The decision to have a baby can be agonizing for many women because they think they should just know, intuitively, whether they really want one or not. I was fortunate because I always knew at some point I wanted to have children. Yet even with that knowledge, I still wondered if the maternal instinct would naturally kick in. I, like many other women questioned whether I was cut out for motherhood.
I distinctly remember questioning this magical instinct. Is this maternal instinct hard-wired into the female brain? Or, does it occur naturally when a woman gets pregnant? Did I have the desire to protect and nurture or care for another being? Was it a myth or are there really two types of women—the kind who are born wanting a baby and the other kind that might or might not decide to have a baby depending on whether it is on their ‘to do’ list. Just because as women we come equipped with breasts and a uterus does not mean we will naturally ooze with maternal instincts.
From my research I found that maternal instinct is real and there are plenty of studies proving it as fact. But this instinct does not play by fast rules and not all of us have it. I am living proof that even if you don’t have natural maternal instincts you will not be a disaster as a mother.
I discovered the maternal instinct is instinctive, but can also be learned. Things like experience, your past and present environment and how we were raised by our parents all play into our maternal attitude. This maternal attitude (notice I dropped the word instinct) determines how women will respond to babies and can also predict future behavior.
If you want to be a mother but are not sure…you are entirely normal. Below are 15 signs, including many of my own concerns, that women wrestle with, some of which might convince woman they don’t naturally have maternal drive or natural instincts.
15 I Don’t Like Babies
There is not something necessarily wrong with an adult who does not ooooh and ahhhh over a newborn. Not liking babies is not abnormal. During the first few weeks of life all babies look a bit like aliens. Newborns are wrinkly, they cry, fuss, poop and puke. They are unable to reciprocate appreciation with a smile until they are eight weeks old. To this day, when I get handed someone’s newborn I tense up. They cry and I am often at a loss as how to comfort them.
Good news is babies get cuter as they age and develop personality. As a mom you get better at figuring out what they need. How you feel about babies before you have one does not predict the type of mother you will be. Once you give birth it is an entirely new ball game. You will experience feelings you never expected to have. Remember learning how to love and show that love to a child is all part of the learning process of becoming a parent.
14 Everything's Ticking
I don’t know why but most friends or family member will in someway will voice their opinion on why you have or have not conceived. Conversations with girl friends often turn to babies One young woman friend told me she'd mentioned to her mother and grandmother that she did not plan to have children. The response from the older generation was, "You will have children. You must have children!” She wasn’t quite sure how to deal with this pressure.
I suggested two possible solutions. One, she could either continue to avoid the topic of children with her mom or grandmother or two, she should ask them why they were so determined she have children. Then listen closely to their response. Having children isn’t for everyone, but the life lessons I have learned from my kids has been incredible. I would highly recommend it to everyone I love. You can’t give up on the dream every romance story includes: First comes love, second come marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage.
13 No Experience
Does anyone really have enough experience to raise a child? I will admit, figuring out how to take care of a new baby is tough but there is no way to learn unless you jump right in. Even the most inexperienced mothers eventually figure it out. Also, there are plenty of moms and grandmothers who will offer help. The greatest thing about young children is they believe the sun rises and sets with their mom or dad. Even if you make a mistake here and there, kids don’t judge. They automatically love you. There should be no reason in the world why an intelligent, reasonably stable young woman should feel she cannot successfully raise a child if that’s what she and her partner want to do.
12 A Stay-At-Home Mom? Nah Thanks.
Many women define themselves through their work. They feel a need to be educated and a strong need to be in the workforce. They look at having a child as complicating their career. This is totally understandable after working hard to get where they are in their careers. Also, many wonder what stay-at home moms do all day?
I can testify that as a mom you are busy! There are many women who have balanced a career and kids. I also found I learned a lot about myself during the time period I was a stay-at-home mom. My career did a complete turn about and I am so much happier in my “new” lifestyle and career. If you wait to have a child until you have your career is all buttoned up you may miss out on a great opportunity for change. A child born when his mother is 25 will finish high school when his mother is 43, an age at which she still has plenty of time and energy for advancement or an entirely new career.
11 Pregnancy Will Destroy My Body
It is tough to take a great body into pregnancy and end up with stretch marks and saggy breasts. Before I had children I heard horror stories of morning sickness, hemorrhoids, stretch marks, peeing when you sneeze and weight gain. The thought of physically carrying a baby is also a scary thing. It is true that my body will never be quite the same after pushing a ten pounder out of a very small opening, but when my pregnancies ended and I got back into shape, I also truly had a greater appreciation for what my body could do.
The miracle of life is amazing and I must admit I loved receiving comments about my pregnancy glow and having people touch my belly. (I know that’s weird)
No ones body will look the same anyway as we age…even with plastic surgery, so why not put it to use it for what it can do. Every time I feel bad about the damage pregnancy has done to my body, I look at my children. They were worth every stretch mark I have!
10 I Don't Talk Baby
Baby talk may not be your thing and understandably a foreign language to many. But if you are unable to carry on a conversation with kids of any age, maybe this is something that needs to be practiced. Talking with children is just a basic form of communication and there are as many interesting children as there are unique adults. I always like to talk to kids like they are tiny adults. I think toddlers about the time they are learning to be human are kind of interesting and they love to chat. It is not abnormal for me to get into a heated political discussion with a 6 year old. Granted neither one of us really knows what we are talking about, but it is an entertaining conversation.
9 I Like Pets More Than Kids
Let's be honest…cats are easier to take care of than a child. Puppies are always happy to see you and never question your authority. In comparison, the cost for any pet is much lower than what it costs to raise a child. Life will be much simpler with a pet. You can leave them while at work or while you travel through Europe for extended time periods. You cannot do that with kids. If ease is what you are looking for out of life, then a pet is your answer. Children require much more time, attention and dedication. It takes effort. It requires money.
Remember, the best things in life aren’t free.
8 I Can’t Live Without Sleep
Every new parent is sleep deprived, I’m not gonna lie. There is no way around it unless you have paid help charged with making sure you get your sleep. Many parents work this out by taking turns with the baby or toddlers at night. Moms need to make themselves nap when the baby naps instead of cleaning or posting pics on Instagram. I was always amazed after giving birth how little sleep I could actually function with. The good news is…”this too shall pass.” Babies turn into toddlers and eventually fall into a regular sleep pattern that allows entire families to get the sleep they need to function.
7 What If The Baby Hates Me?
Too many new moms fear they will not measure up because parenting does not came as naturally as they expected. You’ll grow into your role as a mother as best you can. The fact that you're worried about being "maternal" or a good mother in the first place shows that you are concerned about your baby. And that's a great start. Too many moms are worried about the mechanics of parenting. Instead of worrying about whether you fulfill a requirement for being a mom, focus all your efforts on getting to know your baby. You and your baby will figure it out. The older your baby gets, the more confident a parent you will become.
6 I Can Barely Take Care Of Myself
I stated this earlier, but I feel it is important: There should be no reason in the world why an intelligent, reasonably stable young woman should feel she cannot successfully raise a child if that’s what she and her partner want to do.
Now having made that statement, we all know life is not easy and sometimes the demons from our past create fear and make the simple things in life more difficult than they need to be.
Do not wait to have a baby to get your psyche functioning properly. There are plenty of professionals that are more than capable of helping adults get their act together. No matter what you decide child or no child, you will be much happier working through your issues than ignoring them.
5 The Thought Of Labor And Delivery Is Terrifying
Pain is never fun and there are few reasons anyone would willingly admit themselves to a hospital for a painful procedure. The thought of labor and delivery is just too uncomfortable for many women and they have no idea why any woman would even consider putting themselves through it. But submit they do and there are even a few brave souls who opt for natural childbirth. (These tough women admit childbirth isn’t painless but it is tolerable with relaxation and breathing techniques.)
I believe our medical personnel have made great strides in the labor and delivery room to make childbirth less painful and a positive experience. Thank goodness for epidurals and C-sections! The beauty of childbirth and a testimony that giving birth is worth it…almost all women forget how painful it was and joyfully do it again!
4 Their Squalling Cries Will Make My Head Explode
Children are loud and many babies come programmed with a high pitched squeal. I know, the thought of it may make you run for the hills. I felt lucky that my children did not screech or shriek. They did cry though and at times it was tough. As you get to know your child and how to meet her needs, the crying gets manageable. When you focus on meeting needs instead of just getting them to stop crying, you will discover how to nurture your child. This may come with time, but it does come eventually. As children grow, they often quit crying all together. Which is nice on the ears, but makes it difficult to know when your child is sad and needs that extra hug. You may actually miss the tears.
3 My Marriage Is Good. Why Mess It Up With A Baby?
Can babies cause trouble in a marriage between a husband and wife? Sadly having a baby can create a rift between parents. Babies can put stress on a couple because it requires both mom and dad to give of themselves. It is tough to find time for yourself, let alone your spouse. There are midnight feedings, changing diapers, rocking a screaming infant and little sleep. But the amount of love you have for your spouse and for your newborn should make an experience like having a child bring a couple closer together. Unselfishness is definitely a requirement if you are planning on having a child. If you consider yourself a selfish person and do not want to share your husband with a child, it is probably not a good idea to have a baby.
2 Kids Are Expensive
Children are expensive. Beginning with hospital bills for the delivery, formula, diapers, child care, etc. Having a baby will be a hit to your bank account. You may not be able to buy a better car, bigger house, or new clothes, but do those things really make you happy? I think not. It is usually after the birth of a child that couples seriously begin budgeting their money. Which is a good thing to do. Things like a college education fund are now a part of a couples big ticket items. There is no way of getting around it, children are expensive. The flip side is babies bring so much joy to their parents there is no better place to spend your hard earned money.
1 What If I Screw Them Up?
Many women want children more than anything in the world but choose to break the cycle of abuse by not having any.
My heart goes out to women who have been physically or mentally abused and who fear they would not be good parents. I cannot imagine the heartbreak of wanting children but at the expense of an innocent child who deserves the best, not willing to risk making the choice. Having an abusive parent should not be the reason you deny yourself of offspring. If you grew up in an abusive home it may be hard to change your patterns of reacting or see a new way out of conflict, but it is possible to make that change. Help is out there and there are therapists who have gone through the very thing you are avoiding. Please do not give up. Children have so much love to give and I suspect your background will help you to be the best parent out there. There are people who can help.
There are so many great things about being a woman and choosing when to have children is one of them. If because of one or more of the fifteen reasons you are not feeling so maternal right now, there is no need to worry. If your head and heart are in the right place and you are willing to give it your best effort, I believe you will be an incredible mother. It is the simple things that make motherhood worth it and help maternal attitudes kick in. Simple things like that first real smile, a spontaneous hug or an adoring gaze…your baby will give you unconditional love. Who wants to miss out on that!