Dear Kirsten, 

I’m a new mum. I haven’t had the best relationship with my family growing up so  I was really excited to try for a baby with my partner. We ended up struggling to get pregnant and needed IVF. We got one free cycle on the NHS which ended in a chemical pregnancy and then did a private one which put us in debt and gave me my daughter. She is five months old and I’ve found the whole thing really hard. She doesn’t sleep well, so I’m tired all the time. My main worry is that I just don’t feel the way I thought I would about her. 

( Name supplied)

I feel so much compassion for you and I’m so glad you emailed in. I really want you to know that the way you feel is something many new mothers feel. If you catch adverts on TV, in magazines etc. we are shown a glossy, serene, version of motherhood, rather than the reality which usually involves far less sleep and more bodily  fluids! 

For some women it’s wonderful, for some it’s awful and there are many shades in between.  Bonding with your  baby is a gradual process, it’s important to acknowledge that you are doing the  best you can at  the moment.

Whilst I want you to take heart that many women report struggling initially to bond with their babies, I do want you to get some support. 

There  are biological changes that happen after pregnancy that can cause low mood and it’s important that this is checked out by your GP. Women who have higher levels of oxytocin (a hormone) find the bonding process easier than  women who have lower levels. It might be that fluctuating hormone levels are partly to blame for how you feel. Have no fear in talking honestly with your GP, this is the first step in getting some support and developing your bond  with your daughter.

You mention you have had IVF and had a loss from your first cycle. IVF is incredibly hard both physically and emotionally, there often isn’t a place to grieve the loss of either the pregnancy or the empty cycle if it didn’t implant. Very early pregnancy loss  isn’t yet treated in the same way as losing a baby in the second and third trimester yet it is equally as devastating.

 It could be that your first loss is impacting how you feel now. Tommys ( has a wonderful support group if this an avenue that resonates with you.

Often the way in which we parent has elements of our own parenting within it, if you have had some difficulty within your own parenting this can bring up long buried feelings triggered as you yourself become a mother. It might be that you find yourself thinking about your own childhood and mothering and this might create questions, painful memories and changes in mood.  

We talk about something called attachment in psychology, it’s a way of describing the emotional bond between parent  and child. If we have a  secure emotional bond with our parents, we are more likely to be  able to  offer that to our children. Attachment patterns can change through our lifetime, meaning that even if  you have had a difficult experience, you can learn to reparent that part of  you and feel more secure. One of my favourite books on attachment is called “Why love matters” by  Susan Gerhadt. It’s a really lovely book that gets the balance right between the science and the emotion of it all. I highly recommend it to you.

As I mentioned at the start, I really want to encourage you to connect with support, firstly with your GP. Does your partner have any family living close? Are there friends who would allow you to take a few hours out whilst they baby sit? 

In the middle of all the fluctuating hormones, all the family difficulties from the past, the IVF, the loss and the guilt you are possibly feeling now - is a little girl  who sees you as the centre of her world, and  loves you regardless of how you feel. I say this not to add any guilt onto you but more as a fact, she doesn’t know that you have struggled to bond with her and the great thing is that you have taken the first step towards developing a different connection with her.

Things can, and will get better. Take advantage of the support that’s on offer  and be kind to yourself, you are doing your best.  I would love to hear how you get on and if i can help further please do get back in touch.


Kirsten Antoncich is a UKCP accredited Psychotherapist, neurofeedback practitioner and a fellow of the Royal Society. She works with children, young people and adults from her base in York. To ask her a question in complete confidence, please contact her via