Life

Ask the Expert: Does everyone develop maternal instinct or do I have to work at it?

'You are enough and you are always doing better than you think you are'

Q: I’VE just had my first baby and while I love her, I don’t feel like I’ve got any maternal instinct at all. Is maternal instinct something that develops, or is this likely to be the way I’ll always feel?

A: Parenting influencer Hollie de Cruz, a hypnobirthing coach and author of Motherhood Your Way, says: “Because of the way family life is commercialised, we can subconsciously develop very set – and often warped – ideas of what being maternal looks like.

“These pictures we create in our minds can be very different to the reality that unfolds when we become parents, and this can lead to feelings of inadequacy, guilt and overwhelm – all of which distract us from the subtle bonds and connections that are happening within and between us and our new baby.

“Instinct and maternal wisdom lies deep within us all, but it doesn’t necessarily surface overnight. We’ve been conditioned to follow the crowd, chart every milestone, and compare ourselves with our peers, and none of those things are particularly complimentary to nurturing or strengthening our own internal GPS.

"When we can learn to turn down the noise of societal opinions and pressures, and experiment with doing things our own way, we can focus our attention inwards and use that energy to be led by our baby, and trust in what they are asking from us.

“And it’s the same with love. We all feel, show and share love in ways that are as unique and wonderful as we are, and there are no hard and fast rules as to what this should look like between you and your baby. Your love doesn’t have to be loud or bright to burn deeply, so give yourself a bit more credit for creating and nurturing this sacred relationship in your own gentle ways.

“You are enough and you are always doing better than you think you are.”

:: Motherhood Your Way: How to worry less and enjoy more in your baby’s first year by Hollie de Cruz is published by Vermilion, priced £12.99.

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