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  • Charlotte Watson

Exploring Postnatal Emotions: "Will I Love My Baby?" Navigating Expectations vs Reality

Updated: Mar 8

"I felt relieved...tired...and shocked..."
Charlotte from Positive Birth Leeds is sat in a hospital bed holding her newborn baby.

During this blog I'm exploring my personal postnatal emotions and the question I asked myself, "will I love my baby?". I share how I found my expectations verses reality and what helped me navigating my feelings during this time. I discuss what I did differently in preparing for my second birth and the one thing that helped me the most during this time.


Exploring Postnatal Emotions: "Will I Love My Baby?"


"Will I love my baby?" This was a question I asked myself throughout my second pregnancy. Following the birth of my first daughter, Arabella, I didn't get an immediate "rush of love" that I'd heard people talk about. Instead, I felt relieved that she was here safely, tired from the work of birth and shocked that she was a girl; we had wanted a 'surprise' but I was convinced she was going to be a boy. I'd achieved the birth I wanted, a vaginal breech birth, fully supported by my husband, Martin, and health care team of midwives and doctors throughout, which was amazing and I felt positively about my birth experience. However, when it came to describing how I felt about my new baby, "love" was not the word that immediately sprang to mind, "shock" would be more appropriate.



When we got home from hospital, I asked my Martin if he loved Arabella and he replied "I know I need to take care of her but I don't know if I love her yet" oh the relief I felt when he said those words. It wasn't just me.

"I felt like I'd failed, I felt guilty...and jealous"

The thing is, when she was born I hadn't heard many people describe similar postnatal feelings as mine and I felt like I'd failed, I felt guilty for not feeling 'how I should' and jealous of the people who felt the immediate love for their baby. I also thought if I told my Health Visitor how I actually felt, that I didn't feel 'love' for my baby, she'd be taken away from me. Something, with hindsight, I know not to be true.


I explained how I felt to my eldest brother, who was already a parent, and I remember him telling me he thought I did love Arabella, but that with everything going on (becoming a new parent, sleep deprivation, breastfeeding etc), maybe I didn't have the space to realise it just yet. I remember finding comfort in his words.


Falling in love with my baby

It was 6 weeks later, walking in the park, looking in her pram that out of the blue I thought "oh wow I love you" - I can remember that walk and that feeling so clearly, even 6 1/2 years later.

I have since listened to other's talk about their postnatal feelings of love for their baby and found reassurance and comfort when others say they felt the the same as me. I wasn't alone. If you are reading this and feel the same as me, please know you aren't alone.


Second pregnancy, I did some things differently...

"I accepted that I might not feel the immediate "rush of love" for her and I was ok with that"
Charlotte from Positive Birth Leeds is sat in a birth pool holding her newborn baby. Her husbands hand is on her shoulder while he looks at the baby too.

When it came to my second pregnancy, I was keen to find out the sex of our baby, I hoped this would help me bond with her before she was born. I talked to her in my tummy and visualised her, but most important to me, I accepted that I might not feel the immediate "rush of love" for her and I was ok with that. I knew love would come in time. I talked to Martin and my friends and family about my feelings and found this really helped.

"I felt love, an overwhelming rush of love"

As it turned out, after I birthed my second daughter, Adeline, at home into the water, as soon as I saw her and heard her cry, I felt love, an overwhelming rush of love, I cried and told Martin "I love her" between sobs.


I share Adeline's home water birth story on the Positive Birth Leeds blog.


Talking helps

How you feel when your baby is born is valid and talking can really help you process and accept your feelings and remove any shame or stigma. If you feel worried at all, do speak to your friends, family, midwife, doctor or health visitor. They are there to help and you matter.


I talk about Matrescence: the developmental transition into motherhood with my clients and provide postnatal signposts to help them manage expectations and know where to get support from, if they want or need it, during this important life transition.


I hope sharing my personal experience helps anyone reading it feel a little more normal or a little less alone. Please know you are doing an amazing job and if you need to chat, I'm always happy to listen.


Charlotte x

 

Charlotte, a white woman, from Positive Birth Leeds is sitting on a chair, holding a mug and smiling at the camera.

I teach group and private one-to-one Hypnobirthing courses to help you get informed and feel confident, relaxed and empowered for your baby's birth.



Alternatively get in touch to ask about private 1:1 course availability.




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