Blog 89. Parenting: Find Out Why Some Mothers Cannot Bond With Their Babies.
When a baby is born it is naturally expected for a mother to bond with her baby – yet this is not always the case.
Many reasons and explanations have been presented and you no doubt can come up with a few of your own. However, there is a particular reason that kept cropping up in my Private Practice, which is not usually spoken or written about. I will however, start by citing the obvious reasons as this then naturally leads to the issue I often had to address:
There is a general expectation that a mother’s attachment to her newborn is instant. For many mothers this is certainly true, and seeing their baby for the first time usually invokes an immediate love at first site. For others, bonding can take longer: days, weeks, months, or even years.
Yet we know that the formation of a bond is crucial to a baby’s long-term emotional and psychological development. As a result, if a mother struggles to bond with her baby, this could lead to her feeling horrendous guilt and she may even feel a failure. And if she was successful in her career, not managing to cope, can come as quite a shock.
Also, if the baby is the first, then suddenly being confronted with the reality of what a newborn requires – can be extremely daunting. The round-the-clock care, sleepless nights, the crying, the tiredness, the attempts to feed with sore breasts and enduring excruciatingly pain as a result, can bring on feelings of resentment, anger and even fury. These feelings can worsen, especially if a mother lacks a supportive relationship or network of family and friends.
With a birth of the first child, a mother can also feel the loss of her former identity and fitting into her new identity is not always easy. She may also feel that her life of freedom had just ended and she may even feel trapped. This can lead to anxiety and even panic attacks.
But also, the birth itself may have been traumatic and if stitches were required, this often adds to further discomfort.
On top of all of this, are the drastic physical and hormonal changes which can affect a mother’s mood swings – and this can sometimes lead to post natal depression. According to Wikipedia, Postnatal Depression (or PND) includes:
1) Extreme sadness, low energy, anxiety, crying episodes and changing in sleeping and eating patterns.
2) While the exact cause is unclear, it is believed to be a combination of physical and emotional factors belonging to the present and maybe to the past too.
3) These factors may include hormonal changes and sleep deprivation.”
4) Hormonal changes can lead to a chemical imbalance.
Fortunately, medication is usually helpful and therapy can also help deal with any feelings that have gone unaddressed.
Sometimes, a mother’s own birth can trigger unconscious emotions and how she bonded with her own mother can activate all sorts of buried or hidden emotions.
This often occurs if she had suffered abuse or neglect, or if a parent had been toxic – jealous, controlling, bullying, competitive and so on.
Knowing how to care for another vulnerable little being, without these issues emerging, would be very hard indeed. In cases such as these, therapy can be vital, as it offers support without judgement.
This then brings me to the very sad dilemma I witnessed in my Private Practice:
This issue emerged not only as reported by mothers but also from the children, now adults, who had been the recipients of this difficult dilemma.
If for whatever reason, a mother had lost a child or indeed children, she may find it very difficult to bond or love her next child deeply – fearing albeit irrationally, that they too may die.
And if she is still mourning the death of an early child/children, then bonding with the next child could prove even more difficult. And fearing for whatever reasons, medically or otherwise, that she may have to grieve again – connecting with the next child would prove almost impossible.
Even though this loss may be explained or even if it becomes obvious to the next child as they grow up, they may find it hard to sustain long-term relationships – as they may be emotionally stuck waiting for their mother to end her mourning and love them unconditionally – as she did the first child/children who had died.
Any partner who then is seen to be distant will remind them of their emotionally distant mother. And if we attract what we know (as I have explained in previous blogs) the chances of this happening is quite certain. This would press all the past emotional buttons and unless this is addressed or healed, relationships could prove to be rather tricky. Why? Because any unresolved feelings may be projected onto the partner, when they actually belong to the mother – who dared not love again.
If however, you can relate to any of these issues, I would urge you to begin a conversation with your partner and perhaps your doctor, or an appropriate therapist or even a life coach.
The purpose of me writing my blogs is to help people understand more fully, the issues at hand – but you may still need further assistance. And asking for help does not make you a failure, it will only help you move on and live the life you are meant to live – via any obstacles that will definitely have made your stronger.
© 2018 Deidré Wallace All rights reserved.
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