nothing wrong with you and this is not your fault. Give yourself grace and be patient with self-love. This moment in your journey of parenthood is just that - a moment. With time, your love will grow and you will fall so deeply in love with your newborn.

If you have given birth in the past year and are experiencing symptoms of sadness, worthlessness, restlessness, loneliness, or anxiety, please contact your doctor or seek help at Postpartum Support International. You can also text 'HELP' to 800-944-4773. You are not alone and help is available.

Kavita Bernstein
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