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What to do about a mom who isn't bonding with her newborn?

I had a client (I'm a doula) whom my husband knows at work, so this is a delicate situation. She isn't bonding with her baby, and it seems almost intentional. She is really pretty self-centered and self-important and it seems like she can't bear the baby having bigger needs than her own and she can't be bothered to make him a priority because that doesn't meet with HER needs. She is not exhibiting any postpartum depression symptoms...she's just...weirdly selfish. She took days to name the baby and then says she doesn't care what anyone calls him, and she won't even call him by the name she gave him. She calls him Thor... I gently suggested she take some parenting classes or maybe go to counseling for a little while as she learns how to cope with this new role (she's 38 and hasn't any prior experience with children). Is there anything I else I should/could do?! What would you do if this were someone you knew?


Asked by misses_nick at 10:36 AM on May. 10, 2011 in General Parenting

Level 24 (20,198 Credits)
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Answers (14)
  • Does she have any family that you can talk with? You do have every right to step in. This poor baby needs someone to be his voice. Why in the world did she want a baby then?? It is so sad to see things like this, people who really do not need children and have no problem getting pregnant, then those who would be outstanding parents, and cannot get pregnant. Keep doing what you are doing. You are making a huge difference in this baby's life!

    Answer by AngieBry at 10:50 AM on May. 10, 2011

  • I think the dad needs to step in and be the primary care giver. There is nothing you can do to make her less selfish and uncaring. Counseling or parenting classes are not going to change her. A parent can parent without caring and without affection. Unless the dad steps up, this poor innocent child is going to have one messed up life.

    Answer by tyfry7496 at 10:40 AM on May. 10, 2011

  • Isn't the lack of bonding itself how some women show PPD? I know my aunt wanted nothing to do with her child years ago and this was how her PPD came about -I Had bonding issues in the other extreme so I can't relate to this is.. but how did she react to the suggestion for parenting classes? This is very sad. :(

    Answer by maxsmom11807 at 10:39 AM on May. 10, 2011

  • aww that poor baby :( Is the father in the picture? Maybe he wil end up being the more nuturing one to the baby. If the baby is not being abused or neglected,what else can you really do? I think its great that youve suf=ggested parenting classes, Dont give up on her...maybe she just has to get used to it ..some women take a little longer for that bond to click, I guess, I hope everything turns out good for the baby.

    Answer by kimberlyinberea at 10:42 AM on May. 10, 2011

  • The lack of bonding would be a sign. She just doesn't have any other signs, and it was apparent that she wasn't bonding even during the pregnancy, even though she got pregnant on purpose. She agreed to parenting classes because she really had no idea how to take care of the basic needs of a baby, but as much as possible she leaves that care to others. I feel like it is EVERYONE'S concern when children aren't getting all that they need, and I am sick over this. I just don't know what else I can do to help.

    Comment by misses_nick (original poster) at 10:43 AM on May. 10, 2011

  • No. No dad. This was not a conventional pregnancy...

    Comment by misses_nick (original poster) at 10:44 AM on May. 10, 2011

  • My nice was horribly cold to her daughter, even saying, "I hate her she is so clingy!" and many times said, "I don't want her." Even as she got older and heard it.... My sister and I pretty much raised her and she got a lot of love from us. Some women are just NOT maternal or they are very selfish and self-centered. It's sad and probably why there are so many unwanted and dysfunctional children in the world! Nothing we said, made her bond. My great niece is a sad little girl and it breaks my heart.

    Answer by mommerbean at 10:46 AM on May. 10, 2011

  • I honestly think she got pregnant because it seemed like the next challenge for succeed at getting pregnant and giving birth. I don't think she gave much thought to actual parenthood. She is very open about the whole thing too, just very ambivalent. I honestly wonder if there isn't some sort of a mental illness involved...but it definitely is not PPD. When she talks about it so casually it isn't sad, the way you think it would be. It's honestly very eerie and it makes my skin crawl. She has no family here. I do home visits without pay several times a week just to make sure the baby is okay and to make sure he's getting some cuddling and love. I really don't think there is anything else to do. I was just hoping someone would think of something I'd overlooked.

    Comment by misses_nick (original poster) at 10:56 AM on May. 10, 2011

  • I agree, this is a sign and a cry for help. Have you read Down Came the Rain by Brooke Sheilds? It is about this very issue and an excellent tool for you. I think she needs help and needs it now. What you have described is not normal selfishness....I would keep in touch with her and get her help.

    Answer by salexander at 11:03 AM on May. 10, 2011

  • Ok so I'm a post partum doula...
    Here is what i think...
    Some moms take time to bond with the baby. Some really can't stand the newborn stage and think its a huge burden on them... and don't start relating to the child until months even years later. While it's not ideal... it is normal. You can't help who she feels.

    What i would suggest is that you maybe spend some time with her and gently ask her simple questions like "why do you call him thor?" maybe ask what part of her baby you likes the most... stuff like that.. It's mostly to get her to see the good stuff about having her baby.
    I'm going to jump out on a limb here and say that she's most likely not breastfeeding this child? There is a connection between ppd, lack of bonding and not breastfeeding. I'm not saying that bootlefeeding mothers can't or don't bond with their babies.. I'm saying that breastfeeding ups the chances of a successful bonding and staves off ppd.

    Answer by MyIslandGirls at 11:04 AM on May. 10, 2011