Problems bonding after c-section and breastfeeding problems(29 Posts)
I had an ELCS just over a week ago (breech baby) and having problems bonding with baby. I had wanted a vaginal birth, did a hypnobirthing course but due to breech position that all went out the window. I thought I was happy enough with the birth but it's feeling weird now. One minute he was in me, then I was numbed and then he was out. It feels like it could have been any baby they gave me. I didn't get to hold him until recovery.
Was in hospital 4 days and tried breast feeding with lots of help from staff. But he wouldn't latch on. Tried at home with help from midwife but no success. He was drinking formula from a small cup but decided to go to bottles as the cup wasn't a long term solution. I gave up on breastfeeding because he got so distressed when we tried.
We have had lots of visitors which has been fine as I liked having people over. I have healed very quickly from the op. But last night a female family member gave baby his bottle and did his burping etc and it struck me that I'm not even needed anymore. There's nothing that only mummy can do. Nothing special we can do together which is just ours.
I look at him and he doesn't feel like mine. He looks like my husband, nothing like me. I know his looks will change but I feel like I'm looking down at a nephew or a friend's baby.
I miss my baby bump. For 9 months it was me giving him everything he needed and now he's left and everyone else can look after him. My emotions are awful right now. Some days I'm ok but recently all I do is cry.
I've had depression and anxiety in the past, I really hope this isn't postnatal depression as I don't want to go on meds. Tried loads and don't like the way I feel on them. Had multiple counsellors but I don't feel able to open up to them fully. DH is the only one I trust and he does help loads. I just hate being a burden on him.
I am sorry you are feeling like but you are not alone. I would contact your HV and/or GP and tell them you think might PND. IF you have, I think it's important for you to get help.
In the meantime, can you not try a babymoon? Go to bed with your baby and just cuddle him. Forget the housework and other jobs and just spend time with your baby. You can read and doze or watch telly but just rest and take it easy.
And if you want to breastfeed, it is not too late even if you never manage to bf exclusively. I stopped breast feeding DS1 when he was 3 weeks old and restarted when he was about 8 weeks old and mixed fed him until he was over a year old.
If you wanted to give bf a go, I would truly recommend La Leche League who will come out to your house if need be.
But even if you don't breastfeed, it doesn't matter. You made this little person and no one else will ever be as close to him as you right now.
I felt a lot like this after stopping bf when my dd was 2 weeks old. And she was born by normal delivery. Turns out I had postnatal anxiety (I also had scary intrusive thoughts and a feeling of not coping/having made a mistake in having her).
I think our bonding was helped by lots of skin to skin and not letting anyone else apart from me or dh do bottlefeeds. I also just needed some time (and meds) to help get my head straight. Bonding was gradual but I felt much better after just 3-4 weeks and things just got better from there.
If you are having difficulties I really would suggest going to the GP. It might not be PND/A but if it is, it's possible to get through it fairly quickly with good support.
I had an emcs and struggled to bf DS ; bottle fed him.from a week old, but had no trouble bonding. Three years later - crash section under ga, strugef with bf for two.weeks with DD and felt nothing for her. I fed her, bathed her and looked after her, but it was very.mechanical. I reckon it took about 3 months to feel any affection for her.
As time goes on and he get to know your baby, you will bond with him. As you learn his quirks, the signals he makes for being hungry, tired, bored etc. As you tend to him when he ill, pick him up.when he falls, cuddle him to sleep....of course he needs you, you just need time to realise it. Having a new baby is hard. The early days can be masked by fatigue, change and residual drugs from the birth. The bond will come.
These feelings are natural, but not to do with ELCS.... To be honest they sound like the "baby blues". Yes this may turn into something like PND, but may not do (as others have said, worth raising with your GP). I hunk that most people have some form of baby blues, but some people pull through it very quickly, others take a bit longer and others really struggle (and it turns into something like PND).
It is very likely that you would feel similar if you had a natural birth. Also ELCS does not automatically mean struggling to breastfeed (I had one but absolutely no problems breastfeeding). However some of my mummy friends had natural deliveries and gave up breastfeeding some after birth. So do not dwell on method of delivery: the doctors delivered your baby in the method they felt safest. Some believe that babies are breech for a reason (my DS was breech too).
Bonding is a funny thing: some people become instant natural mothers at the birth of their first, some take time to "fall in love" with their baby: ELCS or natural birth. One week is VERY VERY VERY early days.... You will see as the weeks and months pass and you begin to know each other more. Lots of cuddles and time together.
As a pregnant woman you get made a fuss of and looked after and are often the centre of attention. Once the baby is born, there is often a huge "shift" (and can even feel a bit "neglected" ). That can take a little getting used to.
After a baby is born, women can also get the "oh Go my life is over" feeling: there is such a change in life and freedom and sleep etc. as the weeks go by, though, you get to work which way is up and can begin to get both some of your old life back (recreational "you" time) and some "new life with baby" time (things like "mothers and baby yoga", baby swimming classes, baby sensory etc). Doing things with your baby will help you build a bond too. In a way, bottle feeding should make this easier (especially getting some you time - you don't have to dash back for feeds). It takes a few weeks longer: I waited until after my 6 week check to get into the pool/gym and do postnatal Pilates (with my son).
Do you have RL mummy friends? NCT group? Try to get out and see them. Cafes, each other's houses etc. hopefully they ate nice and you will find that you are not alone: not all of them will be breastfeeding and ctaonly some (if not all) will have anxieties and worries... You are far from alone.
Also, try to get out when you can. It is early days (after a CS) and handling a pram can be tough (especially up and down curbs), but enlist as much help as you can. I was ok with a pram by about 4 weeks and was walking for a good mile or two. But take your time and don't overdo it (because too much strain on your scar can make you feel unwell and hamper healing). However, as and when you can, fresh air and exercise makes all of the difference.
I do remember feeling physically vulnerable, anxious and unconfident during the first two/three months. It does change though.
You are in such early days. Things should improve towards 6/8 weeks and only get better after that. Hang in there, don't feel shy about enlisting help from your GP and keep looking forward (thinking about things that's you can do with the baby (classes, meeting ore mums), things that you can do by yourself (you time) and things that you can do as a family (lunch out, walk in the park?).
Take care x
I also had an ELCS and was unable to breastfeed, and felt a terrible failure, and absolutely panic-stricken to the point where I kept asking about how I could put my baby up for adoption and go back to my old life. It was a horrible, horrible time I can hardly bear to think about now. My son is now fifteen months and I never thought it was possible to love someone so much. It will get better. You will not always feel like this, and the worst is behind you already. Get whatever short term support you can to make day to day life easier, and the bond will grow of its own accord over time. There is nothing 'wrong' with you.
I can't empathise with your experience as I haven't had a c section and have breastfed. However, I had my second dc 3 weeks ago in under an hour from start to finish. This is compared to a 24 hour labour first time round. The midwife made a point of having a long chat with me, and husband separately, to warn us about pnd possibilities due to the speed of the birth. She compared a speedy delivery to a c section in that a lot of women feel very distant from their baby having not 'earned' it. I didnt get what she meant at the time, but can totally see where she's coming from now. Despite breaatfeeding my dc, I don't feel the same 'bond' that I had with my first dc and feel more detached from him. I think this has a massive amount to do with it all being so quick and shocking, and I'm still dealing with that. I know I don't have depression, but that these feelings are natural and will change.
Sorry if this seems totally irrelevant to you, it just rang a bell when I read your post. Remember, your dc is only yours and dp/dh. Totally unique and amazing because of that. Have a babymoon, get rid of the visitors and work through how you're feeling. And don't be afraid to talk to your hv or gp, they won't automatically put you on meds etc
Thank you for your replies everyone. In a way it's good to know that I'm not alone in these feelings, although I would rather none of us had to go through it! I had some colleagues at work who said some stuff before I left about the c section. How 'modern' I am to be having the section, just like the celebrities. Someone said how unfair it was that I was having it when she had to go through all the pain of childbirth. They made comments about loads of pregnancy and child related things, I'm glad to be away for a year.
I have midwife and health visitor on Monday so will mention to them. Had some cuddle time with DS today and felt a little better. I've said to DH that I would rather we were the only ones to feed DS right now so it feels like I still have something that visitors don't.
I get intrusive thoughts as I used to have OCD which I have mostly got over but the thoughts remain. I have my own way of dealing with them, I just let them float through my head and don't give them any attention. Hopefully they won't get worse.
I hadn't actually meant that the section had caused me the breast feeding problems, sorry I don't think I made that very clear. They are separate problems, I just thought they were the possible causes of finding it hard to bond.
We had our first outing yesterday in the pram (DH pushing it) and I was terrified he was going to get hurt somehow. I guess there is a protective instinct there but just not quite feeling the bond. We aren't having anymore guests for a while until I work out how I'm feeling.
I don't have any mummy friends and not close to the people I met at antenatal classes. I'm a bit nervous about going to baby groups etc as I have a lot of anxiety about what people think of me. Like if I'm doing something wrong with the baby etc. Separate issue which I will probably need to work through.
I've not had the whole 'my life is over' thing but more that my life was easy before and now it's hard. I think it's all a bigger change than I anticipated. Even though DS is a really good baby (I think!) with a 3 hour routine type thing right now.
Hopefully I will be able to get through this.
My first child I delivered naturally after a very speedy labour, however due to the delivery being mismanaged my baby stopped breathing in my arms and was taken to NICU with only a 50% chance of survival. I didn't hold her for over a week and I found it incredibly frightening how little I bonded with her. She wasnt the baby I carried and loved in my womb or even the healthy baby i gave birth to. We struggled to breastfeed (she was ng fed in NICU) but I flatly refused to quit, to the point of obsession - eventually we succeeded but it delayed bonding because everyday was so painful.
My second child is now 7 weeks old. I was told she had to be a CS. I love her and adore her but I don't feel as if Ihave birth to her and I resent that hugely because I could have delivered her naturally but the hospital wanted to reduce their risk. I have had a hard recovery and its been bittersweet watching those moments we never had with our first child (she is brain damaged and developmentally delayed).
What I can say is tell someone how you feel. Get out of the house. Take photohraphs of your xhild and you - I have none of me and DC as I'm always photographing them with others. And know that time helps IME.
Hello Ratata, glad you have had a better day today.
I had an EMCS so not quite the same as you, but I can understand some of your feelings about it. Your colleagues sound utterly awful btw - I'm sorry that you had to put up with them saying such absurd things. My DP and I often say that elective c sections should have a different name, as it's not like you chose to have a c section - it was medically necessary! And recovery from a c section is hardly a piece of cake.
The bonding feeling can take a while to develop - try not to put any extra pressure on yourself by worrying about when it will happen. It will happen. I think that the decisions you have made about limiting visitors and only you/DH feeding will really help. Good luck :-)
Oh and I had some absolutely crass comments about the 'convenience' of being able to know when baby was coming and avoiding the pain of childbirth - even though they knew why I was having one.
Horrid. Have you a surestat near you? I really like ours.
I think perhaps you are putting too much pressure on yourself to feel a bond and trying to come up with reasons why you haven't (CS, not bfing) when it is in fact perfectly normal not to feel a huge rush of love for your baby straight away. You have only just met him after all, and babies are pretty dull and unrewarding for the first couple of months so it is easy to just see looking after them simply as a task.
I had an ELCS but have bfed my DD and in the first few weeks I also felt distant from her, she was a baby, and I looked after her, but that was it. When she started smiling, and then became more interactive, it became a lot easier to bond with her, to give her toys and try to make her smile and so on.
Don't worry if it doesn't come straight away, it doesn't mean that it won't.
Oh OP I read your post & thought "that's me!". I had an EMCS, but didn't go through labour at all (2 failed inductions) & it is such a weird feeling to go from pregnant to baby in such a short time.
It took me approx 3 months to feel a bond with my dd & I also remember thinking that I wasn't needed etc. I also had v intrusive thoughts. Dd is now 10 mo & I think my bond with her just grows & grows. You will get there - it's not true that every new mum feels this amazing bond with their baby straightaway - it can take time & that doesn't mean you're a failure.
Meanwhile I really do echo the other posters in that you need to get out on a daily basis - even for just a walk. I do really really recommend a mother & baby group too - they're invaluable for meeting other mums in the same position as you. I know you said you feel a bit uncomfortable in doing so, but please don't - it is scary the first few times but you will find it easier after that. Also feel free to try & few before settling down to one.
I have been where you are & I have come out the other side so please take comfort in that. You can do it! Whereabouts in the UK are you btw - if you're near me I'd happily meet up with you.
Do speak to your HV/midwife when you see her. It's always worth getting any support you can.
But you have NOT failed having a c-section. I have had a "natural" birth with problems that mean I had to have a c-section for my second child. Both deliveries were challenging in different ways. My "natural" birth involved pain in labour but a quick recovery. My c-section was very clinical but enormously hard to recover from. There is NO EASY WAY to have a baby. I've tried both and that is my learned conclusion.
Regarding giving bottles, why not have you and your DH give the bottles for now; simply tell visitors that the baby likes you to do it. That is absolutely fair enough - visitors don't need to feed babies. I've never fed any of my friends' newborn bottle fed babies. I expect the mums/dads to feed their babies - I'd do it with pleasure if it helped out, but it is not necessary.
Also, I breastfeed but for me, a lot of the way I bond with DS2 at the moment is to stare into his eyes while he feeds, talk to him, sing to him and watch him respond. It's the interaction, the cuddle, the moment of quiet and concentration between us. He is now four months and he stops feeding to grin back at me occasionally. That type of bonding is the same if you are bottlefeeding too.
By the way, you mentioned the nine months you looked after your baby while he was inside. Well, for him, that already HAS bonded him to you. He knows your voice and smell better than anyone else. As a result, you will give him more comfort than anyone else, regardless of feeding. And as he gets older, the fact that he spends most time with you will again compound that bonding for him. My DS2 who is four months is always searching rooms to find my face - my face, not my boobs. He knows me absolutely. So from his perspective, you are absolutely the one your DS needs and wants.
Re: getting out and meeting people, don't feel nervous. People will not be judging you (unless they are mad). One of the nicest things that happened to me when I met a group of mums having DS1 was one brave woman saying "Hi everyone, will you be my friends? I am scared of being lonely on maternity leave and I have no idea what to do with a baby." That made me realise that no new mums know what to do with babies! And meeting other people means you can bond over that. Try out a few groups - I met some people I really clicked with and some who were nice but didn't feel like natural friends.
This has been a very long post. Sorry. But I hope you feel better soon. X
Hello Ratata - I don't have time to write a really long post (wriggling toddler next to me!), but wanted to let you know that you are definitely not alone in feeling these things. I could have written your post 3 years ago!
I had an EMCS following an undiagnosed breech, horrendous problems BFing because of an undiagnosed tongue tie, feeling disconnected from my daughter and feeling like someone had just handed me a baby. I ended up going to counselling for pnd (self referred) as I needed to talk to someone. I kept going over and over in my mind what had happened and feeling like a crap mum. feel free to look up some of my early posts.
You are at incredibly early days. My advice would be to rest rest rest - ban the visitors for a bit. Try and get out for a walk every day for the fresh air and sunshine. Talk to people you trust about your feelings, or post on mumsnet as it's good to get it out. If you're still feeling down, talk to your HV or see if there's a pnd centre near where you live because I found talking to someone really helped make sense of what had happened and my feelings about it.
I used to get upset at other people wanting to feed my baby too - my mother and sister did not understand this at all and really pissed me off with comments about it, but i stuck to my guns. My husband and I decided that we were the only people allowed to do this. stick to your guns too, if you're not comfortable with other people feeding baby. If they want to help, get them to do other things like changing a nappy or getting you a cuppa.
As for those people think it's 'modern' or 'convenient' having a CS - ARGH! Remember - women don't have zips down there. Sections are major operations - and then you get given a newborn to look after while you need to recover! I used to feel like punching people when they talked about sections being easy. F**cking cheek. See, it still winds me up. THere is nothing easy about having a section!
Bonding doesn't come to everyone quickly, but it will come, don't worry.
Look after yourself x
PS - I stumbled across this website when I was going through my counselling and it made me cry as it really expressed some of the things that I hadn't been able to put into words before
You have had some lovely posts , OP. take care. Many of us understand how you feel. Keep talking to us. And your dh , who sound lovely. Keep spending time with your baby and the bond gets better and the forcing yourself/fakeness gets less. Bit like when when you need to put on a front with a colleague, or pretend something hasn't hurt by a friend, it gets easier.
Keep in Ming gp, and hv.
And I didn't have much success at an, but I plucked up the courage to go to PN group , at Jo surgery, and I met 5 lovely ladies. And I was seriously struggling at the time. So nice, no I judgemental. A bit like here !!
How are you Ratata? Hope today has been better.
Thanks for the replies from everyone else. It's been really helpful to read them. I understand what people are saying when they say I am putting too much pressure on myself to have a bond. I think I thought it would come immediately, which probably does for some people but not everyone. I was ok in the first few days at the hospital and started to get worse when we came home.
Today was the worst I have been. DH looked after DS all day and most of the night. I just couldn't face it. He put DS on me and I couldn't face even cuddling him. God I feel so guilty. I just completely disconnected and started referring to him as 'the baby' rather than his name.
But I just put on the song that he was born to and I feel like something has lifted. I could feel the moment where DS was coming out of the top of my stomach (breech so could feel his head going down). I don't know but I just feel that I'm back to feeling ok. I look at him and see my son. I'm sure I'm probably not fixed but I'm at least seeing a ray of hope.
I had felt like a spare part while DH did everything. Like I wasn't needed and DS would be fine without me in the picture. I know that's the depression or baby blues or hormones talking.
Thank you so much for everything you have all shared and sorry I haven't responded to it all personally but it has been good to read people's experiences. And it's nice to feel people care.
I have my health visitor and midwife visiting tomorrow so will chat to them about what has been happening x
Do please chat to them. Your baby does need you and you deserve to feel better. X
I can't really add much to what the lovely people above have said. You've been through a lot in a short time, physically and mentally, please go easy on yourself and get all the help you can.
Something that really helped me bond with dd in the early weeks/months was carrying her in a sling when we were out and about - so lovely having a sleeping baby snuggled up on your chest and being sniffing distance from their little head, I can't recommend it enough. When you are up and about do try and get out and treat yourself, sit in the park and eat ice cream, go shopping, see friends.
Hope you're doing ok today.
try not to push yourself. the bond will come with time. there's no way of saying how long. I cried a lot when my son was born and defo went through the motions. It was really odd. My DH and I were the only ones to feed our man for a few months. I think some people thought it was odd (esp my mum who wanted to help so Icould get more sleep). TBH a newborn baby doesn't need that much except sleep and food. concentrate on that and worry about the rest later. Don't worry about your DH providing all the care, as I just said.. there's not that much to provide at the mo!
My son went to NICU and it was generally rubbish. My HV and GP knew I had a history of depression so I was up on their list of new mums to watch. I probably did go a bit off the rails for a few weeks. Life calmed down after a while.
My son is now 20 months. When he says 'mummy' his whole face lights up (and then mine does too).
hang in there. xxx
Thanks ladies. The last two days have been easier. Been getting up earlier in the morning to actually have a 'day' and popped in to work to show baby to colleagues (who were all v complimentary of course!). Feeling a bit more like myself. I think it will be up days and down days and health visitor is going to keep an eye on my moods. Seeing more of DS's quirks now and seeing he's quite funny is nice. The way he turns his head, mouth wide open looking at my boobs when he's hungry (I think he's being ironic!) is funny. And his silly faces when he sleeps. Overall feeling more positive, though not so much doing the 3am feed and change!
I'm in Edinburgh btw, for the person who asked where I'm from.
Ratata i'm so glad to hear you're feeling a little better. There's been so much wonderful advice here, with some fantastic posts from these lovely ladies. You aren't alone with these feelings and I think that's the thing I found most shocking of all - that I could feel this way.
I had wanted a baby for so, so long and loved the entire pregnancy, and was so excited to meet my baby. I read endlessly up on attachment theory and bonding and planned how I was going to have hours of skin to skin and bathe with my baby...and well, just everything was going to be a blissful time learning each other's smell and sounds and getting to know each other. It didn't go that way - the natural birth i had planned turned into a long path of escalation of unnecessary intervention and I was left reeling in shock from a four day labour. I think I was in shock for a very long time - shock from the birth and shock from the reality (and confusion!) of this very-much-wanted baby. I wonder if this is similar for you?
I felt very functional for a very long time, and jealous that DH got to indulge in cuddles. Looking back I feel so sad I wasn't able to cuddle DS for love (he's now 9 months) rather than feeling that I should do it. But I know he needed me, just as your DS needs you. Anyone can feed him, but you are his mother; the one whose smell he knows, the one whose voice he knows, the one whose touch he knows and craves the most. He's known you for the nine months you carried him too. You are not anyone to him - you are everyone. Just be with him, you don't have to do anything apart from just being with him, and you will bond.
Some good advice there zebra
Glad you're feeling a bit better op, just take your time getting to know your son
I've been thinking about how I bonded with DC1 and taking a bath with her, just us skin to skin was something we both loved doing. I got so when she wouldn't settle I could do it solo but in an evening with DH home it was a bit easier.
Glad you're feeling a bit better Ratata. Do keep posting if it helps. All of us have had better and worse days and are happy to listen. X