The Myth Of Love At First Sight

Magazines and social media would have us believe that all first time mothers feel an instant bond with their newborn child and fall head over heels in love the second they are born. My Facebook newsfeed is always full of heartfelt birth announcements proclaiming “We are so in love!”. Likewise with those articles you see in magazines with the celebrity of the moment and their newborn baby.

Of course, this is a wonderful thing.

But what if you don’t feel instantly in love with this little screaming, squirming bundle of energy the second you lay eyes on him? Is there something wrong with you? Why don’t you feel this instant love that everyone else is talking about?

And why does no one tell you that this is actually completely normal?

For some people the love at first sight they feel for their child comes naturally. Some women may even feel an intense love after seeing that flickering heartbeat on the ultrasound screen for the first time. For others, they know that is how they are supposed to feel when that little bundle they have been excitedly awaiting for the last 9 months is finally handed to them for the first time, but it doesn’t always happen that way.

When I had my first son I thought I would feel an overwhelming sense of love when he was born. I thought I would cry with the joy of the moment, the intense emotion of finally having him here with me. But it wasn’t the instant intense love you might imagine it to be. I felt relief that he was here safely at long last, excitement to finally see what he would look like (would he have my eyes or my husbands, dark hair or light hair or no hair at all?) and sure, I felt protective of him and nurturing but overwhelming love? No. And I’m not the only one.


Circle-Quotation-Marks“With baby #1 it was a rough attachment journey. When he was born and first placed in my arms I felt nothing, I was somewhat emotionless and empty. He didn’t feel like mine and I was so overwhelmed and scared by the fact I felt nothing toward him. It wasn’t until about 4 weeks later when I first tried him in the Moby wrap that something clicked and I was like “My god I love you”. It was such a rush. Baby #2 was such a contrast. As he was born I lifted him up to my chest and I was overcome by such strong emotions, I was deeply in love with him and crying tears of joy. Baby #3 I stupidly expected to get the same rush of love that I got with #2 and I was disheartened when I didn’t. It wasn’t as bad as the first but it was missing the rush, the swelling kind of love. Due to PND and feeding issues I had a very rough newborn time with this baby. It wasn’t until he was 8 weeks old and getting his tongue tie snipped that his pain cries triggered something in me and I was rushed with emotions of love and protection and I never looked back.”


It took me a good 6 weeks to look at my first son and really feel my heart swell with love. And for some it takes even longer than that.

I think it was especially hard after infertility for me to admit that that love took time to build up because I felt so much pressure to be the perfect mother to this child that I had battled for so long to hold. I felt so guilty at times that I was finding this motherhood gig harder than I felt I should be. You don’t want to admit that after 3 years of trying and countless medical procedures and IVF cycles to get this precious wee baby, that you aren’t always enjoying the experience of first time motherhood. That it is actually hard work and overwhelming and nothing like you had imagined.



I just didn’t feel that instant love. I waited, and I wanted to, but I just didn’t.


Those first few days were a battle of recovering from a c-section, the stress of trying to breastfeed a child who did not want a bar of it and really just trying to survive the transition from only having to worry about myself to having this delicate little baby who relied on me for everything.

Trouble breastfeeding was definitely one of the delay factors that came up during discussions with other mums about this issue, along with c-section recovery, a traumatic or unexpected birth experience, post natal depression and baby being taken away to the special care nursery due to health issues. Too much interference by well meaning family and/or friends and a baby who is particularly fussy or unsettled were other influential factors.

By the time C was 6 weeks old, I finally had that moment. He was snuggled against my chest sleeping while I watched TV and I just felt this wash of love come over me and I knew then what it feels like to truly be in love and awe of your child.

After admitting to my own experience in my online mothers groups, I found that many first time mums were going through a hard time in silence because they felt they couldn’t admit that they found motherhood to be harder than they thought. They also put a lot of pressure on themselves to be the perfect mother and then when things don’t go according to plan, they feel like a failure. Or they have their baby and then feel like they’re a bad mother for not falling instantly head over heels in love like they expected they would.

And no one wants to talk about it. I think I would have coped a lot better had I been aware of it before and that is why I have written this.

Sometimes it takes time to get to know this little person who you have just welcomed into the world. You’re not always going to be the perfect mother. And eventually you will look at your child and feel the way you always imagined you would feel when they were born.

I asked for some quotes from other mums to add to this post and was completely overwhelmed by responses. So much so that there was no way I could use them all, but here are just some of the things other mums had to say.



“When I had my son I didn’t love him instantly. I liked him and wanted to care for him and look after him, but not in that huge protective way. He was about 2 weeks old when it just hit me so hard I burst into tears from how much love I felt, it was scary.”



“I felt completely underwhelmed when I had my first daughter. There was no rush of love like I’d expected, she looked nothing like I imagined. In fact, every other baby on the ward looked like the baby I had imagined was in my tummy but mine. She didn’t cry for me, I didn’t feel any bond through breast feeding and I was happy for my husband to have her all the time and do all the first things like baths etc.

My parents arrived from England to stay with us and everything was just so normal. Nothing changed. No sleepless nights, no baby spew, no witching hour. We went to the beach, we went for dinner, we went on long walks. I cooked a huge Christmas dinner, played the perfect hostess and kept the house immaculate. She just slotted in perfectly to our lives and I was left feeling empty and missing the feeling of being pregnant and special. I just wanted to be pregnant again and feel that anticipation.

I feared I didn’t love her. My husband seemed to be besotted and I felt irritated by that.

By the time she turned 2 weeks old, my parents left and I was so nervous to be left alone with her as my husband had returned to work. But magically, once it was just the two of us, everything felt perfect. She became my best friend, an extension of me and my love was multiplying each day.”



“I was very young, overwhelmed and had no control over anything, others told me when and how I was going to have her so I did feel disconnected, and scared, and allowed others to step in way too much. With my 2nd I knew him right away, recognized him and bonded right away.”


Circle-Quotation-Marks“When I was pregnant I spent a lot of time talking, singing and bonding with my son. He was constantly kicking me, but would instantly stop when others would put their hand on my belly. I loved listening to the “galloping horses” and seeing his ultrasounds. I felt that was when I bonded with him most. I was induced 10 days after my due date, as there was less that 3% fluid around him. He screamed for hours after he was born, he didn’t look like me as a baby. He had red hair, very little of it. He was thin, he was not the chubby, head full of hair baby that I was. My Mum could see the look on my face, she knew what I was thinking. I was shocked that I had a screaming, red headed baby! I was put in a room by ourselves at the very end of the ward. He just cried and cried. I had no idea how to feed him, I hid a dummy in my bag and tried to put it in his mouth to keep him quiet. I kept thinking “what have I done? I have to keep this baby, he is mine!”… He was so placid in the womb, he was so upset in the world.

The next 4 months were very challenging. He had reflux, jaundice, and a million visitors! He wasn’t a good feeder, I wasn’t good at breastfeeding & we were only just surviving on very limited sleep.

So I showered him with love! I kissed him constantly, I held him so much and I whispered to him that “everyone loves you, but I love you the most!”… We bonded and I made it my goal to kiss him more than he cried”


It can take time to get to know one another and to bond. And that is OK.

  • It is OK to not fall instantly head over heels in love with your baby.
  • It is OK if it takes time, after all, you have only just met!
  • It is OK if you are feeling completely overwhelmed.

But don’t add guilt on top of that. Don’t feel like there is something wrong with you and put immense pressure on yourself to be the perfect mother to make up for how you think you should be feeling but aren’t.

Go easy on yourself as those first few weeks of parenting (and months and years!) can be downright terrifying. Concentrate on just getting through it and getting to know this new little human you have brought into the world. Because speaking from experience, I promise you that you will eventually feel that overwhelming butterflies in the tummy ‘I couldn’t imagine my life without you’ love that you have been yearning for when you least expect it.

And you will remember that moment forever.


Did you fall in love at first sight or did it take some time for you to bond when you had your first baby?

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39 thoughts on “The Myth Of Love At First Sight

  1. I never had the instant love with my first baby. I remember sitting next to a lady and her newborn and she was covering her in kisses and loving coos etc. I hadn’t once kissed my son at that point!

  2. I did not know that people didn’t admit this. I’m sorry for anyone who was made to feel ‘weird’ by it. I was so glad they were out and alive that I think that was the overwhelming feeling (but in the pregnancy I had difficulties so that probably skewed everything).
    Women are TOTALLY weird when it comes to childbirth, I’ve decided. We need to be nicer to each other, and focus on the big picture.
    Lydia C. Lee recently posted…Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.My Profile

    1. I think people aren’t afraid to admit it after the fact but not so much at the time. I know none of us came out and said it when when they were still babies (on my online group boards or in person) but in hindsight we quite readily admit to it. I agree, we do need to be nicer to one another.

  3. So many mums I know who had trouble bonding or PND struggled with breastfeeding. Breastfeeding can also be impacted by the birth- c-sections and certain other interventions. I often wonder how much of this struggle could be avoided if women were better supported and helped with breastfeeding- many hospitals have only the most rudimentary lactation consultants rather than the gold standard of the International Board Certified Lactation Consultants (who do literally hundreds of hours of study and prac- not a few days training). I was a victim of this with my first and it took a while.
    Amy @ HandbagMafia recently posted…Rent: The RealityMy Profile

    1. I absolutely agree Amy. I thought breastfeeding was going to be a piece of cake and it was so difficult and stressful. The midwives were getting frustrated with me but I had been left overnight unattended (after a c-section) and thought the fact he had slept through was good! By the time I found out it wasn’t he was completely lethargic and wouldn’t latch as he was falling asleep. So they gave him a bottle and it was all downhill after that, he didn’t even want to try and just screamed. Every time he woke up I would stress out about having to try feeding him and what that entailed. It totally affected my bonding time.

  4. I have felt that intense rush of love for each of my boys at the moment they were born. But I am well aware that others don’t have that feeling. My sister’s first child was born early and via a c-section (not the birth she had imagined). It took time for the love for her child to develop. I now always caution expectant mums that they might feel love at first sight, and they might not, either way it perfectly fine!
    Claire @ Life on Wallace recently posted…Five activities for Woolworths Domino StarsMy Profile

    1. I think it’s hard when the birth doesn’t go according to plan. For me the c-section was a planned one as my son was breach so it wasn’t really a contributor but if it was unexpected it could totally play a part. Good on you for informing mums to be 🙂

  5. Yes, I think the nature of love at first sight is misleading. I certainly felt strong emotions when my first was born, but you have never felt anything like it before, and it’s not like the kind of love you’ve experienced before. I think like all experiences, we need to grow into the role of the new mother. And the more support we have around us at this time, and the more realistic our expectations, the better the outcomes.
    Zanni Louise recently posted…Regrets, I’ve had a few :: How we manage our regretsMy Profile

  6. I remember when I first had Reeve, I was so nervous. Like I was so nervous, that I thought “I don’t think I should be doing this. I think I’m not cut out for this”. It’s just such an overwelming feeling looking after a baby, that you have just met. I can’t honestly say that I fell in love instantly either, but I certainly wanted to be around him and protect him.

    Great idea writing this post and helping other Mums out there understand it’s okay to not have that feeling immediately. xo
    Kelly recently posted…HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED!!My Profile

    1. Thanks Kelly. I remember standing at the oven cooking dinner a few weeks before my due date and bawling my eyes out ‘I can’t do this! I’ve changed my mind! I have no idea what to do with a baby!’ Haha. Totally get ya!

  7. Love your post. It’s very raw and honest. My ‘baby’ is three and a half now and I too didn’t have that first rush of love. She was four weeks early, rushed straight to special care where she stayed for a week, and was then an ‘unsettled’ or colicky baby. Hard work! But the love did come slowly. I too didn’t talk about it at the time. Being a mum is not easy!

    1. That does sound hard Erin, totally understandable! I hope the hard stuff passed over for you reasonably quickly. I just wanted to write something to help even one new mum to know it’s normal to feel that way and not to beat themselves up over it.

  8. You might as well have been writing my story with my first child Haidee. He had a very traumatic birth, I’m not sure I’d put any thought into anything beyond pregnancy, and he was in special care for his first week. Number 2 was a whole different ball game. I wanted to have a third child almost immediately.

  9. I have to say I did fall instantly in love with my baby, and do more and more every day. I know several women who didn’t though, they took months to form that bond. It’s common but the expectation is that you do love them instantly. Before we had her, my husband reminded me that it was ok if I didn’t fall instantly in love and that it happens to some women. It was great knowing he was there to support me if it didn’t happen. I was a lucky one and had the instant bond. Thanks for a great article!
    Luisa @ Looking for mama me recently posted…Diary of a high attention babyMy Profile

  10. Beautiful post Haidee and such an important topic to discuss. I think it is important for new mums, and even old mums that our journeys are all different and unique to us and that is ok. We don’t have to be feeling the same as what the media would have us believe is normal.

    Leaving some fairy wishes and butterfly kisses from #teamIBOT
    Rhianna recently posted…Blog like there is nobody readingMy Profile

  11. God yes, I love this. My first baby I was numb. Completely, emotionally numb. My second baby I had ALL THE FEELS!! Such a difference. I’ll take the second one any day.

  12. Well done for bringing this to the attention of many. I think if mums feel like they’re not experiencing things the way they’re supposed to, they feel like a failure. And they’re scared to speak up for fear of being judged or shunned. But just because things don’t go perfectly, or follow a text book, it doesn’t make you, me or any mum, less of a mum. We are all amazing, finding our way, and need to remember that xx
    Emma @ Life, kids and a glass of red recently posted…Feeling like SupermumMy Profile

  13. I think this is such an important topic to talk about. With both of my sons arrivals I felt relief and excitement but not the joy or overwhelming love that I might have expected. It went from birth right into duty and responsibility which is overwhelming. With my second son I felt a detachment for months. I think I was comparing my bond with him to that I had developed with my first son who was very clingy and cuddly towards me. My second son just never desired that kind of treatment which I presumed was an reflection of my mothering and our connection. I grew to learn, that that was just him. He was a different personality and connected in different ways. When I could see the experience of mother was just going to be different with him, I was able to adapt my approach with him and we began to bond. The love came in different ways. It certainly wasn’t instant and now that I line up again for number three’s arrival, I wonder how I will experience bonding and loving this one.
    Vicki @ Knocked Up and Abroad recently posted…Packing A Hospital Bag For BirthMy Profile

    1. Oh how exciting that number three is on the horizon! When are you due? I’ll pop over and have a read of your latest post 🙂 They are so different aren’t they, my second is the clingy cuddly one.

  14. The first couple of months after having a baby are so much harder than you ever imagine. I do think women are under so much pressure (mainly from themselves) to become the perfect mother overnight and I don’t think the health service helps with all of the bombarding they do about the importance of breastfeeding and bonding. I tried and failed to breastfeed and felt a bit of a failure. On top of the fact that you’re so tired and hormonal it really isn’t always that happy at the very beginning. Thanks for sharing x

    1. Completely agree, pressure to breastfeed despite things not working out is a huge weight on womens shoulders. My son would not for the life of him latch and yet they still forced me every which way to keep trying which ended up ruining those first few weeks for me as the pressure was enormous. In the end I mix fed pumped breast milk and formula and regained my sanity.
      Haidee recently posted…My Crazy Travel MisadventuresMy Profile

  15. What an excellent topic. I am with you. Love at first sight wasn’t there for me. For the first few weeks, I still felt like someone had handed me a little strange person to take care of. It took a good while for me to really feel what we know as “love” with the whole “heart-swelling” feeling. Thanks for sharing! — Amy #TwinklyTuesday
    The Gifted Gabber recently posted…What We Wore: Zoo DayMy Profile

  16. My daughters’ dad had love at first sight. I didn’t. With my twins being born at 33 weeks, there wasn’t a guarantee they’d survive. I was afraid to bond with them for fear that I wouldn’t be able to cope with the grief. Plus, I was resentful that birth had been such a violent event, completely out of my control. (Emergency C section, with the doctor cutting before he could be sure that the epidural had taken.)

    Here we are 9 years later, and I can’t wait to talk to my girls. My ex complains about being forced to call them three times a week. And there you have it.

    I think that yours is an enormously important message to send. Normal comes in a lot of forms. There’s nothing wrong with us for having the feelings we do after the trauma of childbirth. Thanks for linking with #TwinklyTuesday.
    Sadia recently posted…Toddler Thursday: Flying with Triplet ToddlersMy Profile

  17. I can totally relate to this. I expected to be desperately in love the moment I held my baby but in truth I was traumatised. Giving birth is actually really barbaric and once again the media and Hollywood have grossly misrepresented childbirth and the truth about what it’s like.
    More women should be made aware of this as I think most of my friends felt huge guilt that they didn’t feel the way they thought they should. But luckily I was there to reassure them that it was normal!
    Great post!!
    #twinkly Tuesday

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