If you’ve Googled about your lack of attachment to your newborn, you’ve probably also come across research that says early bonding is linked to everything from better mental health to smarter kids. Uh, no pressure or anything. But, despite what those sentimental diaper ads lead you to believe, not all parents fall in love with their child at first sight. In fact, in a 2018 meta-analysis, Norwegian researchers found that a sense of detachment from a new baby is common for moms—as is the ensuing guilt and shame.
I asked Deborah MacNamara, a clinical counsellor and director of Kid’s Best Bet Counselling in Vancouver, about those feelings, and she confirms they’re not unusual at all. “The idea that our child comes out and we’re not instantly madly in love with them? Well, we don’t know that child yet! We’re just getting to know them and they’re getting to know us.”
What’s important is that you’re able to take care of your child, she says. “Sing to them, touch them, feed them. Once you take responsibility in that way, your caring will come.” MacNamara stresses that attachment isn’t a task to achieve; it’s something that develops over time.
To help your connection along, watch for early signs that your baby has fallen in love with you— example, when they follow your voice, gaze at your face and snuggle into you. As difficult as those early days and weeks with your new baby can be, you’ll find yourself melting with love soon enough. But if you are concerned about how you’re feeling about your new baby, don’t hesitate to contact your healthcare provider. You may be experiencing the baby blues or postpartum depression, both of which are common and treatable.