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You Might Not Have That Rush of Love After Your Baby is Born…and That’s OK

After Biggest was born, following a textbook delivery in the birth pool, I lifted her out of the water and held her to my chest, waiting for this magical, other-worldly explosion of love that everyone says you will get to overcome me. But it didn’t.

I thought maybe you had to wait a little while.

So I got up on the bed with her, lay back and stared at her sweet little head. I smelt her hair because I remember a close friend telling me that when she first smelt her newborn baby’s head post-birth she told her partner it was “the smell of love”. She smelled sweet, a bit like strawberries. But I didn’t get the love rush.

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I started to worry. I thought that maybe there was something wrong with me. I was faulty, not mother material. Would I be able to take care of this baby if I didn’t have the Holy Grail of emotions?

I gazed and gazed and smiled and smiled, lest one of the midwives might work out I was a fraud who didn’t love my baby.

Still, it didn’t come.

I didn’t not love her. I didn’t dislike her. And I definitely wanted her very close to me. But I didn’t feel the thing. I didn’t feel anything. Not love, not joy, not upset. Nothing. I just felt numb.

It wasn’t long before I started to feel something major, though: anxiety. But it took a while after her birth for me to feel what I might associate with feelings of love. Again, it wasn’t because I didn’t like her or want her. I just couldn’t feel it.

After a very long time, research and perspective, I discovered that what happened to me is not uncommon at all. It’s just not spoken about, yet another taboo of motherhood that women are advised to silence in case it upsets somebody (generally people who have never been through it who don’t want to feel uncomfortable listening to retellings because they don’t know what to say).

So wtf is going on with this?

The Role of Oxytocin

Oxytocin is a chemical produced by the body, often described as the “hormone of love” due to its release during socially bonding activities. When it is released in high levels at the end of pregnancy it triggers contractions (which is why everyone advises you to have sex to kick things off!).

If a woman feels unsafe or anxious during her labour it can disrupt the release of oxytocin and slow down or stop the progress of labour. In its place, adrenaline, and other “stress hormones” are released, basically to ready the woman for ‘fight or flight’ [1].

Why is any of this important?

Well, a good level of oxytocin throughout the labour not only aids in establishing breastfeeding and helps with longer-term bonding, but it also paves the way to feeling that euphoria everyone says they have when you first lay eyes on your baby. If you are pumped to the eyeballs full of stress hormones it’s going to take your body a while to come down from that (and, in my case, it turned into postnatal anxiety and took months).

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It’s one of the reasons I listened to hypnobirthing tracks and opted for a home birth second time around, not necessarily for the flood of love but mostly because I didn’t want to be frightened and full of adrenaline again.

I’m not writing this to scare any first time mums-to-be and I really hope it doesn’t, but I think it is important that it is talked about. The moment you suddenly have a tiny, new life depending on you for its every need is not the time you need to be worrying and feeling guilty about whether there’s something wrong with you over something that is a common occurence.

I also wanted to assure anyone who may be worried that it has no bearing on your long-term bonding with your baby.

Did you experience euphoric love post-birth?

References:

[1] https://www.nct.org.uk/birth/hormones-labour – Hormones in labour | NCT

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13 thoughts on “You Might Not Have That Rush of Love After Your Baby is Born…and That’s OK

  1. I loved this so much. I felt like this after my daughter was born. I felt like we didn’t bond until 2 weeks after she was born. I felt horrible for that and carried it with me for too many years. Thank you for sharing this! #TriumphantTales

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Most welcome. I started to feel what I would call a proper bond (outside of just feeling like if the baby was out of my sight/arms I might die) when my Biggest was about 3 weeks but the anxiety lasted a long time after and clouded lots. Thanks so much for reading ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This was me! Completely. Textbook birth in the water with my eldest girl and it took me 3 weeks to feel “I loved her”. I know it’s normal but I felt so bad. My second came along and I was ready for this agin. Instead I loved her immediately and the reaction was soooo different. Thanks for writing this. xx #triumphanttales

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I dont even know when it happened, but i didnt feel that rush of love straight away either, i think a week in NICU after a traumatic birth and then complications trying to boob feed didnt help. But it does come! Thank you for sharing such an important post with us at #TriumphantTales

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so pleased that this is more commonly talked about now. Whilst I did have the immediate rush of love, overwhelming in fact, I know that this isn’t always the case and it must feel so odd after months of waiting for it. Thanks so much for sharing this. So important to let Mums who experience this know that they’re not alone. #TriumphantTales

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for explaining so clearly. I really enjoyed reading your post. I think I was more anxious and worried about everything during my first labour and I had pain relief so I was vomiting and felt too sick to feel the euphoria. But it was very different the second and third time, definitely more relaxed. Thanks for sharing with #bigpinklink

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is definitely something that should be talked about. All of those poor women who don’t feel that rush of love and then feel bad about it I’m sure would feel so much better if they knew it was a hormone thing! Well done for sharing this
    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes 🙂
    Debbie

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I felt like this after birth. I liked her. I thought she was a nice baby and i wasn’t depressed or sad to have her but there was no rush of love. I think maybe that I am just that sort of person. My sister was the same and she told me, so thankfully I wasn’t too anxious about it. It grew gradually, day by day. There was no one moment but i know that by the time she gave her first smile, I adored her.

    Liked by 1 person

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