The secret to bonding with your baby is that there is no perfect way to do it. Bonding is not the same for everyone, and in all honesty, it doesn’t always happen right away. Although our cultural story is that the moment of birth = instant overwhelming love from parent to baby, the reality is that’s not the story for everyone. Love and relationship sometimes take longer to develop. And that’s COMPLETELY normal.
In fact, in some research, somewhere between 25-35% of new parents report that they didn’t feel an immediate bond with their babies. That’s about 1/4 of all parents—NOT a small number.
There are so many factors that can affect your emotional and mental state in the early postpartum time, from a difficult or traumatic birth to a NICU stay or lactation issues. Sleeplessness, hormonal ups and downs, family dynamics, postpartum mood disorders, the list goes on.
Taking some time to bond is normal. You thought you’d immediately love and recognize your new baby. But instead, you’re feeling a little shell-shocked, reeling at the fact that this human is actually here and you actually have to take care of them.
Give yourself some grace. You’ve just undergone a huge life event—giving birth!!!—and there is nothing wrong with needing some time to adjust. Your relationship with your baby will be built over time, in so many moments both big and small. Your bond will grow, adjust, and change.
After all, in one research survey, only about 4% of the mothers and 5.5% of the fathers showed “impaired bonding” after six months. That means the vast majority of people do form a powerful bond with their babies within the first few months of life.
You may not “love” your baby on day 1, or day 3, or 33. You may not “know” your baby on day 1, or day 5, or even day 55. That doesn’t mean you never will. It doesn’t mean you’re unloving, uncaring, or a bad parent. It means you’re adjusting to this intense new life where you’re responsible for a tiny new person 24/7, while recovering mentally and physically from both pregnancy and birth.
The love will come. The bond will come. You’re doing great. Keep going.