Having a baby is a very happy experience, but it can also be fraught with many conflicting and seemingly atypical emotions. It's important to remember just because you don't see of or hear of parents not connecting with their newborns right away, doesn't mean it doesn't happen. It's just a taboo subject for so many antiquated and frankly, absurd reasons. It's totally OK to ask, "what if I don't like my baby?" Doing so starts the conversation about your natural feelings, and will help identify any possible bonding issues that may be present.
There are several reasons you might not be exactly enjoying your infant right away, and one of them is hormones. "During the first two weeks after delivery, a mother can experience what is referred to as the baby-blues," Aubrey Richardson, an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) tells Romper. "Estrogen and progesterone drop after the baby is delivered and this can make the mother feel sad, weepy, emotional or have of lack of emotions." Estrogen levels rise during a woman's pregnancy, and fall really fast after child birth, according to Web MD. This tanking of hormones can really take a toll on a new mom's emotions, and result in less than fuzzy feelings, even towards her new baby.
Richardson adds that lack of sleep and adjusting to a new baby can contribute to lukewarm feelings about your baby as well. This is all normal, but it's still important for moms to watch out for signs of postpartum depression (PPD). "We usually educate that if the new mother is still experiencing these symptoms after two weeks or if she's ever having serious thoughts she does not want to be having to let someone know and seek help," Richardson says.
The other thing that could keep a mom from "liking" her baby is the fact that, even though it's a baby, it's still essentially a new person. You have to warm up to new people in life, and that includes babies. "Just like with any relationship- a new partner, a new friend, a new baby- it’s perfectly normal for there to be a 'get to know you' phase," Hannah Poles, pregnancy mentor, new parent coach and founder of The Baby Maven, says. "New moms don’t have to like their baby the second they enter into this world; that’s putting way too much pressure on an already emotion-filled life transition."
Poles suggests that new moms not beat themselves up over it, not feel guilty, and just give it time. She thinks it would be helpful for new moms not to harshly judge their feelings and take a time out when needed. Poles says, "Child birth and early parenthood are literally life changing experiences and it’s normal for their to be an adjustment period."
Each woman's experience of pregnancy and child birth are so unique. Every mother-baby relationship starts out differently and there are so many factors that influence how bonding occurs. Generally, there is nothing to worry about if you aren't ga-ga over your baby, but if you feel like it's more serious don't hesitate to reach out to your medical provider.
If you are feeling like you are a harm to yourself or your baby, call your local emergency line or the PPD crisis hotline at 1-800-PPD-MOMS (1-800-773-6667). You can also email PPD Moms at firstname.lastname@example.org