PARENTS
04/27/2018 14:06 EDT | Updated 04/27/2018 14:06 EDT

What To Do If You Don't Immediately Bond With Your Newborn Baby

You're not alone.

Nine months is a long time to be waiting to meet your new baby.

After so much planning, dreaming, anticipating, nursery setup and shopping, we eagerly await the big day to become parents. And we're told that all of this work leads to a so-called "transformative moment" and the discovery of life's purest love.

Such incredible expectations are placed on us.

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But imagine if you're a mom who just doesn't feel that bonding love when their baby is handed to them. In fact, some moms may even have negative feelings towards their newborn, and this is more common than we think.

According to WebMD, some studies show that 20 per cent of new moms and dads don't feel emotionally attached to their newborn, and it can take weeks or even months to feel that bond.

As a result, many mothers feel guilty when they don't feel motherly, or an immediate love and connection with their baby. The assumption they make is that there must be something wrong with them or they assume they are to blame for the lack of feeling.

But this is simply not true. We need to get some better information into the hands of moms so they stop beating themselves up for this. Mothering is hard enough without this guilt trip!

Here's what you need to know:

Many mothers don't feel that immediate connection. This is Ok. You are not alone.

The bond between mother and child can develop over time. If it's not there immediately, that doesn't mean it won't be there in the future. This is not a predictor of later attachment or relationship issues.

Some deliveries are traumatic both physically and emotionally for women. Emotions are primitive, biological and complex. When I gave birth, I began to mourn the loss of my own mother who could not be there to meet her grandchild, and that grief made it hard for me to feel other emotions.

Remember that the body and mind have their own wisdom; give yourself time to recover.

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Fake it till you make it. Yes, it's important for infants to bond with their parents or primary caregiver, but it takes less work than you think.

Even if you don't have those positive feelings, you can fake the actions. Hold and rock your baby while gazing in their eyes. Smile, coo, sing, and talk to them. Your baby will feel secure knowing someone is there to take care of their needs and that's what initiates a bond.

Bonding is prompted and maintained by a hormone called oxytocin and a monoamine called dopamine. Oxytocin is also known as the "cuddle hormone" because it's released when people snuggle.

Bathing, diaper changes, nursing, and dressing your baby all result in increases in oxytocin for both you and your child.

Some mothers feel overwhelmed by the new tasks of motherhood and this anxiety, or fear of failure, can trigger an emotional cutoff. Lowering our expectations and learning to reduce anxiety will make space for other feelings.

Consult with your doctor if you think you're suffering from post-partum depression (PPD). PPD can start while you're pregnant or any time up to a year after you give birth. Learn the signs and rally your support group around you.

Be compassionate with yourself. When we gently accept things as they are, instead of fighting ourselves for how they should be, we are actually able to be more present with our child regardless of how we are feeling towards them.

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