I read something recently on an Instagram post which said, “that wave of love you feel when you first hold your baby”.
I wasn’t even surprised. There seems to be a societal expectation for Mothers to feel this rush of love and have this instant bond with their baby and if they don’t, there is a pressure on them to pretend. A pressure to pretend that you are loving being a Mum (first time or not), a pressure, which I feel, guilts you into silence. You agree to smile because if you don’t, you feel like you’ve failed. Like you’re the only one, like you’re a bad Mum. It is often how Mums feel when they can’t let out their emotions…
For months, when first becoming a Mum, people would ask me, “isn’t it amazing?”. The answer was in the question. How could I disagree? Eventually I started saying “it is hard work”, which was the truth and yet avoided the awkwardness for the other person. Heaven forbid they actually wanted to hear me moan. I suppose, we’ve all been there. It seems like a right of passage to struggle… but why?
It is this societal pressure on Mothers which inspired me to write; it was my outlet. Like having someone to talk to without admitting how I was feeling inside.
As time went on and I became more secure and confident in my own abilities as a Mum, I am now outraged by anything which puts pressure on Mums to feel any way. Whichever way you feel, is okay.
There is a huge pressure on Mums to feel that overwhelming rush of love when you first hold you baby. Many don’t and any posts, anywhere, which suggest that is the norm are totally unhelpful.
Honestly, I don’t even think I struggled to ‘bond’, but simply that survival was the priority. I know it wasn’t a rush of love that I felt first but a rush of relief. A relief that my baby was safe and healthy, a relief that the pain of labour was over, relief that I was alive.
After 22 hours of labour, no sleep for days after, a baby sucking my nipples until they bled, and stitches in second degree tears, bonding was so far from my mind. We just had to get through the day… and night, at that point.
I loved my daughter, I would have done anything to keep her safe, happy and healthy but it didn’t come in a rush and it didn’t feel it was “the best”. That can take time and that is okay!
When my daughter was about five weeks old and smiled at me for the first time I did feel a rush come over me; we had bonded and I hadn’t even realised it. She was mine, my world, my purpose but also having her was the biggest challenge I had ever faced. It is okay and perfectly normal to take time to bond with your baby and to not feel “amazing” all of the time. Maybe you did feel that rush of love and a bond straight away, and that’s fine too. There is no right way.
Regardless of your experience, the expectations on Mothers to feel a certain way is unhelpful. No wonder we have an issue with maternal mental health.
We should be saying to Mums; it can be tough at first, you may not feel how you expect to, but all of that is okay. Talk about it, openly and honestly, free from pressures and judgements. It does get easier, you will turn a corner, if you did ever feel like you were struggling. Please, please, please, do not be pressured into silence.
The more we speak up and out, the more people will #mumderstand