There seems to be a general assumption, likely created (in part) by the highly inaccurate way the media portrays motherhood and childbirth, that new moms are supposed to feel a certain way once they have a baby. Here's the thing; if you're wondering how to feel after giving birth, know that there's actually no "right" answer. The feelings and thoughts that go through a new mom's head after she gives birth are as unique as mothers themselves, and you shouldn't be putting any additional pressure on yourself to be a certain way or act a certain way or feel a certain way or look a certain way, especially after everything you will have been through.
I thought I was supposed to cry with joy and relief when my kids were born, and I think that was 100 percent because that's what I had seen women do on television or in the movies. Seriously, how could I be disappointed in myself because I didn't cry? That is exactly what happened though. Instead, I felt anxious when my baby wasn't placed immediately in my arms (the first time, because my daughter had passed meconium and they needed to make sure her airways were clear and vitals were strong, and the second time was because my son took just a little too long to start breathing, so the midwives brought him to the resuscitation station). I would consider both situations more than worthy of anxiety (not that I need an excuse to feel whatever it is I was feeling) but, still, I found myself feeling guilty.
It's really important for new moms to be forgiving of themselves, right from the get go. We are faced with so much judgement and scrutiny for everything we do as parents as it is, that to place tan extra burden on ourselves is not only exhausting, it's cruel. In fact, it can be downright destructive. So, if you can, just allow yourself to be in the moment when you finally give birth, and take a look at these seven things new moms think they have to feel after giving birth, but really don't:
Complete And Total Excitement
Excitement is a great thing to experience, but honestly, if you've had a rough labor (and let's be real, what labor isn't rough in some way?) chances are, you're too exhausted to be excited. You've gone through a major life event, so cut yourself some slack.
Not every new parent bonds with their baby immediately, and that's OK. Think about it: different people react differently to stressful situations. Some people laugh at inappropriate moments, right? This baby may have been inside of you for nine months, but you haven't really interacted with him or her until now. You can't blame yourself for not feeling that bond right away and especially with someone you've never met.
A Desire To "Get Your Body Back"
No one in their right mind should care what the hell they look like in the first few months of being a new mom, and yet it's something that women feel an extreme amount of pressure to think about, thanks to the media. Unless you get paid to be beautiful (in which case, I'm sorry), you can let go of that pressure and just be a new mom and simply enjoy everything your body did, and not focus on how your body looks.
Feel Like A Mom Right Away
Yes, you've had this baby growing inside you for the nine months (or so) I mentioned earlier, but that doesn't automatically leave you feeling like a mother once the baby is born, or even a few days or weeks or months afterwards. I remember so many moments where I wondered when I'd start to actually feel like a mom, instead of some big faker that was pulling the wool over everyone's eyes. In fact, I'll let you know when I stop feeling that way. (My daughter is almost five years old.)
Nothing is going to feel normal again for a very long time. I guess there are women out there who go about life as though it's pretty much all the same, but most of the new moms I know felt as though the ground had fallen away beneath them. Not feeling normal is normal, it turns out.
I think everyone assumes that there's some kind of maternal instinct that kicks in either the moment you give birth or even when you find out you're pregnant. I'm sorry, but that just isn't the case for everyone. Hell, I have a two-year-old and a four-year-old and I still don't feel maternal at times, so don't worry about it if you don't.
Finally, that baby is out of your body and you can get to the fun part, right? Well, not exactly. Not all women are happy to have the baby out, and if you're sad the pregnancy part is over, you're not alone. Pregnancy is an incredibly special time for the mother, because it's all about her. Let me tell you, this is pretty much the only time it will ever be about you and you alone. So, if you're sad, rather than relieved, to have finally given birth? Well, that's totally fine.